James Patterson's Detective Cross series is one of my personal favorites. This outing in particular was well paced, Patterson's style lends itself well to audiobooks. The dialouge is well delivered by the narrators and contains only a minimal amount of sound effects. The military aspect of the novel was well written and believable (I come from a military background and I take, almost personal, offense when a writer gets it wrong). I would have given it five stars, but I reserve that for unique novels. Four Blind Mice is crime fiction formula at its best. A worthwhile listen.
I had mixed expectations when I picked this book. I'd read the authors autobiography "Cold Zero" and found it wanting, both in style and depth, although, the author's real-life experience with the FBI's HRT made it compelling. I brought the same impressions with me when I chose "Black". What I found was a fast-paced, suspenseful spy-thriller that I couldn't put down. Whitcomb's real-life familiarity of the ether world made a believer out of me. I felt like I found it on a non-fiction shelf. Without giving away the story, the only problem I had with it was the huge plot hole of an ending, a sad detractor from an otherwise engrossing book.
On a side note, the narration was not distracting at all, and I didn't detect any of the aforementioned "heavy breathing".
As far as historical fiction, Pompeii fares well, bringing the setting of ancient Roman culture in with enough clarity and--regardless of what a previous critique stated--without glorifying the sexual excess of the time period. It does lack a certain amount of academic indulgence with history and cultural references. Personally, I've come to expect historical fiction to be written with the assumption the reader knows absolutely nothing about the cultural or historical setting. In this case, a fair amount of historical elaboration is necessary and this book didn't really have it. The mystery of the missing Aquarius weaves well with the eruption of the volcano (you did know that the volcano was going to erupt, I'm hoping), but the characters are tepid, although believable enough. A decent time killer, though knowing now what it lacks, I'd pick up an abridged version.
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