"Cloudland" rolls along, wispy and slight, well-named. As narrator Eliza Foss's soothing yet crisp voice adds shine to the text, listening is a pleasure, except for a few reservations.
First, a low-ranking assistant professor of English is unlikely to possess a rare 19th-century first edition from a famous writer, but if she did, she would never, ever loan it out to students. It belongs in a climate-controlled cabinet, not in someone's backpack. The don't-believe-it factor is high, and as this rare book is a crucial plot device, its inclusion comes close to ruining the story.
Second, the heroine is homophobic. She's hesitant about her bigotry, but that doesn't cut a lot of ice. Since this is a contemporary story, her reservations about her daughter's partner are tiresome and unlikable.
Third, Joseph Olshan's plot outline is too visible. It's like a hanger for a suit of clothes, instead of bones of a flesh-and-blood story.
All that aside, not bad, and the end is gripping. (P.S. Really liked the pig.)
I bought it because of the dog, but he's a minor sidekick in the tale, which starts as an urban cozy and switches, mid-story, into something more ragged and wild. Enjoying this story requires major suspension of disbelief. I don't think that the police would fail to test the blood at a crime scene, for instance, even if the fix is in.
Instead, dog-walker turned crime fighter figures it out largely on her own, with the dog by her side, once taking a bullet for her. That's not a spoiler, as the narrator reveals this detail-to-come on the first page.
About the much-maligned narrator. Calm down, people. Yes, she starts out slowly, maybe too slowly, but she speeds up and inhabits a great variety of New York voices with agility and charm. I like her.
And I like this story. I especially like how every time I was thinking we were hip deep in the weeds of stereotypes, the writer pulled past them with surprises.
Of the three books of his on Audible, Owen Laukkanen has written one that's terrific ("Criminal Enterprise"), one that's OK ("The Professionals") and this one, which will be my last.
Looking for a distraction, I was willing to accept the ridiculous plot about a murder business employing brainwashed ex-combat soliders (zombie killers), but the story's too dreary, limp and dead. I was rolling with it, more or less willingly, until Laukkanen got to the basement prison scene of a new recruit learning to kill on command who is practicing on a cat.
The bad guy produced the purring cat, and I hit the off switch.
I was eagerly waiting for the audio release of this book, but wow, it reads as if John Sandford dictated it instead of wrote it. He's got an intriguing plot and that's it. None of the bad characters have dimension. The old Sandford would have been able to give them some heft and complexity without slow down the speedy narrative, but now, even the narrative bogs down. Who are these straw people? They catch fire and burn out before we get much of a look at them.
Sandford appears to know this, which is maybe why he gave three of the murderous school board members the same first name: Jennifer.
And the great Virgil Flowers is a cardboard cutout of himself. His traits are tics, cited to remind readers of the interesting person they got to know in previous books.
My main complaint is the subplot: the dog stealers. I don't want to ruin this for anyone who's going to listen to it, but the writer exhibits no real concern about the dogs who've been stolen and mistreated. The ending is played for comedy. It's not funny. And Virgil gets a dog out of it? Really? That dog was stolen. No effort is made to find the owner? And that's heartwarming? What?
Eric Conger does his usual splendid job. If I'd read this review instead of written it, I'd probably buy the book anyway, because, hey, it's still John Sandford. A debased Sandford is still pretty good, although he needs to be ashamed of the dog part.
Having listened to Rainbow Rowell's "Attachments" and liking it a lot, I was massively disappointed in "Landline". The plot is silly, the pacing a snail's trail and the story super sexist.
The female narrator who bagged out on a Christmas trip to her husband's family is shown the error of her ways, even though her reason for staying home is the possibility of achieving her and her writing partner's life-long dream of their own TV show, only if they can write a couple of fast scripts in a week, Christmas week.
Reverse the sexes here and see how much sympathy a stay-at-home mom would get for considering divorce because her husband has a chance of his dream job, which he will lose if he joins her and their two kids for a trip to grandma's. He picks the job, and she wants to dump him, even though the family lives entirely on his income.
Only a working mom would feel so radically guilty about this, and the story agrees that she should! Wow, everybody.
I won't even go into the ridiculous conceit of her being able to talk to her husband 15 years earlier thanks to a magical landline.
"Attachments" seems to be a fluke.
Why did I buy this book? On the surface, it's light to the point froth, and yet, maybe because I began with low expectations, it delighted me.
Well-written, wry, tightly paced and especially enjoyable for anyone who has ever worked for an uptight, out-of-touch boss, "Attachments" delivers for humorous, completely non-graphic romance. It's really about friendships, the question of privacy and the possibility of connections in a disconnected world.
Great narrator. For once, these young adults all sound young.
Liked the atmosphere. This is not the Texas of right wing nutcases. No climate change deniers in this book. Nobody treating gun ownership like a religion. Nobody hating gay people and quoting Fox news. These characters are from the Texas I've been to but never seen quoted in the news media. They are eccentrics living well close to the economic bone, not well off but well enough off to have their own thoughts and unpredictable relationships. They are generous without being showy about it.
As a mystery this book is a little slow, but it would have been more of a pleasure were it not for the narrator. Plenty of Audible reviewers rail against narrators whom I think are just fine, but this guy kept me from committing to the story. He's awkward. I was constantly aware of him reading text, instead of conveying a story. I like a narrator to disappear from notice. Martin Gollery never did.
I'm writing this after listening to another book, and I had a hard time bringing the plot of this one back to mind. What happened to the girl? Only after pondering it for some time did I remember, as well as remember who the killer was. Oh yeah. Him.
Not sorry I bought it. Considering it's the writer's debut book, pretty good. Love the rat, and the cat. Made me feel better about Texas, the way "Speed" made me feel better about the LAPD.
Good writing, solid police procedural plot and good narrator. It's a bit of a dawdle. The pace slows down for a hell of a lot of characters mulling over their various points of view.
My real problem is that I don't want to read a mystery about human trafficking, and that is a good third of the story. The focus is a 15-year-old tricked from her African homeland and held in sexual slavery. I understand these things happen, but I don't want details in what is otherwise an entertaining story. There was nothing about this part of the story in the editor's summary or in the reviews. For me, this is torture, way too upsetting for a light diversion of a so-so thriller.
I found the Quarry series by accident, and wow, I'm glad I did. Although Collins wrote them in the '70s, they are far less dated than many more famous from that time. Despite the sexist pulp covers on each one, sexism is not a problem here, at least for me.
Quarry resembles Richard Stark's (Donald Westlake's) Parker, but I think the writing is better and the character more likable, at least for a hit man. Well done. Perfect narrator.
The only problem is, each book is pretty short. Even so, I think each one is worth a credit. I plan to listen to them all at least twice.
I tend not to listen to serious or difficult books, because those I want to hold in my hands and underline the key points to help me absorb them. This is certainly a serious book, but Elizabeth Kolbert is such a clean, clear writer her story flows as easily as it engages.
It's not a doom and gloom book either, at least not entirely, although doom is certainly in the works for many, many species, thanks to our stewardship of our shared planet. What can we do? Answering that question is not Kolbert's task. What she does is lay out in rich and compelling detail the story of what happened across millions of years on earth and what is happening now to animals on earth with us.
Some books I like disappear from mind fairly quickly. This one is staying with me. Highly recommended. Good narrator. She's low key, which is just right. Emotional would make listening impossible.
Very funny crime caper featuring an 88-year-old former cop, his wry, long-suffering wife and his violent yet geeky grandson. Violence runs in this family, although got to say, their adversaries have it coming.
Nick Sullivan is fabulous in a variety of voices. Loved it. Worth a credit? Hell yes.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.