I love Jim Harrison's work. His novellas (especially Revenge and Legends of the Fall) are some of the best things I have ever read. The latter book packs three generations of action into about 150 pages. His writing is consistently strong and he moves the story forward with every sentence. But not in this book. The Great Leader struck me as a little more than a rumination on growing old and it wore me out in about two chapters. What action there is comes between large chunks of the main character talking to himself. The narrator did a workmanlike job but there was not a lot to work with here.
This book starts out great. Marvelous writing style, good characters, two interesting crimes. Unfortunately, the characters don't develop and worse, they exhibit the relationship skills of high school sophomores. The investigation drags on and on and on, with an ending that is entirely predictable. For one of the crimes, that is. The other one is never resolved. To top it all off, the main character/narrator is an annoying twit.
But beautifully written.
This book starts out pretty well - action filled first scene. Then there's about an hour of waiting for something to happen. Another scene. More waiting. I stopped before I got through the first third.
I loved every minute of this book. Lanchester brings all his characters out through action and conversation and he has a great handle on what was happening in London during the 2000's. Looks at the era from a lot of different viewpoints. I cared about all these people, whether I liked them or not. There are a few references which require some background in English culture, but you won't have a problem if you don't catch them. Very nice story, really couldn't recommend it more highly.
Chester Himes is an unappreciated master of noir fiction. His writing sings and Samuel L. Jackson gets the tune exactly right. The story is entertaining, characters are exceptionally well drawn and the violence is as brutal as it is unexpected. Give it a try.
I read this book years ago. At least two times. It is a masterpiece. This reading adds a level of nuance to the book that is truly exceptional. The narrator picks voices for the various characters that are absolutely spot-on. The one caveat for those unfamiliar with the book is that the story is non-linear. Stick with it, it actually is pretty easy to piece things together as the story unfolds. You owe it to yourself to listen, and consider as you do how little things have changed since our adventures in Vietnam (which was current when this book was written) or in WWII, for that matter.
This is interesting stuff, although the author's bias in favor of Dickie Scruggs makes the book come across as less than the whole story. Still, a fascinating look at how the legal community in Mississippi worked (and didn't) together. A huge influx of money from different sources resulted in some very nasty fights amongst the participants, most of which ended up in court. One would think that a bunch of lawyers would know better than to air their dirty laundry in public. Also a nice look at how politics works in a small state where things are controlled by a small number of players.
The problem with Aaron Burr is that he left nothing behind. As the author notes, Burr refused to conduct business in writing. So we are left with other people's accounts of Burr's life, all of which are tainted by the reporter's perspective. Stewart does a good job of giving space to all the varied views of Burr but as a consequence I came away more than a bit confused. With that said, this book is very much worth the time, especially in the passages which describe Burr's various trials. The insight given into how the legal system operated at the time, and the degree to which it was driven by personal animosity, is great.
I listen to a lot of books on tape. I've listed to the Count of Monte Cristo (50 hours or so) as well as two volumes of Shelby Foote's Civil War (north of 100 hours) as well as four of the five Martin volumes. After my experience with book 3 (markedly tedious but endurable) I read book 4 rather than listening to it. This allowed me to skip a lot of the filler and get through that volume without wanting to give up on the entire project and go listen to American Gods again. I gave this book a try due to the return of Mr. Dotrice and spent a lot of time regretting it. The pace is glacial. The narration is godawful - I finally figured out that Dany's voice was a dead ringer for Barry Fitzgerald in The Quiet Man.
This is exceptional writing. Any fan of James Ellroy will find much to enjoy here. Profane, obscene, crude, horrific - with all that said it is a top-notch story and brilliantly written. Not for everyone, as the other reviews note, but if you are willing to face an absolutely bleak world filled with nasty characters, you will get your money's worth here. Everything about this book is vicious - including the sexuality, but all in all more realistic and better drawn than the gratuitous sex scenes thrown in to far to many contemporary works.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.