A quietly engrossing character development of a man we might know. Mankell describes the hurts of his characters, bound by problems, insecurities. He opens a window into our minds, and exposes our means of coping with life. The narrator does a fine job. A great read. My first taste of Henning Mankell, and I'll look for more.
I'm really enjoying part 1. The writer is so unassuming, so down to earth. You'd think he was part of the "slacker" generation who just "happened into success." The reality is that Grant was least likely to succeed. His stories about the Mexican war, and the politics behind it give a better 1st person narrative of the times than current history books on the same period. I really liked the guy as I listen, and the narrator is pretty easy to listen to also. Proved the old adage that providence plays a part in the affairs of life.
I've got the full 5 book set, and I don't mind the narrator, or even his occasional mispronunciations. The content is good, and provides a humanizing commentary to the stories we only normally read in King James English in the Bible.
What I don't like is the chapter split and numbering. It's broken into sections that don't match chapters. If you loose your place, fall asleep listening to the reading and try to find the last place you listened, you're likely to be very frustrated. That's a major defect for me. I like the books, but will look for other providers. I've found other readers, that are worse, with better chapter breaks. Still looking for the right combo.
One of my favorite books this year. Booth develops this character slowly, like a good friendship should be developed. From the beginning we meet a lonely man, matter of fact, and circumspect about the details of his life.
First person narratives are my favorites, and this is one of those. Our mystery "American," reveals himself in small slices, just as one might choose to invite someone into one's own life. He's deeply immersed in his secretive craft, and under a watchful eye, his descriptions of his surroundings come alive in the mind of the reader.
He is a man of secrets, a certain fatalism, limited emotional intimacies, and rather than being amoral about his profession (manufacture of assassin's arms), he articulates a code of ethics above his surroundings. He stands outside the world of normalcy, and describes a consistent world view by which he lives. It's lonely, but has it's own serenity, and above all he is safe from all the things, and people who hurt us in so many ways.
We meet his customers, and through his eyes we even respect the idealism of their craft. But this solitary man is not without his enemies, and when at last he is run to ground by one of them.... well you'll just have to read the story to see how it ends.
From the beginning of the story through to the end, John leaves you looking for the next exciting step. Told in first person narrative, the story takes you inside the head of a man who's made a transformation from who he was to a very different man. He's a lonely man, and he fills his mind, and time with the details of his surroundings designed to help him survive. As others have suggested, this becomes a great travelogue. And for me that's a huge plus. I enjoyed italy through Backman's eyes. The Broker is not a super-sleuth, and that makes him more human, more approachable than say, a Ludlum or Follett character. We expect (hope) for him to survive, but knowing Grisham plots like "The Summons," and "The Partner," we know that John can provide bitter endings that disappoint our hopes. This one does not. I liked Joel Backman and wanted him to survive. This is one of John's top four or five books in my estimation, and I've read (or heard) nearly every one he's written. I'd like to see this one made into a movie.
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