San Anselmo, CA, United States | Member Since 2006
I bought this book because Edoardo Ballerini narrated it, plain and simple. He is so gifted that it is a pure pleasure to listen to almost every book he reads. Almost. The precis notes that the book is about a man named Thomas Danforth, and it hints that there will be more than a smattering of WWII. As many of you know, O Constant Readers (I embarrass myself), I have had it just about up to here with WWII. Schindler's List said it all. Nonetheless, the book has strong points, and those who are still in the mood for WWII books will probably like this. Thomas Danforth is, at the time of the narration, a ninety-one-year-old man who is telling the story of his involvement in the war to a young interviewer named Paul. The mechanism of switching back and forth between post-September 11 New York and the world of sixty-plus years ago is an awkward device, which constantly makes the reader repeat phrases like "years later, Thomas would..." This does get a little annoying.
The crux of the book is an unbelievably naive plot to assassinate the Fuhrer, with a crew of only four or five people. One of them is the ferociously dedicated, dark, young, Jewish woman named in the title. Danforth helps train her and falls deeply in love with her, despite the fact that the assassination attempt is a suicide mission. No further spoilers here, but you can imagine what happens.
Thomas Cook is an extremely gifted writer. If I were you, I would start with "Streets of Fire," which is IMHO a much better book than this. No sense comparing the two books; I just feel that SOF is a much more accessible book, and is much more compelling (oops, I did compare, didn't I?). So what.
Once again Mr. Ballerini's talents are so remarkable that they cover some of the less interesting aspects of the book. His skills with accents and multiple languages are just astounding. It is possible that he speaks all these languages; if not, he has one heck of an ear for the musical sounds of languages. Even German, that most guttural and in other ways off-putting of languages, becomes soft and buttery in his mouth. I must warn you that there is some plenty gruesome stuff: you might want to skip the particulars of the guillotine. There is a deeply felt romance at the heart of the book, an opposites attract version between Danforth and Anna, and that part of the book is done pretty well. Maybe you could just skip the entire WWII part, but that would leave you with about a third of a book. Which, come to think of it, would not be a bad idea
The above is a quote from Robert B. Parker, a guy who should know. I am now in the process of reading all of Mr. Perry's novels, and I am sad to say that there are only a couple left. The man is remarkable, and again, Michael Kramer is the perfect voice for these amazing books. Mr. Perry is the opposite of formulaic. His creativity and inventiveness seem to know no bounds. This book starts with a killing, and takes almost the whole book to solve it. Through the book we get to know a number of people who are so much flesh and blood that we might actually know them in real life. The villains, however, are so scary that we are glad not to know them. Each time I listen to one of these, I just can't imagine how Mr. Perry is going to top this one, and yet, he does. At times here the suspense is literally unbearable. The plot quickens to the point where I had to put it down to make it last longer, if you understand. I was tempted to just sit and listen to the whole thing, but summoned up enough will power to let it be. Once again Mr. Perry writes with wit that is sometimes understated and sometimes just hilarious. He skewers a rich man who is also a monster, and also his sycophantic wife, and their lives of sheltered unreality. This man hires a killer to stalk the wife of the detective who dies at the beginning, and the contest between the two of them is a war of wills and wits. Emily is another extremely well drawn woman, something which Mr. Perry does easily while other male writers struggle with their inability to write nothing but cardboard women. At first I thought that The Butcher's Boy could not be topped. Now I know that Mr. Perry's talents are truly limitless. Enjoy yourselves. Mr. Perry cannot be beat.
Robert B. Parker was one of this country's most prolific authors, in league with Elmore Leonard. Like Leonard, he simply wanted to entertain us, and he succeeded almost every time out. Likewise, Michael Prichard was an amazingly prolific performer (and may still be). And Joe Mantegna is also an incredibly prolific and likable actor and narrator. Choosing between these two narrators is like trying to choose between the best apple pie and the best peach pie: very hard to do. In Sixkill, Parker again puts Spenser in his usual slot: a very tough guy on the outside with a very tender inside. The dialogue is, as always, witty and brief. You start chuckling right out of the gate. Mantegna seems to have a little more trouble with the repetitive "he said, she said" stuff than Prichard. I seem to notice that less when hearing Prichard. Mantegna, OTOH, is a face many of us know from movies and TV, and his voice is that of a friendly guy who might live next door to you, who happens to be one of the best storytellers anywhere. The plot of Sixkill is really just an excuse for Spenser to act, to play the tough guy when he wants to and the tender lover of Susan Silverman when he needs to. Not that the plot is trifling: it is clever and tugs at your heartstrings, in some ways. Sixkill is a huge Indian who once played great football, but then fell down a terrible slide. Spenser takes him on as a project, and between Spenser and the talk-about-tough-but-silent Hawk, they reclaim Sixkill in a way that is very humane and caring. Parker was a genius. Both Prichard and Mantegna make him sound wonderful. I have only tried to listen to one book narrated by David Dukes, and I hated it. Sit down with Parker and have a great time.
This is Mr. Perry's first book, originally published in 1982. Although it's a little dated (a full gas tank, 12 gallons, for $10!) that is the only flaw I can find. Michael Connelly, one heck of a writer himself, has written an introduction to the book, which accurately describes Perry's awesome talent and assuredness. Connelly uses the word "velocity" as a description of plots that delight us, and this is the perfect word for Perry's plot. There are only two main characters, the unnamed professional hitman, and the Justice Department agent Elizabeth Weiser, plus many other characters. Perry cleverly alternates chapters between these two characters to hold our interest, and this is a very successful suspense device. The book flies by. The hitman takes on the Las Vegas mafia families single-handedly, and you believe that he can manage it. He is no non-human superhero, though. He is believable in every way. Likewise, Elizabeth is also a real human being, in the field reluctantly for the first time, and simultaneously doubtful and self-confident. You just have to read Perry's work to see how smoothly he creates these characters. He also sees Las Vegas as what it is, or was thirty years ago. The narration is flawless. Mr. Kramer understands the writer, and has narrated all of Mr. Perry's books. He is fluid and entertaining. He builds the suspense for us. You can never guess the plot's twists and turns. You will at one moment fully suspect that someone with a gun will sneak in the door, and then Mr. Perry surprises you. Even Elizabeth is surprised and hoodwinked. This is a terrific book, and I am sure that I will eventually listen to all of Mr. Perry's books. Great entertainment!
Report Inappropriate Content