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MidwestGeek

Ann Arbor, MI, United States

ratings
359
REVIEWS
74
FOLLOWING
13
FOLLOWERS
5
HELPFUL VOTES
59

  • Savage Run: A Joe Pickett Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By C. J. Box
    • Narrated By David Chandler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (283)
    Performance
    (233)
    Story
    (227)

    An Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry Award winner, C. J. Box delivers the second pulse-pounding installment in his critically acclaimed series. While investigating a string of bizarre murders, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is forced to flee across treacherous terrain with a deadly tracker on his trail.

    Kelly says: "Box brings the West alive!"
    "21st century range war! Adventure not mystery."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Instead of the cowboys against the farmers (Oklahoma!,) it's the gentleman ranchers against the environmentalists! It's a good story, and Box's descriptions of the wild country in Wyoming are marvelous. This is not really a mystery, since we know who the bad guys are and it isn't hard to guess who is behind their killing spree. As a result, the plot seems thin, too slow and stretching beyond the limits of credibility at times. I read this after reading Force of Nature, book #12, which I liked better but also suffered from some of the same plot defects. I like the protagonist Joe Pickett, but he can't possibly be so naive as he sometimes says or acts. The environmental activist, Stewie Woods, is a more multi-dimensional and believable character than Joe Pickett. Toward the end, too many rabbits are pulled out of the hat to make the denouement fully satisfying.

    David Chandler adds a lot to the pleasure of listening, his narration and portrayal of characters are terrific.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Night and the Music: The Matthew Scudder Short Story Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Lawrence Block
    • Narrated By Lawrence Block
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (8)

    Lawrence Block's 17 Matthew Scudder novels have won the hearts of readers throughout the world - along with a bevy of awards including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Philip Marlowe (Germany), and the Maltese Falcon (Japan). But Scudder has starred in short fiction as well, and it's all here, from a pair of late-'70s novelettes ("Out the Window" and "A Candle for the Bag Lady") through "By the Dawn's Early Light" (Edgar) and "The Merciful Angel of Death" (Shamus), all the way to "One Last Night at Grogan's", a moving and elegiac story never before published.

    MidwestGeek says: "Stories are clever if you can get past his voice."
    "Stories are clever if you can get past his voice."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Dave Van Ronk, Elijah Wald
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Dave Van Ronk was one of the founding figures of the 1960s folk revival, but he was far more than that. A pioneer of modern acoustic blues, a fine songwriter and arranger, a powerful singer, and one of the most influential guitarists of the ’60s, he was also a marvelous storyteller, a peerless musical historian, and one of the most quotable figures on the Village scene. The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a firsthand account by a major player in the social and musical history of the ’50s and ’60s.

    MidwestGeek says: "Overview of NYC folk music scene of '50's & 60's."
    "Overview of NYC folk music scene of '50's & 60's."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Taking the Fifth: J. P. Beaumont Series, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By J. A. Jance
    • Narrated By Gene Engene
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (66)

    Homicide Detective J. P. Beaumont had little to go on: a body, definitely male and decidedly dead, with strange little puncture wounds.

    Jean says: "Taking the Fifth"
    "Unbelievable plot and characters; lousy writing."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inherent Vice

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Thomas Pynchon
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (273)
    Performance
    (116)
    Story
    (115)

    It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy", except that this one usually leads to trouble.

    Philipp Marian Selman says: "If you enjoyed The Crying of Lot 49..."
    "A serious comic mystery. Wait for the movie?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Burglar in the Rye

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Lawrence Block
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (67)

    Winner of multiple Edgar and Shamus Awards, Lawrence Block keeps fans guessing to the end with his rollicking Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries. In this diverting caper, full-time bookstore owner and part-time burglar Bernie tries to do the right thing for a new friend, only to find himself accused of some terrible wrongs.

    F. Hayek says: "Outstanding"
    "One of Block's funniest, most ingenious mysteries."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoy comic mysteries, so I like the Bernie Rhodenbarr series about a burglar with a complicated sense of justice, who usually does more good than harm. This is a complex story about an author, who resembles Thomas Pynchon, whose novel "Nobody's Baby", meant a great deal to Bernie but who guards his privacy at all costs. The denouement is a scene out of Agatha Christie, in which Bernie plays Hercule Poirot, who has gathered the suspects together to coax out the true killer. Meanwhile, Bernie suffers his usual internal torments, engages in the pursuit of sexy women, and of course repeatedly uses his skills as a burglar to obtain information if not wealth.

    Richard Ferrone does an excellent job of narration. He even made some female characters come to life.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Suspect

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Robert Crais
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3666)
    Performance
    (3275)
    Story
    (3273)

    LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well, not since a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner, Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty - until he meets his new partner. Maggie is not doing so well, either. The German shepherd survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before she lost her handler to an IED and sniper attack, and her PTSD is as bad as Scott’s. They are each other’s last chance.

    Jacqueline says: "Gripping Page Turner!!"
    "Good Writer. Disappointing story."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is about a troubled LAPD cop and his similarly emotionally-challenged dog Maggie. Crais introduces the conceit of writing alternate chapters from Maggie’s point of view. Do dogs really think like this? He was consistent in limiting her abilities to reason, but, perhaps for that reason, it just got tiresome. The ending was predictable.

    What saved the day for me was the narration by MacLeod Andrews. He was terrific.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All Cry Chaos: The Henri Poincaré Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Leonard Rosen
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (369)
    Performance
    (315)
    Story
    (310)

    All Cry Chaos is a masterful and gripping tale that literally reaches for the heavens. The action begins when mathematician James Fenster is assassinated on the eve of a long-scheduled speech at a World Trade Organization meeting. The hit is as elegant as it is bizarre. Fenster’s Amsterdam hotel room is incinerated, yet the rest of the building remains intact. The murder trail leads veteran Interpol agent Henri Poincaré on a high-stakes, world-crossing quest for answers.

    Sandy says: "Not bad."
    "Excellent debut novel, but ending disappointing."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is well-written debut by Rosen; he's a very good writer. I enjoyed the intricate characters and the personality of Henri Poincaré, purportedly the great-grandson of his famous namesake. The story is intricate, with many twists and turns. I sort of guessed where things were headed, but the ending is quite preposterous. The mathematician Fenster resembles Benoît Mandelbrot in several respects, both in terms of his topical focus and in terms of his attempts to extend fractals to a comprehensive world view. A scientific world view is not the same as religion, and the conflict between science and religion are not well-drawn.

    Grover Gardner does a good job with the voices of the different characters, and I enjoyed his reading.

    The denouement was rather disappointing to me, quite unbelievable in its details and philosophically unsatisfactory (and philosophy plays a large role in understanding the motives of the some of the principal actors.)

    The relation between science, mathematics, and religion is not well-drawn, yet it plays a big role in undertanding the motivation and behavior of a number of the central characters, although rather incidental to Poincaré himself.

    An aside on the science and math described: The reader will get a good sense of the meaning of the notion of fractals and self-similar systems. The notiion that the world is fundamentally fractal is not unprecedented; again, see the writings of Mandelbrot and, more generally, the approach called cellular automata, such as by Wolfram. Scientifically, this has not met with much success.

    As an aside, to the extent that the book touches on the work of the famous mathematician whose name the protagonist bears, it is not quite right. Although Poincaré talked about "relativity," (for example, in his 1904 lecture at the St. Louis World's Fare, he clung to Newton's absolute time and the ether concepts and even rejected the implications drawn by Einstein in his famous 1905 paper about "special relativity." Indeed, Poincaré disbelieved E=mc^2. Rosen states that Einstein owed a debt to Poincaré for general relativity (published in its final form in 1916). That is simply not true. In fact, Poincaré did not accept this as the correct theory of gravity. Although incidental to the plot, I was disappointed that the author did not do his homework on these matters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bad News

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Donald E. Westlake
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    John Dortmunder doesn't like manual labor. So when he gets the offer of money to dig up a grave, he balks . . . then he wonders why Fitzroy Guilderpost, criminal mastermind, wants to pull a switcheroo of two 70-years-dead Indians.

    Mark Silva says: "Best performer period"
    "Twisted plot about twisted characters."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoy the Dortmunder series of comic mysteries. This is one of the more intricate plots and more complicated than most. Not that it is believable, but at least, within its own world, it kind of makes sense, which isn't to say it isn't full of surprise twists. It ends in a satisfying way, in which nearly every crook gets what he/she deserves. Needless to say, John Dortmunder is never going to make a huge financial killing, but he'll never be without his group of friends and admirers. The narrator, Michael Cramer, does an exceptional job giving individual voices to the characters and adds enormously to the pleasure of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Town Like Alice

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Nevil Shute
    • Narrated By Robin Bailey
    Overall
    (791)
    Performance
    (321)
    Story
    (319)

    Wanting to repay a wartime debt to the Malays, Jean Paget returns. There she hears a story which leads her to Australia.

    Laurie says: "great story!"
    "Disappointing story saved by fantastic narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the only book by Shute that I have read besides the celebrated "On the Beach." The story was a mixed bag; the first part concerning Jean's capture and treatment at the hands of the Japanese in British Malaya is interesting and well-told. I found it easy to identify with the women prisoners and their children and admired their perseverance. The second part of the book concerns Jean's quest to find Joe, an Australian stringer whom she had come to know during their mutual imprisonment. Although there is some interesting history and geography, this part of the book drags along soporifically toward a predictable and idealized conclusion.

    I don't understand why this novel remains so popular; the characters seem quite dated to me. I might even have given up finishing except for the marvelous narration by Robin Bailey, whose brings the characters to life through his imitation of their dialects, their gender, and style of speech.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Flipping Out

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Marshall Karp
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (36)

    If you're a fan of the comedic mystery stylings of Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen, you'll love Marshall Karp. Lomax and Biggs investigate the murder of a mystery author's associate who was involved in a clever marketing scheme.

    Frank Rankin says: "Great read(listen)"
    "Good comic mystery with surprises."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like the Lomax-Biggs duo. The plot is a bit of a stretch, but this is just "light reading" and, while it isn't likely to win any awards for great writing, the dialog is believable and often witty. There are several twists and turns that will keep you guessing, but the story moves right along. This is on a par with #2 in the series (Bloodthirsty) and better than the first (Rabbit Factory.) I look forward listening to the fourth. Tom Stechschulte does a terrific job giving voice to the many, varied characters, making it much more fun to listen to than to read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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