This book truly captivated me. I listen to Audible books often on my lengthy commute, but this time I spent considerable "driveway" time listening to this book. I would routinely arrive home but not be able to stop listening to the compelling story playing through my car sound system.
The poignant story itself will be enough to hold most listeners interest, but the rich language that creates the vivid landscape in which the story unfolds is addicting. The primary character's childhood fears, selfishness and angst is the core of the story and is revealed in the first person in an intimate and provocative way. The symmetry of the the entire story, from beginning to end, evolves naturally and completely. It is impossible not to be touched by this story.
This book is also unique in that the narration is done by the author himself. Like many of the reviewers whose reviews I have read and found helpful, I have come to make my Audible.com selections as much for the narrators as for the authors themselves. My favorite slections have been those when a great story was matched with wonderful narration. This was such a case. The author/narrator's subtle accent and fluent pronunciation of Afghan names and places reinforced the authenticity of the book. Beyond that, his voice and the production quality of the recording was outstanding.
If I was going to guess what the author himself would most want to hear is that he has told a wonderful story in an authentic voice.
I have becomne a big fan of James Lee Burke. His Dave Robicheaux books are among my all time favorites since I joined Audible.com 9 years ago. A major contributor to their succes is undoubtedly the narration of Will Patton. His voice and performance were perfectly matched for these stories. Unfortunately, he is not the reader for "Burning Angel". The publisher obviously wanted to replicate the southern accent and character of Patton's vocie, but they missed completely with Mr. Hammer. I really tried to give this book a chance, but I just can't imagine 12 hours of this narration. Even speeding up the track on my iPod didn't help much. Hammer's voice is rich in cajun tone, and I am certain that he would fit into a dramatic production well. But the publishers need to realize that simply having an interesting voice is not enough to carry the unrelenting burden of a long narration. I could not be more disappointed in this selection. It will be the first Audible.com download that I will not listen to because of the narrator. I take some responsibility for this. Since I am very familiar with this author and this series of novels, I did not listen to a sample. Caveat emptor. If you like Burke's novels and are thinking about this selection, take the time to listen to the sample. Nonetheless, I would NOT recommend this book. Seek out another one of Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels narrated by Will Patton. Doing so will give you a chance to enjoy a good story written in rich, clever prose with characters that will quickly interest you. Unfortunately the narration on this offering make the author's talent inaccessible.
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