Two notes on the audiobook, then a review of the book as a whole.
For me, Linda Emond is the voice of Temperance Brennan; she handles voices of other characters well; the pacing is great and her voice is pleasant.
I enjoy the essay that appears at the end of the more recent books in this series. This was added to just one of the audiobooks--and is missing from this one. I think it should be added to the recorded material. (Switching back and forth between the audiobook and Kindle book, I read the essay at the end of the latter.)
As an aside, Whispersync is great--love the ability to switch back and forth between audio and e-book.
A fan of Kathy Reich’s books (though not the related television series), I enjoyed Bones of the Lost. The book’s plot, complexity and cast of characters kept me engaged, and I enjoyed its diverse settings for the action. I appreciate the way the author grounds her stories in interesting factual material—the product of research and of her own experiences as forensic anthropologist, and as someone who traveled to Afghanistan at the behest of the USO “to thank our troops for their courage and dedication.”
As ever, I found the narrator, Tempe Brennan, relatable, apart from her inclination to rush into dangerous situations—particularly her intelligence, and an inclination to introspection that tempers her the effect of her impatience on readers, if not on the fictional recipients of brusque interactions. The relatable aspects of her life—connections with relatives and pets, with her ex; the way her fridge ends up bare as mine does when we are busy—ground the drama, make it easier to relate and care when her actions seem rude or reckless; more readily accepting of improbable coincidence.
As one who read this book as part of a series, I enjoyed the continuing evolution of the characters in this book, particularly the evolving relationship with Skinny Slidell. Slidell is sometimes comical in his pretensions, often repellant due to poor grooming and other rough edges, but this seems secondary when he demonstrates effectiveness in his work as a detective, willingness to work with Tempe when she goes beyond the boundaries of her official role, and tolerance when she is rude. I can also relate to daughter Katy’s transformation after joining the U.S. Army; I’ve seen and experienced the effect that military service can have on previously-aimless young people. Katy still clearly loves her mother and enjoys her company, but is increasingly independent, appropriate as she is in her mid-twenties. And Pete, reliable, caring ex-husband (possibly officially divorced, possibly not), apparently over his mid-life fling with a much-younger woman, though there have been others. Andrew Ryan's brief appearance was enough for me--I'm not much of a fan of his so far.
From my perspective, this book succeeds as entertainment. I also appreciate the opportunity to further consider issues related to human trafficking, as well as the experiences of deployed members of our armed forces.
I enjoyed this novel; it held my interest. I cared what happened to the characters. It's not Val McDermid's best--I prefer her more recent novels; she gets better and better in my opinion.
This wasn't the worst reading I've encountered, by far. The pacing and general expressiveness were very good. In a book with this many significant characters a professional reader must make a choice--whether to try to give each character a distinctive sound, or to favor general plausibility in terms of tone and pacing. I prefer plausibility, some variation for characters, but remaining within the bounds of normal speech patterns; the reader seems to have tried to give each character a unique voice, implausibly making intelligent characters, including a reasonably intelligent DCI (not a career that favors hesitancy) speak hesitantly, almost robotically.
Nonetheless, an entertaining and engaging listen--exactly what I want from audiobooks in this genre.
Having read some other books in the Hannibal Lecter series, I doubted I could feel empathy for a cannibalistic serial killer. However, this book presents young Hannibal as a sensitive, artistic child shaped by a series of brutal, historically plausible events. I found the story moving and tragic. It is also very well written. Engaging plot, nicely expressed and paced, with an interesting and diverse cast of characters.
The author, as reader of this book, tells the story expressively. He has a pleasing voice. Presumably much of the dialog in the book would have been in languages other than English, and having this account read in English with a southern accent is appropriate, consistent with the book's presentation. I enjoyed hearing the author read his own work.
I enjoyed this audiobook. While the plot does become less than plausible near the end, I found the main characters relatable, and some of the social themes--fickleness of social opinion, difficult choices, unanticipated legal vulnerability, and so on--relatable. This book succeeds as entertainment. It is also well-written in the sense that the prose flows, the presentation is generally well-paced, and common grammatical errors are mercifully absent.
Cynthia Nixon does a fine job of reading this book, her voice generally pleasing, characters' voices distinct enough that it was always apparent who was speaking, and their inflection and pacing plausible.
The premise is worth considering. That its presentation was so reliant on anecdote and much of the discussion seemed superficial made it less than compelling.
Manipulative, self-serving individuals are often problematic, and it seems that such conduct is sometimes motivated by a weak conscience plus adverse circumstances, sometimes by the absence of conscience which is the focus of this book. Can a layperson really distinguish between the two? Whether the distinction would be relevant seems largely circumstantial. However, opportunities to help weak individuals reclaim some dignity might well be lost if the label "sociopath" is too broadly applied.
The narrator of this audiobook read clearly and expressively, but the reading was marred by mispronunciation of several words and Thich Nhat Hanh's name.
This is among the most engaging audio novels I have listened to so far--complex and relatable characters, dramatic setting, unexpected plot twists, lots of action. It was well-read--the inflection and pacing were excellent, and accents distinctive and credible.
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