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richard

63 y/o psychologist with two sons, living in SF Bay Area. I absolutely love all the feedback I've been getting for my reviews. It's very gratifying. Thanks to all of you.

San Anselmo, CA, United States | Member Since 2006

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  • 168 reviews
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  • 17 purchased in 2014
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  • Lonesome Dove

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Larry McMurtry
    • Narrated By Lee Horsley
    Overall
    (2822)
    Performance
    (1303)
    Story
    (1328)

    Larry McMurtry's American epic, set in the late 19th century, tells the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, a drive that represents not only a daring foolhardy adventure, but a part of the American Dream for everyone involved.

    A. Wright says: "Inspired reading of a great book"
    "A masterpiece. An epic western story."
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    Larry McMurtry wrote this book about twenty-five years ago. It is still amazing. No matter what you think about westerns, this book is so involving that, once you get into it a little ways, you will be so entertained that you will finish the book and never forget it. The book was made into a TV miniseries starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. The series was way popular. Duvall said that it was the peak of his acting career.
    I had never heard of Lee Horsley, but he was a narrator with enough talent to do a great job; sometimes a great book gets a less-then-great narrator, and the product is not good. The plot of the book involves two famed Texas Rangers named Captain Woodrow Call and Captain Augustus MacRae. Both of these men are fascinating characters, and they develop throughout the book. They,and a bunch of cowboys whom they recruit, embark on an astounding cattle drive. From the Rio Grande (from the dusty, hot town that gives the book its name) north and west all the way to Montana, they drive 3000 head of cattle over and through many rivers, many threatening weather events (including lightning which literally strikes for hours, and strikes so strong that the eyes turn completely white; and the strikes are so close to the cowboys and to one other key character, a whore named Lorena, who is just as fascinating as the Captains) and other remarkable experiences. Have any of you ever been in a grasshopper cloud? The grasshoppers descend so quickly and in such large numbers that the cowboys and the horses are instantly breathing grasshoppers, beating them off their shirts, and discovering that their only option is to endure the torment for hours, until it is finally over. There is, as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas used to say, nowhere to run to, baby; nowhere to hide.
    The other unbelievable, and often fatal peril, is Indians. They were not called Native Americans in the late 1800s. The men, the worst of them, were brutal, terrifying killers. They stalked across the plains, and anywhere else they lived, and their lives were so brutal, their hatred for the white man (and one black man in the cast) that they could sneak up on people in utter silence, and then attack with such ferocity that they killed their victims immediately. One particular monster among the Indians is a man named Blue Duck, who is so frightening that you cringe when you hear his name. In addition to the above, he is so cruel and inhuman that I will not describe him further.
    McMurtry's gift for interweaving plots involving completely separate people is amazing. You get really interested in one group for a while, and then he shifts to another group, and then another. The whore Lorena is one of the best-developed people in the whole book, just as fascinating as Gus and Call. Her story is pitiful and gradually becomes a story of truly extraordinary love. The relationship between Lorena and Gus is so tender that it rings completely true. It is a relationship that easily could exist now, between two people who are truly, madly, deeply in love with each other. The relationship between Gus and Call is also extraordinary, and unique in my experience of books of any age. It is a marriage of sorts, also so tender at times that you understand it deeply in your heart. They literally would die for each other. Very literally.
    Anyway, this is the longest review I have ever written. Enough about my opinion. I would love to hear yours.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Majestyk

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Elmore Leonard
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Vincent Majestyk saw too much death in the jungles of Southeast Asia. All he wants to do now is farm his melons and forget. But peace can be an elusive commodity, even in the Arizona hinterlands - and especially when the local mob is calling all the shots. And one quiet, proud man's refusal to be strong-armed by a powerful hood is about to start a violent chain reaction that will leave Mr. Majestyk ruined, in shackles, and without a friend in the world -- except for one tough and beautiful woman.

    richard says: "Elmore Leonard and Frank Muller: purrrrfection."
    "Elmore Leonard and Frank Muller: purrrrfection."
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    Faithful readers of mine will have heard me rave on at length about these two guys. I'm gonna do it again. Mr. Majestyk is both Leonard and Muller at the peaks of their careers, in the mid-70's. Both of them continued to do great work for several more decades. Mr. Majestyk appears in a later book by Leonard, when he is a seedy, broken down old judge in Detroit, if memory serves. In this book Vince Majestyk is a strong, brave, healthy young man who just wants to raise melons, have them picked by migrants and then sold to food brokers. His peaceful life is busted in on by gangsters who want him to use boozehounds to do the picking, rather than the skilled Mexican workers who follow ripening crops all over the country, earning enough money to send back to their families, but leading a nomadic, roaming life. Leonard sketches out his hero and several of the workers, in particular one very attractive young woman. It takes Leonard a few paragraphs to establish what lesser writers take chapters to accomplish. As I have quoted Leonard before, when asked why his books are so short, says, "I leave out the stuff that people don't read."
    Mr. Majestyk resists the encroachment of these lowlifes onto his fields, and he soon runs afoul of one very fowl gangster, Frank Renda. The cat and mouse chase that the two men lead is so thrilling that you will genuinely have trouble stopping to do anything else before you finish this. THIS is why we read audiobooks.
    Frank Muller was my favorite narrator for years, until he died, and then along came Edoardo Ballerini. Muller's voice is what we talk about when we say "mellifluous," that is, if we say that. His phrasing, pauses, voicing, nuances of individual characters: I could go on praising him for a long time. The book manages to be funny in addition to being everything else that it is. I won't spoil the ending, but you will probably see it coming from a mile away. The enjoyment is in the getting there. Majestyk's heroics are not overblown or cartoonish, although he does manage to off about a dozen bums in the book. The romance is very briefly sketched, but charming nonetheless. I was somewhere in the middle of about five books when I spotted this one: I dropped all the others and read this one start-to-finish without even thinking about the others. Not everything Leonard ever wrote was spectacularly good. A lot of it was. The same is true for Frank Muller. Once you have read Polar Star (please!) you will forgive Mr. Muller any lesser works, particularly since he is not the guy writing the books. The hit TV series Justified is based on a book by Leonard called Raylan. Any book involving Raylan Givens is well worth your time. I hope you have as much fun as I do with these gentlemen. It is a unique pleasure.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Cairo Affair

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Olen Steinhauer
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (89)
    Performance
    (75)
    Story
    (73)

    Sophie Kohl is living her worst nightmare. Minutes after she confesses to her husband, a mid-level diplomat at the American embassy in Hungary, that she had an affair while they were in Cairo, he is shot in the head and killed. Stan Bertolli, a Cairo-based CIA agent, has fielded his share of midnight calls. But his heart skips a beat when he hears the voice of the only woman he ever truly loved, calling to ask why her husband has been assassinated.

    Darwin8u says: "In the widening gyre"
    "Spook books: just not my kind of thing."
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    I think the only spook book I've ever read was The Spy who came in from the cold, and I read it because I had seen the movie, which I loved, and also because Frank Muller narrated it. I will listen to it again. I bought this book primarily because I love Edoardo Ballerini, who can, in my view, do virtually no wrong. However, the entire genre just does not appeal to me. Liars lying to liars, with multiple layers of lying above and below; cloak and dagger plots which are so convoluted that they are almost impossible to follow; characters who turn out to be uninteresting drones, living the expat life and being pushed all over the world so that they can't live normal domestic lives: you put this all together and it just bores me to tears. Mr. Steinhauer can write, and Mr. Ballerini is simply a delight to listen to. The book takes place mostly in Cairo, as the title indicates. There are a number of people who work in the CIA office in Cairo, and the plot centers on their involvement with a spook operation called Stumbler. Stumbler is a project whose intent is apparently to kidnap the Libyan revolution against Qaddafi by moving in at key moments and plaacing American personnel in positions of power, so that Libya post-Qaddafi will be manageable, and "friendly to American business interests." Fine. It's a fair bet that any character you might find a little bit interesting will be found in an alley with his throat slashed in just a few pages. There really is no one person who is the protagonist in the book. There are several parts which are named for individuals in the story, like Part I: Stan. Or Part II: John. As a structure for a plot this is dull. There is so much time-shifting that finally you don't care about any of these individuals. I gave up about two-thirds of the way through, which seems to be happening to me a good it lately. Maybe I am hitting the bottom of the barrel in the detective/thriller genre. There are a few writers whom I find wonderful: Tim Hallinan, Martin Cruz Smith, John Lescroarts; and there are a number of individual works by authors whom I generally don't care for, and then there are a few bright newcomers, but there sure is a lot of bad stuff out there, books that cry out for editors, or books that clearly are targeted at groups to which I do not belong. So, once again, this book is going to be exactly the thing for people who like this sort of thing. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful than that.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Six Years

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Harlan Coben
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2363)
    Performance
    (2034)
    Story
    (2047)

    Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for...but she is not Natalie....

    Louise says: "Over the Top - and not in a good way"
    "Mr. Coben has gotten waaaay too popular."
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    I started reading Harlan Coben's work about twenty years ago. He was very good then. His first character was an ex-basketball player and now an agent for players. His name was Myron Bolitar. An outrageously Jewish name for a guy who probably had maybe one or two fellow Lantsmen (fellow Jews) in the NBA. Myron was LOL funny. His best friend was a cartoonish rich guy named Windsor Lockehorne something-or-other, a guy who leapt tall buildings with a single bound, lived in a penthouse on the Upper East Side, etc. Myron, at 35, lived with his parents in New Jersey. There were several other supporting cast members in this fictional family. The books were a whole lot of fun. As a result, Harlan Coben is now a phenomenon. You can go to your local bookstore and watch a televised bookstore talk about his latest book, which is this one. The publishing industry lives for guys like Harlen, who makes them rich. Unfortunately, Harlen has now pulled way too many rabbits out of this hat. I sure wish Myron would return, but it ain't gonna happen.
    A Myron-like character stars in this book, Six years. I had stopped reading Coben's books quite a number of years ago. Now I understand why. I did listen to the first download and to half of the second download. I just could not get myself to finish it. It's good writing, I suppose, and it will sell like hotcakes (I bought it, didn't I?). But I just did not get interested enough to want to find out what happened to Jake's lost love, Natalie. Jake is the Myron-stand-in. Part of the problem, as many Audible listeners will surely appreciate, is Scott Brick. With Scott, you either love him or hate him. I absolutely loved him in The Ice Limit, which is within my top five all-time favorite audiobooks. Scott regularly amps up the excitement to such insane decibels that you can't hear yourself think. And here we are. Scott's tendency to scream even while he is whispering is just too much, as it is in many other works of his. BTW, he too has become an Audible superstar, and thus he is all over the place. I won't bore you with the plot. If you like these two guys, then have fun. I'll take Tim Hallinan and Victor Bevine, or Edoardo Ballerini and almost any writer over Harlen and Scott, hands down. Harlen already has another one in the pipeline. I think I'll skip it.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • An Officer and a Spy: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Robert Harris
    • Narrated By David Rintoul
    Overall
    (126)
    Performance
    (105)
    Story
    (107)

    Paris in 1895: Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of 20,000. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus' guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military.

    paris pete says: "Suspenseful, Absorbing and Shocking"
    "Only for Francophiles and military historians."
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    The story of Emil Dreyfuss is fairly well known to people like the above. They will no doubt love this book. As for the rest of us, not so much. It's pretty slow going. First, the narrator: David Rintoul's French accent is so good that it's annoying. He over pronounces every French word, street name, personal name and so forth that it actually grates on the nerves. Modern French is a beautiful language, spoken with melodic phrasing, lots of elisions and a casual manner which is hard to master. Mr. Rintoul has done the opposite. He pronounces each word as if it were a royal address in front of an extremely learned and stuffy body. He could really lighten up. The book suffers from his formality and the absence of nuance in his speech. Less would definitely have been more here.
    The story of Dreyfuss's conviction for treason, clearly a misstep by the French government of the late 1800's, is sickeningly riddled with ferocious anti-Semitism. The coverup by the military and politicians is as plodding as an elephant. The hero of the story, Major George Picard, is a very easy guy to like, a guy who believes in the truth and is genuinely horrified to see the government turn against him, convicting him in a kangaroo court. Corruption, petty and large, is rampant. Villains are juicy and easy to hate. For those of you who haven't read Robert Harris before, you may be delighted at how deep his research is, how authoritative his voice is, and how you come to fully subscribe to his version of reality. These things just must have happened in this way, because Mr. Harris says so in such an articulate fashion. And, in case there was any doubt about the collusion of the French with the Nazis in WWII, that doubt should be put to rest here. Even though there are over 140n years between the Dreyfuss affair and WWII, the French come off as slimy collaborators. The camps may have been in Austtria, Poland and Germany, but the Jews were rounded up in small towns all over France, stuffed into rail cars and sent off with the utmost cruelty to their unspeakable deaths. It is hard to be romantic about France, a country I have visited many times, and a country which is justifiably proud of its culture, art, music, food, wine, museums, and so forth. To see up close and personal the evils that underlie all of that beauty can be a very tough thing to face. Mr. Harris makes us face it unflinchingly. The book is a tough read, but Mr. Harris continues to put out authoritative, brilliantly researched depictions of some of the most important points in human history. Pompeii is worth listening to. I found this one a pretty rough go.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Luck of Right Now

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Matthew Quick
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (28)

    For 38 years, Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother. When she gets sick and dies, he has no idea how to be on his own. His redheaded grief counselor, Wendy, says he needs to find his flock and leave the nest. But how does a man whose whole life has been grounded in his mom, Saturday Mass, and the library learn how to fly? Bartholomew thinks he's found a clue when he discovers a "Free Tibet" letter from Richard Gere hidden in his mother's underwear drawer. In her final days, Mom called him Richard - there must be a cosmic connection.

    JoAnn says: "AMAZING"
    "Unintelligible."
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    Story

    Matthew Quick wrote The Silver Linings Playbook, which was a wonderful movie. When I listened to the audiobook, I thought that Matthew showed a lot of promise as a writer, and a lot of guts, to put on display an extremely accurate, vivid, unflinching picture of what it is like to have a major mental illness. The movie was hollywood, of course, but the book was written by an author with tremendous skills, I can speculate about whether Matthew has a personal experience of mental illness, particularly the disorder which is called Bipolar Disorder, formerly manic-depressive illness.It doesn't matter whether or not he has that, but if he hasn't, then he is a man of remarkable powers of observation.
    He wrote a second book, which I listened to but immediately forgot, not a good sign. The third book is so bad that it is annoying. Neil, the main character, is clearly a seriously deluded man. One of his main goals in life is to have a beer with a friend in a bar. He also hallucinates Richard Gere. He and Richard have daily conversations. This portrait of loneliness is awful enough, but the skill of the writing deteriorated to the point at which it was very hard to listen to, saying nothing about the uncomfortable content. However, in the middle of the book Matthew decompensates to the point at which his words are literally nonsensical gibberish. Matthew introduces a character who has to include the word fuck, or any of its variations, whenever he speaks. I quit at this point. Matthew completely lost me. I just cannot believe that an editor could allow such a manuscript to be published. The words become something like stream-of-consciousness, with the exception that the author is no James Joyce. Still, I root for him. I hope he does better next time, and that for God's sake he finds an editor.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ripper: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Isabel Allende
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (56)

    The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Though their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda's father, she's reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her - Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco's elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL. While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature - as is her father, the SFPD's deputy chief of homicide.

    richard says: "Major chick lit alert. You've been warned."
    "Major chick lit alert. You've been warned."
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    Where do I start here? How about with the protagonist in the book. Her name is Indiana Jackson. Have you ever in your entire life known a person of either gender whose first name is Indiana? Neither have I. A small thing, but it has the ring of false-hood.
    I love Edoardo Ballerini. I have listened to about thirty books that he has read, and I've loved almost all of them. Even he can't save this mess. I gave up after four hours, which I think is a decent amount of time to judge whether I am enjoying a book or not. Not. I believe there is supposed to be a murder mystery somewhere in the book, but I heard little about that. What I heard about was a whole lot of she said-she said, and a whole lot about women who go to a lot of yoga classes, plus hydrotherapy, aroma therapy, hypnosis, and so forth. Even in the world of Ms. Allende, these are extremely pampered individuals. And, BTW, I am a psychologist, so I am not at all adverse to hearing about people's experiences in psychotherapy.
    I live in the same neck of the woods as Ms. Allende, and I know that she is a major star in the world of Latinas; my wife comes from Colombia. That, combined with the chance to listen to Mr. Ballerini disposed me positively towards the book. No use. It may be the case that millions of women, and maybe a few men, love this kind of writing, but I don't. And I love murder mysteries, detective novels and thrillers: still no good. If you are a fan of Ms. Allende's, then you may well like this. As you have clearly seen by this point: I didn't.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • All the Pretty Horses

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Cormac McCarthy
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (964)
    Performance
    (311)
    Story
    (317)

    All the Pretty Horses, the first volume of the Borders Trilogy, tells of young John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of Texas ranchers. Across the border Mexico beckons; beautiful and desolate, rugged and cruelly civilized. With two companions, he sets off on an idyllic, sometimes comic adventure, to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.

    Gene says: "A Super-Listen"
    "A great adventure, told to us by the Master,"
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    There are a number of people who find Cormac McCarthy too violent for their tastes. It's too bad for them, IMHO, because they miss out on masterpieces like these. The plot grabs you very quickly and holds on tight. John Grady Cole, a sixteen-year-old Texan, is forced off his family's ranch due to his mother's disinterest in finances. She eventually finds her way to the stage, where she acts very small roles. John Grady leaves his hometown with his best friend Easy Rawlins, and they ride south into Mexico. I couldn't possibly give you a fair taste of the plot, but trust me. Cormac McCarthy has been called one of our finest writers, and this is perhaps his finest book. It actually is the first part of a three-book series called the Border Trilogy. McCarthy follows John Grady and Rawlins through several years of their lives, beginning with John Grady leaving home and then riding around Mexico without any direct purpose but with a taste for adventure, the need to see what is over the next mountain, and the bittersweet experience of falling in love. Along the way we meet a large cast of characters, every single one of them described so perfectly that we remember them for years. John Grady falls in love with a young woman who is the daughter of a very wealthy man. The romance is scandalous, as John Grady is light-years beneath the social status of her family. The father likes John Grady, respects him for his skills and his independence and his extraordinary knowledge of horses. However, once the man discovers that John Grady has fallen in love with his daughter, he sends her off to Mexico City, where his wife dominates the social scene; he then sends John Grady to prison, despite the fact that the young man has become his trusted foreman on the ranch. There is no real charge against him, but John Grady and Rawlins find themselves in a truly horrific prison. This is the section where the faint of heart might be stretched to their personal limits. Several thugs are hired to kill John Grady, and they make very serious attempts on his life. We meet the inmate boss of the prison, and learn of the brutal authority structure within the prison. John Grady and Rawlins find themselves in the prison infirmary, from which they are mysteriously rescued. On the streets again, John Grady is determined to find the young woman, and he does. These scenes are achingly romantic, even though we know that they will end badly for him. Nonetheless, they spend two days in a lovely small Mexican town, which is made incredibly beautiful and emotionally warm through the skills of the author. If you want to hear more of the story, it awaits you in the book. You will love it.
    The readers who follow me know how I feel about Frank Muller. He was the greatest narrator who ever lived, and this book is one of his finest achievements. I have listened to this about four or five times, and I will continue to do so for years to come. His feeling for the ambience of the West is remarkable. He speaks slowly, with a perfect Texan accent. He voices all of the characters in such a masterly way that it is really hard to believe that he can call up all those voices whenever he needs them. You have to listen to him in order to appreciate the breadth of his skills. He died about ten years ago, and it was a tremendous loss. Stephen King once said that he wrote for Frank's voice. If you are interested, another Frank Muller masterpiece is John Grisham's "The Testament." A completely different book, but just as powerful a story, again told by the greatest story teller we have ever known.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Kristopher Jansma
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (18)

    From as early as he can remember, the hopelessly unreliable - yet hopelessly earnest - narrator of this ambitious debut novel has wanted to become a writer. From the jazz clubs of Manhattan to the villages of Sri Lanka, Kristopher Jansma's irresistible narrator will be inspired and haunted by the success of his greatest friend and rival in writing, the eccentric and brilliantly talented Julian McGann, and endlessly enamored with Julian's enchanting friend, Evelyn, the green-eyed girl who got away.

    richard says: "Mind-numbing boredom. Hours of it."
    "Mind-numbing boredom. Hours of it."
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    I bought this book because Edoardo Ballerini reads it. I had never heard of Mr. Jansma. Now I know why I've never heard of him. His writing is the definition of boredom. I listened to three and a half hours of it, giving it the old college try, but after that I could take no more. There are a few cute scenes in it, as near the beginning when the narrator describes himself as a boy, watching an old watchmaker in an airport kiosk fixing watches. I should have stopped there. By the time I quit it, I did not care a whit about any of the characters, and I could not, or did not, follow the plot at all. It seems to be something of an F. Scott Fitzgerald wannabe. It becomes very trite very quickly, piling up all sorts of artsy, wealthy Manhattan socialites of many nationalities, all of whom meet at cocktail parties. One of them opens up the trunk of his car and finds cases of caviar, which he and the narrator eat while they sit on the car's bonnet. Whooppeeee! Your time is way more valuable than any attempt to listen to this, and there are literally thousands of books in this genre. Please don't buy it. If you do, don't say I didn't warn you. Mr. Ballerini still reigns, but you just cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Bone House

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Brian Freeman
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (302)
    Performance
    (243)
    Story
    (242)

    Hilary and Mark Bradley are trapped in a web of suspicion. Last year, accusations of a torrid affair with a student cost Mark his teaching job and made the young couple into outcasts in their remote island town off the Lake Michigan coast. Now another teenage girl is found dead on a deserted beach... and once again, Mark faces a hostile town convinced of his guilt. Hilary Bradley is determined to prove that Mark is innocent, but she’s on a lonely, dangerous quest.

    Squeak says: "A Very Suspenseful Murder Mystery!"
    "Straight up soap opera."
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    So, if my title is true, then I have to ask myself this: why did I listen to almost six hours of it? In days gone by, when in St.Louis we only had three TV channels, and you had to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel, my mother used to love watching her "stories" when she got home from teaching school. Apparently, the apple don't fall far from the tree.
    The leading review of this book is by a person who totally loves it, calling it a superb, thrilling mystery murder, or words to that effect. I do like listening to Joe Barrett's voice, even though his range of voices is not that wide. And the writing, given the genre, is not all that bad. However, after a while it just got to be too much: who is in love with whom, which couple is breaking up, who is the housewrecker, what are the toxic nature of mother-daughter relationships, isn't it sad about unrequited teenage girl/adult man love, and blah and blah and blah. I never accepted Hillary as a detective; she is just a woman who is fiercely in love with her husband and can't even consider the possibility that he might have killed one girl, not to say two of them. The book is a small-town story, where everybody knows everybody's business. I certainly have no problem with those kinds of books. I just really can't explain why I lost interest in this book pretty early, and then just sat there and listened to it for so long. I am shocked (shocked!) about it. Maybe I had a lot of time on my hands, or I was shirking some kind of responsibilities, or I don't know what. You may love this book. There's room for all kinds of opinions in this world, thank God.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Not Comin' Home to You

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Lawrence Block
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Jimmie John Hall wasn't anything until he was a killer, and Betty Dienhardt wasn't anything until she met Jimmie John Hall. When they get together, sparks fly and bullets follow. The first to go are Betty's parents, but Betty isn't bothered. She only wants to be with her man - the first person to ever make her feel special. They set off on a cross-country spree, killing for gas money and food, killing to swap their car for one the police aren't looking for. As the dragnet draws tighter they only grow closer, riding a road that leads to death because death has surrounded them all the time.

    richard says: "Very early Block, written under a surname. Smooth."
    "Very early Block, written under a surname. Smooth."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Lawrence Block has become a highly prodigious writer. He gives an afterword to this audiobook which is quite explanatory and very enjoyable. He wrote the book under a surname, Paul Kavanaugh. The book is based an two serial killers, John Starkweather and Carol Fugate, who murdered a number of people in Kansas for no reason other than their severe psychopathy. I want to say that Alan Sklar's voice is beautiful, gravelly, and perfectly tuned to the characters and the plot. The male, Jimmy John, is a pure psychopath: there is absolutely no reason for killing the people that he kills. The woman, Betty, is basically taken along for the rides. Jimmy John also steals dozens of cars, in order to evade the police, who eventually catch up with him. At first Jimmy John is completely repellent. You don't ever really like him, and Betty is a cipher. However, Mr. Block and Mr. Sklar make an excellent team, and the book becomes compelling reading in spite of our complete distaste for Jimmy John. Block never makes the mistake of trying to "nicen him up," or make him sympathetic in any way. He is just a loser, and so is Betty. It happens that Terence Malick made his memorable movie "Badlands," about the Starkweather/Fugate story, and Block candidly admits the classic betrayal by the denizens of Hollywood. He obviously wishes that the book had made it to the screen, and it is quite cinematic. Malick won that contest, and Block may have been better off, as he never again wrote with half an eyeball on a movie contract. Block's tone and pitch of the plot are perfect. He keeps the suspense moving and keeps us reading. Nothing is really "explained" about either of the characters, and even though that has been the fashion of more recent crime novels, Block somehow knew that he didn't need to do it. He also didn't need to create a dogged detective in pursuit of the criminals, a style which has driven hundreds of crime series since. This was a one-off, and it is better off for it. Block's move to New York and his development of the character Bernie Rhodenbarr, the bookshop owner/detective, has really never held me in the way that this book did. You might hate this book, as the primary character is completely repellent with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. However, I found it a very enjoyable read. I do like action, although of course I like thought as well. In this book you get a whole lot of the former and very little of the latter. Don't say I didn't tell you.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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