This is a perfect book for a summer read. It's got a good plot with some nice twists and turns towards the end, sympathetic characters, it's performed well, and it's very entertaining.
There's a good dollop of humor, as in most of the Stephanie Plum novels. The chihuahuas are a nice touch. Ranger gets some depth to him, and the "babe" exhalation takes on some meaning.
Lorelei King is one of the few narrators who can give voice to the opposite sex. Without seeming forced or affected, she uses separate and entirely credible voices for Ranger and Morelli.
This book isn't great literature and it won't tax your mind, but if you're looking for light summer reading that is just plain fun, you can't go wrong with Top Secret Twenty-One.
First, I listened to Lay Down My Shield. It was a shocking departure for James Lee Burke, the character of Hackberry Holland two dimensional and unlikable. The I read Feast Day of Fools. Not sure where that Hackberry fits in, but he was slightly better.
Now, Wayfaring Stranger featuring Weldon Holland. And I think I'm done with the Hollands. I love Burke's Dave Robichaeux series, gorgeous prose, tight plotting, and fully developed characters, the master at his best. At the end of Glass Rainbow, I sobbed as I'd lost my best friend, so great was the impact of the book.
The Holland series is another matter. Weldon is another two dimensional Holland, all brass and balls, but not too smart. His motivations are superficial in a macho kind of way.
Similarly Rosita Lowenstein seems more of a plot device than a real character. And don't get me started on Linda Gail! Are we supposed to believe in this woman who places her husband's well being in the hands of her lover as if he had any responsibility? Clara is a caricature. Roy too, is improbable, but a bit more believable as a spoiled rich kid, although that's a stereotype too.
The plot is just a bit too convenient too, the Nazi film reels in particular. The Bonnie & Clyde thing seems more of a publicity stunt, a way to gin up interest in the book, rather than an integrated aspect of the plot.
Finally, the master's prose seemed overheated in this one. The superficial Holland is presented as quite the philosopher and astute political observer. And he does quite a bit of it too, offering up dissertations on everything from the meaning of life to ecological disasters.
It grieves me to post such a review of James Lee Burke's work, I hope he'll write more books that don't contain any Hollands.
I almost stopped reading this book because the narrator was so annoying. Because it got good reviews from reviewers I respect, I bought the Kindle companion and read the book.
The narrator reads the beginning in a breathy voice that got on my last nerve. I suppose she thought it sounded childlike, but it was simply irritating.
The story hops back and forth between present and past. The narrator made it incomprehensible. I was totally lost. Once in the Kindle book, I had to begin over again to get the story sorted out.
I'm glad I did, it was a worthwhile read. The plot is novel, the characters realistic and engaging. The ending provides an interesting twist on immortality.
I recommend this book, but only on Kindle or in print.
It was hard to read this book as anything other than a romance, bodice ripper type of novel. It certainly isn't up to the standards of Tan's previous works. Viewing it as a well written potboiler (is that a non sequitur?) allowed me to keep reading. Had I been looking for meaning, I would have put it down unfinished.
The characters are almost caricatures, who learn little if anything, and what they learn is predictable. Even the main characters aren't particularly likable, and it's hard to identify with them.
The plot is predictable, and long passages are just boring. This may be because it's larded with minutiae; some description is necessary, but Tan takes it to ridiculous, and somewhat dull, levels.
There are many passages where the reader can just skim through at a good clip, without losing anything necessary for comprehension.
The use of three narrators saves the book and weighted in the balance when I was deciding to stop reading or not. The breathe life into the characters, and add interest.
Overall, I don't recommend the book. I bought the companion Kindle,and without it, would probably not have finished the book. I did, but was glad to be done with it.
I've read all the books in this series, and was looking forward to this new release. What a huge disappointment. I've tried twice, and just can't finish it; it just doesn't hold my interest.
The plot is thin, and presented in a scatter-gun manner. The details are uninteresting: the whodunnit doesn't beg to be solved.
The characters are similarly uninteresting. Goldy, always a scatter brain, is no longer charmingly so; she's just irritatingly stupid.
The performance is similarly annoying. The sotto voce so often used is just boring.
Goldy has been a favorite for light reading since I picked up the first audiobook. This was to be a swing book between heavier reading, but I couldn't force myself to finish it. A light book should hold the reader's attention.
Redeemer might be another excellent book in the Harry Hole series, except that the narrator does such a poor job as to make the book hard to follow. I almost stopped listening several times, but it's Harry Hole, and I don't quit on Harry!
I know we're used to Robin Sachs, and I was entirely prepared to cut John Lee some slack because inevitably he'll be compared to Sachs. I'm sorry to say that after finishing the book, I'm not prepared to cut him any slack at all. His narration of this book was unacceptable, standing on it's own, without comparison to Robin Sachs.
John Lee doesn't do voices. This makes it difficult to follow the characters. The book skips between characters and places without transition, so I often found myself wondering which "he" was speaking, and where, and about who/what. The transitions weren't marked by pauses of suitable length either, again, making the book hard to follow. Many times I was simply lost, and kept rewinding until I thought maybe I was back in sync. Sometimes it wa just a lost cause and I had to plow on.
This is a shame, because there are good themes and good character development in this book. The title isn't empty, but a theme that runs throughout. In this book, Harry himself seeks personal redemption.
I found myself getting mad at Harry sometimes. Mad at his inability or unwillingness to get sober and stay sober. Maybe Harry's mad at himself for the same reasons, and that's one reason he seeks redemption. Decide for yourself, I won't give away the book!
We also wonder about the future of his love for Rakel, Is there a future at all?
This almost felt like it might be a last book in the series. I hope not.
If there is a next book, I do hope they'll try a different narrator
If you like the Bachelor Party movies, you might like this book. The book is absolutely silly with the flat, stereotyped characters stumbling from one hackneyed situation to another. If this is the best Dave Barry can come up with after 10 years, he needs to rethink his calling.
He should also rethink narrating his own audiobooks. His performance if somewhere between lousy and just OK.
I was looking for light fare to transition between books, but this certainly wasn't it. It's light, but not particularly amusing.
Had this been my first Jo Nesbo/Harry Hole book, it would probably have been the last. Harry isn't the same character he is in The Leopard, or The Snowman. He's much more tentative here, less forceful as a character. When he falls off the wagon, it's hard to keep going because he's not just a sloppy drunk, he allows himself to be physically damaged, with a foolish grin on his face. Hard to imagine the Harry of The Leopard behaving in such a manner, even when drunk. He's less self-aware, and less willing to challenge the authority of the police department.
The plot of the book is fairly simple, and the actual killer is easy to suspect very early on. Without giving it away, the manner in which the killer "gets his" is a surprise, but I had a feeling it was also a facile ending, one designed to appeal to a mass market.
The narrator, not Robin Sachs of the later books, saves this book. We hear the correct pronunciation of the both the author's and the characters names. Jo isn't Joe, but more like Yo. Nesbo is more like NesBuh. Hole isn't pronounced at all as spelled, but more like HullUh. His tone and pacing are excellent throughout. He differentiates the characters nicely.
Several times I was tempted to pull this out of my ear. I'm glad I didn't because it's the first book in the series, but it wasn't easy.
The Special Agent Pendergast series is character driven; he is a shadow of his former self in this book, and the character we've grown to love is largely absent until the last five minutes of the book. His motivation for this absence involves the back-story of his wife Helen. It's very hard to believe that Pendergast, as he's been constructed over the series, would be so blind to evidence generated by his own wife. His usual hyper-awareness seems totally absent for her; she is truly a blind spot, and yet it wasn't so in past books. This back-story provides the plot of the book, and Pendergast's motivation, and because we expect a lot more of him, it's disappointing.
This isn't one story line either. These other threads revolve around Constance, Corey and to a lesser extent, D'Agosta. They add nothing to Pendergast's mainline, and I wonder at their inclusion. Yes, it was interesting to fill in Constance's story, but unnecessary.
The main story is lackluster not only because Pendergast is out of character, but because the plot relies on grisly details in parts to move it along. There's a lot of stereotyping so that most of the characters are also one-dimensional.
Renee Auberjonois does an excellent job of narration. Without him, I'd have downgraded my overall rating to just two stars.
I hope that Preston/Child aren't making the same mistake made by Cornwell in the Scarpetta series. Eviscerating a popular character that has sold millions of books carries the risk that loyal readers will use their dollars in search of more deserving works. I've stopped reading Cornwell; I hope that won't be the case with the Pendergast series.
Classic Cussler action tale. Doesn't require a lot from the listener, and is fairly predictable. It's perfect to fill in between heavier fare. Relaxing and enjoyable.
Zoltan; he was a welcome addition to the usual cast of characters. A well trained, loyal dog is a delight in books as well as life.
Scott Brick's popularity mystifies me. He can't do accents at all, doesn't voice characters particularly well so the listener can differentiate among them, and he still doesn't moderate his voice well for different situations. He's obviously trying to correct these deficiencies (which I and other reviewers have noted in the past) and has succeeded in not making each line sound like a question. He's just OK for a Cussler potboiler, but definitely not for better writing.
It's enjoyable, but it wasn't so captivating that I couldn't hit the stop button.
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