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Eric J. Toll

Desert Aries

ratings
30
REVIEWS
10
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
7

  • Cop Hater: 87th Precinct Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Ed McBain
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (143)
    Performance
    (125)
    Story
    (125)

    When a sniper begins gunning down cops from the 87th Precinct in cold blood, it’s up to Detective Steve Carella to solve the case. With three cops already dead, Carella delves into the city’s underworld to search for the killer.

    PAR-TEE says: "1950's Noir..."
    "Dang, it's about time for the 87th Precinct"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First of all, it's cops, it's hardboiled detective fiction, it's an old, old book, and Dick Hill narrates. For a mystery buff, that's all it should take to buy this novel.

    One feature this book has that I really appreciated is the author's preface from the late Evan Hunter (née Salvatore Albert Lombino). In it Hunter/McBain tells the backstory of the 87th Precinct series. Despite the fact I had read the entire series, it answered questions about why and what went into the books.

    One of McBain's techniques was inserting police forms and criminal notes into the book, these visuals don't translate well and slow the book's flow, but I don't know how else the audio team could handle them.

    The book is the first in a series and it's crucial to begin to learn the members of the Precinct and watch them grow, age and evolve over the next 25 or so books. They grow, marry, divorce, die, kill, and solve crime after crime. Police tactics and interaction with citizens, witnesses and criminals also evolve. Remember that the first book predates the Miranda warning.

    The books are hardboiled detective fiction. Gruff, growling dialogue, vivid narration, and you'll be enthralled. The books show their age in slang and idioms, but over all it's groovy. Oh wait, that'll be in like, book 15 or so.

    So download, pour yourself a rye on the rocks, turn off all the lights but the one by your chair, and listen. Dang, you'll love it. Just remember when it was written.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Mugger

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Ed McBain
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (39)

    A beat cop winds up on the trail of a deadly mugger, but when it suddenly gets personal, his own life might be the next thing to be snatched….

    Kelly says: "Love the author, hate the reader"
    "This could probably apply to all the books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, Dick Hill's narration is perfect for this series. Dark, gritty, somewhat sarcastic. Very well done and good distinction in voices and dialects.

    Ed McBain, or Evan Hunter, was a prolific hard-boiled detective novel. The 87th Precinct series is the culmination of his work.

    The Mugger is not extraordinarily suspenseful. It is a systematic, procedural manual that mixes the character development with the building plot. It's not a whodunit, in that you're not likely to guess the murderer, because the clues are very subtle. Maybe you will if you're sharper tan I, but the twist at the end took me by surprise. I could look back and see how it made sense, but was not able to put it together going forward.

    All of his books are like that. I read the entire series starting in the middle in the early 1970s, but then quickly darting back to the first and pulling them from the library, used book stores, and catching up to grab a few newly arrived at the book store before Hunter died.

    It's a great series and I urge it to be read in order from book 1 through the end. The characters grow, age, marry, mature, have kids, the kids grow up too. It's wonderful, dark and hard-hitting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lions of Lucerne

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Brad Thor
    • Narrated By Armand Schultz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1302)
    Performance
    (1167)
    Story
    (1164)

    On the snow-covered slopes of Utah, the unthinkable has just become a nightmarish reality: thirty Secret Service agents have been viciously executed and the vacationing president of the United States kidnapped by one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in the Middle East - the Fatah Revolutionary Council. But surviving agent and ex-Navy SEAL Scot Harvath doesn't believe the Fatah Revolutionary Council is responsible for the attack.

    Carol says: "Great Scott Harvath"
    "Worth taking the chance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a Vince Flynn fan, Brad Thor was first brought to my attention because of the late Flynn's recommendation. I still picked other books before finally jumping on this book, the first I've read in the Horvath series.

    If you like Mitch, Myron, John Rain and a good Ken Follett, this is a read for your wish list. The plot seemed ridiculous in the vignettes, but was well-executed and mostly plausible. Armand Schultz, who is also a Mitch Rapp narrator, did an excellent job with the acting and the voices.

    Thor's scene descriptions and action are well-written. There are some dropped balls with some lapses by the protagonist that someone of his caliber wouldn't fall into--but fatigue can be an excuse.

    Schultz is strong in his performance, reads with realistic accents, and plays the roles well.

    Definitely a good read, and I'm getting another one from the series in my next order.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Nelson Johnson
    • Narrated By Joe Mantegna, Terence Winter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (425)
    Performance
    (208)
    Story
    (212)

    From its inception, Atlantic City has always been a town dedicated to the fast buck, and this wide-reachinghistory offers a riveting account of its past 100 year, from the city's heyday as a Prohibition-era mecca of lawlessness to its rebirth as a legitimate casino resort in the modern era.

    Frances says: "I love stories steeped in History"
    "It's not the TV series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's only one thing to say about the narrator...it's Joe Montenga, so it's perfect.

    I did have a bait-and-switch feeling about the buy. The book is hyper-connected to the HBO series. Audible offered a 30 minute teaser that even started with a component of the HBO series. That's it. That's all. About one chapter of story and the rest is non-fiction narration.

    For me, the appeal is that my family is from Philadelphia, and during any vacation from our Midwest home to the relatives in Philly included a day-jaunt to Atlantic City. I love Monopoly, so nothing more need be said about the connection to Atlantic City.

    I found the book interesting and the history of the resort fascinating. But I could push pause and walk away for hours, even days. Try doing that with a Spencer novel Montenga narrates.

    Just know going in, you will learn everything you never realized about Atlantic City, but you're not going to find out whether Nochy Thompson (Johnson) marries Mrs. Schroeder and adopts the two kids. You're not even going to hear about a weird federal agent trying to bring him down.

    The television series portrays the characters well from the book's real life. The book is not a novel.

    It's well written, thorough, documented, and interesting listening. The last chapter is a bit of a lecture to the folks living in Atlantic City today that's a little smarmy.

    I kept it, and might even listen again some day, but not before I re-listen to the Spencer series Montenga narrates. I think I hear "Potshot" calling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • McNally's Secret: Archy McNally, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Lawrence Sanders
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (108)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (93)

    Playful, seductive, irresistible - this best-selling masterwork of fatal passion and greed introduces Lawrence Sanders's most wickedly charming sleuth. Meet Archy McNally, a freewheeling playboy who specializes is "discreet inquires" for the rich and not-so-discreet. Beneath the glaring sun of Palm Beach - and behind the lowest crimes of high society - McNally is paid to keep family skeletons in the closet. But when it comes to sex and scandal, McNally has a few secrets of his own....

    Ted says: "Forgettable? Yeah, Like A Savory Rich Desert!"
    "Story is cheesy, characters cheesier, I love it!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Let's face it, Sanders is not Dickens or Follett or Vince Flynn. He's fun. The McNally series is just one of those books to grab when you want a complete and total escape. It moves well, it dances poignantly, and it leaves you with a constant smile.

    I read the whole series in print, and in my mind, I had the voices and nuances. It took me a couple of chapters to get my mind in sync with Victor Bevine. By the time the book was finished, I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.

    The McNally plots are almost always the same, but who cares. I'm going to download them all ... in fact I would have done so, but the 87th Precinct Series has just started to go audio. So many books, and only two ears.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Running Blind: Jack Reacher, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Jonathan McClain
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1360)
    Performance
    (1208)
    Story
    (1200)

    Across the country women are being murdered by a killer who leaves no evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to a motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. In fact, the only thing that links the victims is the man they all knew: Jack Reacher.

    Debbie says: "Not My Favorite Reacher..."
    "I love Reacher; I returned this book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Running Blind better?

    A plot with a semblance of feasibility. I realize that all of the Reacher stories involve three themes -- incompetent or impotent professionals, a surprise corruption, and a requirement to set aside reality. It works in almost all of the books--especially the later novels. Running Blind has three problems. One, the plot is beyond believability. Two, the incompetence is so incompetent, it's not believable. Three, Dick Hill didn't narrate. I had decided to read the whole series, starting with Book 1. I couldn't listen to this book all the way through.


    Has Running Blind turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I'm still buying Reacher books, but I definitely recommend this for the "skip" list...or if you need to read or listen to it because you want to do the whole series, I'd suggest a library visit.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Jonathan McClain is a good narrator, but using him for Jack Reacher would be like, well, it would be like using Tom Cruise to play Reacher in a movie. McClain's voice isn't big enough to be Reacher and his portrayal of several other characters takes on a cartoon quality.

    I'd still consider listening to a book McClain performs, but I believe it was a good move to return to Dick Hill (who narrated book 1, but not books 2, 3, and 4). He sounds like Reacher is supposed to sound.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Total disappointment. If this were the first Reacher book I'd have read, I'd never had opened (or pressed play) on any of the others. It's a real snoozer.


    Any additional comments?

    Lee Child's FBI agents are too unrealistic. I'm sure there are incompetent FBI agents here and there, but definitely not the entire profile unit. In addition, were there a real serial killer case, the Bureau would not have left the entire investigation to a team this incompetent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Die Trying: Jack Reacher, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Jonathan McClain
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2022)
    Performance
    (1800)
    Story
    (1797)

    When a woman is kidnapped off a Chicago street in broad daylight, Jack Reacher's in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's kidnapped with her. Chained together and racing across America toward an unknown destination, they're at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom. Because Reacher's female companion is worth more than he imagines. Now he has to save them both - from the inside out - or die trying....

    Donna says: "STILL IN PROCESS OF LISTENING TO IT, BUT....."
    "Reading the Series: Skip This One"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It's one thing to suspend belief, it's another thing to suspend disbelief. I would have kept the story line about the process of dealing with a hostage to be more realistic. I don't care if you supported Bush I, Clinton, Bush II or Obama (the book is from the 90s, but in some ways is timeless), the reaction of political and military leaders in the plot is beyond belief and totally incompetent.


    What was most disappointing about Lee Child’s story?

    The director of the FBI and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are not going to be heading to Montana for secret maneuvers without a lot of people knowing what's going on. In addition, the director of the FBI would absolutely know that he couldn't assault a fully armed right wing military compound with handguns and eight marines.An army mobile command post is going to be equipped -- at a minimum -- with USGS topo maps and not a AAA atlas. If I had not read the most recent Reacher books and was basing my reading on a pure chronolgical effort, I would have stopped about halfway through this book, and not read another--especially after watching big, ham-fisted, 6'5, 250 pound, blonde hair, blue eyed muscled Reacher turn into 5'7 Tom Cruise.The story would have worked just fine with a more realistic military/FBI hostage preparedness. Lee Child was lucky this one didn't kill his character.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jonathan McClain?

    The bigger problem is that book 1, and all the later books are Dick Hill. Hill is perfect as Reacher. McCain is too smooth and gentle. I believe he is a good narrator, but just not for this series.


    Was Die Trying worth the listening time?

    Sadly, no. If you want to be able to say you listened to all the Reacher books--and every one except this one has been a 4- or 5-star winner...get the abridged version or check it out from the library.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Inferno: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10540)
    Performance
    (9534)
    Story
    (9619)

    In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante’s Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust...before the world is irrevocably altered.

    Livia says: "Formulaic and Hard to Finish...."
    "In his Countess Mara tie, the evil Countess Mara"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    She was about the only character missing from the book, as long as you don't miss Cinderella in a wig.
    If you're a Dan Brown fan, you should run out and check this out from the library. It's definitely one of those books that once you put it down, you can't pick it up again. The narration is good. The plot is like nailing Jell-O to the wall. It's a typical Dan Brown, with as many twists and turns as the Bright Angel Trail heading to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Only the Bright Angel Trail has much better scenery. In fact, since the trip to the bottom of the Canyon takes about the same amount of time as listening to the book--I'd recommend the trip.I don't believe that even Tom Hanks and Lucasfilm effects can save this one.I also believe that it will turn out the Langdon's Mickey Mouse watch is the key to prevent the evil do-ers doing from getting done.And in response to this innane question? What could have made this a 4 or 5 star listening experience -- perhaps if it had been written by James Michner or Vince Flynn.


    Has Inferno turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Absolutely. I don't think I can pick up this genre every again. I'm such a narrow reader that I automatically assume that every book by every author that Amazon classifies in this genre is as innane as these guided questions and the Dan Brown plot...which happens to be the same as his three previous books. I'm most disturbed the cover. It had brown on it, and I thought that my screen needed to have its color adjusted. I'll never buy a brown book again.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The one where Paul Michael tells us that the Mickey Mouse watch was in the secret pocket of Robert Langdon's bloody jacket and the anonymous voice implores, "We hope you enjoyed this Audible production."


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    At last, an actual question about the content of the book. What reaction? Ah, disbelief. A good fiction novel requires that you suspend belief. A Dan Brown novel requires that you suspend belief and common sense. "Inferno" requires you to suspend belief, common sense, and good taste.The plot is as tighly woven as the screen on a Minnesota summer cabin, it keeps the no-see-ums out, but let's in the air. There's as much weight as a meringue pie topping.You may think that I'm mixing metaphors by accident, but no, I'm mixing metaphors to attempt to parallel the plots, subplot, and missing Mickey Mouse watch. The editing in this book let slip through a whopper -- apparently the evil antagonist (he sure antagonized me) had an affair with a man and a woman at the exact same time with the exact pick-up lines and neither the man or woman affairing with the antagonise knew that the other was being affaired at the exact same time at the exace same moment in the same place. They must have been mesmerized and hypmotized with the mickey Missing Mouse watch.Actually, the editing in this book was roughly as tight as a mudpie after an Illinois thunderstorm. I have experience with those, and they hold together about as well as this plot.


    Any additional comments?

    I have to give performer. Paul Michael, credit for a job well done. He handled the accents well, didn't laugh in the inane parts, and read the reptitious, repeating, duplicate parts over and over again with the gusto as if they were newly written repetitios, repeating duplicate parts.Next time, I hope Brown's publisher pays for the book, not by the word.

    1 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Deep Blue Good-By: A Travis McGee Novel, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By John D. MacDonald
    • Narrated By Robert Petkoff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1251)
    Performance
    (1050)
    Story
    (1060)

    He's a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game. He's also a knight errant who's wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out, and his rule is simple: he'll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.

    Michael Cavacini says: "An Entertaining Start To A Classic Series"
    "Nostalgia. The way it was--sort of."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    "A golden oldie from the bargain basement of better ballads," as the disk jockeys used to say about the time this book was written. By today's standards, it's trite, it's sexist, it's round-house punches, and it's a flashback. If you've never read Travis McGee, this is the place to start--and then listening through the series (our local library no longer has the books) watch him evolve and grow. Ageless but dated, this was hard boiled fiction at its best. It was good to finally hear the Travis McGee series. The narrator is okay, I believe by the end of the book I found him credible--but not the way I would have portrayed McGee. This isn't the best book in the series--those come later, but reading in sequence is a heck of a lot of fun.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Kite Runner

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Khaled Hosseini
    • Narrated By Khaled Hosseini
    Overall
    (223)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (40)

    Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable and beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys, Amir and Hassan, growing up in Kabul. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.

    Robert says: "Kite Runner"
    "Wow"
    Overall

    Prior to this book, I was not a fan of audio books. I never believed that someone reading a book to me would be worthwhile. This audio changed my view. I was going on a long drive, and a colleague suggested trying Audible. The Kite Runner was the first book I downloaded. It kept me enthralled for the entire trip. It is well read, the character voices are consistent and appropriate. I would highly recommend this audio version of the book. It is better than the movie.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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