I've read other books by Walker, but not in the suspense genre. I'm not impressed with her ability to put together a coherent and believable mystery/suspense plot. She chose a plot that is common in suspense and mystery fiction today - the serial killer/rapist - but didn't seem to have anything new or original to bring to it, either in the character of the villain or in the police procedural side of the story. Some of the other characters were also unoriginal, as if she found a list of "stock" characters - the strong but damaged police detective, the misogynistic and self aggrandizing local deputy, etc. - and then placed them into her story line as convenient plot devices. Nevertheless the main characters were engaging and I enjoyed the romance part of the story, as long as you take it for what it is.
As for the narrator, this was my first book read by Cris Dukehart. She has a pleasant and expressive voice but didn't seem to use it well for this particular type of story. I'm afraid I was frequently annoyed by some of her verbal habits and nuances of expression. At times her vocalizations sounded inappropriate to me and didn't seem to express what the character would have been feeling in that situation. Particularly in scenes where the female characters were expressing fear, disgust or anger, I felt her voice didn't convey those emotions believably. I did appreciate the fact that although she seems to have (or fake) a slight Southern accent, she didn't attempt to exaggerate it for the purposes of the characters even though the geographical setting (Kentucky) might have tempted some to do so.
I just couldn't get into this book. I think that it was at least 85% due to the reader, so I have to give her a very low rating for this type of book. She's probably a good enough reader for a lot of things, her voice is pleasant and she does a creditable job on distinguishing the various characters. However, I found her reading almost entirely lacking in expression, so much so that much of the action and particularly her reading of the more explicit material left me cold. When I found myself actually musing about other things, like whether I had to do the dishes when I got home, during the sexually explicit scenes, I decided it was time to just stop listening. Perhaps I'll have to buy the print version to see if the book is really any good.
The extraordinary narration of this book made a so-so story much more enjoyable than otherwise. As I read I was constantly amazed by the variety of voices used by Ms. Ronconi effectively to portray the various characters. I'm not a southern girl, but I have lived in the South and I found her accents realistic, not at all exaggerated. She manages somehow, with apparent effortlessness, to change the timbre of her voice subtly from smoke-induced throatiness to light soprano to supercilious alto and back again, giving each character his or her own definitive sound. I would certainly go out of my way to find other books read by this narrator.
The plot of this book contains no real surprises, but it's amusing light reading. I have to say that I didn't think that the "snark" of this character was more than mildly amusing, certainly not of the "laugh out loud" variety. She has nothing on the Charley Davidson books, which I consider to be the epitomy of snark and hilariously funny.
I can't help thinking that some of these reviewers have been influenced by the HBO series True Blood, which has taken off into an entirely different dimension than that inhabited by what I think of as the "real" Sookie Stackhouse who inhabits Charlene Harris's books.
Was this the BEST Sookie Stackhouse book EVER??? No, it wasn't, but it wasn't the worst either. It's really pretty much what I was expecting after the last several books, and I enjoyed it in a sort of end-of-the-series way. I like the fact that she brought back all of the old characters who really influenced Sookie in past books and resolved any loose ends in their relationships with Sookie.
*****SPOILER Alert that has been posted in so many reviews it's not really a spoiler any more!*****
I like the fact that Sookie ended up with Sam, who was really the only character ever in the books, besides Quinn and maybe Alcide at one point, that I could ever see her ending up with. I never thought that Sookie should end up with Eric. It would be like the wholesome girl next door ending up with a drug-dealing gang member from East LA. C'mon, people, she always said that she didn't want to become a vampire, and that is the ONLY way that her relationship with Eric would have ever worked.
*****END of spoiler*****
What this book does, and does very nicely, is allow Sookie to grow up and realize that love changes and mutates and relationships maybe don't always work out. She becomes an adult and has an adult response to a new relationship, i.e., I love him and I want to be with him, but my life won't end if this doesn't work out. That isn't about "girl power" as one reviewer remarked; it's about being mature and having experienced the loss of love.
This book also has a somewhat hysterically paced plot that I think is Harris's way of practically parodying herself, or maybe parodying the True Blood series. Perhaps this is why some readers express disbelief that she actually wrote this book, since it is somewhat different from the rest of the series. So many bad things keep happening to Sookie that you have the almost irresistible urge to laugh out loud every time someone tries to kill her AGAIN.... I don't know if Harris meant it as a goof, but it certainly seemed that way to me. And then when it's finally all over, you heave a sigh of relief as Harris sends Sookie off safely into the rest of her life, not to be seen in fiction again.
After reading the first book in this series, I wasn't sure I would read the next. I felt the main female character, Tai Randolph, was not very well developed, although I did find the male lead intriguing. I went on with the next book because I felt that the plot itself was very well crafted and I love the narrator, Renee Raudman. The second book was better, but I think this third book is the best yet, and I hope the trend continues. The plots continue to be well thought-out and there are enough twists to keep you interested. But in fact the main thing that keeps me glued to these books now is the developing relationship between Tai and Trey. Tina Whittle has managed to make both characters grow and develop in a way that seems real and natural throughout the three books, and their relationship is growing in the same way. The supporting characters are also developing and various aspects of their natures and motivations are revealed with each new installment of the series.
As usual Renee Raudman does a masterful job of portraying each character as a distinct personality, adding great enjoyment to listening to this book as well as anything she narrates.
I purchased this book because of all the stellar reviews. Let me say that I read a LOT of mystery/suspense and paranormal books. I must be missing something about this one, though, because I can't agree with all the rave reviews. I found the plot to be mediocre, the characters and world-building sometimes inconsistent and illogical. What I really didn't find was anything to rave about, although there's nothing to really hate either (except perhaps the occasional grammatical execrations, one of which is mentioned below).
The main character, Georgina, is engaging enough, although she acted and spoke more like a twenty-something living in the first decade of the 21st century than a centuries old immortal being. I'm sorry, but what thousand-year-old succubus would say, "Me and my friends are going to a concert on Saturday"? Is there any excuse for the painfully bad grammar of that sentence except for too little English grammar in elementary school? And the "mystery" part of the plot was not at all mysterious to me. I knew practically from the beginning who was the "good guy" and who was the "bad guy." I will say to Ms. Mead's credit that the bad guy had some good in him, and although it didn't win out in the end it made him a slightly more interesting character and his relationship with Georgia a bit more interesting. The other characters were also mildly engaging; I have to say, though, that the idea that good and evil aren't so very different and are both necessary to the balance of the world, which is a theme here, is not at all new or original in the world of paranormal fiction, and has been done much better.
Ms. Rodgers performance is above average. She reads with lively expression that's not overly exaggerated and overall I enjoyed her narration.
All that said, I might try another installment of this series on a slow day when I'm looking for something that's easy reading, mildly amusing and not an awful way to pass a few hours.
Someone in another review made the comment that she/he finds it helpful to know what other authors the reviewer likes. So, I'll add here, that some of my favorite authors recently are Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Gail Carriger and Thea Harrison in the paranormal genre, and Tami Hoag and Tana French for mystery/suspense, and hope that's helpful.
I'm with the contingent of reviewers who liked this book better than the 2 or 3 most recent installments of the series. I too have been a big fan from the start, but I found the last couple before Deadlocked somewhat disappointing. I even delayed reading this book - instead of my usual habit of picking up a Sookie novel immediately, it has taken me months to get around to reading this one. One of the reasons may be that, unlike the majority of fans, I never liked the relationship between Sookie and Eric and always thought it was doomed to fade out, so their problems in this book seem believable to me.
I also like the return to Sookie's daily life. Again, this is what makes the character real and interesting, not the "action adventure" aspects but the way that stuff affects the character's real life. I think we see Sookie realizing that her life has been spinning out of control because of her involvement with the violent aspects of the supernatural world around her, and that she's really not too happy about that. This is a girl who originally, way back at the beginning of the series, just wanted to find a good man to love and have a normal, reasonably happy and prosperous family life. And to stop having to listen to other people's rampant private thoughts.
As always, I loved Ms. Parker's narration - she IS Sookie Stackhouse to me. Reading a novel that is written pretty much in the first person can be difficult, but Ms. Parker does her usual wonderful job embodying this character.
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