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Charles Atkinson

A few must reads: Mr. Mercedes, Narrows Gate, Cop Town, Bomb Proof, Wayfaring Stranger, The Son (Nesbo), Dept Q series...

Greensboro, NC, United States | Member Since 2005

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 319 reviews
  • 597 ratings
  • 1198 titles in library
  • 125 purchased in 2014
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  • The Honourable Schoolboy: A George Smiley Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    Overall
    (167)
    Performance
    (152)
    Story
    (150)

    The mole has been eliminated, but the damage wrought has brought the British Secret Service to its knees. Given charge of the gravely compromised Circus, George Smiley embarks on a campaign to uncover what Moscow Centre most wants to hide. When the trail goes cold at a Hong Kong gold seam, Smiley dispatches Gerald Westerby to shake the money tree. A part-time operative with cover as a philandering journalist, Westerby insinuates himself into a war-torn world.

    Darwin8u says: "Conrad's Ghost Floats & Haunts this Sad Spy Novel"
    "Patience Pays Off With Le Carre!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you want a super hero and action that defies belief turn to the Reacher, Gray Man, John Rain or Mitch Rapp series. I've enjoyed all of those and more. But I find Le Carre's Smiley series more than clever and even challenging.

    I know reading this seems more like plodding at times, but in the end I found every moment, each conversation and every event has a purpose in this series. Indeed, even the remotest characters are used masterfully.

    Take your time and let Le Carre introduce you to real spycraft!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1170)
    Performance
    (812)
    Story
    (809)

    Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come to Winter Carnival - not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society - where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

    Susan says: "Ms. Penny writes a wonderful mystery story"
    "The Great Gamache in Old Quebec"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are novels with heroes so perfect or predictable it ruins the book for me. I even find myself cringing while reading the synopsis of a new Gray Man, Mitch Rapp or Jack Ryan novel. I think that's why I fell in love with Harry Hole and Dept Q and now Armand Gamache.

    Gamache, however, is remarkably different than Hole and Carl Mork. They are as belligerent, arrogant, self destructive and unpredictable as they are brilliant. Inspector Gamache is highly respected and revered by his family, peers, subordinates and superiors. He too is brilliant, but we are made privy to where and from whom it comes from. He is not an island. There's two other characteristics that make him so uniquely different for a lead detective, he is remarkably humble and vulnerable.

    In Bury Your Dead, Gamache is on leave after suffering injury and PTSD from a recent case that ended violently and tragically. The details of this case are masterfully weaved around two separate murders revealed throughout the novel. To recooperate he's vacationing at the home of his retired mentor in Quebec while researching his first love, French Canadien history. A murdered man is discovered in the basement of the research library where Gamache studies. Given his reputation he is reluctantly drawn into the investigation.

    And there's a nagging doubt about a previous mutrder in Three Pines that forces him to send back a key member of his team to quietly reopen the case. In this way, once again, we are brought into the remarkable lives of the villagers of Three Pines.

    As always there's much more than murder afoot. Do yourself a favor and read this book!




    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Brutal Telling: A Three Pines Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    Overall
    (1432)
    Performance
    (995)
    Story
    (993)

    As autumn descends upon Three Pines, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store at the center of town. No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. What past did he leave behind, and why has he buried himself in this tiny village?

    Marie says: "Satisfying but sad"
    "Escape to Three Pines"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're ever depressed there are few novels or series I strongly recommend. Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia top the list of children's fantasy with more than enough adult wit, wisdom and hope to pull you through the dark times. (By no means wait till you are depressed to read these!). But I'll add two modern, purely adult efforts, Big Little Lies and the Three Pines/ Inspector Gamache series. Like the two classic examples, these modern gems take you away to a wonderful place with unforgettable characters, life to the fullest and in the end, hope.

    The Brutal Telling takes us back to the lost village of Three Pines to yet another murder. We are treated to a few more interesting characters, including an abused horse named Mark and a duck wearing pearls. However, there is another murder that sadly exposes the darker side of some of Three Pines more colorful residents.

    Gamache and his team are brilliant and the subject matter that surrounds the murder, rare art and antiquities, make the novel a fascinating listening experience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Rule against Murder: A Three Pines Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1259)
    Performance
    (908)
    Story
    (903)

    When wealthy, cultured Irene Finney and her four grown-up children arrive at the Manoir Bellechasse in the heat of summer for a memorial for her late husband, the staff springs into action. But as a heat wave gathers strength, old secrets and bitter rivalries begin to surface. And the morning after the ceremony, a body is found. The family now has another member to mourn.

    Sara says: "A Summer Mystery"
    "A Great Deal of Wisdom Unveiled in a Mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In this 4th installment of the Gamache/3 Pines series we are witness to two extraordinary families. The wonderful and romantic marriage of inspector Gamache and the highly disfunctional family of one of 3 pines' most loved artists. In the end we are privy to one of life's great paradoxes and a pearl of great price.

    Like its predecessors, A Rule Against Murder has rich characters in a wonderful setting. The mystery is fun, but it's conclusion is stunning. Much more than a murderer is discovered.

    Treat yourself to any of these books and you'll find more than just an escape. You'll find happiness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Final Silence

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Stuart Neville
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (53)

    Rea Carlisle has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn't take her long to clear out the dead man's remaining possessions, but one room remains stubbornly locked. When Rea finally forces it open, she discovers inside a chair, a table - and a leather-bound book, its pages filled with locks of hair, fingernails: a catalogue of victims. Horrified, Rea wants to go straight to the police but her family intervenes, fearing that scandal will mar her politician father's public image.

    Karen says: "Outstanding all around - story, author, narrator"
    "Misery Loves Company"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This story begins with a brilliant premise that grabs the reader in the first few pages. It's brought down only by the miserable life of the central character, Jack Lennon and the dreary narration of Gerard Doyle.

    I don't need sunshine, super heroes or irrepressible detectives to enjoy a good mystery. I do insist on more than one engaging character and preferably one I like. The Final Silence features two gripping characters in Jack Lennon and the head of homicide, DCI McDowell. However, Lennon's once promising career is on the brink of ending due to betrayal, his addiction to drugs and self pity. He muddles and mopes in sorrow throughout the entire novel.

    In fairness to Doyle, he's an Irishman telling a sad irish tale. I suspect he captured the tone the author intended, in which case the problem is with me. Nevertheless, I found the reading morose and dreary.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Cruelest Month: A Three Pines Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1380)
    Performance
    (1005)
    Story
    (989)

    It's spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees, and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil - until one of their party dies of fright.

    Sara says: "Spring in Three Pines"
    "Gamache Under Attack"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the third addition to this remarkable series, a past case (only briefly mentioned as the case that stifled his career advancement in the first two novels) where Gamache exposed and arrested the reigning chief of police rears up and threatens Gamache's freedom. Here we are exposed to the great detective's wisdom, genius and cunning in dealing with powerful forces determined to destroy him.

    And then there's another suspicious death in the village of Three Pines. Much the same as the Department Q series, the cast of characters, their interactions and lives make the mystery almost secondary. This time a beautiful, charismatic woman who is apparently loved by all is literally scared to death during an ill advised séance. This edition features far more depth of character with just enough wit to keep it fun.

    I had to drive 7 hours to attend a funeral yesterday, so I finished this one in a day. Its an easy 5 star listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Fatal Grace: Chief Inspector Gamache, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (203)
    Performance
    (180)
    Story
    (187)

    Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder. No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter - and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death. When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Quebec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he's dealing with someone quite extraordinary.

    Charles Atkinson says: "Time to get lost and find yourself in Three Pines."
    "Time to get lost and find yourself in Three Pines."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is another great story set in Three Pines. It involves the murder of truly horrible woman, which wouldn't interest me had it not been for the villagers of 3 pines and Gamache himself. It's funny and just great story telling.

    Here's a snippet from my first review of the first book in the series.
    Let me tell you why I have fallen in love with the series.

    Inspector Gamache is a smart and extremely humane hero. He doesn't have flaws or demons like Robicheaux or Hole, but he does share their extreme sensitivity in crime solving. And unlike those two great detectives, he doesn't resort to violence, or at least he hasn't been forced to yet. What sets him apart is the absolute devotion he receives from his peers and everyone he meets. His squad loves him, the community loves him and even his enemies respect and fear him.

    The second feature I love is the setting. the village of Three Pines is quite literally a real life version of Narnia. It's filled with young and old living in cottages nestled in hillsides with one church, a general store and tavern. It is described on several occasions as a village no one finds until they are lost. It is never a destination, but once you've found it you'll never forget it. There's even a rundown mansion of sorts. The villagers are more like a family, in that they get along because they have too. They are rude, cantankerous, funny, diverse, talented and charismatic. There are poets, artists, drunks, gurus, Christians and atheists. In much the same way I felt when I read the Chronicles of Narnia, I find myself engrossed in the community of Three Pines.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Still Life: Chief Inspector Gamache, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (301)
    Performance
    (271)
    Story
    (275)

    Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

    meg says: "Great new series"
    "A Remarkable Detective In A Remarkable Setting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I admit to trying this book and this series after going some time without any new additions from my favorite authors. It has proven to be a wise and wonderful decision. As of this writing I am on my 3rd Gamache novel. Let me tell you why I have fallen in love with the series.

    Inspector Gamache is a smart and extremely humane hero. He doesn't have flaws or demons like Robicheaux or Hole, but he does share their extreme sensitivity in crime solving. And unlike those two great detectives, he doesn't resort to violence, or at least he hasn't been forced to yet. What sets him apart is the absolute devotion he receives from his peers and everyone he meets. His squad loves him, the community loves him and even his enemies respect and fear him.

    The second feature I love is the setting. the village of Three Pines is quite literally a real life version of Narnia. It's filled with young and old living in cottages nestled in hillsides with one church, a general store and tavern. It is described on several occasions as a village no one finds until they are lost. It is never a destination, but once you've found it you'll never forget it. There's even a rundown mansion of sorts. The villagers are more like a family, in that they get along because they have too. They are rude, cantankerous, funny, diverse, talented and charismatic. There are poets, artists, drunks, gurus, Christians and atheists. In much the same way I felt when I read the Chronicles of Narnia, I find myself engrossed in the community of Three Pines.

    Finally Still Life revolves around a baffling murder that takes great police work to solve. The clues are entirely unique and wonderful to discover. The story is top notch.

    I liked the narrator a lot. He captures the ambience of Thrre Pines as well as anyone could.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Fourth Motive: A Farrell and Kearn Thriller

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Sean Lynch
    • Narrated By Jeff Harding
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    Deputy District Attorney Paige Callen is being stalked, and the man stalking her is motivated, methodical, and relentless. The police aren’t merely one step behind Paige’s stalker; they’re stumped. So Paige’s father, retired Judge ‘Iron Gene’ Callen, instead hires retired San Francisco P.D. Inspector turned private investigator Bob Farrell, to the dismay of the local police. The cops know all too well Farrell’s reputation as a reckless wild card.

    Meggin says: "I'll Try Another Farrell & Kearn Thriller"
    "Not as good as the first, bu still good..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is second Farrell and Kearn novel and the plot is a continuation of the first installment. A year has gone by since retired cop Farrell duped young deputy Kearn into joining him on an illegal, nationwide manhunt for a serial child killer. While all of their crimes were wiped clean after that affair, they still have a bad reputation with Bay Area police forces.

    A powerful retired judge hires the pair as body guards for his daughter after she is attacked and nearly killed by a stranger. The judge had read their files and knew the two heroes were better equipped to protect and pursue the unknown, deadly adversary.

    This is another fast read with plenty of action, violence and tragedy. However, it lacks the wonderful humor of its predecessor and it ends abruptly.

    Jeff Harding is awesome once again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wounded Prey

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Sean Lynch
    • Narrated By Jeff Harding
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    It's time to finish what he started... A young girl is snatched in broad daylight from outside her school and later found brutally murdered and hanging from a tree. When recently retired San Francisco Police Inspector, Bob Farrell, sees this on the news, he realises his worst nightmare has just come true. The same brutal killer a government agency stopped him from putting away twenty years before is once more on the loose....

    Charles Atkinson says: "Awesome Gritty Renegade Cop Story"
    "Awesome Gritty Renegade Cop Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm often critical and turned off when an author's main detective character goes rogue. But Lynch creates a believable scenario where his retired cop had special knowledge of who the killer was from his tour in Vietnam 20 years earlier. The Iowa police are stymied because they have no knowledge of who the killer is and how to find him. All they know is out of nowhere a man abducted an 8 year old girl in front of 20 witnesses and shot and killed her teacher.

    There's so much more, including humorous run ins with an overbearing, tactless FBI agent who is repeatedly thwarted from getting involved in the case. Suffice to say there is good reason why the police and FBI cannot be the best chance of finding te killer.

    Jeff Harding seems new to me as a narrator. I should have researched him in my library before this writing. He delivers an outstanding performance, one of the best I've encountered.

    Be prepared to be on the edge of your seat from the opening chapter on this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • White Sister: A Shane Scully Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Stephen J. Cannell
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (231)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (100)

    Leaving L.A.'s Parker Center, Shane Scully and his wife, Alexa, agree to meet at home in one hour. Shane gets there; Alexa doesn't. In the middle of the night, he's called to a crime scene on Mulholland Drive: The African-American victim, who appears to be a Crip gangbanger, has been executed gangland style. Shockingly, the body is in Alexa's car and her gun is found nearby. But Alexa is missing.

    Lisa says: "Sad it's over"
    "Starts Great, Quickly Fades"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first couple of chapters find detective Shane Scully in a humorous, if not embarrassing predicament with a funny homeless guy. I loved the awkward angle and felt sure I'd found a winner. But suddenly Shane's wife suspiciously disappears and that's exactly where I got off the bus.

    A seasoned detective, Scully immediately disrupts any hope of a good police investigation, making the lead detectives chase him instead of the case. Cannell is banking on fans of Scully as a super hero to believe only Scully can find his wife. So the detective throws all procedures aside, breaks the law numerous times himself to show up his inferior cop peers. I'm sure there's some redeeming value past the first 10 chapters, but I didn't care to stick around.

    Scott Brick does a great job. As the title implies, there is a beautiful white woman at the center of the mystery. She talks rap and plays herself off as a black ghetto girl, and it constantly grated on my nerves.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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