As an avid Lucas Davenport fan and absolute lover of Richard Ferrone's gravelly baritone, I was a little leery of Sandford's last offering. But I absolutely loved it from the bone chilling start to the satisfying finish. Unlike Lucas Davenport, who we all love, but frankly know too well, Virgil Flowers comes into this novel as a vaguely familiar character who we learn to appreciate as the mystery unfolds. A couple of cameos by Davenport make it feel like a familiar Prey sequel. And contrary to some other reviewers, I Thought Eric Conger's narration was simply perfect.
Thomas Perry has an hysterically droll sense of humor that I did not find in either the Butcher Boy series or in Metzger's Dog (which I didn't find at all funny). However, Perry's fraud investigator in Death Benefits is so droll and understatedly outrageous, I found myself bursting into laughter in the most quotidian situations, and the actuary, John Walker, is his perfect straight man. The narrator, Michael Kramer, does an absolutely perfect job.On more than one occasion I had to stop driving because my eyes were watering so freely.
That said, I thought the final chase and conclusion were a little over the top and a little bit of a let down. Funny how another reviewer thought this book lacked Perry's "usual sense of humor" but loved the ending. Go figure.
This is one of the few books I've listened to twice, because I just loved the ride, and it was just as enjoyable on the second go-round.
John Sandford just keeps batting them out of the park with his character-driven detective stories. This one revolves around a particularly dirty political trick and the people who perpetrated it. The characters are utterly believable, the dialogue is crisp, the descriptions are priceless, and the narration, by Richard Ferrone, is as usual, impeccable. If you haven't listened to any of Sandford's "Prey" series, this is as good a place as any to start. If you have, you probably don't need my encouragement to buy it.
I suppose there is some demand for a book about a tough-but-gentle mom/cop who loves her children but hates people who mutilate and murder innocent-but-misunderstood teenage girls, but I didn't realize I was contributing to it when I plunked down my credit towards this supposed mystery/suspense/thriller.
I'm frankly baffled by the good reviews this book has gotten, so I assume there is an appetite for these ingredients:
1: A corpse nicknamed Zombie Doe by the Minneapolis Police Force, because she looked like a zombie bouncing out of the trunk of a speeding car.
2: A curmudgeonly cop with an estranged daughter about the same age as Zombie Doe and a penchant for introspection.
3: A conflicted female cop who frets she works too hard and long for society at the expense of her fractured family
4: A conflicted female cop's teenaged son who thinks his mother works too long and hard at his expense, but shows real grit in the face of bullying and makes his mother proud because he's actually a great kid even if he's a free thinker and not one of the popular kids.
5: A self-centered mother of a troubled teen-aged girl who cares more about herself than her daughter (Imagine how that's going to end up!).
6: A diabolical serial killer.
7: A psychologist with a weakness for troubled teenaged girls and their mothers.
The recipe this book seems to follow is to combine these ingredients (along with a pinch of schmaltz and maybe a dash of self-righteousness ) and just shake and serve.
More predictable than mysterious, and more pedantic than suspenseful, this audiobook was about as thrilling as a Public Service Announcement.
This otherwise funny, fast-paced, smart-allecky, page-turner is seriously marred by the author's irresistible urge to insult a large portion of his readers with repeated, gratuitous cracks about anyone who has an opinion at odds with the uberleft misanthropes that have informed his politics.
You can't help but like the protagonist, Pietro Brnwa as the callous, cynical physician on the run from the mafia, now hired to investigate a deadly and farcical lake monster scam in the backwoods of Minnesota. Kind of a cross between Hunter Thompson and Hugh Laurie, Brnwa is lured off his rotten job as shipboard quack aboard a cruise ship by a reclusive billionaire to accompany a sexy paleontologist on this questionable quest. It's a compelling story with some whacky characters and lots of snappy dialogue, but it gets weighed down with a cartoonish cameo by Sarah Palin that might seem funny to those still suffering from a severe case of BDS, but really isn't.
The narration is absolutely top-notch, though, and for left-leaning ideologues and global warming alarmists, the pointed and persistent sarcasm directed at those with differing opinions might very well enhance the over-the-top attitude that buoys the book. There is even an epilogue of sorts in which Bazell dispenses entirely with plot and characters and lectures us on the inherent evils of man in general and conservatives in particular. It’s not particularly cogent but it flows with the same wise-ass attitude that constitutes his style, and has an appeal of its own, at least for people who agree with him to begin with or have more patience for pompous pedantry than this listener.
I bought this book hoping that Richard Ferrone's narration could make a mediocre book enjoyable. Surprisingly he managed to do that for the first couple of hours before the sheer implausiblility of Stuart Woods' characters, plot and dialogue made things nearly unlistenable. Stuart Woods clearly has an appreciative audience. I'm just not among them.
I bought this book purely because of the narrator, Eric Conger, who contributes so much to John Sandford's books and surprisingly I was not disappointed. This compelling story is essentially about a love triangle between three very likable people. Perhaps the book's only flaw is that they are too likable. It's a little saccharine and predictable but it's an enjoyable listen, thanks in large part to Eric Conger.
God, I just love John Sandford, and I must say that Eric Conger is giving Richard Ferrone a run for my money in the narration department. Okay, maybe this story line is a little thin, but the descriptions are priceless, the tangential characters are memorable and Virgil Flowers is such a great guy that it would be impossible to put this book down even if a crazed bomber wasn't out there playing with minds just a step or two ahead of the law. As for the writing,the exquisite vignette of Virgil and Johnson Johnson on their day off, watching Minnesota-style beach volleyball alone is worth the price of the audio book.
In short, if you love John Sandford, you'll find Shock Wave a blast. If you don't, well, I wouldn't know.
I suppose this must be interesting to people who are on-line gaming fanatics, but unless you are enthralled by endless and detailed descriptions of role-playing computer games, you will soon lose interest or patience. Even someone who thinks he can listen to ANY story while tending to drudge work will eventually find silence preferable.
As someone who is interested in technology and how high tech is affecting society, as well as its bottomless potential for evil, etc., the premise and the reviews of this audiobook led me to think I'd really enjoy it. And maybe the book gets better after six or seven hours... the characters aren't that badly drawn and the premise is intriguing. But god almighty, if I never hear another description of some stupid virtual reality computer game it will be a lifetime too soon.
Clearly there is an audience for this. I'm just trying to warn the unwary.
John Sandford is at the absolute top of his game in the much awaited (by me, anyway) return of Lucas Davenport, and Richard Ferrone does another superb job as the narrator.
Flashing back to Davenport's earliest days as a beat cop on the Minneapolis police force, we get to meet and get a good feel for the various characters that populate later novels, as well as get a handle on Davenport's less-than-exemplary motivations and very believable character flaws. It's a great device that allows the listener to enjoy the earlier, more devious Davenport before he became so happily married to the wonderful Weather.
But then we flash forward to the present to find him consumed with personal hatred towards a horrible and truly creepy killer, without really causing too much trouble at home.
In all, it's a great listen that is difficult to interrupt. But like a favorite meal you haven't had in a long time, it's best if you make yourself slow down and enjoy every bite of it.
I love Myron Bolitar and I think Jonathan Marosz is one of the best narrators in the business. That said, this latest offering by Harlan Coben was a huge disappointment for this once-avid fan. In fact, I spent most of the time thinking that it was written by some underling and not very well edited. It was certainly not well narrated, as other reviewers have noted. The basic story line could have been compelling and the characters might have been made interesting if not a little amusing, and the plot could have been believable, but they weren't. There is a cameo appearance by Win about halfway in, but any frail hope of a little witty repartee is quickly crushed, first by the female narrator's awful portrayal, and then almost mercifully by his lack of a meaningful role. Oh, and the "surprise ending, well... no surprises there.
In all, it's not a terrible book, just a terrible disappointment for a Myron Bolitar fan.
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