I'm not sure when I last listened to such a compelling book. Sudhir Venkatesh is honest about his naivete in getting involved with the Black Kings in Chicago's high rise public housing, and his evolution as a scholar is as fascinating as the evolution of the gangs and the economy of Chicago's poor. Very well read as well. Well worth your time.
The story is funny enough. Drew tells his tale of being a jerk when it comes to women with humor and smarts. The point of view is what sets this story apart, and it's worth the time to listen.
This book seems to spend more time constructing some made-up sense of being Southern -- lots of talk of kudzu and fried food. The plot was slow to the point of being almost nonexistent, and the character development -- well, it's just not there. I was able to manage to keep listening while doing other things that half kept my attention. Then, I hit the part that defended the early years of the Ku Klux Klan. I'm done. Spare me the defense of the South.
I couldn't even tell you why this book is supposed to be a mystery. Yes, two men disappeared, but the narrator is so obtuse that I just couldn't care.
Mitzner sets the emotional bar high at the start of this story. Daniel has lost his wife and daughter in a drunk driving accident while he's too busy working to join them on vacation. The Daniel we meet as the story opens is a former lawyer, a drunk. It's amazing he even makes it to the party where he meets NIna. But meet Nina he does, and she sets him on a whole new path.
The issues in the story are real (violence in gangsta rap is just the start of it), and yet the love story piece feels somewhat old-fashioned. The love story is probably the weakest part of the story, but the overall plot and Kevin's Collin's remarkable narration make up for a lot.
Great summer listen.
I doubt I'll bother finishing this poorly written and ridiculously poorly read story. The characterization is shallow, the cliched descriptions never stop, and the misogynistic view is annoying at best and offensive at worst. What a waste of time and a credit.
The "mystery" part of this book ranges from the absurd to the merely predictable, but what's truly annoying is the sarcastic and mean-spirited tussling between the two authors. I'm not sure why this book saw the light of day, and I trust Lisa and Dave are now done with each other. I know I'm glad to be done with them.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I'm very much looking forward to checking out the rest of the series. The narrator hits the northern New Jersey accent dead on and carries the humor and drama of the story all the way to the end. The only disappointment is a possible gap in the middle of the story. We are suddenly at trial before a jury with no introduction, but I don't think we missed anything crucial to the book.
As wonderful as Larsson's first book was, the plot and character development in this book are even more compelling. There are key incidents (a death early in the book, for example) that don't fit with the mystery at the center of the novel yet provide insights into key characters. With a lesser author, these scenes would deserve to be slashed by the editor. Here, they work, because we know we still don't completely understand the very complicated people at the heart of this series. Unfortunately, Larsson only wrote three books in this series before he died. Vance's reading is brilliant and adds considerably to the story.
Let me say up front that I'm a big fan of most of the first 12 Plum books. That being said, the series seems to have lost its way. Lula is no longer believable -- even she would run into the office screaming after witnessing a murder. She wouldn't be looking for a doughnut. The only redeeming thing about this first chapter is an appearance by Ranger, but I don't like the way the reader gives him such a distinctive accent so even that that's a wash.
This isn't really all that interesting as a suspense novel, although I suppose it's good as a romance. The writing is good, and much of the character development is above par. The pacing, however, is great, which makes up for an average plot. The ending is far too neat and tidy, and it feels like a set up for her next book.
What I especially liked was the reading. While the narrators sometimes switch at odd moments, they're both excellent and kept the story interesting.
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