I guess this is a picky criticism, but I was astounded to see Connelly and his editors make a mistake so fundamental that I now must question other 'facts' in his novels. He calls the two towers of the Egyptian-themed casino 'Cleopatra' "Tigris and Euphrates". I first thought there would be some explanation for confusing two rivers in Mesopotamia with some sort of Egyptian connection, but there wasn't. So I must conclude that neither Connelly nor anyone else who read this before it went to press recognized an error that any reasonably well-educated 8th grader would spot. But for this, I would have given it 5 stars. Good plot, good characters and very good narrator--much better than the guy who does the Bosch books I've listened to.
The book was ok in terms of plot, character development, etc., but I found it very odd that the author chose to present it as a number of first person narrations. What are we supposed to think these are? They are not letters or diary entries. If we are supposed to think the all-seeing author is putting us inside the heads of these people as they muse, it strains credulity to think that anyone muses so articulately, whether a child, a nurse maid, an executioner or a queen. I don't recall ever reading a book like this and I think it greatly distracts from the overall work.
This may be my last Burke novel. The plot is preposterous in many places. (Warning: plot spoilers dead ahead.) Why would a German submarine have a 42 pound, jewel encrusted swastika and Hitler's 'plan for America' on board? Why would even a Neo-Nazi psychopath want the sub so badly? Would any real person risk his life to save a man (he thought) who had brutally tortured him or a woman (as it turns out) who terrorized his family? How can Clete continue to get away with his shenanigans (as much as I like them)? How many times can one novel contain some variation of 'Are we CLEAR on that now, podnah?" To top it all off, are Rush Limbaugh listeners (Burke makes a very thinly veiled allusion to them) really responsible for the Neo-Nazi movement and do they really not care about black people being slaughtered, as Burke clearly implies? I've contributed enough to the support of self-righteous liberals like Streisand, Baldwin, Penn and Damon. I didn't realize until this book that Burke has the same mind-set. I wish someone had warned me.
I gave it two stars instead of the one (or less) it probably deserves because there are some funny lines and, despite a great deal of over-elaborate description and psychological musing, it is pretty well written. Unlike many Burke reviewers, I think Hammer's narrations are excellent.
So I'm about 1/4 of the way through this and I'm not sure how much longer I can take it. I was hoping for an honest account of how a Christian sincerely combats atheist objections. (Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the best they can do.) He starts by saying again and again that even believers like him have doubts. (So?) He seems to go on (it's never very clear) by adopting Tertullian's claim that he 'believes because it is absurd.' An argument which is self-confirmingly absurd. He then claims to respond to Hitchens' challenge of 'tell me some moral shortcoming I have because I'm an atheist' by saying Hitchens wouldn't comply with the first three commandments (have no other gods before me, no craven images, honor the Sabbath), simply assuming without justification that anyone who does so is immoral. He asserts, with no real facts or argument, that atheism is self-contradictory. He cites many appeals to what the founding fathers believed (so?), but so far, he has not even attempted to answer why anyone should believe whatever he believes without any evidence whatsoever. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I don't know how much further I can go in what seems more and more like a basic (unresponsive and irrelevant) claim that believing what he does makes him feel better about other people, himself and his place in the world. I may amend this review later if he ever comes to grips with the real issues atheists propound, but I'm having doubts about that ever happening.
I'm a big Estleman fan, but this one is not worth your time. It's a Scooby Doo/Hardy Boys plot, unworthy of him.
I've read 6 of Shaara's books (the 4 WWII ones and the last two on the Civil War) and liked them all, but I just couldn't get into this one. The characters seemed flat and the plot uninteresting.
I guess that's why I, like everyone I knew at the time, LOVED this book when I was a college sophomore in the late '60s. Yosarian was us. We were the only ones who saw through all the phoniness of the culture our parents had created. We were the only ones who realized that war is a bad thing. Everyone in any position of authority was a mindless buffoon, perfectly caricatured by Heller and his buddy, Kurt Vonnegut. We can now look around and see what my generation of know-it-alls baby-boomers has done to the world. Unfortunately, from the many rave reviews, there seem to still be a lot of that mind-set around.
I've got to stop buying books just because they are on sale and must start paying attention to the gender of the rave reviewers. Some of my favorite authors are women--Wharton, Eliot, Austen--and more recently Ruth Downie and Margaret George, but I'm always a bit leery of contemporary women writers--especially mystery writers--because all too often I find them, like this one, filling space with too much adolescent romance with 'dreamy' guys with tight buns. This one adds another 'bonus'--a bad-ass, karate chopping hell cat who is more than a match for any guy around. I'd had enough about half way through. I think I was probably generous in giving it 2 stars.
The full panoply of human folly is on display as only Wolfe can do--greed, envy, lust, petty self-interest, tribalism, hubris. Phillips' narration is superb.
A good editor could have greatly improved this book by removing the various subplots inserted simply to throw the reader off the trail. Also, some of the characters' actions do not comport with normal human nature and motivation.
The book may well be worth reading but I just could not tolerate the narrator another minute. His inflections and emphases have no relationship to the text. It's like listening to a particularly dissonant piece of modern music--'Trash Cans With Screaming Cats', say. Do yourself a favor and listen to the sample before you buy this. I really don't know how good the text is so I gave the author the benefit of the doubt in rating it a 3.
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