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MidwestGeek

ratings
415
REVIEWS
92
FOLLOWING
14
FOLLOWERS
9
HELPFUL VOTES
205

  • True Crime: Nathan Heller Series, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Max Allan Collins
    • Narrated By Dan John Miller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (60)

    1934 Chicago dazzles with fast action and calculating, cold-blooded meanness as private detective Nate Heller combs Chicago’s North Side looking for John Dillinger. But things take a turn for the strange when self-aggrandizing G-Man Melvin Purvis shoots down a Dillinger double in front of the Biograph Theater. Full of muscle and oozing Chicago’s tough-guy persona to the hilt, Max Allan Collins’ Nate Heller is the ultimate private investigator.

    MidwestGeek says: "Fiction and historical fiction, a great read."
    "Fiction and historical fiction, a great read."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author obviously did a lot of research about the gangster era in the Midwest in the 1930's, and cleverly weaves P.I. Nate Heller into a succession of actual characters and historical events. The gangsters in the story, Frank Nitti, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, the Barker brothers, Alvin Karpis, really existed and did the things related, as well as the federal agents Cowley & Purvis. Other characters, the Lady in Red, Anna Sage, and Dillinger's girl Polly Hamilton, were certainly at the Biograph Theatre shootout. Other colorful characters are Nate's friends, prizefighter Barney Ross and stripper Sally Rand. The author works Nate into this milieu in a very natural way. Nate espouses a theory about the demise of John Dillinger that has been put forth by author Jay Robert Nash, "The Dillinger Dossier," which is further elaborated on in the epilogue.

    The narration by Dan Jay Miller was very good but not exceptional. I felt his attempts to portray female voices were not always appropriate, especially that of Sally Rand.

    Regardless of the history, it is very well-written and engaging, offering a different type of mystery. I look forward to reading others in the series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dead in the Water: A Kate Shugak Novel, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Dana Stabenow
    • Narrated By Marguerite Gavin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (141)
    Performance
    (123)
    Story
    (124)

    Once, Kate Shugak was the star investigator of the Anchorage D.A.'s office. Now she's gone back to her Aleut roots in the far Alaska north - where her talent for detection makes her the toughest crime-tracker in that stark and mysterious land.

    Mike Murphy says: "Kate goes fishing for killers"
    "It's a good thriller but a lousy mystery."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my first book involving Kate Shugak but I didn't have the feeling that I missed much. The prose is good but not exceptional, and the narration is acceptable but flat. The trouble is that I like mysteries more than thrillers, and this book has very little mystery. In my lexicon, a mystery is a story in which the villain(s) are not apparent, at least, not until very late in the story. A thriller is a story in which there is a great deal of action surrounding the protagonist, who either is in great danger or at a loss about how to track down the bad guys. A thriller can also be a mystery, but often the protagonist (and the reader) knows who the villains are very early on, and the tension is in the chase.

    Since this is my first in the series, I don't know the author's intent, but I knew who the villains were and what they were up to long before Kate or her paramour and sponsor Jack Morgan did. There is a bit of a mystery about what happened to a couple of sailors, but, since we never encounter them, we don't really much care except in the abstract. Much of what Jack digs up late in the book could have been uncovered much earlier with only a little more research. I couldn't understand why Kate, who is neither a cop nor a detective, is willing to take such enormous risks, volunteer to experience such physical trauma, and still go back for more. There is the suggestion that she was partly motivated by the money, but that seems rather far-fetched, given her choice of lifestyle. Further, Jack seems to be essentially indifferent to both her physical suffering and the danger in which he placed her. He didn't have her back, and Kate had no way to call in the cavalry if things got out of hand--all very strange for a couple supposedly in love. Thus, I am left with mixed feelings about this book, but I'll probably read the next in the series, which is highly acclaimed by other readers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sarah's Key

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Tatiana de Rosnay
    • Narrated By Polly Stone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1929)
    Performance
    (1054)
    Story
    (1070)

    Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10 year-old girl, is arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

    Benson says: "Important subject and plot, pedestrian execution"
    "French Holocaust:Vel' d'Hiv.Outstanding narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Interesting story of an American Jewish woman, Julia Jarmond, living in Paris for 25 years and seemingly happily married to a non-Jewish Frenchman. A journalist working for an English language magazine, she becomes obsessed with the story of the round-up of Jews at Vel' d'Hiv in 1942. In particular, she discovers that a girl named Sarah Starzynski was among the group and that, after the war, it had never been determined just what had happened to her. This is a mystery she is determined to resolve if possible, and this plot is intertwined with Julia's internal struggles to come to terms with her heritage and, as it turns out, her husband's attitude toward her and her efforts. These two issues become intertwined more and more as the book develops, and although there was too much jumping back and forth in time in the beginning, eventually the book settles down. The prose isn't lyrical, but it does get the message across. There is too much "telling" and not enough "showing", and you need to have a high tolerance for this, as I do.

    The book is enlivened by the narrator, who gives distinct voices and accents to each character, a very diverse and challenging collection. It's always difficult to read about the Holocaust, and I had not been familiar with the Vel' d'Hiv or these aspects of the French Nazi's. It's a book that I am glad to have "read."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Burning Room

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Titus Welliver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2655)
    Performance
    (2367)
    Story
    (2359)

    In the LAPD's Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but all other evidence is virtually nonexistent. Now Bosch and rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case.

    Barbara N. says: "Great story, narration a disappointment"
    "Mediocre plot; terrible narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This purports to be a police procedural, but the story is plodding and boring. Bosch's new partner Soto is an interesting character, but she's a bit fast and loose with her service revolver.

    With Titus Welliver playing Harry Bosch in Amazon.com's new series, you'd think he'd be a more invested reader. Instead he reads in a monotone and only differentiates characters minimally. I was very disappointed. I wonder whether I will like Welliver any better in the online series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Second Chair: A Dismas Hardy Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By John Lescroart
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (150)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (87)

    Dismas Hardy is finally on top: as a managing partner at his thriving, newly reorganized law firm, he's a rainmaker and fix-it guy for clients leery of taking their chances in a courtroom. Now Hardy's up-and-coming associate, Amy Wu, brings him a high-profile case: Andrew Bartlett, the 17-year-old son of a prominent San Francisco family, has been arrested for the double slaying of his girlfriend and his English teacher.

    Snoodely says: "An insider's view of law-enforcement"
    "One of the best of the series."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this one. It is a mystery with enough clues to allow the reader to guess the villain without being terribly disappointed by the ending. I've read most of the books in the Dismas Hardy series, and this is one of the more believable, action-packed stories, with substantial character development of Amy Wu and others besides the usual insights and foibles of Hardy and Glitsky.

    Hardy & Glitsky age throughout the series so this would not be the best place to start. I recommend going back at least to book 3, Hard Evidence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sun Is God

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Adrian McKinty
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    Colonial New Guinea, 1906: A small group of mostly German nudists lives an extreme back-to-nature existence on the remote island of Kabakon. Eating only coconuts and bananas, they purport to worship the sun. One of their members, Max Lutzow, has recently died, allegedly from malaria. But an autopsy on his body in the nearby capital of Herbertshöhe raises suspicions about foul play.

    Joyce Luther says: "Fascinating story!"
    "Great prose, but not a great story."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a work of historical fiction about a relatively minor episode in the history of New Guinea, although it does provide a glimpse of what German colonialism was like in 1906. I've read all McKinty's mysteries, and this novel is quite different. Although I thought his prose was often as fine as usual, the story itself isn't all that exciting. Some of the characters were interesting, although I couldn't tell how much of their personalities were figments of McKinty's imagination. I love listening to Gerard Doyle, so between his narration and McKinty's writing, I found the book enjoyable. Thankfully, it wasn't too long.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Calling Me Home: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Julie Kibler
    • Narrated By Bahni Turpin, Lorna Raver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (547)
    Performance
    (481)
    Story
    (483)

    Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a big favor to ask her hairdresser, Dorrie. She wants the black single mother to drop everything and drive her from Texas to a funeral in Ohio - tomorrow. Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious about Isabelle’s past, agrees, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives. Isabelle confesses that, as a teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family’s housekeeper - in a town where blacks weren’t allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences just might help Dorrie find her own way.

    Alexandria says: "I really wanted to like it"
    "Terribly disappointing, both story and narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    It's rated 4.4 currently, so it's clear this book appeals to many people. I don't understand why. Maybe some young adults would be more sympathetic, but I think more likely, they would just roll their eyes.


    What was most disappointing about Julie Kibler’s story?

    First of all, the story was out of the 40's and 50's. Had it been written then, maybe it would have been novel. By now, it's old hat. I don't think it spoils anything to say that the story of a young, introverted, white girl falling for a perfect black boy has been done before and better.Secondly, it dragged on interminably, flashbacks by the white woman, present time by the black woman, who somehow was enchanted with the old lady's life. I listened for 2.5 hours before asking myself why I was wasting my time. I read a few spoilers on GR to see if the plot developed as I anticipated, and I was right. I wasn't going to get anything more out of this book, so I quit.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Bahni Turpin and Lorna Raver ’s performances?

    I might be willing to give them another try, but Lorna Raver's portrayal of Isabelle drove me nuts. Bahni Turpin was ok.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    As a morality tale, it's ok, but do we need another superficial rendition of this theme?


    Any additional comments?

    I don't understand the high ratings that this has received. I know lots of people foreswear writing negative reviews--look at the most liked review by Alexandria Milton. It is fair but negative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Motive: A Dismas Hardy Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By John Lescroart
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    Overall
    (182)
    Performance
    (101)
    Story
    (99)

    It starts with a double homicide. Because of the high profiles of the victims - a politically connected socialite and his glamorous fiancée - the mayor of San Francisco herself demands that a high-ranking detective be put on the case. And so Abe Glitsky is thrust into the controversial investigation.

    Ed says: "Last hour lost it a star"
    "One of the best of the great Hardy-Glitsky series."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great mystery story. Although there are enough hints to anticipate the big surprise, it didn't detract from wanting to find out who and why! Readers new to the series are likely to get bored with all the details of the Hardy and Glitsky families, but if, as I do, I find their relationships and histories interesting and realistic, you won't mind. Further, the characters age and change, so it is best to read most of this series in sequence.
    Colacci does his usual excellent work as narrator. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Good Behavior: A Dortmunder Novel, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Donald E. Westlake
    • Narrated By Brian Holsopple
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (14)

    It was supposed to be a simple caviar heist. Dortmunder is almost in the building when the alarm sounds, forcing him up the fire escape and onto the roof. He leaps onto the next building, smashing his ankle and landing in the den of the worst kind of creature he can imagine: nuns.

    MidwestGeek says: "One of the best in the Dortmunder series."
    "One of the best in the Dortmunder series."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoy the whimsical series about career criminal Dortmunder and his doing right by attempting wrongdoing. This is one of the most amusing of his capers, and his ability to escape from tight spots is seriously challenged. I found the narrator pleasant to listen to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Patience of the Spider: An Inspector Montalbano Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Andrea Camilleri
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (26)

    Set once again in Sicily, The Patience of the Spider pits Inspector Montalbano against his greatest foe yet: the weight of his own years. Still recovering from the gunshot wound he suffered in Rounding the Mark, he must overcome self-imposed seclusion and waxing self-doubt to penetrate a web of hatred and secrets in pursuit of the strangest culprit he’s ever hunted.

    MidwestGeek says: "Enjoyable but not up to usual standards."
    "Enjoyable but not up to usual standards."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like Camilleri's mysteries about Inspector Montalbano but this is a fun read, it is below average for this series. Who the villain is isn't too hard to figure out, although his precise motivation remains hidden for a long time. Grover Gardner performs his usual high quality narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Night Ranger: A John Wells Novel, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Alex Berenson
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (507)
    Performance
    (459)
    Story
    (455)

    Four friends, recent college graduates, travel to Kenya to work at a giant refugee camp for Somalis. Two men, two women, each with their own reasons for being there. But after twelve weeks, they’re ready for a break and pile into a Land Cruiser for an adventure. They get more than they bargained for. Bandits hijack them. They wake up in a hut, hooded, bound, no food or water. Hostages. As a personal favor, John Wells is asked to try to find them, but he does so reluctantly. East Africa isn’t his usual playing field.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Wells is finally moving out of the desert"
    "A transparent, high-tech thriller, well read."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first of Berenson's novels I've read. If you like the sort of thrillers in which the only suspense is how the (super)hero will defeat his adversaries, then you probably will enjoy Night Ranger. I prefer stories with mystery in addition to adventure in which the identity of the villain and other adversaries isn't known. It was clear from the outset that Wells would somehow succeed; it is only a question of how. In this case, the high-tech superiority of the USA combines with Wells's cleverness and fighting skills to overwhelm relatively primitive, youthful Somalian militia. It is sort of believable but not at all surprising. The narrator George Guidall is one of my favorites.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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