James Lee Burke writes in the gray areas of life; people are both good and bad. What they do to each other and to their environment comes out of the balance (or rather, imbalance) of these two elements. Burke is very perceptive about the lack of sharp lines in morality and the rules of life.
At first I wondered if every Robicheaux book was going to be this much about him 'battling his demons'. The internal dialogues when Robicheaux goes off the rails get intense, but looking ahead at future synopses I see that he does evolve; he keeps fighting demons but it looks like they change.
One of the things I kept reminding myself is that when this book originally came out it was smack-dab in the middle of Iran-Contra and Vets fighting for acknowledgement about the damage from Agent Orange. Placing things in context makes a difference; those issues were forefront for many in the country.
By the end of this first book, I knew I was going to try some more; for some reason I feel like reading them in order. There are also a couple of stand-alone books I'd like to read.
Burke's writing is affecting; I read a couple of magazine essays by him, reinforcing my sense of him as sharp observer of human behavior and the world around him; it's complexities and it's contradictions.
Will Patton does a more than commendable job of narrating. One note, though; he's an actor--if Dennis Quaid can do a credible cajun accent then it's hard to believe Patton couldn't have done a much better one than his attempts in this book.
I am trying to find Heaven's Prisoners. Unfortunately Audible only has an abridged version, which doesn't interest me.
This was my first Jorn Lier Horst novel, and I will be reading more of his work. It was also proof that there is plenty of diversity in the Scandinavian branch of the genre. This was a very thoughtful, well paced mystery, sprinkled with sufficient suspense to keep me hooked, and kept me guessing for as long as it meant to.
Horst doesn't delve too deeply into his characters; just enough to make us care about long-time detective William Wisting, and his journalist daughter, Lena, as they struggle to get the the bottom of accusations brought against Wisting of procedural wrong-doing in the 17 year-old conviction of a supposed kidnapper/murderer.
Make no mistake: Wisting is no deeply flawed maverick Harry Hole. In the latter years of a long, up-til-now honorable and distinguished career, baffled and hurt at the accusations, Wisting is suspended. Nonetheless, he doggedly follows deeply ingrained police techniques, helped out by the very inquisitive Lena, and some old friends in the crime business, in his search for answers, hopefully in time to save a newly abducted young woman.
It's interesting to compare this Norwegian novel to police procedurals set in America. We have such a huge crime rate here that a cop would not likely connect a new abduction to a 17 year old crime so easily, but in a country with such a low population (esp. the criminal population), and which sees relatively few abductions and murders, credibility is not at all strained by such a suspicion.
Twins born to a fatally injured mother kept alive until their birth. The mother murdered by the father of the twins, charismatic, high-powered, political candidate Grady MacLemore. Thirty years later we catch up to the twins, gone their separate ways, Jane into crime scene photography, and Jack into politics. Photographs from the crime scene mysteriously come into Jane's possession, and put her on the trail of the truth about why her mother was murdered--a question never answered by Grady's trial and conviction.
The plot is imaginative and unusual, convoluted but mostly successful, the writing more than adequate. I don't think the author pulled off the chasm in the twins' relationship, but the switches from past to present were done well enough and worked for me. The ending was a little strained, but still held together, and until close to the finish, had me wondering. I recommend this book as interesting and entertaining.
In the hands of a better wordsmith and plot-crafter, this could have been a tense, tight, culturally rich story, and no doubt could make a good movie. I've read Hoag's Kovac and Liska books and while they too suffer from a too-heavy literary hand, they're really OK.
I'd say this one was no worse or better than the previous Hoag mysteries--perhaps I found Kovac and Liska a bit more likeable. The love story within this book became too cheesy for me, and the last half of the tale was too forced, yet I had no trouble finishing it, and was almost surprised at the end.
If I hadn't already read all my favorite detective/mystery novels (and therefore am always looking for new ones) I might not have stuck with Hoag past the first Kovac/Liska book, but I am and I did, and I can honestly say that most people would find them a satisfying read, as long as the gruesomeness of the crimes do not put them off.
In one of a series of Mars exploration missions, set in a more or less contemporaneous time frame, Astronaut/Botanist/Mechanical Engineer Mark Watney is left behind as dead during a forced evacuation. Except he isn't. Some of the story is told variously from the POV of the Hermes crew which left him, and the NASA managers and scientists back on Earth. Most of it is spun out as Watney's log of his time on Mars.
Time in which he must find a way to survive until the years-off next mission. Survive on what, you might well ask, since the Hermes mission left little food or water behind. The details of this adventure are impressively tech-y, delightfully creative, and satisfyingly fraught with major difficulties.
The author is obviously a nut for space travel, botany, and Mars. Unlike Packing For Mars (which I loved), this is pure fiction, but I'll wager the tech stuff is pretty on-target. It was very convincing to me.
Some of the potential tension of what could be nothing less than a nightmare of a situation is diffused by the casual attitude of our hero Mark, who describes the most harrowing and discouraging events in such a "S**t...oh, well" manner, that we don't always appreciate how incredibly terrifying it really is.
In spite of this, and the too little uncertainty about the outcome, I found this to be an extremely fascinating listen, and highly recommend it.
Small rural British village where the existence of the computer age is irrelevant, check. Small cast of quirky characters, check. Intelligent, dogged detective (Scotland Yard here), check. Multiple murders in a contained setting with violence at a remove, check. Many very polite interviews in pursuit of information, check. No sex whatsoever, check. This gentle series looks like a good fit with Louise Penny, Charles Todd, Ian Rankin, Agatha Christie et al. I've heard people call them English Cozies, or something like that; I believe it. This one is not as cleverly written as some of the aforementioned, but it was an easy and enjoyable few hours of listening--to a very pleasant narrator. I'll try another one and then see. Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his Sgt Gemma Jones are very traditionally drawn British detectives, except that so far they seem healthier than the average copper. While Kincaid is lonely and on the lookout, and Gemma is a somewhat harried single mother, neither of these two likable characters is a smoker, an alcoholic or obviously tortured and self-destructive. If you like Louise Penny, Anne Perry and their ilk, want something better written than MC Beaton, or need a break from the complexity, violence and intensity of a Jo Nesbo, Greg Iles, or even the occasional James Lee Burke or John Sandford, then this might do the trick.
What in the world caused Ms French to think that anyone would enjoy having every other chapter in a 20 hour book comprised of the simpering, sniping of a group of adolescent Irish Valley Girl wannabes? Even the hard-to-understand breathy, little-girl voice of Lara Hutchinson couldn’t damage the grating dialogue further.
Don’t get me wrong. The structure of this book is a beautiful thing. Having all the players trapped in a confined area while the detective weeds through the witnesses and suspects in an unsolved murder case, playing them against each other even as the detective is being played, is a tried and true device and was worth the effort. Fifty percent of the chapters show off Ms French’s well known talent for interpersonal interaction and dialogue, as prickly and unpopular (i.e., won’t play along with the sexual hazing game) female Detective Antoinette Conway with chip on her shoulder, and murder squad aspirant, Detective Stephen Moran are thrown together for one intense day of frustrating interrogation at an exclusive private girls’ school.
For all I know, aping Valley Girl behavior is what Irish school girls are into right now. But in my opinion, it was an unfortunate distraction from what should have been and could have been (if severely edited) an important part of this story—the interaction between the students. I’m sure it will ruin the book for many. Also bogging down the story were a few irrelevant sidetracks. The mystical touches, (the lights, the spinning bottle caps) which seemed to me most likely meant to reflect psychedelic drug experiences, were neither integrated well, nor explained at all, so who really knows what they were about and should have been left out altogether.
I didn’t have any trouble finishing the book, but by the end I was ready to pull out my hair. The use of the irritating dialogue might have been cute in “Clueless”, but it just trivialized French’s considerable talent. I’m hoping she does better on the next one. Totally.
Any chance this mediocre book had of drawing me in was completely destroyed by the narrator. And since the rest of this series seem to be read by Bruce Miles, I doubt I will buy any more of them. I read mediocre literature all the time; for us Mystery, Crime and Thriller fans, there just aren't enough quality choices out there for prolific readers. But narration can make or break average writing. Take The Dresden Files for example. The writing, while better than this, is nowhere close to great literature, yet James Marsters' narration takes them to another level. Not so here...
I got as far as chapter 10. Neither the plot, the writing, nor the dialogue was able to get me past Mile's narration. His default voice is pleasant enough and so the narrative parts were acceptable, though the cadence was too sing-songish. But for some inexplicable reason almost ALL dialogue, also too sing-songish, whether male or female, was delivered in some variation of a high pitched, strained rasp which just grated on my nerves until I could no longer pay attention to the story. The most irritating were the females. Everyone sounded the same and had the same inflection, except some were louder than others. The tone of this narration did not suit a crime novel at all.
I'd say if someone wanted to read this series, the hard copies are likely to be more enjoyable.
I started this series at the beginning, got sucked in, and I'm going the distance, knowing the road will be, as in most long series, uneven. Overall, they are well-written, with fairly intricate plot lines, good, not great, editing, and decent development of major characters. Lots of detailed but interesting police procedural; though I don't know how accurate it is, it sounds pretty believable to me.
I think this was one of the better tales from Connelly so far, but no thanks to the narrator. It would have been a really solid 4 stars with Hill. I've heard Peter Giles before when I read the Mickey Haller books, and likely some others. I don't like the Haller series as well--some of that may be due to the narrator. Giles 'reads' the books, Hill 'performs' them. Giles makes little distinction between characters, but mostly, it's that I don't like the voices he gives to either Bosch or Haller...they are kind of flat and monotonous and for some reason he seems to think they need to be breathy/raspy. (Other characters are not).
But. To be fair, while mediocre (not terrible by any means), Giles didn't keep me from enjoying this particular story; it was that interesting. I notice the next book is yet a different narrator; I'm keeping my fingers crossed, as I have become quite attached to Hieronymous Bosch and his story by now.
A bit different for Jo Nesbo. This story is less twisted (not to be confused with less complex) and brutal; instead a little more gentle, and strangely touching. Very heavy on the character development of both Sonny "The Boy", the placid, riding-the-rap-for-other's-crimes-in-exchange-for-heroin prison inmate whose discovery about his father completely turns his life in a different direction--escape and revenge, and Simon, the cop who is searching for him. Not wanting to give away all the turns this story takes, nor what is very much an unexpected ending, I will only say if you are a Nesbo fan, then I believe you will like this very much. If you are new to Nesbo, it's a good place to start.
Unlike a number of reviewers, I liked Gildart Jackson's narration. I was dubious at first, with the hesitant, sometimes word-at-a-time delivery, but soon it felt like the right choice, especially the more I got to know Sonny and Simon.
I am giving nothing away. This book was everything I love: good writing, 3 dimensional, compelling characters (I didn't say likable), a complex and twisted plot, and an outcome I couldn't second guess. The first part of the book was the set-up where, piecemeal, the details of the relationship and related events were disclosed. Second part, the ride. Unaware until it was too late to turn back, I was drawn out to sea, pulled by a growing riptide of Flynn's deft, dark imagination, to where I never expected to go. I both loved and was disturbed by this clever work; I will be reading it again, and most definitely checking out the rest of of Flynn's work. The excellent narrative duo suited the protagonists very well, and helped sell an unusual tale.
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