Phoenix, AZ USA | Member Since 2007
Did Gregory David Roberts get paid by the word here? Long on quantity but short on quality, this is a great book IF you suffer from chronic insomnia and Xanax is not working for you. Lin sounds like the "Dog Chapman of Bombay", a minor gangsta wannabe with a can of mace instead of an AK-47, a white person who thinks knowing a few Hindi words makes him a native. (He calls everyone "Bro" like Dog and in the same condescending way that blacks used to be called "George"). When he said that being invited to a friend's daughter's wedding meant that he was "truly accepted", he sounded as ridiculous as Dog when who thought that he was "cool enough in the black world to be able to use (a racial slur) as a brother to a brother." No, Lin, you were just invited to a wedding, not into a race or nationality! There is no real sense of India here. Prabaker, who comes and goes, is actually much more interesting than Lin, yet he is portrayed as a cartoon, as are other Indians and minorities. Treating the reader like they're stupid, everything is over-explained - from the moon to a tune. Lin philosophizes about simple acts like a Harlequin romance: "(My body) became her rocket and she rode me into the sun". Gag!! He thinks he's be a true Indian, based on his ability to speak the language and his life as a minor criminal in the poorest part of Bombay. He's never tested by Indian aristocracy, preferring to stay among the poor who think he's "all that". About to open up a vein from boredom, I skipped over Part 4 completely and lost nothing of the story. This could have been told in under 8 hours. Lin's life is not that interesting, while his narcissism and rhetoric border on Nazism. Even the way he got the name "Shantaram" is shallow. Neither India nor its people are given the respect or development that they deserve. The narration is the only "pro" in a story of a con with no real talents. Lin is nothing but white-collar "popcorn gangsta" who talks a good game. Save your money!
I'm a prolific Audible.com customer (1,400+ books so far) but I tend to shy away from books about racism in America. But, every now and then, a book comes along which is honest, hard-hitting yet balanced and emotional. This is such a book. The characters, black and white, male and female, young and old, are well-developed and each tells his or own story from their perspective, which is then woven into the rich tapestry that is "Mudbound". Like the best-selling audiobook "The Help", African-American narrators are used here to depict the black characters, giving the overall narration of the book a rich, deep, resonance - like a good gumbo. I cannot stand audio books where white people try to imitate black voices - they always sound like the minstrel stereotypes so evident in modern depictions, saying stuff like "Jive turkey" and "Right on!", something I've never heard a black person say in all of my 62 years! While we as a people have learned to talk "proper", there's not a single actor who can accurately imitate our voices, especially from times where we were forced to keep our eyes averted and respond with a respectful "Yassuh, Massa". This book, which tells a moving story of what it was like living in the deep South after World War II, is only made better by the excellent production. Even when the African-Americans have to "bow down" to the white man with "Yo' is righ", Cap'n", it's done here with self-respect and a self-awareness which lets the listener know that we're just playing the white man's game. Only a black narrator can provide this level of accuracy. I've listened to way too many audiobooks - even classics - which are ruined by the narrator. Mudbound" is really a tale of prejudice and hate and unnecessary cruelty by one race to another. However, if one can get pass the pain felt by blacks and the embarrassment felt by whites of hearing "nigger" over and over and over again, and just listen to the rich depiction of the people, the locations, and the era, you will find a riveting book of human suffering and survival. Here the "good" white people are still honestly racist behind closed doors and the black people will be grinning in the face of white man while planning how to kill him. Nobody is all good or all bad - just like in life. It's rare to find a white author who thoroughly understands how blacks reacted and triumphed over such racist things like a black man risking his life in WWII, only to come home to his parents' sharecropping farm and be treated like an animal. (Somebody told Jordan how we react when talked to like a slave - if you DEMAND a glass of water, we'll get it from the toilet, all icy and cold, for you!) Here we are portrayed as a strong race who learned how to live with overt racism long after we were supposed to have equal rights. After finishing this book - I wanted to read a sequel and a prequel to this book. Or another such literary and audio masterpiece like "The Help" and "Mudbound". More, PLEASE!!!
I loved the movie "American Gangster". However, its success was due more to restrained intelligent acting of Denzel Washington, along with a great supporting cast (T.I., Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Russell Crowe, Cuba Gooding Jr., and the great "Dame" Ruby Dee). Here we are just stuck with the country, ignorant Frank Lucas, telling lies, covering up the truth, not revealing names, wasting my money!!!! Narrator Cary Hite reads like a 6 year-old and his "Asian" and "white" dialects are insulting and racist. Frank Lucas was disrespectful of his fellow criminals, the public, law enforcement, the women in his life and his children. Where is his beloved mother who was a big part of the movie (Ruby Dee)? Lucas just rambles on and on, dropping celebrity names, bragging about stupid stuff that no one with any sense would. He refused to name the man who allegedly sold him the heroin in Thailand, calling him "007" (really, Frank?). However, he had no trouble throwing music genius Barry Gordy and, according to Lucas, Gordy's "mistress", the incomparable Diana Ross under the bus. In this account, he claims not to know if his boss Bumpy Johnson was in the drug business, claiming "omerta" , like a Mafia wife. I'm inclined to believe what Bumpy's widow, the late Mayme Hatcher Johnson, said about Lucas in her book, "Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson". "Frank wasn't nothing but a flunky, and one that Bumpy never did really trust," says Johnson. "Bumpy would let Frank drive him around, but you'd better believe that he was never in any important meetings or anything. He would say, you can trust a thief quicker than a liar, because a thief steals money because he needs money, but a liar lies for the hell of it!" That pretty much sums up this book!
Now I will give Lucas some slack for being a sociopath. As a very young child, he witnessed his young cousin getting his head blown off by the shotgun of several KKK members for the alleged "reckless eyeballing" of a white woman. That kind of senseless violence to African-Americans and black Americans has been proven to affect the development of a criminal mind with no empathy for anyone or anything. However, as the mother of a black male, this is not a book I would allow him to read - even at age 30 - much less as an impressionable teenager. I'm not saying that every black kid has to emulate President Barack Obama but Frank Lucas is barely on the edge of the other side of the spectrum.
NOTE: I actually met Frank Lucas after being asked to a private party at a club by one of his forgettable country brothers while I was on a trip to Harlem at the time I was attending Howard University as a Theater major. He had none of the grace and dignity that Denzel gave him in the film. He was country, with a drawl so thick that I couldn't understand a word he said. He was not good-looking or well-dressed - just COUNTRY!!! This book portrays the REAL Frank Lucas - "American Wanksta"!!!! Yeah, I said it! Ehhh, what?!
As soon as I finished Book 1, I downloaded Book 2. Dr. Silkstone continues to pioneer GOOD forensic anatomy. Plus, here he's surrounded by real medical professionals whom existed at the time like Dr. John Hunter, the anatomist who is credited with beginning what we know now as criminal forensic pathology. For some reason, Tessa Harris made the fictional Dr. Silkstone a charming good-looking gentleman while Hunter is a creepy Irish mess who operates outside of the law and the established medical standards of the time. Like the first book, the author keeps the reader off-balance, thinking we know who the villains are but finding more surprises at every turn.
If you like Sherlock Holmes, you will be so glad to be able to "graduate" to the big league in forensic science. Dr. Thomas Silkstone does amazing things in medicine in the 18th century, before the microscope or any of the most basic tools that scientists relied on during Holmes" era. The book is great read with numerous twists and turn, keeping you guessing on who is good and who is bad. A good lesson on watching your back at all times!
After listening to ALL of this author's "Mrs. Polifax" series - back to back - I hungered for more stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things in places far from home. I first tried "Uncertain Voyage" but it was nothing but "chick-lit", not worthy of Dorothy Gilman. Just a neurotic woman with loose morals who barely completed her "unexpected mission" because she was always moaning and whining over some man who wasn't worth a dime. But in this book and the Mrs. Polifax books, the reader gets to experience dangerous situations in foreign locales. Gilman is either well-traveled or an outstanding researcher who speaks all manner of languages. When you listen to one of her books, you feel that you are going places, dodging bullets, escaping from inescapable spots, meeting new and interesting people, and beating the odds. Well worth the price of a ticket to ride!!!!
Everything about an audiobook which makes it not worth buying has gathered here for a perfect storm. First, WHY is this even an interesting subject matter? Anthony Trollope obviously has issues with women or why write such a nonsensical story? I've read and enjoyed other books by this author. But this one is a waste of time! No self-respecting female author would have wasted her time writing this mess. Why? Because it is science fiction!! Seven and a half hours about a neurotic woman ruminating about a jilted romance. Trollope wants us to believe that a town has come to a full stop while speculating, gossiping, lying, back-stabbing, and being outraged just because a woman decides not to marry a cold, cruel-hearted older man? Are we to believe also that this woman is now "ruined" as if she slept with every man in Europe when the most scandalous thing she shared with a man is a chaste kiss on the cheek. That no other man would have her due to this "indiscretion"? That, by not taking out a front-page advertisement about her broken engagement, she is now guilty of "premeditated fraud"? What a small-minded bunch of people, with nothing else to do except pass stories and, even worse, pass judgment against a young woman who made the step to control her own life. No wonder the British got nothing done back then! REEE-DICK-A-LUSS!!!!
To compound this stupid tale is probably the worst narrator in Audible history - i should know, since I own over 425 audiobooks. Did anyone LISTEN to this book after the recording session. Jill Masters never changes the inflection in her voice for 7 hours. She just drones on and on and on! After 4 hours I felt like I was in the middle of a long hard labor with a stillborn baby!!! Painful for the mere fact of being in pain. Then to make all of the above worse, the audio quality is very poor, as if the book was recorded in an all porcelain bathroom. That "reverb" effect is great when one is singing in the shower but is extremely irritating in an audiobook.
I've listened to many books where the story is too simple or too dark or too inconsequential, yet a good narrator using innovative voice effects makes the ride worthwhile. Not so here. This narrator totally ruined a ruined a book which is hanging on a very thin literary thread. Jill Masters sounds as if she is bored to death and, in turn, she bores the listener. Try as I might, I couldn't finish this one. Anthony Trollope, Jill Masters, Jimcin Recordings and Audible.com are co-conspirators in an coup d'??tat of aural pain!
I can be a bit verbose with my reviews but I write what I want to see when I read the reviews of others. However the three-letter heading really sums it up! But, if you insist.....
While I know that forensics didn't begin recently, there has been a huge gap on books about criminal investigation in the decades between Victorian-era Sherlock Holmes and present day "CSI: Miami". And both of these accounts are largely science fiction - my long-time Sr. Crime Scene Investigator boyfriend doesn't drive a Hummer, conduct highly technical forensic and chemical tests, arrest perps, or interrogate suspects! He mainly "bags it 'n' tags it", i.e., collects evidence like bullet casings, weapons, blood, drugs, etc., dusts for fingerprints, and thoroughly documents the crime scene with schematics, photos, and video, assuring that everything is logged in which begins the critical chain of custody for trial.
This book gives credit to 2 brilliant dedicated scientists who created, formally organized, and set the current standard for catching murderers and/or exonerating innocent people of the most elusive and complicated manner of death - poisoning. Before there were mass chromatograph spectrometers, there was chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler, scientists who dedicated their time and, often, their own money to convince the corrupt NYC legal system that forensics had a much- needed place in criminal investigation. And they did it with glass tubes, petri dishes, and Bunsen burners in the 1920s! They could keep working in a blackout while today's forensic labs would have to close up until the computers had power!
My only complaint is the narrator. While she can spit out long hard-to-pronounce chemical names without batting an eye, for some strange reason she had Dr. Gettler sounding like Tony Soprano! Totally unnecessary and often distracting. This is not a book which requires gimmicky accents. The subject matter stands on its own. AMAZING!!
Alison Weir seems to be losing her edge. I've always been a fan of her writing but, recently, her books are coming off like romance novels. I love Eleanor of Aquitaine - I know she was a ***ch sometimes but, hey, she was a woman in a man's world! In this book, she is portrayed as flighty and slutty, rather than the woman with a purpose who lived her life like a man. I've purchased every Weir audio book available here but this one just might be my last!
I have NEVER heard anyone from Botswana drag the "M" in names and words like this narrator! Everything sounds like "Mmmmmother mmmmmmakes mmmmmuch mmmmmmoney! IRRITATING! And it makes what could be a pleasing story drag along. I guess I got used to Jill Scott's expert acting as Precious Ramotswe in the HBO series. No one in the series went around drawling out "Mma" like "Mmmmmmmmmma". Hearing this over and over again, several times in one sentence hurts my ears! ! Lisette Lecat may be South African-born but not BLACK SOUTH AFRICAN! I'm tired of white narrators thinking that they know how we talk. Guess what? YOU DON'T!!!!
This is the only one of many reviews that I've written here where I have nothing to say about the story because the narration is the worst in over 300 Audible.com I've purchased. Glad I got this book on sale but it's not even worth the sales price! Does Audible even listen to these books when the narration is completed? Obviously not! I know there must be black, African-American, and African narrators out there to do justice to our voices. Find some, Audible! I'm getting weary of listening to us sound like minstrels or just plain ridiculous as in this book! A MEERKAT could have done better than LECAT!
I have to admit that I bought this book almost 2 years ago but couldn't get through it. Even my favorite narrator, Nadia May, couldn't make me understand what the hell was going on. But I recently watched the British mini-series "Mapp & Lucia" on Netflix and I finally got it! I was shocked considering 99% of the time I prefer the book to the movie. I went back and tried it again and I absolutely loved this book! I even bought Benson's "Miss Mapp" as soon as I finished this one. Lucia, Georgie, Miss Mapp, Quaint Irene and all the other characters come alive with May's masterful narration. This is a great story of small time snobs in a teeny-tiny village who absolutely thrive on cliquish, gossipy behavior, and "up womanship". "La Lucia" and her rival Miss Mapp are hilarious trying to outdo each other trying to be big fish in a very small town, knowing that they could never survive in a big city like London during the reign of King George V. Mink coats and "Royces" here are like millennium hip-hop artists with their "bling-bling"! If at first you don't succeed in listening to this book, please try, try again. It's well worth the price of admission! (And there's always Netflix for a primer!)
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