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Chicago, IL, United States | Member Since 2010

  • 363 reviews
  • 363 ratings
  • 654 titles in library
  • 94 purchased in 2014

  • Stein on Writing: A Master Editor Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Sol Stein
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane

    Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether newcomers or accomplished professionals. As Sol Stein, renowned editor, author, and instructor, explains, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions, how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place."

    ddsharper says: "Excellent Content and Listen"
    "Excellent advice and examples for better writing."

    Stein is an author, editor, and publisher. His advice is geared toward fiction, with some thoughts for nonfiction. I am a reader and reviewer of books, not a writer. I have strong likes and dislikes about books I’ve read. I’m reading some “how to write books” to see if I agree with the experts. I’m delighted to say that writers who follow Stein’s advice will very likely make me happy when reading their books. I am more liberal than Stein in two areas: the first three pages of a book and his fifth commandment. Scenes that end prematurely are a subject Stein did not discuss, but I believe he would agree with me.

    For a while now I have been confused when I hear people say “cut adverbs.” I’ve loved some colorful writing that adverbs produce. I made a list of wonderful sentences with adverbs written by J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, and Georgette Heyer. I recently read three Hemingway short stories and noticed a lot of adjectives and adverbs in two of them. That intrigued me because he is famous for concise writing. Stein is the first expert who explains this subject to my satisfaction. Although he recommends cutting most adjectives and adverbs, he gives examples showing when they are valuable. I like his view. Stein and I both like the following paragraph which is full of adjectives and adverbs. Although a novel filled with this should probably be labeled poetry rather than fiction. Still it shows the emotional and sensual ability of adjectives and adverbs. Stein calls it “a nearly perfect paragraph.” It was written by a student of his, Linda Katmarian.

    “Weeds and the low hanging branches of unpruned trees swooshed and thumped against the car while gravel popped loudly under the car’s tires. As the car bumped along, a flock of startled blackbirds exploded out of the brush. For a moment they fluttered and swirled about like pieces of charred paper in the draft of a flame and then were gone. Elizabeth blinked. The mind could play such tricks.”

    Stein says “She’s breaking rules. Adjectives and adverbs which normally should be cut are all over the place. They’re used to wonderful effect because she uses the particular sound of words ‘the low hanging branches swooshed and thumped against the car. Gravel popped. Startled blackbirds exploded out of the brush. They fluttered and swirled.’ We experience the road the car is on because the car ‘bumped’ along. What a wonderful image. ‘The birds fluttered and swirled about like pieces of charred paper in the draft of a flame.’ And it all comes together in the perception of the character ‘Elizabeth blinked. The mind could play such tricks.’ Many published writers would like to have written a paragraph that good. That nearly perfect paragraph was ...”

    Another example. Stein does not like the sentence “What a lovely, colorful garden.” Lovely is too vague. Colorful is specific therefore better; but lovely and colorful don’t draw us in because we expect a garden to be lovely or colorful. There are several curiosity provoking adjectives you might use. If we hear that a garden is curious, strange, eerie, remarkable, or bizarre, we want to know why. An adjective that piques the reader’s curiosity helps move the story along.

    Stein says when you have two adjectives together with one noun, you should almost always delete one of the adjectives. He also recommends eliminating the following words which he calls flab: had, very, quite, poor (unless talking of poverty), however, almost, entire, successive, respective, perhaps, always, and “there is.” Other words can be flab as well.

    PARTICULARITY (attentiveness to detail):
    I love the following comparison. “You have an envelope? He put one down in front of her.” This exchange is void of particularity. Here’s how the transaction was described by John LeCarre. “You have a suitable envelope? Of course you have. Envelopes were in the third drawer of his desk, left side. He selected a yellow one A4 size and guided it across the desk but she let it lie there.” Those particularities ordinary as they seem help make what she is going to put into the envelope important. The extra words are not wasted because they make the experience possible and credible. (My favorite part: “Of course you have.”)

    Stein discourages flashbacks. He says they break the reading experience. They pull the reader out of the story to tell what happened earlier. Yay! I agree! I don’t like them either.

    I don’t recall Stein discussing “ending scenes prematurely,” but I think (or hope) he would agree with me that they also “break the reading experience.” For example, Mary walks into a room, hears a noise, and is hit. The next sentence is about another character in another place. Many authors do this to create artificial suspense. It makes me angry, and my anger takes me out of the story because I’m thinking about the author instead of the characters. You can have great suspense without doing this. Stein says “The Day of the Jackal” is famous for use of suspense. The scenes in that book have natural endings.

    Stein said a “book must grab the reader in the first three pages or they won’t buy the book.” This was based on studies watching customers in book stores. They looked at the jacket and then the first one to three pages. They either put it back or bought it. I think the internet changed things by providing customer reviews. I buy around 240 books a year. I never buy a book based on the first three pages. My decision to buy is based on customer reviews and/or book jacket summaries. I suppose the first three pages might still be important for customers in physical stores like Barnes & Noble and Walmart. But today we have books that become best sellers as ebooks and subsequently are published in paperback, for example Fifty Shades of Grey. Bloggers and reviewers spread the word, not bookstore visitors.

    I’ve edited for brevity and to remove thou shalt’s.

    1. Do not sprinkle characters into a preconceived plot. In the beginning was the character. (I like this, but I also think Stephen King has a good idea - something to try. He creates a “situation” first, then the characters, and last the plot.)

    2. Imbue your heroes with faults and your villains with charm. For it is the faults of the hero that bring forth his life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.

    3. Your characters should steal, kill, dishonor their parents, bear false witness, and covet their neighbor’s house, wife, man servant, maid servant, and ox. For readers crave such actions and yawn when your characters are meek, innocent, forgiving, and peaceable. (I love this.)

    4. Avoid abstractions, for readers like lovers are attracted by particularity.

    5. Do not mutter, whisper, blurt, bellow, or scream. Stein prefers using “he said.” (I’m not sure about this one. I like hearing these words. Maybe in moderation?)

    6. Infect your reader with anxiety, stress, and tension, for those conditions that he deplores in life, he relishes in fiction.

    7. Language shall be precise, clear, and bear the wings of angels for anything less is the province of businessmen and academics and not of writers. (I assume this includes cutting adjectives, adverbs, and flab - but keep the good ones.)

    8. “Thou shalt have no rest on the sabbath, for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever.” (I’m not sure how this is advice to writers.)

    9. Dialogue: directness diminishes, obliqueness sings.

    10. Do not vent your emotions onto the reader. Your duty is to evoke the reader’s emotions.

    Do not write about wimps. People who seem like other people are boring. Ordinary people are boring.

    Cut cliches. Say it new or say it straight.

    If not clear who is speaking put “George said” before the statement. If it is clear, put “George said” after or eliminate “George said.”

    Don’t use strange spellings to convey dialect or accents.

    Book copyright: 1995.
    Genre: nonfiction, how to write.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Shelter Me

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Juliette Fay
    • Narrated By Marguerite Gavin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    the tradition of Marisa de los Santos and Anne Tyler comes a moving debut about a young mother’s year of heartbreak, loss, and forgiveness—and help that arrives from unexpected sources.

    Dina says: "Comforting Chic Lit"
    "Depressing and unpleasant."

    I don’t like the subject. It’s grief and an unlikeable heroine.

    This is women’s fiction with some romance at the end. Janie’s husband died in a bicycle accident. The story takes place during the subsequent year.

    It’s hard to like a book when you do not like the main character Janie. She is antagonistic, snide, snotty, insufferably irritable, sarcastic, angry, hurting others, and disrespectful to others. One character said to her “You snarl and snipe at people all day long. The people that love you the most you treat the worst as if they’re disposable.”

    I want enjoyable and feel good stories. So this was not a good choice for me. 99% of the book is watching Janie’s grief, rage, and meanness to others. Another thing I did not like about her: Janie was going to throw out some of Dillon’s toys when he wasn’t around because he would disagree on what to throw. I find that disrespectful to Dillon.

    What a nasty person Janie’s mother was. I did not enjoy watching her. She did something mean concerning Janie and Jake. She should have talked to Janie first before talking to Jake. Later she was critical and insulting about Janie and Tug. If you're going to have a nasty person I'd prefer some reaction, resolution, regret, or change. Here there was no change, just meanness thrown in.

    In the physical book the diary pages are written in italic and in 1st person. That is a problem for the audiobook because the reader doesn’t know when it is switching between diary and regular narrative. It was disconcerting to hear changes between 1st and 3rd person. But more important, the diary was a distraction. It should have been eliminated.

    Marguerite Gavin was excellent. She was wonderful doing dialogue for two 4 year old boys. That had me smiling.

    Narrative mode: most is 3rd person Janie, with frequent diary entries done in 1st person.
    Genre: women’s fiction, grief.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cabinet of Curiosities: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
    • Narrated By Jonathan Marosz

    In an ancient tunnel underneath New York City a charnel house is discovered. Inside are 36 bodies all murdered and mutilated more than a century ago. While FBI agent Pendergast investigates the old crimes, identical killings start to terrorize the city. The nightmare has begun. Again.

    Nancy says: "Enjoyable, but not my favorite"
    "2 ½ stars. Careless logic."

    Things are not well thought out. Audiobook narrator not good.

    Too much stretching things out at the end. The bad guy catches victims, you know they are going to die, but the authors interrupt the scenes too much. Example: Someone wakes up and finds themselves in chains. Scene switches to other. Bad guy talks to the prisoner. Scene switches to other. Bad guy injects something into prisoner. Scene switches to other. It was too manipulative for me.

    I was bothered that not enough details are shown when the bad guy catches victims. Authors don’t show how he avoids being seen and how he drags heavy victims from public places to his dungeon. In one case a trap is set, but we don’t see how it worked. Victim sees bait. Next scene has victim in chains in a cell.

    I don’t mind suspending disbelief if it makes the story fun. But here it was used instead of logic. That’s not a good reason. For example: a dead woman is found and taken to the medical examiner. There’s been nothing in the papers. So how does Pendergast know that she exists and that she is the Surgeon’s latest victim? He shows up at the medical examiner’s lab and tells the examiner to look at her back. Some kind of Super Knowledge? Later Pendergast operates on himself without a pain killer (more Super Something?)

    The cell phone problem: It is current day New York City. Cities have good cell phone coverage. There are several scenes where someone needed help, but they didn’t have a cell phone. It made me think the authors couldn’t think of a better way to create suspense so they got rid of the phones.

    The authors had an argument for the ending, but I did not like it. (See Spoilers)

    I was angry when someone destroyed something. This was similar to if you had an inexpensive-easy-to-make cure for cancer would you destroy it?
    The bad guy was killed due to bad luck. I’d rather see Pendergast plan the thing that killed the bad guy instead of passively being saved.

    Pendergast was talking about opera: “I loathe it. Opera was the television of the 19th century – loud, vulgar, and garish, with plots that could only be called infantile.”

    I was unhappy with Jonathan Marosz. You know how young adults end sentences on an up note like a question? Jonathan Marosz is the opposite. He ends sentences on a down note, which normally appeals to me. But the way he does it sounds like he’s reading a SHOPPING LIST. It is not good. He is not “acting” the story. He’s reading a list of sentences.

    A second problem was editing. At least three times a section (a few sentences long) was read twice in a row – repeated.

    Genre: mystery suspense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Is Where I Leave You

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Jonathan Tropper
    • Narrated By Ramon de Ocampo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family - including Judd's mother, brothers, and sister - have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd's wife, Jen, whose 14-month affair with Judd's radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch's dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together.

    Jamie says: "Greatly entertaining, not for all audiences."
    "Not my kind of humor. I did not enjoy it."

    I was hoping to laugh, but I didn’t. It’s told in 1st person by Judd, talking about his siblings, his parents, his wife, and others. It’s wry humor about mistakes and choices that are not good or not smart. His wife has an affair with his boss. His brother has never been able to keep a job, is into drugs, and has sex with lots of different women. It’s also about bad luck. It was depressing. No one is having a good life.

    I did not like the ending. It’s open and unexplained. I’m supposed to guess what will happen. I wanted closure and didn’t get it.

    Ramon de Ocampo was ok.

    Genre: fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dead Connection

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Alafair Burke
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Homicide detective Flann McIlroy is convinced that someone is using the lure of the internet and the promise of love to launch a killing spree against the women of New York City. To catch the killer, he calls up Detective Ellie Hatcher. She must enter a high-tech world where no one is who they appear to be. When the FirstDate killer begins to mimic the monster who destroyed her father, Ellie knows the game has become personal for him.

    bonnie says: "Good introduction to author and character"
    "Not good for me, but mystery fans might like it."

    This is a police procedural. We accompany Ellie (a homicide detective) as she investigates murders by a serial killer. Michael Connolly does the same thing with his character Harry Bosch. But with Bosch I am intrigued and fascinated. I did not feel that way with this book. It was dry, almost plodding. Both authors use twists and surprises, but for some reason Connolly does it better. I don’t know how to explain why.

    If you look at the plot and what happens in outline form, it sounds good.

    Toward the end I was disappointed with Ellie’s mistakes/stupidity which caused bad things to happen. She is sneaking up on someone but doesn’t turn her cell phone off so it rings and gives her away. She knows who the killer is and goes there alone. She enters a dangerous room and doesn’t check behind the door.

    I was also disappointed with the ending. If two cops and another told the truth about why they did something or their investigation process, the killer might go free. So they agreed to lie to make sure the killer would not get off. I did not understand that. I wish the author spelled that out better. I thought what they did seemed legit. It wasn’t like planting evidence.

    There are no sex scenes other than briefly mentioning a couple had sex while spending the night together.

    This is book #1 in the Ellie Hatcher series. So far there are five in the series.

    Christopher Lane was good. But I was not pleased with his voice for Ellie. It was odd, maybe too rushed.

    Genre: crime mystery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Deadline

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Sandra Brown
    • Narrated By Stephen Lang
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Dawson Scott is a well-respected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan. Haunted by everything he experienced, he's privately suffering from battle fatigue which is a threat to every aspect of his life. But then he gets a call from a source within the FBI. A new development has come to light in a story that began 40 years ago. It could be the BIG story of Dawson's career one in which he has a vested interest.

    Elaine says: "Unbelievably mediocre!"
    "Dull story. Dull narrator."

    The story plods along. It was hard to stay interested. The characters were the weakest part. They were not interesting. No chemistry. No intrique. A plot was developed, and the bad guys got it in the end. But I didn’t care. I just wanted the book to end. The bad guy killed and hurt so many people. Those were the depressing thoughts left with me at the end. I would have liked some happier feelings.

    The romantic relationship between Dawson and Amelia was not well developed. I didn’t feel any chemistry. There were two intense kissing scenes and three sex scenes. The sex scenes were vaguely described and short.

    Stephen Lang should not read romance novels. He does not read with sensuality or sexuality. Tom Stechshulte was fabulous when he read a guy’s lines in another book, I was melting. If Tom were reading this book he would have put very different feelings in both the hero and heroine voices. But Lang was stilted and wooden. The hero should have feelings of desire and treasuring her. Lang’s voice had none of that. It was not sexy. Also, I did not like any of his voices for women. Throughout the book the heroine’s dialogue sounded wimpy, weak and wan. A different feeling by the narrator could have made her more interesting. Instead she was blah. Harriet’s voice was weird and cartoonish. The narrator grew up in Queens, NY. He still has some of that accent for example, he says ar rent (for aren’t) were rent (for weren’t) and sometimes: har or huh (for her).

    Sandra Brown is hit or miss with me. My favorite books of hers are Mean Streak, Envy, and Mirror Image.

    Genre: mystery suspense with romance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mean Streak

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Sandra Brown
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis

    Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her. While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name.

    Carol says: "WOW"
    "What a good time! I didn’t want to stop reading."

    It was hard each time I had to make myself stop.

    If you’re looking for a good romantic suspense, this is one.

    She’s back! For awhile, the author was getting away from romantic suspense. Some of her stuff was good until the endings – too brief – not happy – not romantic. This one is good!

    I think the author has two types of fans. Romance lovers should like this. Her mystery fans may not. Mystery fans complain about suspending disbelief, unrealistic actions, and stereotyped characters. That didn’t bother me. The best thing about this is the RELATIONSHIP mystery, intrigue, intensity, and interaction.

    Telling why I liked the book will give away something important. So I put it in my review of this book on Goodreads and Amazon, coded as a Spoiler.

    There were some things a bit contrived, but I was willing to accept them. One had to do with the author not showing motivation for a character’s actions. Another was the heroine doing something stupid, going off alone with an uncharged phone and no weapon. But the rest was so engaging that I felt five stars anyway.

    There were five sex scenes. Two of them maybe a page long, the others shorter.

    Jonathan Davis was very good. He’s not a favorite but good enough. I was pleased with his voices for women.

    Genre: romantic suspense.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    >When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of "rogue" wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn't take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom.

    Tango says: "Beautiful story, beautifully written"
    "It’s wonderful."

    I love stories about unusual relationships, and this is one of the best.

    But it needs a pdf file for pictures. Pictures are in the physical book, but the audiobook buyers lose out. There are some pictures on the website lawrenceanthony dot co dot za

    As to the story, this is truth stranger than fiction. It’s wonderful to watch a man talk to angry wild elephants. Emotions are communicated both ways. It shows there are other senses than those we normally think about or accept.

    The story is what it’s like to run a game preserve in southern Africa. There are problems with employees, poachers, and working with local tribal leaders. And of course problems with the animals. The animals are Lawrence’s family -- his children. There is always some new thing he needs to attend to. But the story is mostly about Lawrence and the elephants. It’s a true story. And it’s fabulous.

    Too many true stories are depressing with bad things happening to animals. But this is not. The main animal and human characters do not die. There are some animal deaths, but the ending feels good.

    The audiobook narrator Simon Vance did an excellent job.

    Genre: nonfiction.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Doris Kearns Goodwin
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war.

    Amazon Customer says: "Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and Informative"
    "3 ½ stars. Good education."

    Bad recording equipment picked up narrator’s breaths. Needs a pdf file for pictures.

    I learned a lot but it was long. At times it dragged. A different author could have been more selective. I feel like Goodwin’s goal was to provide as much information as possible, so a historian would be pleased to find a diary entry that he had not read before. I stayed with it because it was good for me. I’m glad I read it, but it was not as compelling or engaging as I hoped.

    At times the subject matter was depressing. So many deaths in that war. I admired the morality of northerners willing to support the war against slavery. I was surprised and admired how Lincoln got enemies and those with conflicts to work together. He always took blame so others would not look bad.

    I was surprised at how cowardly some northern generals were. Lincoln could not find good generals. The ones he had were afraid to attack and afraid to chase. Most of the fighting was when the South attacked. In one case McClellan was ordered to move his troops to help another general. McClellan wouldn’t do it. At the same time Grant was out west fiercely fighting and winning. Lincoln was so happy to finally have a general who would fight, so he put Grant in charge of the whole thing. I was impressed with Lee’s brilliant military leadership in the south.

    Also memorable was Lincoln’s desire to forgive. One of his cabinet members Chase campaigned against Lincoln for reelection and said negative things about Lincoln. After Chase lost, Lincoln gave another assignment to Chase because Chase was the best man for the country. Lincoln wanted to help the South recover after the war. He did not want to punish the South. Booth was so stupid to kill Lincoln. He was angry at freeing the slaves. But he killed the one man who would have forgiven and helped the South the most.

    The awe of the Gettysburg Address. Reading it now in the middle of this book is so different from when I read it in high school. I have more understanding of what was going on, and it made the Address more powerful.

    There needs to be a PDF file for audiobook buyers for pictures and illustrations that were in the physical book.

    Suzanne Toren is a good reader for this book. But the recording equipment picked up her BREATHS. Her breathing was sooo distracting and sooo annoying. Recording people: Please solve this problem! I don’t hear other narrators breathing.

    Genre: biography.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel, Book 19

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    "You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not always. Not completely," notes Jack Reacher - and sure enough, the retired military cop is soon pulled back into service. This time, for the State Department and the CIA. Someone has taken a shot at the president of France in the City of Light. The bullet was American. The distance between the gunman and the target was exceptional. How many snipers can shoot from three-quarters of a mile with total confidence? Very few, but John Kott - an American marksman gone bad - is one of them...

    Jeffrey says: "Lee and Dick seem tired"
    "Not the best. Other Reacher books are better."

    But it’s still fun.

    I will always read the new Jack Reacher book. I like being in this world. He had about three or four beat em up scenes. Those were fun. But the story was not very good. There was a lot of going-nowhere-talk. My mind wandered at times. The author used the following phrase a lot. I smile when I hear it because it’s typical Reacher. “I said nothing.” “He said nothing.”

    Most of the Reacher books have been 3rd person narratives, so I was not happy with this done in 1st person.

    This is book 19 in the Jack Reacher series. I gave 4 or more stars to the first seven books except for Running Blind.

    The narrator Dick Hill was very good.

    Genre: mystery suspense.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Hidden Prey

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By John Sandford
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Six months ago, Lucas Davenport tackled his first case as a statewide troubleshooter, and he thought that one was plenty strange enough. But that was before the Russian got killed. On the shore of Lake Superior, a man named Vladimir Oleshev is found shot dead, three holes in his head and heart, and though nobody knows why he was killed, everybody - the local cops, the FBI, and the Russians themselves - has a theory. And when it turns out he had very high government connections, that's when it hits the fan.

    Ed says: "Davenport is all business in this one"
    "If you love this series then this book might be ok"

    but I was not taken. It dragged.

    Maybe it was just a hard-to-work-with-plot and uninteresting characters. Everyone keeps secrets from Lucas - good guys and bad guys. Even Nadia his partner does not tell him things. It was a slow process of puzzle solving. The ending was lackluster. It was not wrapped up well, but I didn’t care much. I was glad it was over.

    Main plot:
    A group of Russian families has been in the U.S. for decades. They consider themselves spies for Russia even though they rarely have contact with Russia and don’t do much. They kill a Russian. Nadia arrives from Russia to investigate and works with Lucas.

    Female characters.
    I don’t like the way the author writes women. He makes them weak, incompetent, or not smart in order to make Lucas look good. I don’t require strong smart heroines in everything I read. It’s ok to have weak characters in either sex. But make the main female character quirky, unusual, or something. So far in the three books I’ve read, I come out with an empty feeling about women. They are cardboard.

    Here’s an example. Nadia and a guy are in a room. Killer enters and shoots the guy then runs out. Lucas is nearby, hears gunshots, and sees the killer running. Lucas goes to Nadia and sees the guy shot. Lucas calls 911 giving information, tells Nadia to stay with the guy, and then runs off to chase the killer. Lucas is a good runner and gets close to the killer. Why didn’t Nadia do anything? She could have called 911. But no, Lucas has to delay his chase to make the phone call while Nadia stands there and watches. Why couldn’t Nadia chase the killer? Nadia is a Russian agent, not a shrinking violet fragile female. She’s cardboard.

    I was eager to read about Letty, a 12-year-old Lucas meets in book #14 (the previous book). She shoots a rifle and traps muskrats. I hoped she would have a bigger role in this book, but she had no role. The only thing said was Lucas was her guardian.

    I was impatient with Nadia’s dialogue. She asked too many word meanings which dragged the dialogue. Examples: “The others were tarnished and even had some, I don’t know the English, green coloring on the brass.” “How do you say...” “What’s this ‘upside’?”

    Richard Ferrone was good for general narration and men, but not women. He made them sound weird.

    Genre: mystery suspense thriller.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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