I have listened to 3 others in the Barbara Holloway series (Malice Prepense, Desperate Measures , & The Unbidden Truth,) and for my tastes, this one is the best. What does a trial lawyer do when she knows who killed two people, feels compelled not to reveal what she knows, but must defend someone wrongfully accused of one of the murders? In other words, the mysteries of who murdered each person are revealed before the trial begins, but the drama is not even so much the trial itself, but her inner ethical and moral struggle with the choices others made that leave her in this dilemma. There is still some of Barbara's internal struggle to allow a man to get close and a bit part for her father, less than in earlier books, but they do not occupy a large fraction of the story.
I am far from being a YA, but I was sucked in by all the hype about this book even being a pleasurable read for adults. I have mixed feelings about it. Some of the prose is very good, and some of the scenes and dialog are funny. However, I felt the plot was by design manipulative of the reader's emotions, so much so that it was often hard to take seriously. Do teenagers today really talk like these protagonists? The plot was so predictable. It reminded me of the hugely successful "Love Story", a 1970 novel and movie by Erich Segal, from which my title was taken. When I read that book, I thought that it was a parody of romance novels, and, in fact, I recalled reading that some thought that was Segal's original intent. (Searching the internet, I find no evidence of that. Trick of memory?) I'm sure that John Green did not intend this to be satirical, but it was so overdone....
Had it not been for Rudd's excellent narration, I probably would not have finished it.
This is the second attempt at reading Green, the first being "An Abundance of Katherines." This one is better, but I doubt I'll try any others.
I enjoy the recurring characters, and this followed the usual pattern of earlier books in the series. I like Andy Carpenter's sense of humor, but I'm sure it is not for everybody. This is a better mystery than most, but I found the ending contrived. Still, it was a fun read (listen).
You will either like these corny mysteries and characters or you won't. I do, and I found this to be one of the funniest in the series. Richard Ferrone does an excellent job of giving voices and accents to the different main characters.
Molly Antopol is a wonderful first-time author with a clarity of expression and insight into human behavior that is astonishing. Time and again I was surprised by the unusual degree of self-awareness shown by her characters. This collection of stories mostly take place between about 1943-1953, long before she was born. Their locale varies from San Francisco to Jerusalem to Belarus. Although her themes surround WWII and its aftermath, especially for Jews, the stories encompass universal issues. The title refers obliquely to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, whose activities in the late 1940's resulted in the creation of Hollywood blacklists of professionals in the movie industry and the jailing of 10 men. One of her stories deals directly with the personal consequences of this tragedy.
Jennifer van Dyck's reading is good, but she makes no attempt to speak in character or to use different voices. It took me a little while to get used to men speaking in a female voice, and her range of emotion is limited. The strength of the writing comes through anyway. For those of you expecting more from a narrator, I encourage you to read the book instead since the narration adds little.
Finishing the book, I wanted to know more about this author. She wrote an interesting commentary on her namesake village, Antopol, in the New Yorker's Page-Turner blog (Jan. 29, 2014). There are interviews with her in "The Times of Israel" (Feb. 15, 2014) and The Rumpus (Feb. 17, 2014). She divides her time between San Francisco and Israel, when she isn't traveling elsewhere. I look forward to reading her first full-length novel.
This is an amusing story, but satire is difficult medium to sustain for the length of a novel. The protagonist, Allan Karlsson, is a lot like Forrest Gump, with similar attributes other than being mentally retarded, bumbling into situations in which he is regarded as brilliant. The style is also similar inasmuch as it is episodic. The author alternates between the present time (2005) and earlier periods of Allan's life, and it works for a while but also gets a bit stale. One difference from Gump is Allan's capacity to drink unlimited quantities of vodka and other forms of alcohol, but that is in character with his being Swedish, I suppose. In order to appreciate this book, you need to approach it like a cartoon or comic book, totally unrealistic machinations and unbelievable coincidences. I enjoyed many of the characters but after a while, I was ready for the book to end, and it took longer to get there than I expected.
I love McKinty's writing, and I thought this was the best of the Duffy series. It's quite a complex mystery, and you have to wonder how he manages to survive the situations he gets himself into. I enjoy listening to Gerard Doyle reading; a perfect fit.
As clever an author as Block is, his narration leaves much to be desired. If you can stand his reading, some of the stories are worthwhile. This is a case where I'd recommend reading them instead.
If you like folk music of the mid- to late 20th century, you'll probably enjoy this memoir, an insider's perspective of the folk music scene, mostly around Greenwich Village. Mention Dave Van Ronk to someone today and you are likely to get a blank stare. Van Ronk never was a superstar but was well known, especially among other folk singers. The narrative is first person, but this is more like an autobiography of his professional life than his personal life. For example, we learn that he was married twice, but you learn little more about his wives than their names. Wald has done a brilliant job editing the material left by Dave Van Ronk. In an epilogue by Wald, you can tell this was a labor of love.
Although the book was the inspiration for the Coen Brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davis," van Ronk differed in important ways from the character in the film. For example, Dave's first love was jazz, and he never abandoned it. Although he hitched a ride to Chicago and back once in hopes of playing at The Gate of Horn, there was never involved a jazz musician resembling Roland Turner nor the Kerouac-like driver/beat poet Johnny Five.
This was the first mystery by J.A. Jance that I've read, and I am apparently in the small minority who finds the writing lacking. Especially in the beginning, it sounded like a parody of the usual TV detective dialog with hackneyed phrases, stereotypical characters, etc. I knew what the character would say before he said it. J. P. Beaumont seems to be not a particularly bright or insightful homicide detective, so I was surprised later to learn that he is a legend in the police department. The story is engaging, but Beaumont' sudden love interest is a totally implausible relationship, and his behavior is not only stupid but bizarre. The story goes on for a long time with mysterious murders and no hint of why. Beaumont makes little progress and overlooks the obvious until his former partner points it out from his hospital bed. The eventual resolution is not something that could be inferred from the evidence, although I did guess who the mastermind was. Altogether, a disappointing experience--not of the calibre of other detective series such as Connelly's Harry Bosch or Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache. The narrator seems appropriate for the subject, but his sentences are clipped and often sound affected. Reminded me a little of the legendary TV series Dragnet from the 1950's, but it doesn't work in the 21st century.
This book is hard to classify. You might call it a comic mystery, but I didn't find it all that funny. It does accurately reflect a certain time (late 1960's) and place (Southern California beach towns) and the business and brutal side of the drug culture. Various characters, including the PI, "Doc" Sportello, reminded me of an amalgam of "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers," comic book characters from the early 1970's. At one point, Doc recites their favorite line: "Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope." They had no ambition other than to smoke dope and try psychedelic drugs (other than heroin), a little like Doc. He appears to be smart but views the world through a continual marijuana haze. It gets tiresome after a while. There are too many characters and side detours, at least for me, who only listens in the car while commuting or shopping. His dialog with the "honest cop," Bigfoot Bjornsen, contrasts their different life styles and philosophies, but eventually, it too seems to grow stale. One does sense a mutual respect.
The narrator does a pretty good job handling the myriad challenges of the book, but sometimes, I couldn't distinguish a character by his/her voice. Altogether, a mixed bag.
I gather a film of the same name will be released in 2014, starring Joaquin Phoenix as "Doc." It'll no doubt be simplified and easier to understand. It'll be interesting to see whether I will like it better than the audiobook.
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