I liked this 2008 work by Preston and Child. The plot was a bit freighted with bio-tech and IT jargon before hitting air speed about 1/3 of the way in. It's an exciting story, with unpredictable plot twists and an all-too-frightening resemblance to our modern world. If the reader is willing to devote time and patience as the book sets up, the subsequent ride is well worth the effort.
With a few exceptions, the protagonist Guy Carson and his friends and foes are well- placed, believable characters deftly manipulated by the authors to maximum effect. The sole exception is Guy's female sidekick, whose ethnic rants and extraneous social commentary were an irritating distraction after a while.
All in all, a great book and a good read too by David Colacci.
White Fire is the latest installment in the successful Pendergast series of novels for which the authors Preston and Child collaborate. I thought advertising this work as a Pendergast book bordered on bait-and-switch marketing. Pendergast indeed eventually arrives on the scene, but a major portion of this story, and the entire early setup of the novel, is devoted to Corrie Swanson, a minor character who appeared in earlier works in this series.
The authors did not develop Corrie as a character. Instead, she is used as a theatrical prop and counterpoint to Pendergast's brief appearances to lend the novel an unrealistic if not implausible sense of danger and drama. In sum, Corrie is a one-trick pony whose default response to all situations is simply to do the opposite of what she is told or what makes sense. She is a literary stick figure and caricature of a restless young woman who brings little to the table as a principal character whom the reader might like, dislike, sympathize with, root for or relate to in any satisfying way.
I wonder if the authors are running out new ideas for the Pendergast series?
I would give White Fire a pass and perhaps re-read (or re-listen to) an earlier and more entertaining Pendergast novel.
Rene Auberjonois performs well in this work, capturing the unique southern drawl of Pendergast, the alleged protagonist in this work, as well as a myriad of other characters who come and go in this novel.
Stephen King is the Master. And by that I mean THE Master. I've read and listened to all of his works. In his recorded remarks at the end of this work Mr. King said, "...and I'm pretty good at what I do." Yes, he is.
The book is masterfully performed by Will Patton. As I'm an avid fan of Mr. Patton and his readings of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels, I enjoyed hearing echoes of Clete Purcell in some of the dialogue in Dr. Sleep.
While long, the book is perfectly paced, excruciatingly well-organized (and that's a good thing- there are a lot of moving parts here), exquisitely edited and totally addictive. As with athletes, artists, craftsmen and statesmen, one would expect talent to wane over the decades. The opposite seems to be the case with Mr. King.
Mr. King's magic, it seems to me, is in carefully cultivating terror on the margins of one's mind - not so much from what is said or done or happens, but instead by something else that resonates just outside of one's mental peripheral vision.
While some of his earlier books seemed to be written with the movie rights and adaptation to screen in mind, this was not the case with Dr. Sleep.
Finally, I enjoyed very much Mr. King's references to AA wisdom, the nuggets of which were, like acorns, strewn along the path of this tale, adding to both the depth of the characters and the enjoyment of the reader.
Very, very well done.
The sordid crime and lurid sexual details described in this work would have been more suitable for a piece in Vanity Fair, where one might distractedly read it while waiting for a dental appointment. At its essence, the book describes the murder of a young man by his habitually distrustful girlfriend, an occurrence barely noticed in our modern world. Excursions into the the family history and psychological profile of Jodi Arias, as well as that of her victim - Travis Alexander - were confusing distractions that further obscured the point of this work.
The author seemed to rely on a rehash of publicly available documents and evidence produced at trial in a beleaguered effort to sensationalize a routine homicide caused by a relationship gone bad. Interestingly, and in the author's preface to the work, Ms. Velez-Mitchel displayed an unseemly personal distaste for Ms. Arias that seemed unprofessional and out-of-place.
I enjoyed the opening sections of this work. The author did a good job setting up the plot and outlining the characters and their respective roles in the action. As the story lumbered on, however, it seemed as if Mr. Hill had no idea where he was taking this tale when he first put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in Chapter 1. As Mr. Hill lost his compass heading, the story line unraveled under the weight of a poorly organized work of fiction. A good story has a beginning, a middle and an end; Mr. Hill's work was just endless middle.
The characters were the saving grace of this book, more due to the excellent performance of Ms.Kate Mulgrew than creative portrayals by Mr. Hill. I've not yet been inclined in my 10-year membership to listen to other works based on the performance of the reader alone. For Ms. Mulgrew, I plan to make an exception and will soon look to see what else she has done. She did a great job.
My advice: Save your money and look for Kate Mulgrew to read something else.
The opening segment of this work claimed that James J. "Whitey" Bulger was, after Osama bin-Laden, "America's most notorious criminal."
That attempt at puffing up Whitey's imprint on our country, however, did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. This is the third in a trilogy of works devoted to the life and times of Whitey. This final installment, like the previous "Black Mass", is more an indictment of FBI corruption than a frightening account of a notorious Irish gangster.
In fact, rather than a "criminal mastermind" as described by the authors, Whitey turns out to be simply a local Boston-based hoodlum, with a penchant for hands-on violence, surrounded by a gang that couldn't shoot straight.
The authors' discursions into topical events of the 1960s, 70s and 80s are enjoyable and do not detract from the pace or direction of the story. Whitey's participation in CIA backed LSD experimentation on prisoners is one example of hidden nuggets in this work, otherwise freighted with minutia about Whitey, his family and criminal associates.
John Rubenstein does an outstanding job of reading this work. His delivery carried me over passages bloated with detail and historical data that, after a while, left me overwhelmed and numb.
In sum, a good story about a small time crook, whose grasp eventually exceeded his reach.
Worth the money and time.
Simply put: The story, characters, venue and performance of this book were predictable, threadbare and ultimately boring. The dialogue was so laden with crime novel cliches that I had to occasionally take a break to avoid the temptation to erase the entire book before continuing. Predictable tough guys with no depth of character litter this work throughout. Lecturing tomes about "how to", " only two ways to do", etc., ripped off from Lee Child and his Jack Reacher series, here fell flat and came across as condescending.
Geeky descriptions of fearsome weapons and unnecessarily graphic descriptions of grisly acts of violence could not compensate for shallow characters, shaky story line and cringe-inducing dialogue.
Jake Weber's performance was more distraction than entertainment. His efforts to portray hardened criminals as well as world-weary but soft-harted characters from society's fringe lacked subtlety and resulted in caricatures of criminals instead of believable persons. To be fair, the dialogue he was forced to work with inexorably led to this result.
Mr. Hobb's literary agent turned in the best performance here by somehow convincing Audible to showcase this first book as a must-read, breakout thriller.
Gideon's Corpse is Preston and Child's latest foray into global apocalyptic threats. It's an exciting ride and the authors again demonstrated their proven ability to introduce the plot in a subtle, engaging and ingenious manner.
The auathors have teed up Gideon Crew as an alternative to Aloysius Pendergast, the albino FBI agent whose eccentricities and unusual skills have propped up the Pendergast mystery series. Crew emerges as a complex, anti-hero hero who, like Pendergast, has an unusual and sorrowful history but who possesses unique skills that are brought to bear.
The novel is a real "page-turner" and I found myself several times unwilling pause my iPod and put the story on hold. That said, several of the action scenes were belabored, unnecessarily long and seemed to be used to pad the length of the story. Shorter, in this case, would have been sweeter.
The reader David Collins struggled to put life into some of the characters. This was most evident in his portrayal of Gideon's sidekick, FBI agent Stone Fordyce (great name!), who came across as a lifeless automaton who spoke in monotones devoid of emotional affect. Stone was a key character to the story and a better reading of his lines would have added to the tale.
In short, a good book, a good story and well-worth the price and time.
This is the second installment of the Helen Pendergast saga. It is a good story but I hope this series ends with "Two Graves" ? This is particularly so, as the series seems to require reading all 3 books (so far) to get the gist of what's going on. Other references to earlier novels are also included but not required reading. What began as an enjoyable multi--book story is now evolving into an undergraduate course on Pendergast, that requires juggling much information, and with no end in sight.
On the upside, Rene Auberjonois does a terrific job with portraying Pendergast, a complicated hero with a multitude of skills, as well as the other myriad characters who come and go in this novel and series.
On the downside, the authors' effort to portray Pendergast's love for his elusive wife Helen was clumsy and amateurish. Gazing together upon a "buttery moon" was one of many cringe-inducing scenes that showed the authors are far better at writing fast-paced thrillers with subtle twists than syrupy teenage romances.
Bottom line: Still a good read, but let's hope a satisfying conclusion is not too far over the horizon.
It's unusual that works read by the author actually turn out well. Rakoff 's (RIP) reading of Half Empty added and did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the book- a collection of hilarious essays on issues of the day. Rakoff's droll narration matched the witty and enjoyably cynical commentary.
Rakoff is much like the other "David", David Sedaris, who has entertained us for years on NPR.
This is a quick and enjoyable listen.
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