After enjoying Attica Locke's first novel, Black Water Rising, I expected another fast-paced, tense, and action-filled story. The Cutting Season was a disappointment in all three areas. Aside from the finding of a body in a shallow grave, everything else in the first 3/4 of the book seemed like background or side-story. Very little happened to advance the plot.
As I started to listen, I groaned aloud at the narrator's voice. She sounded like a cranky child. But within a few minutes I got used to her, and appreciated her clear diction and the appropriate emotional content of her reading. Quincy Tyler Bernstine's narration actually improved the story.
A romantic scene seemed to be added for no purpose at all; it gave little insight into the characters beyond making me like them a bit less for their questionable encounter. As with much of the text, it had nothing to do with the plot.
I have already recommended Black Water Rising to many friends, and will continue to do so, but I've also started adding "but avoid Locke's second book."
What a huge disappointment for my family! We've enjoyed every one of Barr's Anna Pigeon series over the years and looked forward to hearing this one. A few lines of dialog in the first chapter leapt out at me and ruined whatever suspense/mystery might have carried the story. I wondered later if perhaps the reader, knowing the whole story at the time he read aloud, might have tried too hard to make a couple of comments seem unimportant. Something in his delivery made me ask a question and then mentally answer it. Not until the last chapter did the author give the answer -- the same answer -- but by then I was too bored to care.
The characters were not very compelling. Good people, striving to succeed and live a good live in spite of horrendous childhood experiences...shouldn't it be fairly easy to make them appealing? And the villain was one-dimensionally evil, with no real background on why he was that way.
Even a favorite author falters once in awhile, but I will not seek out any future non-series books Ms. Barr chooses to publish.
Pendergast # (2013 addition to this mystery series)
Impeccable narration by René Auberjunois could not overcome my disappointment at this implausible, fragmented, and frustrating "visit" with Special Agent Pendergast. Three or four separate plots--and I do mean separate--never connected the characters we usually enjoy as an ensemble. Pendergast was in South America, Corey Swanson was in Kansas, Constance Green was following her own story line, and NYPD Detective Vincent D'Agosta was mere window-dressing. None of the plots overlapped or worked together, yet none was strong enough to stand alone. They are not improved by being bound together in one volume.
I usually enjoy suspending disbelief, at least a little bit, when going on an adventure with Pendergast. But the main plot, focusing on him, was a deadly combination of "timeworn" and "ridiculous."
Pendergast remains one of my favorite continuing characters, and I will most likely read the next novel as soon as it's available. By then I hope the bitter taste of this one will have dissipated.
Hamish Macbeth #29? (2013 addition to the mystery series)
After the first moments of the narrator speaking over harsh jangly intro music, this book was wonderful! I enjoyed Mr. Malcolm's rendition of various accents, and he was able to differentiate among characters without making any of them sound too extreme. The story was up to Beaton's high standards for this series; each book seems like a visit to Lochdubh to see old friends. Having read the first 28 books in only a few months, I am now reduced to waiting a year for each new addition, and it's difficult!
This is a partial review, commenting only on the performance. I hope to be able to find and read a print copy of the book so I can comment on the story as well. The reviews of the story intrigued me, and it sounds as if it could be a good historical fiction thriller.
But at the moment, I am so put off by the female narrator that I don't think I can continue listening. WHO HIRED THIS WOMAN? She is clearly not a native speaker of the English language; perhaps she is Italian. She almost swallows Italian phrases and proper nouns (as I am guilty of doing with my own name when I introduce myself...because it's so familiar).
The majority of the text she reads is English, but her incredibly poor pronunciation makes me miss about 1 word in every 5. And since I'm listening on my iPod, I can't back up just a few seconds, I have to jump back to the beginning of a chapter. So I just let her go on and on, wondering if I am getting enough details to follow the story. Even the words I do understand are mangled. For example, the word "purchase" comes out "poor CHASE" with a long A.
Occasionally I hear a sentence that makes me smile in pleasure at the clever writing, the unexpected phrase that communicates beautifully and adds a bit of humor or insight. That's why I want to read the book in print, now. It just isn't worth it to struggle through this abysmal narration any more.
"I'm going to be murdered in four days." That got D. D. Warren's attention! As a Boston homicide detective, Warren is not typically called upon to prevent a murder, but that's the request made of her by a mysterious stranger.
Fast-paced suspenseful story, unfolded in small pieces that the reader can fit together. As more pieces are added, the puzzle has to be rearranged again and again. Just when it all seems clear -- something new! This is the kind of storytelling that appeals to folks who like to figure out "whodunnit" before being told.
The narrator's speaking voice is pleasant, and she enunciates clearly. However, she read two major characters so similarly that I often couldn't tell them apart. When I finally caught on to who was speaking, I wished I could "turn back a page or two" to review what she had said and what it meant.
Having heard one D. D. Warren short story, and then this novel, I'm definitely interested enough in Lisa Gardner's writing to seek out more in this series.
Tense and exciting rematch between Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto, 20 years after the events of Turow's PRESUMED INNOCENT (which, cleverly, were not detailed in this story). Nor was the surprise ending of this book given away ahead of time, yet upon hearing it, I knew it fit all the facts. A well-written, fast-paced story expertly narrated by Edward Hermann and Orlagh Cassidy.
The anecdotes are all familiar -- they've happened to me or I've seen them happen to others. Hearing a logical, scientific explanation was mind-opening. Now I want everyone I love (and many folks I just like a lot) to hear this book, too. I will definitely listen to it more than once.
Also, this book alerted me to the author's website and blog, where there are many more examples of where human thinking goes astray.
The author clearly loves his subject, and knows a lot about it. The writing was clear, direct, and very entertaining. The narrator did an excellent job, and was a good match for this book.
Having begged, borrowed & swapped all of McCaffrey's books that were available when I was in college, I got hooked on her writing. It is a real treat to listen to these old stories, read beautifully, and to realize that their appeal lasts for decades. Listening is almost like a visit to Pern.
As the first book in a long-running, mesmerizing series, DRAGONSONG could be compared to Raymond E. Feist's MAGICIAN, and Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER.
Hard to choose from so many, but today it's Master Robinton.
Let your spirit soar on dragon wings!
Perhaps it's a personal preference for the non-high-tech sort of science fiction, but I enjoyed McCaffrey's Pern novels much more than her other work. In fact there's little "science" in the Pern series; I'd call them "fantasy."
I chose this book based on a strong recommendation by a friend, who rarely leads me astray. Unfortunately I found little to like about it.
The lead character (the Ranger himself) was not likable, certainly not admirable. For a story to succeed, the author has to give the reader something to connect with, someone to root for, but this connection was missing for me.
Yes, the narrator did a good job.
The core group of characters were all essential to the plot. Rather than cutting any, I'd like to see them all made more interesting, more appealing.
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