There are inside jokes about the dog-eat-dog world of publishing, but for me, there was not that much to hold my interest, and the premise was implausible. The reveals were not that surprising either. That said, the narrator was very good, though his American accent could use a little work.
I prefer the American detective story more than the British, more relaxed, version of the genre. Perhaps this colored my review.
For me, this is not genre fiction, it is Stephen King writing like Stephen King, subbing detective fiction for horror. That could be good enough--his book on the JFK assassination was excellent--but I found two problems. First, I was expecting some kind of riff on Raymond Chandler and was disappointed. Second, I did not find the main characters interesting or compelling. The book is plot driven, not character driven. And I didn't find the plot that compelling.
I don't know his range, but he read the book like it was hard-boiled detective fiction, which it is not. For me, his voice took on too much of a downbeat, almost horror story intonation that was not appropriate to the material.
Those who justifiably follow Mr. King will probably like this book. But, if you are looking for a slam-bang mystery full of atmosphere, twists, and turns, with a really spooky (rather than simply distasteful) villain, try something like "Silence of the Lambs." And, for noir, if you haven't read Chandler or Dashiel Hammet, do so.
If you have never read about the Holocaust in World War II, this is an excellent book to acquaint you with the horror and madness of that era. And, not that there are two sides to the story, but there are two sides to the people--both Germans and Jews. Well-written and superbly read, the book works as history and novel.
But, if you have more than a passing knowledge of the Holocaust, or have known people who have lived through it, you might not want to revisit the subject. I have known survivors, and was not aware of the Holocaust part of the story before listening to it. My problem was "seeing" my relatives as participants in the story, and that was to say the least, uncomfortable.
Besides being a good thriller, the book makes some interesting points about the nature of language and how a Big Brother government takes over using "words." Magic words might not exist in our world, but propaganda--isn't that kind of the same thing if it persuades people to do things they might never have thought of? Taken literally, or as a parable for overreaching government, the book works. The narrators are some of the best--each character is vividly convincing. Only negative is that the Australian accents are really not very good, especially Ms. Corrigan's. But the acting more than makes up for this fault, and story-wise, Aussiespeak in itself is not integral to the plot.
Look, it's my fault for not realizing this book was part of a trilogy. So, since I did not read Book 1, I was not primed to read this book. And I feel this book does not stand on its own. It isn't that I missed Book 1. its more that I expected a fuller story in this book. All the 14 hours of build up and suspense just seem to get dissipated by the 15th hour made to set up Book 3, whenever it will be written and published.
As far as believability, Beecher, the main character is an archivist, i.e. a librarian. Why? What about the Dewey Decimal System makes one a James Bond? Given the subject matter, he could have been FBI or Secret Service. Wouldn't have really made a difference and would have been more believable. While the author added substantial back stories to some of the main characters--usually a good thing--jumping from the present to past often seemed to cut or frustrate tension rather than enhance it.
I've listened to Scot Brick before and liked his readings. This time, however, it seemed like every sentence was read as if the next were about to reveal the secret of the universe--the reading was somewhat overboard.
I wanted to like the book based on interviews with Brad Meltzer. I was looking for to a great historical thriller. The book does pretty well deliver well on history, but I was not thrilled.
For me, the best way to describe this book is to use the analogy of going to a French restaurant for a great dinner (The Da Vinci Code) and then the next day go to a fast-food joint with a French-style menu. Everything is similar but not as good. Also, the book is extremely formulaic, but so openly so, you see the formula more than the plot. And the writing probably has more clich?s than any professional writer should include.
But, it is a fast read--good for long, long plane rides or boring vacations. And if you ever wondered about the Masons, this is their Gone with the Wind.
Sometimes having the author read his own material is a mistake. Not here. Mr. Delaney's reading is vivid and his slight brogue a pleasure to hear. The story itself is unique and exciting, although it does drag a bit in the aftermath (though the aftermath is very pertinent, it just couldn't be as exciting as action on the high seas during a hurricane.)
It's said that no one is more pious than a reformed prostitute. Listening to the author's confession does get a little wearing at times as he makes his point over and over again. That said, his point is a good one, and what our corporations and government appear to have done deserves to be known and deplored. I read this after visiting the Galapagos and Amazon basin in Ecuador. It explained the roots much of the poverty, corruption, and ecological ruin I saw.
If you care about how the United States is perceived in the world today, and wonder why, this book will give you the answers.
If you are looking for a move-by-move analysis, this is not the book. If you are interested in the phenomenon of chess events, oddball players, and how Fischer became world champ, listen up. The only real minus is that the authors delve so deeply into the Soviet politics of chess that the book sometimes sounds like the minutes of a Polit Bureau meeting. Also, there are a lot of long Russian names to get through.
But, the study of Fischer and Spasky--their foibles, flaws, and accomplishments--is fascinating. And, the story of how the event came off is, at times, funny as any Marx Brothers (not Karl) movie.
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