The protagonist is clearly unhappy over the way he was marginalized in his fed job, but the story of how he redeemed himself leaves a lot to be desired if you're looking for a good spy read. His motivations are clear enough, but those of the villain are not always. It doesn't make sense for him to detour and risk his operation to murder people he'd known 30 years before, with whom he seemed to have had a cordial enough relationship, though it did give a clue to the protagonist as to who was behind the terrorist plot. I think the author could have tried to develop a more reasonable backstory for that clue. But then, too, there's the question about whether the terrorist truck drivers wouldn't have heard the CB and talk radio broadcasts and alerted the villain in time to salvage his operation. This plot is too simplistic for spy novel enthusiasts, though probably a fun read for trucker fans.
I have other Tami Hoag books that I thought were pretty good, but maybe they were abridged. Seems likely, if an editor had removed all the porn and the parts that can't be played while eating dinner, this might have been quite an interesting mystery. IMHO, when I purchase a mystery, that's what I hope to get, without a lot of verbiage wasted on adventures that aren't even realistic. I would hope Ms. Hoag will eventually find a publisher that doesn't put an orgasm quota in her contract.
Ordinarily I'd complain that it's too grotesque and unrealistic for a street-wise punk to decide to accept a "god" that expects to be feared, but needs the help of violent, unruly youths to destroy what the god had created. Really, who would do that? But apparently this story is true, so I'll try to limit myself to reviewing the book as literature.
First, IMHO, it could have been a lot shorter. It seemed like the book was about half over before anything really interesting happened. I can't recommend anything as far as to how to abridge it, but I think it would benefit from the services of an editor with a sharp red pencil.
Second, the spycraft seemed too amateurish. I've suggested to other authors that their stories might benefit from consulting with professionals in the fields portrayed in their books. I suppose it's hard to get spies to talk, but if you claim to have worked with three countries' intelligence agencies you ought to be able to find somebody to make the report sound more solid.
Note: I think Cruickshank and Lister did well enough as ghost writers, but their forte is probably not the mystery/thriller genre that seems suited to this work. I personally often listen again, after a year or two, to books that I think were really well-plotted and well-written. No offense, but I can't see that happening with this one.
but it would be hard for any author to move the story forward when all the characters seem to be mired in a bog of hyped hormones and over-dramatic interpersonal relations. I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd resolved all their issues by just shooting each other in the last chapter. Fortunately I fell asleep somewhere in the middle, and didn't think it worth backing up to the point when I drifted off, though I was just barely interested enough to finish it to see who survived.
Another gripe - the chronology jumped around in a way that really didn't make any sense. Actually, the book may have been better if some of those jumps were just omitted. Possibly an abridged version would correct some of these problems.
1. Your "housewife" accomplished very little in her career as an undercover antiterror operative. I shudder to think how doomed we'd all be if she were typical.
2. Though I guess if it were true that "truth serums" and keychain dongles were for real, it would actually be possible for someone so stupid to act in an intelligence role.
3. But then, she does make some use of her training - like breaking into the cupcake shop to pick up her order after closing. Not even very good at normal "housewife" chores, then, is she?
4. I thought it was only male characters who were supposed to be misguided by their . . .
5. I can't go on with this. Too annoying.
I thought I'd just give this a try, since I've enjoyed several Mrs. Polifax books and thought this might be of the same genre, or at least clever and amusing. Not. If I hadn't fallen asleep for about the middle half, I never would have reached the end. I obviously need to come up with a better routine for screening audio books before I buy them.
I would have rated this higher if Lescroart had imagined a way to crash that helicopter before the a*******s started shooting. Depictions of animal abuse always harsh my buzz, even when enjoying an otherwise great listen. That being said, this one contained an uncharacteristic level of raw violence for a lawyery book. I'd say this was Robert Lawrence's best performance of the three, and he's improved a lot. His voice was really well suited to the subject matter here. All in all, in my opinion, this was the most gripping of the series so far, and yes, I am a fan.
Robert Lawrence has a great voice, but sounds like he's reading from a poorly-paced teleprompter and paying no attention to punctuation. His female voices are terrible; all sound whiny or weepy, no matter the subject matter. He may be one of those male readers who simply cannot "do" female voices, though I think all of these problems could improve, if he tried. In the meantime, it's too bad that the narration is the most memorable thing about this presentation.
I was following along fairly comfortably for about the first half, in spite of some shortcomings; but then, it occurred to me that he was neglecting his pet cat, and really showed no concern for it until he decided to "play the cat card" to gain sympathy for himself. But even without my hypercritical arousal, the end fell flat all on its own. It almost seemed as if someone else wrote it. I'm not saying something like that couldn't happen, but it needed more foundation to make it plausible. Like, more than the cat was neglected. Anyway, as far as it goes, at least it's a story. I'm sure Mr. Parks has his fans.
I have several other Jennifer Crusie books that I really enjoyed, but this one, though some of the dialogue was fun, just dragged on way too long. I had thought Jennifer Crusie could probably make anything entertaining, but I guess there's only so much you can do with a bunch of dead people as your cast of characters. Kids that are either sulking or screaming most of the time don't help the situation, either. I got halfway through, though, so perhaps would have finished if most of the nonessential moaning and blubbering and bed-hopping were removed to make a book of half the current length. I guess I'll give up on Jennifer Crusie, though. Just not consistent enough to be in my "favorite author" category.
They say authors should write what they know, and I assume Marti Green did some of that, but not the parts that interested me. I thought the premise sounded promising, with murdered children in the woods and someone facing execution for it; but the parts dealing with the legal proceedings and private investigations were disappointingly weak, while most of the book focused on the humdrum dealings of working and stay-at-home moms dealing with disabled and diseased offspring. There are good books out there dealing with those subjects, but I wasn't expecting it in a murder mystery. All that aside, it was just appalling how inept virtually all the professionals seemed. Total amateurs. I like to learn something from legal, medical, and police procedural novels that I read, though I know they are fiction; but this one taught me nothing. And I knew whodunit almost from the start. No challenge.
As for the narrator: though I usually really like that kind of light fast-paced voice, NOT when it's having to strain that much to differentiate a bunch of male voices. It kinda hurts to listen to that. They do make computer equipment that can simulate voices, if she really thinks she needs to sound like a man. Seems like it would be a good investment, if for no other reason than to protect her own perfectly lovely voice. Really, you can get nodules on your vocal cords fooling around like that.
This was a really interesting book, but I never would have bought it if I hadn't realized how to deal with the reader. It wouldn't be the first time I'd have opted for the print version, or passed altogether based on a response to the audio. I really disliked her, and noticed some other reviewers had the same reaction. So I was going to put her on my list of readers to avoid, but then realized I had another book in my library read by her, and had rated her just fine. Then I realized that I'd accelerated the playback speed somewhere between 30 and 50 percent on that book, and for some reason that totally fixes her. That aside, I found that looking back on that era was quite sobering. Could it be only 50 years ago that this country was as bigoted as some of the countries we sneer at now for their backward societies? Well, shake it off. It was quite a story, and parts were even lighthearted and very entertaining.
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