Let me start by saying that I was let down by Will Patton's performance. Having listened to many of his performances of James Lee Burke's novels, I was looking forward to another stunning narration. Instead, it was just average, probably because the lighter atmosphere of cowboys and whores--even in the company of murderous Comanches--is a departure from the usual dark and brooding material that Burke produces...which seems to fit Patton's voice and intonation much better.
The story wasn't able to make up for the lackluster performance, however. This book is no Lonesome Dove. The humor, characterization, and epic story just aren't there.
I couldn't get beyond the first hour of this book, it was that bad. The story included a bunch of hicks, but there must be a way to write about them without writing at their level. To be honest, it seems like this was written as a 7th grade creative writing project. I've gutted my way through many poor beginnings, but this was simply dreadful. The characters were flat and the dialog was cheesy, things I can never get past. I gave the story three stars because I didn't get far enough to judge properly, but it didn't sound promising. If you want to get a sense of the loathing generated by, at least, the first hour of this production, listen to the song "Feed Jake" by Pirates of the Mississippi.
I can't really judge the narration because the material was abortive, so Jeremy Arthur gets a pass on this one. He should really consider being a little more selective with the material he takes on, though.
This is a great mystery/thriller primarily because it avoids all of the well-worn grooves that most mystery writers fall into. I feel that, in a mystery novel, it's important that the conclusion be plausible, but even more so that the events leading to it are independently plausible and not transparently constructed just to lead to that conclusion. This novel satisfied my plausibility appetite more than most, and the dialog was genuine. I can sometimes live with a mediocre plot if the dialog is right, but never the other way around.
I nearly shut this one off during the first 1/2 hour. The narrator described the main character's banal soccer-mom life in a sing-song voice that would've been perfect for a child's book about princesses or fairies. It was dreadful beyond belief, but I stuck it out, and I'm glad I did.
While certainly not the best book I've encountered, it did explore a unique situation in a realistic manner, and I was glad I'd purchased it. Hang in there and it will be worth it.
Some of the other reviewers complained about the plot, and if you're looking for a strong plot with a whiz-bang ending, you will be disappointed. As one of the other reviewers pointed out, however, this is a tale to be sipped and, I add, savored.
Thirteen Moons is an epic tale, rich and elegant in its own way. It's a dip into a well of memory, desire, and longing. The ending left me with a feeling of nostalgia so poignant that I was in a funk for hours.
Will Patton is, as always, fantastic. He is, in my opinion, the best audiobook narrator there is.
I listened to this audiobook perhaps three years ago, and randomly started listening to it again. I think this may be one of the best Robicheaux novels--even at second reading. James Lee Burke's luscious environments and artful dialog are never better exemplified than in Swan Peak. Burke gets away with the deus ex machina like no other writer because he sets it up so carefully in advance, and it ends up feeling completely plausible.
I hate to write anything negative about this book, because the subject matter is so personal and so convincingly describes a truly terrible event. I was deeply affected by the author's experiences immediately after the death of her husband, and for the first month or so thereafter, but the book begins to amble after that. With nearly half the book remaining, I had to force myself to finish it. The timeline began to be indistinct and the latter struggles just seemed to blend together. In short, the book could have been perhaps 3/4 the current length. Perhaps a good choice for an abridged reading. The narration, however, was very well done.
CAUTION: Mild spoiler. I've enjoyed Michael Connelly's books for many years, especially the Harry Bosch novels, but this one just didn't hit the mark. I'm not a big fan of Peter Giles as narrator, but the quality of Connelly's writing generally outshines the narration. In this instance, the two combine for a novel that's uneven and just not believable. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't believe that the courtroom hijinks that Michael Haller employs would be allowed for a minute. Not only that, I really don't think the big bomb that he drops near the end was the deus ex machina it was set out to be. It seemed like there needed to be more to the defense to really make it convincing. To be honest, I felt that the entire book was hastily thrown together. Hopefully, we'll see something better in the near future as I am definitely a Michael Connelly fan.
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