In route to a colonial settlement in the Carolinas known as Fount Royal, a magistrate and his clerk take shelter at a inn. What happens there sets a very dark tone that carries throughout the novel.
Soon the two reach Fount Royal where they enter into a battle of wills with Robert Bidwell who is both the town's proprietor and their host. The purpose of the magistrate's journey is to try a woman who is accused of witchcraft. Because we live in modern times, it's clear to readers that sorcery doesn't exist, but try to put yourself in the mindset of a small town filled with God-fearing citizens who have no other explanation for what is happening around them. Or are they God-fearing citizens? Over time Matthew, the clerk, peels back the thin veneer of civility, unmasking ignorance, greed, and depravity. Yet no one, not even his mentor the magistrate, will believe him.
The book starts out a bit slow and predictable but don't give up. Soon you will be intrigued with the characters and their lives. One caution though, there are activities in the book that are repellent.
The narrator is perfect. He masters all the accents and nuances.
Mitch Rapp comes close to being captured and realizes there is traitor within the hierarchy of his agency.Until Mitch can ferret out the impostor he goes rogue. The setting is Paris so both the local police force and the French National Security agency become involved.Each agency has it share of incompetent and self-serving actors. Mitch's handlers go to Paris, thus introducing a third agency into the mix. Mitch doesn't know who he can trust.
The book has some exciting action sequences. The near-capture scenario is cleverly plotted as is another part wherein Mitch and his girlfriend observe a badly played ambush. George Guidall's narration is excellent.
So why did I give the story only 3 stars? There were too many stereotypical characters and I would have preferred less focus on internal politics and more on the adventures of Mitch Rapp.
Shantaram is the nickname of the lead character, Lin. Lin escaped from prison in Australia and moved to India where he uses his intelligence to adapt to a different cultures. He quickly forges common ground with the fringes of Bombay society and the moguls of the underground economy. His rise is accelerated by learning and speaking local languages.
The book is narrated by Humphrey Bower. Given the languages, the characters, the cultures, I cannot imagine a book more difficult to narrate, yet Mr. Bower's rendition was flawless.
The author, David Gregory Roberts, is a supreme story teller. His descriptions of venues and scenes are rich and fulfilling. I felt like I was there. The characters are complex. Lin is flawed, falling back into an old heroin habit and relying on flexible morals. Yet, he is altruistic and conscience-driven. Ironically, it's the members of the lowest rung of Bombay society who seem to have the strongest moral code. To a great extent, the book is about doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
What I liked best about Shantaram was learning about people of India, especially the slum-dwellers. I also liked the explanations of underground economies including money exchange, passport fraud, and the tourist drug trade. What I liked least was Lin's seeming inability to foresee how his actions predicted his outcomes.
Defending Jacob is a brilliant story, written very neatly -- no extra words, artifacts or superfluous emotions. I was captivated from start to finish.
The writer portrays the dilemmas faced by the main characters, Andy Barber, and his wife, Laurie. The two have opposing views of how to handle a situation wherein their 14 year old son has been accused of murder. They even have differing recollections on their son as a child and an adolescent despite having lived together since he was born. I found myself wavering back and forth on guilt or innocence depending on the trial evidence and what is revealed by the various characters.
The story is made more complex by the fact that Andy Barber is a prosecutor who has some involvement with the case before his son is charged. The case is taken over by one of Andy's proteges who then views Andy as a nemesis. The interaction between those two is also very interesting because you don't know whether the new prosecutor has a case or is simply trying to defeat someone whom he views as a rival.
This novel is along the lines of "We Need to Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver, also an excellent book, but written in a more thought provoking way. Whereas "Kevin" leads to an obvious conclusion, Defending Jacob keeps you guessing.
The Fear Index is morality tale about two partners, Hugo and Alex, who manage a phenomenally successful hedge fund. The backdrop is Geneva, Switzerland, where money is the primary industry. The book is fast paced and provides insights into hedge fund operations and machine intelligence. One of the most interesting aspects was the author's use of Darwin's Origin of the Species to foreshadow events.
As the previous reviewer said, it's easy to discern the perpetrator of the fear and paranoia that consumes Alex, the protagonist. The author portrays Alex as a genius who lacks some important social skills. I would have given this book an additional star had I felt some sympathy for Alex.
In this case, Harry comes up against "high jingo" better known as the internal politics within LAPD when he investigates the death of the son of his nemesis on the city council. This book takes takes several twists and turns as it lays out multiple story lines. Just when you think one case is solved, you find that there is more in store. If you are a Harry Bosch fan, don't miss this one. It is compelling from beginning to end.
This was an excellent Harry Hole story that is laced with neoNazism of current day Norway and the real Nazism of WWII. The book provides a hard look at the actions of Norway citizens and royalty during that era. The mystery is always intriguing in a Jo Nesbo offering. I highly recommend it.
Laura Hildenbrand is an accomplished author who found a very compelling subject in Louis Zamparini. Louie is an inspiring character whose story, though fantastic, was completely credible until it wasn't. Toward the end, Louie undergoes an transformation that seemed so illogical and out of character that it caused me to question all that went before. Nevertheless, this audio book is well worth a credit
This is a cute book about a Victorian feminist who charms a Lord who is a warewolf. The best part is how Ms. Tarabotti handles her stuffy and snobish family. Soulless is a reference to the lead character's preternatural power over the social forces of the time.
Harlen Coben brings an intriguing plot to every book he writes. This one is a standout because of the characters. He includes the usual suspects from Big Cindy to Win, but introduces new characters that come alive within a few pages.
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