I so wanted to love this book, since I've loved Jane Lynch in virtually everything I've ever seen her in -- from The Forty-Year-Old Virgin to O Sister, My Sister. But her life story, as it turns out, is much too thin to support an entire book -- at least in this well-scrubbed, mild-mannered telling. Coming-out stories just aren't enough to warrant autobiography, at least not anymore -- and particularly not when coming out seems as painless and matter-of-fact as it seems to have been for Lynch. Moreover, everyone she's ever met is just super -- incredibly nice, warm, unpretentious, etc. Everything that's ever happened to her has at least one (if not two, or three) silver linings. And life is pretty much uneventful and awesome, such that whole hours of this audiobook can be spent (and are) on the life-changing dilemma of what color to paint the master bedroom in her fabulous new house.
The story of Madoff's appalling, decades-long fraud is undeniably riveting -- but Markopolos is an egotist of colossal proportions. His uniquely off-putting personality (misogynist, megalomaniacal, breath-takingly self-important and self-aggrandizing) shines through his merely adequate expository prose.
From the very beginning, he's eager to let the reader know we have no hope of understanding the market machinations he's describing, and we shouldn't even try (indeed, he doesn't even try to explain them). Never was there a room in which Harry Markopolos wasn't the smartest guy; never was there anyone clever enough to appreciate Markopolos's unique and world-altering genius.
Worth a listen because of the interest of the underlying story of Madoff -- but only if you can stomach Markopolos.
One would think it would be difficult to make this sensationalist account of Ted Bundy -- one of America's most enduringly interesting serial killers -- boring. And yet somehow, Lorelei King manages.
She attempts to pitch her voice unnaturally low for all male characters -- the vice she shares with many female narrators -- but also bizarrely forces her voice higher whenever women are speaking. Beyond distracting.
I can't begin to describe how riveting this book is -- I read the text version, which is completely brilliant, but wanted to revisit it on a long car trip. Simon Vance's performance -- and the emotion he allows to creep into his voice in certain places, as he himself is affected by this tragic and disturbing story -- is nothing short of revelatory.
And the book itself -- the story of a deeply perverse and brutal murder, the specifically Japanese approach to the problem of criminal justice, and of a single broken family, all at once -- is not to be missed.
Can't recommend it highly enough.
Having greatly enjoyed, and been strongly affected by, all 3 HBO documentaries about this disturbing case, I was expecting the book to shed new light. Instead, it largely recapitulates what we already now from the documentaries (perhaps inevitable, since together they span 9+ hours), and trots out the same kind of baseless speculation and nearly libellous "maybe X did it," or "maybe Y did it," kinds of claims, without offering any compelling evidence for those accusations. I would watch the movies rather than read this book -- they're much more illuminating.
Final footnote: the performance left a great deal to be desired. Why do female narrators so often feel compelled to deepen their voices in a patently ridiculous fashion whenever a man is talking? (Given the fact that virtually everyone in this book is male, this is a *big* liability).
Also: I'm not entirely sure why the narrator also felt the need to do extremely unconvincing Arkansas accents for every single player in this story -- virtually all of whom are from Arkansas. Either find a narrator with an appropriate accent, or JUST READ NORMALLY. I beg you.
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