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MidwestGeek

Ann Arbor, MI, United States

ratings
573
REVIEWS
199
FOLLOWING
26
FOLLOWERS
21
HELPFUL VOTES
718

  • Don't Let Go

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Harlan Coben
    • Narrated By Steven Weber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4315)
    Performance
    (3962)
    Story
    (3950)

    With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

    shelley says: "The new Harlan Coben?!"
    "A great writer with a so-so plot. Well-narrated."
    Overall
    Performance
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    The popularity and appreciation of a strong majority of readers is reflected in the number (260+) and average quality of ratings (4.5) here only a week after the release of this book. My rating is more like 3.5 (7/10), which is like a B+.

    Steve Weber does a fine job; he doesn't even try to give voice to female characters, but he does a good job with the males, especially with the protagonist, Nap Dumas, who is supposedly telling the story.

    Coben's writing is tight, snappy, and terse; no question he is a good writer. His characters are interesting and, in particular, I found Nap to be a believable character. To the extent that my enthusiasm is restrained, it is because of the plot. I found the ultimate resolution far more believable than many of the intermediate episodes. To say more would be to reveal too much. I didn't guess the outcome, which is outrageous but not entirely beyond the realm of possibility.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Poison: A Dismas Hardy Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By John Lescroart
    • Narrated By Jacques Roy
    Overall
    (166)
    Performance
    (156)
    Story
    (153)

    Dismas Hardy is looking forward to cutting back his work hours and easing into retirement after recovering from two gunshot wounds. He is determined to spend more time with his family and even reconnect with his distant son, Vincent. But Dismas just can't stay away from the courtroom for long, and soon he is pulled into an intense family drama with fatal consequences. Grant Carver, the vigorous patriarch of the Carver family and its four-generations-owned family business, has been murdered.

    Wayne says: "Worst Lescroart legal 'thriller' ever!"
    "For fans of Dismas Hardy. Not a legal thriller."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You must already be invested in the Dismas Hardy series to really enjoy this book. If not, you very likely will rate this one- or two-stars only. (I believe this is my 11th of the series.) Unlike many others in the series, this is also not a legal mystery/thriller in the conventional sense. It is closer in form to a police procedural, but there is a great deal of time spent on Hardy's inner struggles as he becomes involved in defending another person accused of murder, even though he had sworn off such cases. As a result, a substantial portion of the dialogue (both inner and outer) involves reconciling his legal practice with his relationship with his second wife Franny. Some of the other familiar characters are back, including BFF Detective Abe Glitzky (now retired) and P.I. Wyatt Hunt. Unusually, his son Vincent has a significant role to play, but his daughter Rebecca (and current legal partner) is essentially invisible except by reference.

    Lescroart is a master at building suspense, and this book is no exception. Related mostly but not entirely by following Dismas, I'm afraid the denouement was rather abrupt and in several ways, related second-hand. The villains were essentially revealed to the reader even before Dismas finally figured out who the persons were. After that, the story was wrapped up in just a few pages. I'm not sure why Lescroart had things play out like that, but I found the final chapters a bit of a letdown.

    I found the narration by Jacques Roy was good, but all the previous ones to which I have listened were narrated by David Colacci, who is exceptional. So I couldn't help being slightly disappointed, most likely through no fault of Roy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Out of Bounds: A Karen Pirie Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Val McDermid
    • Narrated By Kathleen McCarron
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (206)
    Performance
    (192)
    Story
    (192)

    When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test reveals a connection to an unsolved murder from 22 years before. Finding the answer to the cold case should be straightforward. But it's as twisted as the DNA helix itself. Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another mystery that she has no business investigating - a mystery that has its roots in a terrorist bombing two decades ago. And again, she finds that nothing is as it seems.

    Linda says: "Karen Pirie Is Terrific Detective and Scottish!!"
    "Excellent police procedural. Terrific narrator."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am aware that Val McDermid has had a long and distinguished career as an author of mysteries and thrillers, but I must admit that this is the first of hers that I have read. This is an extremely good police procedural that builds suspense gradually and kept me wondering who the antagonist(s) might be. I grew to admire the MC, Chief Inspector Karen Pirie, a strong-willed, dedicated, cold-case detective who has experienced her share of personal tragedies. I found her situation and circumstances, as well as the behavior of the other characters, believable, so much so that I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that this novel was based on a true story.

    To see spoilers and links, please see my review on goodreads.

    The telling is related in first-person by C.I. Pirie, including her thoughts and dreams, except at one point where the PoV changed for one sentence, which jarred me. (spoiler) As a result, I was more or less informed of the back story that I needed without having to read earlier volumes in this series. There is one cold-case murder and several present day murders that are linked, so the reader needs to pay attention to keep track of the names. I won't expand here on the details of the plot.

    I should add that the narrator, Cathleen McCarron, was exceptionally good at giving voice to the various characters. For my American ear, it took me a while to adapt to her Scottish accents and dialects, occasionally even having to replay the last minute, but I could tell that she knew what she was about. After completing the book, I was not surprised to find that she is a professional voice, text, and accent coach, currently based with the Royal Shakespeare Company. (See linked in.) BTW, her first name is misspelled on audible.com and amazon.com, although not on their UK counterparts. In fact, she has narrated over 50 other books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Another One Goes Tonight: Peter Diamond, Book 16

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Peter Lovesey
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (212)
    Performance
    (191)
    Story
    (191)

    Two police officers are about to head home after a long night shift when they receive one last call. En route to investigate, the patrol car spins off the road, killing one of the exhausted cops and leaving the other in critical condition. Detective Peter Diamond is assigned to look into the case. His supervisor is desperately hoping Diamond will not discover the officers were at fault. Instead Diamond discovers something even worse - a civilian on a motorized tricycle was involved in the crash and has been lying on the side of the road for hours.

    Amazon Customer says: "A bit confusing but clever"
    " Plodding police procedural. Excellent narrator."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've previous listened only to Book #3 in this series, but since this Book #16 carried a rating of 4.4, I thought I would give it a try. I can't say I disliked it, but I didn't enjoy it enough to want to read others. The mystery is initally interesting but it unfolds very slowly. Even though it is not inordinately long (11 hrs and 16 mins), I really got tired of all the dead ends and misdirections. The denouement was less demonstrated by action but explained by Diamond to his colleagues through his remarkable inductive leaps. In case the reader didn't appreciate Peter's brilliance, the author has his subordinates remind us through thoughts unspoken.

    Altogether it got to be a bit much, and once again, I probably wouldn't have finished it except for the extraordinary narration by Simon Prebble. Peculiarly, I generally have great patience with police procedurals but this particular series is not for me. Ironically, the series might make a good TV series, since, to be dramatically successful and conform to a reasonable length of time, the screenplay for each episode would likely have to move along more rapidly and contain more action than the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rubbernecker

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Belinda Bauer
    • Narrated By Andrew Wincott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (84)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (79)

    The dead can't speak to us, Professor Madoc had said. But that was a lie. The body Patrick Fort is examining in anatomy class is trying to tell him all kinds of things. But no one hears what he does, and no one understands when he tries to tell them. Life is already strange enough for Patrick - being a medical student with Asperger's Syndrome doesn't come without its challenges. And that's before he is faced with solving a possible murder, especially when no one believes a crime has even taken place.

    Leigh says: "Different"
    "Very good mystery for perhaps 3/4 of book."
    Overall
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    My rating is closer to 2.5. I enjoyed listening to this book, the first I've read by this author. I felt the narrator Andrew Wincott did an exceptionally good job giving voice to Patrick's peculiar way of expressing himself and reacting to others. It reminded me a little of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," a relatively early book about the autistic spectrum, including Asperger's Syndrome. This trope has become rather commonplace, but Ms. Bauer does a very good job bringing Patrick to life. In general, all of her characters seem well-formed, except for one. (view spoiler) I am beginning to tire of writers' alternating chapters between past and present, as the author does here. Whatever happened to chronological story-telling, perhaps allowing for a flashback now and again? In addition much of the book is told in first person, but the author sometimes shifts point of view, as if the reader gets inside the heads of several different characters. If we are omniscent, why only some and not others?

    The main weakness in the story is the way in which the mystery plot and subplot are finally unveiled and resolved. I positively disliked the last part of the book, which really could have benefitted from the intervention of a strong editor. The primary villain was definitively identified for the reader long before the MC (Patrick) figured out who it might be.

    I have some other observations coupled with potential spoilers. Please see my review on Goodreads for them. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2281117901.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Killing Silence: The Loser Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Peg Herring
    • Narrated By Karisa Bruin
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    Killing Silence, the first of The Loser Mysteries, presents a unique protagonist: Loser, who sleeps on the streets of Richmond, Virginia, washes up in gas station bathrooms, eats when an opportunity comes along, and spends her waking hours in front of the local drug store, watching the world pass by and speaking less than thirty words per day. When a child is murdered and Loser finds herself in the company of the prime suspect, can she pull herself out of her own pain to help catch a killer?

    Deedra says: "Killing Silence Bk 1"
    "A unique protagonist and mystery. Try it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As indicated by other reviewers, this is a good mystery, with a unique protagonist, a former detective who suffers from acute PTSD in an extreme form that resembles schizophrenia. Suspected of the murder of her husband and daughter, she lives on the street and no longer voluntarily speaks, limiting herself to no more than 30 words/day. When stressed, she hears their voices and becomes nearly catatonic. Because of the trauma associated with the house in which she lived, she cannot bring herself to enter let alone live there. (I don't think these are spoilers since these things are revealed near the beginning of the book.) She calls herself "Loser," which describes in part her state of mind as well as her experience.

    Nevertheless, the story is rendered in first-person by her, who is revealed to be a well-educated, ethical woman whose training as a cop helps her survive among the homeless. In her internal description of events both past and present, she is sophisticated and eloquent, often citing relevant literature, while at the same time being severely crippled mentally. (However it may stretch belief, I guess that is possible. Consider mathematician John Nash, who is depicted in A Beautiful Mind.) It is a difficult point of view for an author to sustain and requires compromises that an omniscent narrator would not. As a result, I found the story dragged at times, with

    Having listened to the audiobook, I found Karisa Bruin's rendering excellent. The author writes inviting if not lyrical prose, not so dramatic as Michael Connelly and not so eloquent as, say, Harlan Coben, and lacking in the latter's dark sense of humor, at least in this book. Like other reviewers, I think the author deserves wider recognition. I doubt that "Loser" will have the longevity of Harry Bosch, but I am eager to read the next in this series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • High Stakes

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Dick Francis
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Howard
    Overall
    (314)
    Performance
    (201)
    Story
    (202)

    Steven Scott is relatively new to horses. A successful, wealthy inventor, he takes up horse racing as a hobby - a hobby that soon brings him winner after winner under the inspired guidance of his trainer, Jody Leeds. Currently both their reputations are wrapped up in a beautiful black hurdler named Energise. But just when Steven is winning at both women and horses, he discovers deceit in his own stables. Termination of the troublemaker marks Steven for his own termination - and much sooner than he can imagine...

    James says: "Never a bad book"
    "Typical Dick Francis mystery; not one of his best."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read or listened to many of the mysteries by Dick Francis. Even though they all follow a similar pattern, they differ enough to hold my interest. I wasn't looking for anything deep, and this is relatively short but well told. I liked the protagonist Steven Scott, although I was surprised by one of his responses in the epilogue. I even enjoyed his love interest, Allie, an American caterer visiting relatives in England, although their fate remained unresolved.

    The narrator Geoffrey Howard does a reasonable job, but I prefer some others: Simon Prebble and Ralph Cosham, for example, are hard to beat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Chalk Pit

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Elly Griffiths
    • Narrated By Jane McDowell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (314)
    Performance
    (285)
    Story
    (283)

    Ruth and Nelson investigate a string of murders and disappearances deep within the abandoned tunnels hidden far beneath the streets of Norwich. Norwich is riddled with old chalk-mining tunnels, but no one's sure exactly how many. When Ruth is called in to investigate a set of human remains found in one of them, she notices the bones are almost translucent - a sign they were boiled soon after death. Once more she finds herself at the helm of a murder investigation.

    Cathy J Hunter says: "Soap opera, too little detection"
    "More of a soap opera than a mystery. Lousy plot."
    Overall
    Performance
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    This is my first read in the Ruth Galloway series. Although this is #9, I don't think that I suffered enormously not having read the earlier books, since the author fills in the backstory in the course of the course of the telling. I understand why some readers are attracted to this series and become attached to the characters, but I don't care for romance novels at all and, in a mystery having romance, for me, the mystery comes first. It is clearly secondary here, and, in fact, the crime plays a minor role for much of this book. The villains and their motivation for a series of murders and disappearances, when finally revealed, is preposterous. The plot also involves little archaeology.

    It isn't that the author is not a good writer; on the whole, her prose is good. The narrator also does a reasonable job. Nevertheless, I won't be reading any others in this series. Just not my type.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Glass Houses: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Robert Bathurst
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2404)
    Performance
    (2206)
    Story
    (2196)

    When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead. From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

    Sara says: "The Balm Of Community "
    "Just OK. Well below par for this great series."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I believe that I have read or listened to 11 of the 13 books in this series and was an early fan of Louise Penny's writing. Since I was disappointed by #9 and warned off #10, #11, I have been wary, which is the reason that I am johnny-come-lately to this party. But I loved #12, so, given the high rating, I proceeded with this, #13. I liked it but it is nowhere near the 4- and 5-star episodes that characterized some of the early books. If I could, I would assign it 2.5-stars.

    Robert Bathurst does a good job as narrator.

    For further comments, my review on Goodreads.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heat

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Stuart Woods
    • Narrated By Tony Roberts
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (198)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (179)

    Ex-DEA agent Jesse Warden has seen enough of the inside of a solitary confinement cell to last him a lifetime. Or two lifetimes, which is the sentence he's serving after being convicted of a crime he was planning to commit but never did. So when an old buddy shows up with a deal that could spring him from his hell behind bars, he's ready to listen.

    Calliope says: "Bad. Just bad. Disappointed."
    "1st half mystery, 2nd half thriller. Slow narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this audiobook on balance, although the plot was beyond belief at times. The publisher's summary gives an outline of the story. Roughly speaking, the first half is of the book is more or less a mystery; the second is more like a thriller. Stuart Woods is a good writer, with vivid characters and descriptions. The plot however is a bit over the top, with an ordinary, self-educated man (Jesse) transformed into a kind of superhero by the end.

    This version is narrated by Tony Roberts, who does a good job but reads much too slowly for my taste. I listened to most of the book at twice regular speed but which sounded almost normal, whereas I usually cannot even understand a a reader at that rate. This is 11 hrs, 19 min long, which may be compared with an older edition, narrated by Richard Ferrone, that lasts only 10hrs, 15 min, more than an hour shorter, and Ferrone is not a particularly fast speaker. Other readers who are satisfied with thrilling adventures for their own sake understandably gave this book a higher rating.

    The leader of a religious cult, Jack Gene Coldwater, is a kind of fanatic fostering a following in a small, remote town in Idaho by both personal charisma and ruthless power. Although he does get off on exercising power and authority, he does not seem to take great pleasure in it. It is just a means to a narcisstic but obscure end.

    Another issue with the plot was this: Jesse's wife had died, although they had a daugher on whom he doted. When he went to jail, presumably for life, his daughter was not put into foster care but put up for adoption without his consent. (This is in the early 1990's.) Perhaps a reader more knowledgeable than I can tell me whether that is even legally possible.

    This review, together with spoilers, may also be found on Goodreads.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Best Intentions

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Joseph T. Klempner
    • Narrated By Jeff Cummings
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    It starts with some innocent family fun. Writer Stephen Barrow's divorced wife, involved in a second marriage, has given Barrow custody of their six-year-old daughter, Penny. Father and daughter share a relationship that is tender, poignant, and funny. Their home life in a small upstate New York town is a happy and entirely wholesome one.

    Wayne says: "Great true story with outstanding narration!"
    "A good idea diminished by its execution."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a good story, with excellent narration by Jeff Cummings. The prose is acceptable but somehow the telling is heavy handed. Inspired by a true story, we're told, This is not historical fiction, and I suspect that the author exercised a great deal of poetic license in the novel. The characters all seem so extreme-the father, so naive and unable to cope; the daughter, so precocious; the female reporter and love interest, so idealistic but relatively ineffectual; the news editor and his male reporter, so exploitative, unfair, and sensationalistic; the police, so abusive and vindictive even though the evidence is so ambiguous; the DA, so underhanded, less interested in justice than in politics. Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction, but somehow this cast of characters doesn't ring true. The father's attorney seems to be more realistic, perhaps because the author was himself a defense attorney for so many years.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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