This is another outstanding James Lee Burke novel with a value-added feature: an audiobook also provides the talented Will Patton as narrator. In fact, it is difficult to decide what I enjoy the most - Burke's brilliant plots, complex characters and detailed panoramic scenery or Patton's voices.
I was worried when I read that Dave, Molly and Clete had left the enticing confines of Louisiana for Montana. I was wrong. This is vintage James Lee Burke, who I believe is the best mystery novelist in the world.
In the rich tradition of Steinback's Grapes of Wrath comes this novel by one of my favorite writers. However, this is not a detective story. No Dave and Clete. no Billy Bob. It is a coming of age novel of a young man,Perry James, in a Kentucky mining town in the mid-twentieth century. To the Bright and Shining Sun (interesting title), in true Burke manner, vividly portrays the life of poverty and despair amid the fighting and violence between the coal industry owners and unions. The story is not black and white - the unions are as ineffectual as the owners are corrupt and amoral. It is about one young man's attempt to dig himself out of the cycle of deprivation and to revenge his father's death.
One other point: although Will Patton is my favorite Burke narrator, Tom Stechschulte does an admirable job bringing this gritty story to life.
This story does not take place in Three Pines but deep in the secluded woods of Quebec in the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. The novel covers only a few days and is confined almost exclusively to the monastery. The real villain here is not the murderer but Gamache's boss who ranks high among the evil characters of English fiction. The strong relationship between Jean-Guy and Gamache is tested and the Chief Inspector's patience and real love for Jean-Guy are evident.
I enjoy the "Three Pines" novels but I also welcomed the break to a different world. One warning - this may not be a good place to start reading Louise Penny. Her continual references to the gun battle (see "Bury the Dead") may be confusing especially in an audio book if you do not know the whole story.
Finally I hope Ralph Cosham continues to narrate Louise Penny's books. He does a terrific job.
Now I can't wait for the sequel to this story. There must be one!
Before I review the novel, let me write something about Jack Hawkins. I don't know how many people check the "sample" audio before they decide to purchase a book, but in this case don't be fooled by the short sample. It reflects nothing of the magnificent voices of Jack Hawkins. I know the term has been used many times, but he truly brings the Cornwell characters to life. I wish he had narrated all the author's books.
"1356" despite its blood and gore, is an incredible story with Thomas of Hookton, a leader of a group of mercenary archers, "the Hellequin" as its central character. This book culminates in the Battle of Poitiers, a rather unknown English victory is the 100 years war. But it is more than a tale of war; it is a tale of love between husband and wife (Thomas and Genevieve), a tale of hate between the Count of Labrouillade, a disgusting specimen of a man and his wife who sensibly runs off with another man, and it is a tale of a demonic priest, an ambitious cardinal and other corrupted and corruptible churchmen. It is also a quest story, this time for the sword that St Peter used to cut off the ear of an enemy. In fact, for those following Cornwell's quest novels, this is the fifth.
I highly recommend this book/
I enjoyed "Safe House" and especially liked Simon Vance. To help with the setting I downloaded a map of the Isle of Man and had it at my elbow as I listened to the story. Rob Hale is an unlikely hero, a plumber and a serious cyclist (Isle of Man is the home of TT motorcycle races). Like the TT races, the story is full of dramatic twists and turns; the book keeps you guessing. For this reason you have to be quite attentive listening to this audio book; scenes change and a few times I had to hit the rewind button. I should add that this does not mean it is a superficial tale; Ewan through Vance's voice paints a very detailed picture of the surroundings, the characters and the events.
This is my first Chris Ewan and I will check out his offering offerings.
Towards the end of the epilogue Bryce Courtenay, aware that this is his last novel, says he hopes he will be remembered as a "damn good story-teller". That he is and so he will be remembered. "Jack of Diamonds" starts in Toronto and takes us to Las Vegas, New York, London and finally back to the copper mines in Northern Africa mentioned in Courtenay's earlier novels and where the author himself worked as a "grizzly" when he was 17 years old. His hero is Jack Spayd who grew up in Cabbage Town, Toronto who climbs out of his poverty thanks to his mother's support, good black friends, the love of his life, Bridget and his exceptional talent as a jazz musician and an elite poker player, the latter which almost costed him his life on several occasions.
This novel reminds me in some ways of "Whitehorn" and I enjoyed it immensely although I found it difficult to realize that this was BC's last novel.
Humphrey Bower is one of my favorite narrators. What a terrific job he does as a Canadian from Toronto. I could never see anyone else doing Bryce Courtenay's books. Bower brings all the characters to life.
This is another must-read.
So sad to know that this wonderful Australian author has produced his final book.
After being introduced to "The Bat" I went on a Jo Nesbo quest and read the rest of the Harry Hole books on Audible. "The Leopard" is the sequel to the "Snowman". I enjoyed the depth of the story, the intricacies of the plot and the powerful characters. Even the bad guys are "good". These two books are very similar although they stand alone. I must admit that I was concerned after reading Sean Barrett's "The Bat" I thought I would be disappointed with Robin Sachs, but I wasn't.
However, I have three negative points about "The Leopard": (a) Nesbo doesn't tie all the loose ends and I can only assume another sequel is forthcoming. (b) Another commentator pointed this out - one has to be very careful listening to the story because the Norwegian names are strange to the North American ear and you can get distracted. (c) I pointed out earlier that I enjoyed the humor in "The Bat". There are a couple of funny lines in "the Leopard" but the essential humor in the face of human atrocity is missing.
In the end though well worth the money.
Just finished Book 3 after my introduction to Jo Nesbo and his star anti-hero Harry Hole in Book 1. This book is situated primarily in Norway with flashbacks to WW2. Am I glad I found Jo Nesbo. It's entertaining, incredibly fast-paced, strong character development and a plot that contains many twists and turns.
Another must read.
And Sean Barrett is a perfect fit for the Harry Hole series.
Please Audible - bring on the other books in this powerful series.
I would highly recommend this fast-paced detective thriller. This is my first experience with Jo Nesbo and the Harry Hole series and what a terrific story. Let me also state emphatically at the outset that Sean Barrett does an incredible job as actor (the word "narrator" is too limiting).
This book has all the essential elements of an exciting novel - strong characters and plot, extremely well-written and, as mentioned above, well-told. Nesbo uses the effective technique of short anecdotes and flash backs to enrich the story and build the characters. There are also, at least in my opinion, many similarities between James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux and Nesbo's Harry Hole.
One other comment: this book is incredibly funny despite its theme.
Finally, I don't see Harry Hole Series #2 on the Audible list. #3 is there and thankfully Sean Barrett is the narrator.
This is clearly a must listen.
Absolutely! Thanks to Will Patton!
It is difficult to determine a favorite character because James Lee Burke creates characters like Charles Dickens did years ago. They are alive; they are vivid; they are complex; they are real people with their heroic abilities and lingering weaknesses. They fight injustice; they take on corrupt corporations, government and evil people and they also fight their own demons. That said, Dave Robicheaux is one of my favorite characters in all literature. And in the J L Burke series, dear old lovable Cletis is not far behind.
Most moments in a James Lee Burke novel are moving and I consider "Creole Belle" as one of his best. This novel is filled with memorable and deeply moving scenes; Clete's revelation to Gretchen particularly moved me.
This is something I've never done before. I finished "Creole Belle" and then went immediately back to the beginning and I'm now re-listening to the story. James Lee Burke takes on the BP oil spill off the Gulf coast, Nazi war criminals, systemic racism, human torture, complacent law officers and other manifestations of the "dark clouds" of humanity. However, amid this battle waged primarily by Dave and his loyal and dangerous friend, Clete, there is humor (I thought this was J L Burke's most humorous work), there is love between fathers and daughters, husband and wife, friends, colleagues - and all clothed in the author's beautiful poetic language.
I believe many books and stories are read and forgotten. "Creole Belle" will stay with you as long as you live.
And long live James Lee Burke! Long live Will Patton!
I highly recommend this book. I don't repeat listening to audio books, but this doesn't reflect on my total satisfaction with this story. I have been on a Dickens blitz lately listening to 8 Dickens' novels and Bleak House ranks among the best.
The essential problem is that Dickens has so many rich characters that it is impossible to choose one. Do I pick the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson or the friendly John Jarndyce? Is it Dr. Woodcourt or George Rouncewell? That's the point about Dickens - there are too many great characters to choose from. If I must choose it would be Esther. I like Dickens' female characters (e.g. Florence in Dombey & Son). She is among the best - strong in adversity, faithful to her beliefs, committed to those dear to her and high minded in her actions. And she is charming.
George Rouncewell by Sean Barrett and Esther by Teresa Gallagher. I enjoyed both narrators, but I must add that a male narrator does a better job on female characters than a female narrator does on male characters, if that makes sense. Ms Gallagher is fine as Esther but not so with male characters.
As in all Dickens' novels, there are high moments of laughter and sadness.
Bleak House has sub-plots and minor themes, but the primary focus is Dickens' criticism of the British judiciary system, notably the Court of the Chancery. What is quite revealing and despairing is that the judicial systems of today have not changed that much; there is a law for the rich and another for the poor.
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