If you expect "The Race" to be a typical Cussler you probably won't be disappointed. Like all the Isaac Bell Adventures the story is a little more obvious than the Dirk Pitt novels or the Oregon Files, but well worth the time if you don't care too much for realism and just wish to be entertained.
I get the impression that which each new Cussler series the quality tends to drop a notch. The Fargo adventures being the absolute low point with stories far beyond the realm of believability and completely hollow unsympathetic characters. However, "The Race" as well as all the other Isaac Bell stories have a nice captivating story as well as some likeable characters which seem to have passions, feelings, ambitions and goals and thus still seem to be people you can relate to. Don't get me wrong. It's still shallow but it's fun, and that's all I need when the name "Cussler" is on the cover.
Well I'll keep it short this time. After the second Will Robie book "The Hit", it was safe to assume that we will see more of Jessica Reel. And to make one thing clear: that's a good thing. The two characters simply work well together and dragging a 15-year old teenager (the character "Julie" introduced in "The Innocent") around as a potential victim wouldn't have worked indefinitely anyway.
However that brings me back to a deficit that plagues many authors who write a large amount of books and/or different series: the main characters become too similar, and the stories tend to show a pattern. That's also true this time to an extent. Will and Jessica in many respects have become similar to Sean (King) and Michelle (Maxwell) and the story basically is something that could have happened to them as well. Without saying too much: If I remember correctly the ones who become a target in this book once were a target in one of the King and Maxwell books as well ;-)
What I especially liked, was the author's focus on the North Korean assassin and her life. That decidedly made the story better and had a nice "two sides of a coin" feel to it.
So if you like Baldacci I believe you will be well entertained this time too. The story is fast paced, shows some nice twists (and one strange twist, as well as some things that could have been a little less obvious) and has an interesting sub plot that gives some background knowledge about Jessica's past. As with King and Maxwell the male character's past remains largely obscure.
Performance is great as always. Orlagh Cassidy and Ron McLarty make the story come alive very nicely and I also like the sound effects thrown in from time to time.
It seems I didn't keep it short after all but I hope this helps you decide.
In general I really liked this what-if scenario of a lost Battle of Midway and its potential consequences and find the story and development believable in the confines of what I know about WW2. But being a uboat and submarine buff I was a little disappointed in how little the author knew about tactics and technology in that respect. I admit he knew a lot about the torpedo crisis and the living condisitions, but in other respects the knowledge was less well-researched.
For example an American submarine would not have had the option to run submerged during the whole daytime because submarines at that time simply didn't have the underwater range for that.
Japanese ASW tactics in general were far inferior to British ones at the time, so a U.S. Sub commander had a very good chance to slip away after a submerged attack without having been spotted.
Especially with an enemy with no radar capability, fog is the ideal weather for a sub to attack enemy warships on the surface and get away with it. You home in by submerging and listening, and attack when the enemy is in sight and disappear at flank speed into the fog on a different course. German uboats did that on a regular basis until radar came along.
Hitting a fleeing battleship, that just ran over your position, from behind with torpedoes when it is running flank speed is close to impossible. The torpedoes are not that much faster than the ship itself, you need time to get the sub to periscope depth and calculate an accurate solution and then have a target that's only 15 meters wide and at best already more than a mile away. Even if the battleship didn't zigzag a few degrees it would not have worked.
Passive radar detectors were widely used especially by U.S., British and German forces to detect enemey units without using the active radar units. For a sneak attack like the one in this book, this would be a good "weapon" of choice.
Just a few things.
Don't get me wrong: the story is cool and entertaining, the narrator is good too and makes the people come to life nicely so there are no major complaints. And I guess my fixation with technical details like those, is a bit more that the average reader may care about :-)
Yes I would. The story is fast paced, there are nice story twists which I most likely will have forgotten after some time and I liked the performance a lot. The duo McLarty/Cassidy makes the Baldacci audio books come alive!
What really makes this book less than very good is the fact that it's TOO much like other recent Baldacci productions. No matter whether the characters are called "Oliver Stone (aka John Carr)", "John Puller" "A. Shaw" or "Will Robie" they all seem to be the same guy. So the loner agent/spy/killer/soldier stumbles into some conspiracy, partners up with someone even though he doesn't want to, saves a couple of people, rights some wrongs but in the end the government screws him over a little or totally. The concept still works but it starts to become a little too obvious. No harm done. The whole thing is quite enjoyable and you will have a good time if you liked other recent Baldacci audio books. So four stars overall but only three for the story.
fast paced, unexpected, compelling
I didn't know what to expect and I wasn't disappointed so to speak. Like "Up Country" and "Word of Honor" it is about deMille's time in Vietnam. American Platoon vs. Vietnamese sniper. But I don't want to give anything away here. The story is short enough to ruin it for everyone reading here if I say too much.
Hard to say really. Same as above. Don't want to call a spoiler alert.
No problem here, since it's only a short story :-)
Well, yeah, there is. The plot actually. Although the basic story sounds like a no-brainer for a good book, deMille this time simply didn't manage to pull it off. Maybe it was just one "we are hunting the Arabian terrorist with a chip on his shoulder" story too much. It's hard to be precise for me here, but the story seemed a little tedious, although there was a lot going on and the desciptions in Jemen were very good and gave me a nice picture of the surroundings it seemed that the story was not really moving forward. It was a little like story for story's sake.
In addition John Corey for the first time (read them all) really really got on my nerves and I would have liked to kick his wisecracking butt back to NYC. Introducing another alpha male - Paul Brenner - whom I liked very much in "General's Daughter" and "Up Country" was not the stroke of genius it first seemed to be. First of all he was only a supporting figure which he doesn't deserve, and second he is a wiseass too and two wiseasses where too much this time. In addition Brick uses the same intonation for both of them and that sometimes gets confusing in certain dialogs.
What I really couldn't understand though was the bad guy. After such terrific villains as the Lion, Frederic Tobin or our favorite CIA guy Ted Nash (R.I.P.) to name only a few, this guy - the Panther - seemed to be totally pathetic and not an opponent at all to any of our three heroes. The guy is arrogant, stupid and basically only a thug and worst of all incompetent as a terrorist. I mean killing tourist is not a terribly nice thing to do but it really doesn't take a genius to accomplish it. His final hideout was a joke and the story's end beyond anticlimactic. In essence I was glad it was over but if the ending had been better it might have made the whole book a bit better. Maybe it's time for John Corey to change profession or maybe to hunt some other bad guys. Maybe really something of the "Wrong place wrong time" feel I got from Plum Island, or maybe a good detective story like in "The Book Case" Would love to hear more from Corey's NYPD days.
Badly. This one doesn't stand up to any of them.
Quite well. Always liked the guy and he did his job as expected. His main problem was that he used the same intonation for both Corey and Brenner, which probably couln't be helped since he read all Corey as well as all Brenner books.
Well it didn't exactly inspire me to go to Jemen, but that most likely wasn't the intention. John Corey made a strong case for staying clear of the area.
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