I've read all of Randy Wayne White's books, and this one was beyond disappointing. The entire book was taken up with the sick, perverted antics of the hideously twisted bad guys (and gal). There was hardly anything of Doc and Tomlinson and the gang at Dinkin's Bay, or of Doc's collecting and time on his boat among the mangroves and islands of South Florida. The violence was over the top, gratuitous and disturbingly graphic. The only redeeming aspect of the book were the two interesting characters at the center of the story: the young Guatemalan girl that Ford is out to save, and the creep who finally redeems himself through the grace of the girl's faith. Unfortunately that's not enough to save this book - not by a long shot. The Doc Ford series has been trending this way -- as do many in this genre. Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series springs to mind. Sure, they've always had some violence in them -- the very premise of the Ford character is based on a world of violence. But in the earlier books the violence did not so grossly subsume everything else. Now it seems each new release has to ratchet up the evil and the hatred and the violence. Is that really what readers want? Not me. This will be my last Doc Ford novel.
I love George Guidall. I felt bad for him having to narrate this book.
I typically like this genre -- murder mystery meets potential cataclysmic disaster -- but the attitude of the protagonist made it almost impossible to finish this book. He was a jerk to pretty much everyone, especially the female characters. Worse, they in turn - even the accomplished, successful ones - put up with his arrogance and condescension as if they were helpless, inexperienced sheep. The female homicide detective declares her legal/moral position from time to time, then ends up going along with every illegal, immoral, nasty thing he wants to do - all of which he justifies on the basis of a contrived plot twist. That was my first and will be my last Nelson DeMille novel.
Robotham not only writes great suspense; he creates interesting, 3-dimensional characters and scenes that take his books beyond the usual in this genre. Some of the passages were so well written that I had to rewind and listen to them again. Shatter is the third book of his that I've read, and it's no exception. It does, however, fall prey to a common problem in series of this sort. The villains have to get more evil and the crimes more twisted. If I'd been reading I would likely have skipped a couple of the passages where the villain, a master of psychological terror, was speaking to his victims. However, while Robotham certain exposes the reader to the darkest part of men's souls, he doesn't leave you there to wallow for too long. The majority of the book focuses instead on the plot, the underlying mystery and the drama surrounding the choices the protagonists must make. Overall, a strong and well-written novel of suspense. The narrator is excellent - I'll definitely look for more by him.
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