This is a first rate novel, but I will tell you (what might appear arrogantly) that this book is NOT written for a person who needs to be led by the nose through the intricate twists and turns of a spy novel. It is complex and a review of the plot would be difficult. Suffice it to say that I believe you will find it very enjoyable.
Our hero... the tourist (a CIA field officer)... is not at all what he seems to be. Perfect for a spy, of course! The cracks in his veneer are clear for all to see.
Seldom do a spy's family take part in a spy novel... except peripherally... but here, they merge nicely into a subplot and are active characters. They are likable.
There are numerous changes in time, in character and you must pay attention.
The reader had a nasty job with this book because of those many characters, their positions and their nationalities... and I think he did a credible job.
This book is not intuitive. It requires the concentration that readers of a John LeCarre novel must have in order to enjoy it. By no means though is it LeCarre. Not better... not worse... just really good.
You may eventually see the final direction of this novel, but you sure won't see it until the last hour or so... and even then, it will surprise you.
This is my first read of this author... and when I finish this review, I'll try another.
As so often is true, pay NO attention to the "Publisher's Summary". It is nonsense and must have been written either by a complete idiot or a person who never read the book. It damns it with faint praise. It is better than the summary.
I gave it 5 stars. I expect you will like it also.
This is the second Vachss book I bought. The first, Strega, a Burke Novel, was pretty bad, but not intolerable. I decided that I'd probably skip the Burke series and try another of his (generally) highly rated novels. Thus:
A Bomb Built in Hell - A truly horrible novel.
In essence, this is a biography of a very sick human (though I use that word advisedly).
He is a sociopath and is not even remotely likeable in any way. It is not entertaining. While the writing is OK, no amount of decent writing can overcome the garbage content. Even those who can handle extreme violence will find no comfort here.
The book starts early with killings and lots of violence... then continues with more killing and worse violence.
For six hours, I kept looking for any reason justifying Wesley's psychotic and super violent behavior. None. Absolutely NONE! He simply kills everyone, innocents included, throughout the book.
Even when he murders for a "reason" this is not vigilante stuff (which I can handle). Wesley is not only unlikeable from ANY viewpoint, he has no reason whatsoever to exist, and should have been removed from the chessboard at birth.
I bought this because of the generally positive reviews on Amazon, often a good source of reviews from those buying the print version. They let me down.
Other than the superb performance by Gigante (one of his best BTW), this is just trash. I bet he spent a long time in the shower after recording this thing.
I suggest you not even think a moment about spending your $$$ or a credit on this pap.
It is 100% junk "literature". Again... save your $$$.
Louise Penny may well be the best writer of modern detective novels... Ever. I have read all of her work... Incredible.
Don't hesitate for a second to jump in with number one and work your way up.
I am not thrilled with the reader, but the quality of the writing overcomes all... Even him.
While some readers complained about the narrator, I think the real problem was choosing a British narrator to interpret a Danish detective. Makes no sense, and didn't work well. That was the producer's fault. The reader was fine, but with all the fine alternative readers, Pacey was a crummy and distracting choice.
My big mistake was reading this book after recently reading the Louise Penny novels... All eight of them! She may arguably be the finest living author of the modern detective genre and frankly, this author is not close.
This is a C level book. Not sorry I read it... But I am not at all motivated to buy another. I also found the interaction between the protagonist and his "staff of 2" to be just weird. His staff were far better detectives than the detective who, quite frankly, detected little.
In fact, I could not connect with Merck at any level, neither professionally nor personally. Found him to be boring and not overly bright. Hard to build a series around that.
Still, as you can see, my three star rating is in the minority, so give the book a try and if you agree with my analysis, you'll know to consider my other reviews when you see them.
But if you REALLY want something special, check out Inspector Gamache by Louise Perry.
This may be the best of the Harry Bosch series, so if it is your first Bosch experience, you might be in for a let down when you read some of the others... But not much of a let down. The whole series is very good.
It is a well crafted novel and I can pretty much promise an excellent and enjoyable listen. Very hard to put away for the night. Publisher review is accurate enough.
I would tend not to pay much attention to reviewers who bash the narrator. He actually does a very credible job... Though not brilliant. I gave him 4 stars, and that is about right.
For very sensitive readers, I give a small caution, but technically perhaps a very small spoiler. Very small... But if you are as described, maybe read below. If not, just stop now and download! You will enjoy.
For sensitive readers:
There is some not very graphic reference to child abuse. Should not bother most... But a few might feel uncomfortable if that topic affects you.
OK... First the blasphemy. Ralph Cosham is terrible. I know, I know... everybody loves him, but there are a ton of international narrators that could far better interpret her work.
He reads wonderfully and has a great voice, but is 100% incapable of giving different voices to all the characters men or women, English or French, and this is important because there are a lot of characters to remember. He does not even try. I believe this to be critical in this novel and expect the other books by author Louise Penny. She likes to move her characters and their locations about every 10 minutes. Because reader Ralph Cosham fails to differentiate the players, it make it very hard to listen for those changes. This may be one book where the printed version may be better.
As for the novel?
It was super!! My first experience with Louise Penny but not my last. A caution though.... this book requires CLOSE attention. I tried driving and listening and that was a dismal failure. I have a good attention span, but for me, this book required a quiet space with no external distractions. Until I "got" this, I must have hit the "back 30 seconds" button about 45 times.
Louise Penny also mixes time frames... a lot. One character reliving the past and then instantly, another character in real time. Sound awful? It is not... but again, you better pay close attention.
The publisher's summary is just silly. Don't read it as it is full of errors.
... but DO read the book! Oh yeah... Read the book if you like fine writing and a good mystery.
This book actually contains TWO mysteries (two crimes) and at least TWO love stories... (and maybe three for the adroit reader).
I have received so many good tips in Richard in San Anselmo, California that I hate to disagree so adamantly with his review of this book. This book is simply dreadful. If it could be given zero stars I would have done that, but fortunately the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, is so good that he drags it kicking and screaming from a 0 to a 1.
As for the publishers description... it is pretty accurate, so I will not rehash that. The plot starts out reasonably enough but then gets carried to an extreme that is simply no longer logical. Those of you readers who pay attention to details like ballistics, finger prints, etc. will certainly notice that there are some huge issues that are never addressed in the book. Why? I have no idea. Serious and dreadful crimes are committed, and in one case the careful reader will immediately think "why, they are going to recognize her" long before the crime is committed... and yet the crime proceeds completely and totally illogically. Crimes that should be tied together early on are missed because of faulty (read that as NO) police procedures.
If you are one of those Audible readers that keeps track of details, that looks for good character development, requires that the characters in the book (both good guys and bad guys) act at least intelligently and if not intelligently then at least an understandable manner, then you should absolutely pass on this book.
If you love mysteries and thrillers, and look for logical behavior where the good guys move inexorably to a satisfying conclusion (with a few reasonable twists and roadblocks along the way), then again you should pass on this book. It will drive you bonkers.
If you like characters to whom you can relate or even like, then you should pass on this book.
There are just tons of technical errors in this book.
There are a number of errors in grammar, but with the US schools turning out such poor quality students, a tend to forgive these errors as I am delighted when I read a sentence with both a subject and predicate. Thankfully, Owen Laukkanen was educated in Canada.
Why all the errors? I do not know whether this is the fault of the person(s) who proof read the book and simply did not read it in a critical manner and catch the discrepancies before submission, or maybe the editors just felt like they had to publish something that day. If I listed all the errors, it would almost certainly spoil the book, and I don't want to do that. But I will again warn you that if you are one of those detailed type readers who really enjoys mysteries and thrillers, you will find so many distractions that will keep you from simply enjoying this book to its full potential. I call them the "what the hell?" moments and they drive critical readers like me right out of our minds. I will not even mention all the numerous clichés.
Sadly, there are also no likable characters in this book. Windermere from the FBI is just a very unlikable selfish self-involved thoughtless person. She is arrogant to the nth degree. Her police procedurals are terrible. Her personality is such that she antagonizes everybody that she works with including the reader. Her FBI partner was no gem, but frankly, I agreed with much of his assessment of her.
Stevens from the BCA Minnesota is a character added to the book because if he was not added to the book, Windermere could do absolutely nothing because she angers everybody she works with.
At one point, Stevens proceeds to do something so stupid, and so patently illogical (not to mention illegal) that it rates high in my "what the hell?" list. It is just simply contrived. His stupid actions were apparently required for no other reason than to justify his existence in the book and help Windermere with her problem.
Unnecessary, it also will draw Stevens teenaged daughter into the mix eventually endangering her life as well. No, this is not a spoiler, because anyone reading the book will immediately be able to predict what's going to happen. Oh... PS: This author either has no teenage kids or never talks to them. The ones in this novel also behave illogically and their dialog is just not 21st century teenspeak... even if they are from Minnesota.
The climax is just silly. Again I do not want to say too much so as to avoid spoiling this book should you decide to waste a credit, but any of you who have visited the Minneapolis area will immediately just start laughing when you find out where the bad guy finally gets his comeuppance and the descriptions thereof.
Side note: There also seems to be a new trend with some of the younger authors (this guy is about 30) to add (by innuendo if not directly) their political leanings whether liberal or conservative, to the books that they are writing. Little "comments in passing". They also seem to throw in a certain amount of political correctness. Hint to author: Not everyone acts or speaks in a politically correct manner and many don't want to! Bad guys seldom do. I strongly believe that this has no place in literature. Tell the story, and leave out your personal agenda and the other junk.
There are not a lot of reviews on this book which is why I will chime in with my thoughts.
This is a first time author, and he has done an excellent job. I will certainly be an early reader of his next offering.
The Publisher's Summary is a tad melodramatic, but it is designed to sell as we all know. Still, no major errors.
This is for sure a clever spy novel, but to compare it to John le Carré as did one reviewer? Nope... but that is NOT to say it is not a great read. It is just that le Carré expects a sophisticated and highly educated reader and allows the plot to develop in the readers mind, and for that reason, he writes for a far more narrow audience.
Jason Matthews is what I would call, “A writer for the common man”, and that is NOT a negative. John le Carré is a hard read for many. With Matthews there is no need here to have your dictionary nor a bucket of patience at hand awaiting plot development. Matthews does an excellent job of building suspense right from the start... something I learned early to my regret in Chapter 1 when I decided to be late to a meeting just see what happened to the protagonist Nathaniel Nash. Caught me nicely off guard.
If you have read the other reviews, you see some negative comments about the recipes. Oh geez people... get over it. This author ends each chapter with a recipe. So what! Sometimes they are what the characters ate in that chapter... other times just recipes more or less related to location/country. Any time an author uses his imagination to make his novel a bit different is, to me, a clever divergence from the norm. Just make sure you are not reading this book on an empty stomach... some of those recipes sound awfully good!
Ummm... I have no idea if all the details are authentic, and I doubt if there are many who do. Dominika (the Russian agent) supposedly was sent the Sparrow School where female spies were taught the sexual arts to use as agents. There seems to be no hard data to confirm the existence of a Sparrow School, but Tom Clancy did introduce the idea in one of his books. Who cares? It plays well in this book. As for all the other details? Same thing... I really read books like this for enjoyment. They call it fiction for a reason. It feels authentic and to me that is what is most important in a fiction novel. The CIA certainly does not come out looking much better than the old KGB, but that should probably not be much of a surprise.
OK... now I have your attention... Jason Matthews writes really good sex scenes! No raw nasty overdone fornication here. He gives the reader the passion without the need for vulgarity. I suspicion women will like this (though I may by just be inadvertently a sexist pig). In fact he writes it so well, especially from what I am guessing is the female point of view, that Jason Matthews is clearly in touch with his feminine side. Further, as sex between the lead characters is forbidden, it makes the wait all the better.
Jeremy Bobb tries. He really does. However, he just reads... That's it. He simply does not have the breadth to bring life to the many characters and makes no attempt to add the accents and characterization so important in a novel of this type. I would suggest someone like John Lee for future novels, though there are certain many who could master the accents and make the book even better.
The book offers lots of intrigue, action, suspense and enough humor that the other stuff does not overwhelm the reader. Unlikely to win any awards, but absolutely worth a credit and a few hours of your time. Get it.... oh... and be prepared for a follow-up novel. We leave a character nicely dangling!
Burke is as good as it gets. Every time I think I could be a novelist, I read ANYTHING of his and realize that he sets the standard and I have far far to go.
This may be (I HOPE!) a starter novel to see reader reactions. Well, my reaction is EXCELLENT. I say starter as the novel is quite short... about 5 hours. I so wanted it to go on, but Burke resolves all threads and ends it with me wanting more. I doubt Birke reads these reviews but if he is doing so... Write more on Son and Hugh!
Somehow, the publishers summary was pretty correct... something that as we know does not always happen... so if I write much more, it might spoil for others, but just a hint...
We meet Jim Bowie, Sam Houston, come close to Davy Crockett...
Will Patton is so good he is scary. Stealing a comment from another reviewer, he could read the US tax code and make it interesting.
One of our two heroes, Hugh... well... it's Clete from some of Burke's other fine books. I recognized it instantly, but it is not even a minor distraction.
Get the book. I guarantee that the five hours you will spend will only improve your life!
This "review" is written presuming you have read at least one Mitch Rapp novel.
Never have I written a review of any book before finishing it completely. This is an exception as I believe it is critical to warn others just how AWFUL is the performance. Do NOT buy this book.
Now you might correctly state, "But I see that a bunch of other reviewers stated quite clearly just how lousy is performer Kenny (which I am sure he is called by his good buddies). You clearly paid no heed". That would be correct.
Sadly, hubris (mine) reared its ugly head as I thought, "I have listened to hundreds of books where some reviewer complained about the reader, and they exaggerated just how bad was that person. I know better!
In this case, every reviewer who warned how bad is this clown actually overstated his performance by a factor of five. It is beyond atrocious! The book may just be unreadable (un-listenable?) I have spent four hours struggling through three chapters! I will struggle to persevere. No guarantees.
If the writer had not peppered the text with an abundance of "Mitch saids" or "Kennedy saids), you would never be able differentiate just who was speaking! All the character's voices are effete, feminine, and well.. the same. I can only compare it to a convention of Ru Paul's hairdressers. Poor Mitch sounds like he received a bullet to his nether regions resulting in him sounding like an anti terrorist drag queen! I have not read far enough to find out if he actually confronts and must speak to a real terrorist, but if he does, Mitch will not require a gun to kill the person. The terrorist will simple die from oxygen failure because of the uncontrollable laughter.
If you listen not to the other reviewers, do listen to me please... skip this one. You are not missing a thing.
Book: I bought this because of the good reviews. BIG mistake. I have no idea what the others saw in this novel, but I think reading it caused me to lose brain cells. I wish I could UN-read this book.
Our hero, Dr. Matt Rutledge (Harvard), is as about bright as a box of coal. He spends much time not paying a lick of attention to his newfound girlfriend Dr I forget her name, (Yale) who IS very bright, but, I suppose, because she is a mere female, does not warrant his serious attention (other than THAT attention).
He thus does one dumb thing after the other until the reader wants to just grab him and slap him silly.
The author attempts to weave multiple sub-plots which all come together toward the end... in a cave... where we find all these stray ends (characters) miraculously alive and waiting for the book to end. Umm... Not. They did not work as sub-plots and the way the author weaves them together at the end requires the reader to just set aside ALL logic and just "believe" that this could happen. If you just have to read this, at least turn off one hemisphere of your brain to make it more enjoyable. Contrived and believable only if you have never read a real medical thriller. Grade 1 STAR - only because ZERO was not available.
READER: Average at best... couple of good characterizations... Makes no difference anyway as this book could not be made good regardless of reader. GRADE C
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