Hubbardston, MA, United States | Member Since 2008
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.
John Sandford is the most talented writer of this genre, Eric Conger is the best narrator in this medium, and Virgil Flowers is the most likable protagonist you're going to find in any novel.
Add to the above a thoroughly venal mid-west school board that would resort to murder to maintain their façade, a dog-napping ring and a rural meth lab, and you've got a story that doesn't so much unfold as spill out uncontrollably and delightfully from the first sentence to the last.
As for the possum squeezin's: it's just one of the many analogies and descriptions that Sandford scatters around his books (this one referring to a Bloody Mary) that keep the reader chuckling through some of the grisliest situations.
It's a great listen.
Donna Tartt should really stick to writing and leave the reading to others. It's not that there is anything annoying about her voice, but it is not suitable for impressions of young men in college, who come off sounding like adolescent twits rather than the young adults facing serious conundrums that she portrays in this book. Actually, I take that back. Her rendition of Bunny was annoying; so much so that I stopped listening after the first hour or so.
Fortunately, I later found myself on a long car trip with nothing else in the queue and I resumed the story with some reservations. My sufferance was rewarded with a compelling story concerning the apparent life of privilege at an exclusive New England college. A small group of students, from actually very different origins, find themselves snarled up in in a suspenseful tangle of debauchery, deceit, murder and blackmail.
I found the characters all quite believable if not actually likable and the story unfolded in a very realistic manner. At bottom, it's a warning that one never really gets away with murder. It's worth a listen.
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.
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