The title of this book makes almost too good of a target. OK -- To make it short and sweet -- it's got a good beat, but it's hard to dance to (my apologies to those of you too young to have watched American Bandstand). Parker's Spenser series of books have always been written sparingly, and this is no exception (As an example, Potshot has more than 50 chapters -- Parker outdoes Papa H in hes conciseness). One of the reasons that many of the previous Spenser books have worked is that Parker has kept the plot somewhat simple and, more importantly, does not include the cast of 'Ben Hur.' In this departure, there are 7,8,9, ??? characters with speaking parts in this book. Had Potshot been longer, Parker might have gotten around to fleshing the thing out. However, he stayed the course, and the result is a bunch of characters with only a patina of character development.
However, after the nit picking above, I still enjoyed the book. Spenser, Susan, and Hawk are at their best and if you have been a long time reader, you can easily forgive Parker's attempt to 'stretch' as illustrated in Potshot.
Lastly: This is an unabridged book and the reader is good enough to not get in the way.
Clive Cussler fans will enjoy this book as well or better than Clive's previous Pitt novels. I know I did.
However, in 'Black Wind' Cussler has resorted to an approach to writing that is becoming more and more common with our leading novelists; teaming (and identifying) with another author in writing their later books. As I recall, Tom Clancy was one the first to do so in recent times.
While apparently an attractive approach for the author, I am not sure that these collaborations give fair value to their readers. In other words, I find that most of these products are inferior to the author's earlier output.
At best, I suppose, the addition of a complementary collaborator can add demonstrable qualitative value to a work. Unfortunately, I haven't come across an instance where that is true. A second reason for teaming up is to add some 'weight' to the book. I find that this is the most prevalent exemplar.
Please don't get me wrong; I don't believe this approach is, ipso facto, inferior -- I don?t. ?Black Wind' seems to fall into this category and I found it to be a good read.
What this format does is make the book's 'style' different. After ingesting a ton of Cussler books (as I have), one comes to expect a distinctive m?tier; an inherent structure, vocabulary, flow, sentence and paragraph construction, etc., etc.
What I noticed was considerably more content to long descriptive passages (occasionally pages in length) that talk ABOUT stuff. Whereas Cussler has always provided us with ACTION, it is a bit off-putting to be confronted with whole sections of the book where NOTHING HAPPENS, interspersed with the kind of familar action passages we have come to expect and love.
Bottom line? It's still a good read with the partnership taking little away from the overall quality of 'Black Wind.'
For those of you, who, like me, watched some or all of BBC's Inspector Morse programs, be prepared for an unexpected, uncanny sensation when listening to this book. I have never found a situation where the filmed version of a book is accomplished so faithfully in every aspect to the book and to the author's intent.
I don't intend to review BBC's Morse shows here, but must note how well these books translate to the silver screen. Morse's intellectually, all-consuming unfocussed brooding while attacking a case is so viscerally credible in both genres that I am hard-pressed to keep my own emotions on a somewhat even keel. I find that I can become totally absorbed with his depressive moodiness without the benefit of the incisiveness that is always the spark for solving the mystery confronting him.
Part of Morse's appeal is that we can see (and join in, if so inclined) the totally believable, multiple dimensions of Morse the MAN as well as Morse the INSPECTOR. Here is a man who, so like so many of us, is insightful enough to recognize his tendency to cross the line between his high-standing system of moral and ethical principles to thoughts of and (sometimes) actions that conflict with what he would term, his basic practice of integrity.
Sorry, got away from the book review. Like so many other series of books with the same protagonist, there is a formula (to a greater or lesser extent)that is found in all. Morse usually becomes involved in a case despite his protests to the contrary. Once involved (accompanied by his Sergeant), he meanders in and around the case absorbing it's each and every aspect without any apparent concern as to their relevancy to the matter at hand. However, at some point within the book Morse has something akin to an epiphany when heretofore random bits of information fall into alignment and set the course for solving what had appeared to be a conundrum at first blush. As might be expected, that's what happens here.
You know, one often picks up a book and within the first 15 - 20 pages realizes that -- perhaps -- choosing that particular book was a mistake. However, if the author has demonstrated good writing in the past, one might stick with it for a while longer, assuming that the writer was just having the equivalent of opening night jitters.
That is not the case with Spytime. I didn't like the book. However, I find myself to be somewhat challenged in expanding upon that opinion because of the strictures placed on reviewers by Audible's Review Guidelines, among which is the following: "What not to include: Harsh, profane or discriminatory language." This presents me with a classic exercise in subjectivity perspicacity. For example, if I were to opine that the book is a stinkeroo; would adherence to the Guidelines oblige me to enjoin that tack in favor of something more banal, such as "this book has odiferous undertones?" In the same vein, would the Guidelines spike characterizations of the book as being abysmal, appalling, or atrocious in favor of "lacking any redeeming literary value?" I can not help but wonder what verbiage might be used by one of the Algonquin?s luminaries under similar circumstances.
Well, guidelines be darned, I didn't like the first 10 minutes of Spytime. In fact, I did not like the first 10 minutes of the book so much that I abandoned any further torture to my little grey cells and consulted the TV schedules to see if one of the Three Stooges movies was on the tube.
Finally! It is about time that one of the 'top' mystery authors has written a book up to the high standards that we (the readers) have come to expect. I have been generally disappointed by several of the latest books written by these literary pantheons.
OK: Without divulging too much of the plot, I offer this assessment. I came away from reading Hour Game with the impression that it is really two books. It is of the genre where the first part of the book could stand alone with one or two loose ends that either, 1) will be addressed in the author?s next book, or 2) will never be addressed, thus leaving its ultimate solution to our imagination. In my opinion, it is particularly difficult to write something wherein the body of the work is done so well that one does not mind filling in the blanks. I was ready to cue up my next book when, much to my surprise, I saw that there was still a lot of book left to read. David Baldacci done good!
By the way, I found the second half of the book to be as good as was the first part. My only criticism has to do with the segue that separates, yet joins the two partitions. Unfortunately, Baldacci seems to have given this section of the book too little attention, resulting in a transition that came across as being unfocused, somewhat aimless, and ultimately, a bit disappointing.
I can easily forgive Baldacci for that minor slippage because all-in-all he gave me a book that has all the other requisites for excellence, e.g., plot, character development, etc.
Last Lights protagonist is a familiar sort of Government undercover operative: no spring chicken, in fact, a bit long-in-the-tooth if truth be told, always at odds with his shadowy and not-so-shadowy controllers (members of the upper crust, yet sharing a draconian underbelly), plagued by gut wrenching memories of daring and dreadful deeds committed at their behest (often off the books and done under threat to the one thing he holds dear), a professional working out in the cold with little official or unofficial support, becoming painfully (and gradually) aware that the real reason behind the job was ultimately political and shrouded by nuances within nuances of underlying requisites, and always with a telescoped time-table that necessitates actions and activities that excoriate his entrenched professionalism as well as his patriotism.
If you like this genre of spy novels, you will like Last Light, I certainly did. I considered three different ratings; three. four, and five stars. The element responsible for raising the rating from three to four stars was the narrator, Mr. Clive Mantle, who does a bang up job. The reason that I settled on a four star rating was most influenced by the narrator, Mr. Clive Mantle. He infuses his narration with relentless implications of urgency, abetted by the perpetual drive to further accelerate his actions and activities. I would have wished that Mr. Mantles rendition of Last Light offered the reader a few moments where the pace slackened enough to permit a tad of attenuated relaxation.
If a book is to be judged to be a good one, several factors should be in place: the plot, characterizations (both third person as well first person), believability (yes, even in a fantasy book (or should that be especially?), and narration. In the case of talking books, the quality of the reader becomes, perhaps, the most significant quality -- especially when a book is badly read. In addition, there is an element of comfort that ensures us that the 'style' of writing at the book's beginning will traverse throughout its page to book's end without detours, orthogonal journeys, or choppiness. As an example of believability?s importance in fantasy, we enjoyed Star Wars because, first of all, it was believable. In other words, one could 'believe' that the actors and action on the screen COULD be portraying reality.
OK - having said that, what about The Eagle Heist? All of the required elements are present in the book, but, unfortunately, they are primarily in anecdotal form rather than ubiquitous throughout the book. If I have to stop reading a book because I don?t know why something is happening or why so-and-so uttered a specific phrase are the kind of things that affect my comfort zone? I think a three rating may be a bit generous, but hey, it?s almost Valentine?s Day.
I am ambivalent about this book. It isn't a bad read - none of Baldacci?s books are. The narrator does an adequate job - Baldacci?s readers always deliver well read products. The book's production values are A-One. There are plenty of plot lines and plot twists.
So, what's wrong? It is hard to adequately critique this book - I guess that's why book critics make the big bucks. For me, the problem is mainly one of prior expectations; I greatly enjoy Baldacci?s books, and expected this one to be a knockout -- and it isn't. Were it written by another author I would probably be less disappointed (and probably wouldn't be writing this review).
Some of the book's potential strengths are also its weaknesses. For example, the plethora of plot lines and twists sometimes tumble over each other without always getting resolved -- though, maybe they are, but with so many concurrent elements I might have not noticed the resolution.
I could go on with similar types of nit-picking, but, instead will settle on the following: Were Tennessee Williams alive and writing today, he might have written something like this book. Set in the South (Virginia will always be the south for many), mixes characters both smarmy and virtuous, who are rich, ex-rich, never rich, and never will be rich. It has lots of earthy language with enough epithets to satisfy any reader. There are elements of adultery, perjury, divorce, sexually transmitted disease, whores both in and out of their houses, quasi-incest, multi-target love affairs, seduction, and seduction rebuffed, big houses, horses and the riding of same, drugs, murders, serial killing, requited and unrequited love, and lots of characters with southern accents who are at opposite ends of the decorum measuring stick (i.e., good guys and evil ones).
Alas, though multiple forms of desire pervade the book, there ain't no street cars.
Is worth a read? Sure. However, if you aren't able to read the book, it will be no great loss.
Ludlum is one of the writers whose books I buy without worry. After attempting to read "Robert Ludlum's The Lazarus Vendetta," I won't do that again. Even though I was aware that Ludlum had several books 'in the can' when he died, I had expected that they would, at a minimum, be more or less true to Ludlum's qualitative standards. I was wrong.
I am reminded of a quote by Daniel Webster (quite possibly apocryphal). While attending a formal dinner his female dinner partner is reputed to have turned to him and said, "Sir, you smell." Webster replied. "Madam you are wrong; I stink, you smell."
Either one works for The Lazarus Vendetta.
Good writing. Good reader. Five stars. 'Nuff said.
(PS - If you like Dick Francis' books, you will probably like this.)
I had trouble determining whether this was a novel or a commentary about Mardi gras. In fact, the beginning of this book is so dry that I had to go back and make sure that I was, in fact, reading a novel. Once we have plowed though the history of Mardi gras, the book turns somewhat wacky and, along the line, lost me as a reader.
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