First, the narrator's voice was robotic; he did not pause for commas and periods. His phrasing and timing and vocal variations were all disorienting and took away from the already hard-to-tolerate story. I would not recommend this book for anyone not familiar with the series. Perhaps in print it would be better, but the narration is so wrong, it will give the wrong impression of the quality of the other books.
I love the Hardy series, but the characters and their characterizations in this one were either Lescroart's earliest renderings of them or a result of something having gone terribly wrong. The multiple (convenient) deaths which follow the first crime stretched credulity. The gratuitous violence involving the murders of two men and the apparent suicide of a "good" guy felt like shortcuts the writer used to build up a (not so convincing) momentum to justify the stupid vigilante climax. I am so glad to have not read these in order. Had I "watched" Dismas, Abe and Moses in this episode, it would have tainted their characters for me and I would not have read the later books.
One problem that kept popping up for me was whenever Hardy was about to do something unethical, he ran it by other people who had to tell him that it was unethical, who listed the legal reasons, etc.. Hardy is a lawyer, and I don't care how close to home the threats may have loomed, he did not need people to remind him of the risks he was taking. That felt like overkill and word padding.
I HATED the rendering of Abe Glitsky in this one. Again, had I read it before coming to "know" him later in the series, I would have been less interested in him. Here we see him as a weak, scared, easily-intimidated man who, by the way, was willing to bend the rules at the request of his father. The Glitsky of the later books would have felt and done none of this. Lescroart would have us believe that a man (whatever his mettle) is easily compromised and his nature almost destroyed by what happens on his job. In this book, Abe was serving detention, demoted from head of Homicide; his passive job in Payroll sapped his masculinity and his common sense. I think this is a little more telltale about the author than the character. The role played by Glitsky is a political/social statement: Take my job away, and the man/woman I once was no longer exists.
Hardy's client, John Holliday was a bigger character than the other characters in the book. To me, with a series and its recurring characters, this was a mistake. Lescroart gave Holliday a likable though ambiguous disposition and throughout the book we are led to believe that Holliday might be guilty. Those aspects of Hardy???s client should have been subordinate to aspects of Hardy and Glitsky. Holliday???s role should not have been bigger (in effect if not dialogue and presence). Holliday???s presence dominated the epilogue, also starring Glitsky and Hardy.
About the ending: The exoneration and the slaughter were stupid, unlikely. It seemed to reek of the kind of inexplicable carnage that is successful with a series like the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. But in Child???s series, Reacher is the protagonist and simultaneously a virtual unknown. Contrasting the ending of Lescroart's "First Law" with the body count endings of a Lee Child novel puts Hardy et al in a silly light.
Lescroart got smart later on. In future installments, Hardy and Abe regain their footing and do more of what they do best. The dialogue improves, the plot and its pacing are right on. In "First Law," the scenes where the two families meet, eat and play were okay, though they lacked the zest of Abe's trademark growl and the zeal of Hardy's and Abe's upbeat spouses and children.
Another problem here is that the book contained too many clich??d problems of the times. Drug/alcohol addiction and recovery, resentful women once wronged, a May-December relationship, residual Vietnam-veteran era rage, marriage/remarriage, dead children, troubled children and second wives, bad cops, good cops, stupid cops, and accidental evidence. These elements are present in all the Hardy books, and the books are generally richer for their inclusion, but in this one, they felt added-on, planted for effect rather than written in as an organic part of the narrative. Lots of beating the reader over the head with the old ghosts to remind us why it was okay for good guys to lapse.
So, while not my favorite, and not a recommended volume, it was okay because it added to the history of the characters we come to know over several more books. I hope there are more Hardy/Glitsky tales to come. Glad this one and Betrayal are out of my way and I can sort of forget the bad impression they made.
Not one complaint except an unanswered question... Who was Burt and what was the secret that Sylvester had promised to never reveal? Or did I miss it?
Beyond that, it was a very, satisfying, educational and rich in character and setting. Very well worth reading.
I read this for a class in Brit Lit. Simply because it's Henry James, it's not the worst of the bunch. It is rather long winded for the outcome. The psychological portraits seem apt. The legal stuff a tad unbelievable, but probably true. To me it all rests in one idea. Mrs. Gareth's son does not have the kind of adoration a son should have for his mother, so she is being ousted by the despicable woman he wants to marry. The woman Mrs.Gareth wants him to marry is too morally sound to do what must be done to displace the fiance, so much chaos ensues.
The ending is troubling for an absence of explanation. I like a cliffhanger, but I feel there was not enough information in the characters to give me even a guess at the perpetrator of the final act. It's almost as if James threw up his hands in disgust at his characters and took action with his pen to free them from a final decision.
Anyway, it's worth the credit; though it lacks humor, sustained tension and, except for a final action by Owen and a last page event, it also lacks surprise.
So this kid from the hinterlands decides to become a doctor. He goes through the trials and tribs of youth, early love, rejection. He hitches his academic wagon to the wrong stars on occasion. He finds the right woman who supports him and his quest for a medical degree and a position to work in science. He fails miserably more than once. He capitulates to corporate greed, the woman's parents, the expectations of society all before he wakes up --too late-- and has to start all over again.
If this was a jab at the education of a medical professional, it seems weak today. The writing was strong, the characters well defined, their foibles and power well explored and delineated. Poor Martin Arrowsmith, however, was drawn without much spine, and less imagination than his costars.
Not sure why this is a "classic" except for its year, and the fact that Sinclair Lewis also wrote Elmer Gantry, but it is an adequate portrait of early 20th century, pre-WWII America. There are some attacks at militarism, at corporate medical practices, at academia, etc., but it's not a diatribe and it is also not a deep read.
I am taking on Elmer Gantry later, but I feel I've already seen into that book through Lewis' sweep of American immorality in this book. Elmer Gantry SHOULD be preachy; Arrowsmith was as well.
I think it is about average for the series. There is much repetition, seemingly filler. There is no real "suspense" to speak of, no twists or turns. These books are getting too soft, too nicey-nicey and not enough bad behavior. Mikey Haller is despicable, he lies, cheats and pretty much bends the law to his needs, which is not only not appealing, but a little ridiculous. Connelley gives the judges much better standards of behavior, *always* belittles the prosecutors and generally makes the women characters very likeable. I think he is being a little too PC, it feels contrived. His client is claiming innocence of the murder, which is Mickey's case in this book, but the client is not someone I would root for--not because he is into bad stuff but because he's a wuss and I couldn't have cared less if he died in jail. Of all the characters, I think I liked Sly Sr. the most. He was the most authentic, but even he caved to Mickey's brilliant wheeling and dealing.
The plot to this one took some brain mapping. I don't know why, but I had a difficult time believing the tie-in between the (at least) three separate crimes.
Like I said, no surprises, no tears of sadness or joy, no real threats to anyone -- twice Mickey ignores the judge's admonition to quit running her courtroom and doesn't get in trouble. Mickey spends a good deal of time pinpointing his main juror, but it didn't matter anyway... why plant that seed? Bad use of red herring.
Anyway, I'm a fan of the series and of Connelley's past performances, so I am an eternal optimist. Maybe in the next installment he should kill off Mickey, so we don't expect more of a good thing that apparently is not forthcoming?
I have run into this syndrome in the past, favored authors' series and characters growing stale. It could be a matter of boredom by the author who may have publishing contracts to fulfill. Lee Child may be approaching this milestone, Jonathan Kellerman has gotten close too. Even Preston & Child's Pendergast series is getting a little predictable -- except that they have strong stories and AXP Pendergast is generally very much alive on the page and remains as likeable as a rock star.
It's kind of like knowing when to leave the party. I think it's time for Mickey Haller to pack up his boring self, his bad fathering, his womanizing, his self-pity and his tricky courtroom hijinks and drink himself to death.
The worst narrator in the world. Voice was bad, and there was an audible "click" like to a tape machine every several minutes... I am downloading another version, because I know the book is great... This should be removed from the list.
Wonderful book, good story, some predictable elements, but the "twist" was unexpected. I expected a whole different reason for the "big decision." This was better. Warm, authentic and suitable for all ages, cultures and interests. Narrator very good. Recommended -- in fact, should be required reading for students of the human community. Tolerance, humor, survival, family, fathers and sons.... just great.
Loved it on every level. Liked that there were no "hidden" messages, but outright connections and links to events and personal psychology of the hostages. Loved that so many characters could be so individually present and unique. Loved the "love" relationship of the two couples, adored the Russian's profession of adoration based on a (long) short story of the man's early years. Yes, these are archetypal characters.. we've seen them all before in one scenario or another, but the twists are subtle and sufficient enough to make it a page turner, though the pages turned gently, for it was a sweet book, a book of hope.
Throughout the story, the narrator tells us things like "later he would think..." so that we knew certainly the future of that particular character. The suspense was in my own longing that the couples could be coupled after the takeover. Yet the tragedy and the glory of the situation grow from the impossibility of the situation.
If the set was too comfortable, too well fed, housed in a mansion and not in a thatched roof hut in a forest, who cares? The story was about captivity, language, voice, independence and dependence. The Opera motif fit perfectly the drama of the setting, the largeness of the characters, and voice, voice was key here.
A translator is not allowed to interpret or choose what is meant to be said, eventually the Traductor stepped out of his role. A terrorist is not supposed to waver; the generals eventually tired. Child terrorists should be obedient or they would be punished, this scruffy lot was hungry for the outside world and confined to the VP's mansion were things they would never have seen, heard or felt. It was about acceptance and letting go.
Someone mentioned that the language came right of an MFA platter of perfect English. I agree, and that's what made it so readable. The sentences were almost invisible, unless you don't like your English well done. The language carried the story without intrusion and that is a trait of greatness.
I have one complaint, and that complaint cost this the 4th star. The ending, a bit abrupt, was "unfair," regarding the terrorists, and it seemed rushed. But beyond that, what we learn in the Epilogue about the survivors broke the spell for me. I did not care at all for the way Roxanne and Gen ended up. It is too flimsy to say that because each lost the love of their individual lives (as formed in captivity), that they should assume the roles of the lost ones. Mr. Hosokawa and Carmen go down together by a single bullet.. ghastly and too melodramatic. Gen and Roxanne’s final pairing made no sense, and while I was ready to "sell" the book to anyone who would listen to me, it ruined the spell for me. Of course, Edith and Simon Thibault made sense together… Simon’s adoration of his wife was never questioned.
Narrator Anna Fields was splendid...
Limited in scope, a "feel-good" story written in simple prose, with nothing of substance to support it. Rather stock characters, though some more interesting than others. Religious "lessons" in the actions/punishments of wayward people. Basically a Christian look at a hard life, about forgiveness, tolerance, and learning to be satisfied with what one has.
If this was meant to contain any "feminist" threads, they were slim. Strong female protag who is successful in most of her endeavors, but waits till forever to marry. A few conflicts which could have proved interesting but didn't
Narrator fine; story -- good for 10-12 year olds; older kids would find it dull and unrealistic.
Lots of scenery, love of the land, etc. etc.
Read The Yearling if you like books about making it in the rough, about rising to overcome adversity and about growing up to be a "good" human being.
2.5 - 3*, because it is the first of a fairly good trilogy. My Antonia (the 3rd) is far better than this one; with more grit and real emotion, perhaps because by then Cather had matured as a writer.
From the opening words to the final scene, the story was flawless. Not too many "silly" coincidences, but a few for good humor. Not too unlikely a scenario, but enough to make it riveting. I especially loved the first "escape" scenario -- a bit out there, but not for Reacher. As usual there is a good measure of but just enough philosophy, sociology, child psychology and scientific fact. The romancing was maybe a bit light, its power being in afterthoughts and not in present/action. Would have liked a bit more eroticism; seemed like a "task" to get done and over with the first time; the second time being described in retrospect, passively and without ardor.
The plot: Loved, loved, loved the Claughtons, believable, funny and a little caricatured. Believable except for the 1 vs. 8 "honor among thieves" episode.
My favorite parts were in Reacher's musings on Sam Dayton, the way phrases goaded him forward, and in his recountings of his childhood, the way phrases explained his particular kind of thinking.
If there is a weak point, and this is probably only my problem, it is the ending. The end was good in that it tied up and explained everything. But the all-around forgiveness was hard to accept. I DID like the way Jack and Susan ended the book. Logical, predictable, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. God forbid there would be commitment.
The book began and ended with Reacher as he is: affected but not altered by his recent episode and encounters. It was good to watch him "feel" for another person. His feelings went well beyond righting wrongs. It went to his core. If the Samantha Dayton story had worked out differently, we would have had a kinder, gentler Reacher, who might have begun building picket fences.
Instead, I wait for the next one, and a year is entirely too long.
This is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. It is riveting, it is complete, it is complex, it demands much from the reader; it requires re-reading of some sections.
Every single character is "sympathetic." You like them all. You want each of them to achieve their goals.. the good guys and the bad guys. As the murder victims added up, I felt so sad, so sorry for them. The characters are so strong that I will never forget them.
Throughout the book, I kept asking myself "whose story is this?" It comes clear late in the book. It is in parts 7 and 8 that the whole thing begins to stick together.
Still, the end was a little disappointing. There is at least one "missing person," one unexplained death, and it is so much meditation on very "heavy" subjects.
I think I wish McCarthy had put some of that spiritual searching earlier in the book; following so much action, it's a little bottom heavy with stream-of-consciousness, moralizing. The questions are all apt to the story; they provoke deep thought.
There is very little but some politicizing ... some grandstanding by the author, but it was light and it did not feel like a "big statement."
At any rate it is among my all time favorites, right up there with the Classics, the Russians and the Moderns. It is atypical of these post-modern times. The book is old- fashioned in that it tells a real story. It is new-fashioned in that it has a strange approach to dialect -- including phonetic punctuation. It does become comfortable quickly. There are point of view switches that are not always clear until well into each new section's opening paragraphs. Sometimes you don't know whose story we are in, and then you do know because each character is so distinguishable.
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