Mike Lawson's House Justice is tag-lined as a Joe DeMarco Thriller. The tag line states the truth - it is a thriller. Lawson, a much under-appreciated writer, has developed Joe DeMarco as a solid action protagonist. He surrounds DeMarco with a variety of interesting collaborators. From DeMarco's boss, Speaker-of-the-House John Fitzpatrick Mahoney, to old and new colleagues, Lawson's rich characters stabilize the achilles heel of most action-adventure novels - plots that tend to stretch the believable. Because DeMarco's allies are sometimes reluctant, they're more fun. The villains, particularly in House Justice, are both numerous and not too obvious. As for plot predictability, be prepared for an interesting conclusion.
The audiobook performer, Joe Barrett did a very solid job. Though I wasn't particularly thrilled with the voice he gave DeMarco (a minor nit-pick), Barrett delivered an excellent range of voices, including the necessary subtleties for age and gender differences. Barrett is the 2nd reader (Scott Brick) in 3 audiobooks. For abridged versions, there were two more. For continuities sake, I hope the author can stabilize his reader choices. In addition, Audible skipped two very good books, House Rules and House Secrets.
If you want a fast-paced, fun experience, filled with interesting characters and plot twists, this - and other Mike Lawson books - will not disappoint.
Having read or listened to all of his previous books, I was pleased to see David Stone return Micah Dalton in The Skorpion Directive. The author features interesting, mostly believable characters in fast moving yet well-put-together plots. The protagonist, Micah Dalton, and his allies confront great bad guys in conflicts that have current context. The reader, Jason Culp, adds to the experience with a great range of voices and accents. I believe Audible should better promote this writer. If you like espionage novels and audio books, I highly recommend Skorpion Directive.
Capital Conspiracy places a previously excellent cast of characters into a timely subject - what price should we, as US citizens, be willing to pay for protecting our way of life. The story Bernhardt spun around this issue was "4 star" in construction but the execution (the reading) was lacking.
In most cases, Stephen Hoye has proven to be a good reader with a wide range of character voices. For example, Hoye was excellent in The Color of Law. However, his portrayal of Ben Kincaid (and several other characters) was not his best work. Specifically, Kincaid, though young and dealing with the powerful, came off as a bumbling, na?ve kid. In past stories, Kincaid had progressed as a young man – as both a trial lawyer and then a determined (though inexperienced) US Senator. It seems reasonable to expect that he would grow a little stronger and more confident rather than regress. In short, this characterization of Ben Kincaid lacked credibility
On the positive side, Bernhardt created good villains and sub-heroes of various types. As mentioned before, the context of the story is relevant in today’s world.
If you follow Kincaid and friends as well as Bernhardt, Capital Conspiracy is worth the investment of time and money. However, I would rather have read it than listened to it. In that way, I could have better interpreted the key characters.
Baldacci has a knack for both character development and story telling. His reprise of Sean and Michelle are also most welcome. Add to the mix an excellent job by the reader and you have an audio book well worth your time and money.
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