In the first half of the book, there's a chapter when the character is defenseless and walking in the dark in a town he doesn't recognize. He's lost in the dark and the setting resembles in more than one way what's going on in his mind. The character, and in this case the wonderful narrator, is just describing what happens, but the vulnerability and frailty of his situation are never more evident and troubling.
Westlake is able to do one of the most difficult feats for a writer, to show without telling, specially when the story is narrated in first person and the narrator suffers a conscience disorder. He achieves this by patiently describing every action and half thought. By making the right pauses and conveying the right emotions.
This is not a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is, though, a book that will slowly permeate your conscious self like a virus, achieving for a moment not only to make you ask questions about identity and everyday life that usually one never thinks about. Its an odd thing. The plot won't keep you on the edge of your seat, but you'll be on the edge of your nerves thinking about the character's situation, asking yourself what's going to happen to him. Its a desperate situation with apparently no exit. A psychological thriller, not an action one.
He's a great reader that achieves to totally embody the character. Since the narration is in first person, after a while you're not able to set the narrator and the character apart. That mean's Westlake was able to create a singular voice that works both in sound and in sight, but also that the narrator is more an actor than a reader. And that's the whole difference.
Yes. That chapter in the middle of the night was deeply moving.
This is a must listen if there ever was one.
There's something about mystery books when we, who are reading or listening (in this case) are able to understand something the character doesn't. It might be some clue left there by the writer to build the mystery tight, in which case we're able to guess before the sleuth does, or construct theories in our head to explain the mystery.
Then there's the other type. When something is so obvious you have to wait for page after page until the character adds two and two and understands and acts accordingly. Sometimes the wait is unbearable.
The Secret of the White Rose is full of the second type situations.
The is the historic novel syndrome.
Pintoff works hard to setup the time, working in describing every detail of New York in the early 20th Century. But it never feels like the characters live in that city, it feels as if they were describing it to readers in the 21th. Let me make my point. There's a careful description of signature places in the city at that time. A description that sometimes borders into a Lonely Planet guide for time travel. The main character seems to pick always the most representative places of the city to eat, drink, spend the afternoon or make appointments, just like a tourist visiting the main spots in the city to take a picture and bring it home to prove he was there.
The setting is very interesting for a mystery. We're talking about a city growing with migration. In the chaos produced by the anarchist bombings, one of the first terrorist threats in New York. Police is corrupt. Criminology is regarded at best with suspicion.
Police work is regarded almost with brute force. Ergo, its a very unlikely place for a procedural to happen.
In certain ways it reminded me those two early good efforts by Caleb Carr: The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. There he's able to convey the procedural approach as a whim by a clever professor. Looking upon it with psychology in mind. Both are serial killer novels, that use the time as atmosphere and a setting of chaos an shadows. Pintoffs New York never feels real.
Editing. This novel had at least 100 pages in excess. You don't create a city by describing its main spots, its better if you recreate the mindset of the time. The psychology of the characters. How would a person living in that New York see their city. The reader should adapt himself to the characters point of view and not the other way around.
Maybe. I would try an excerpt. His voice and acting was good. But sometimes the audio editing of the book didn't help him. So a dialogue was cut in half and his acting and voice would change from half the line into the other. That was confusing.
That's not the problem. Even the too modern and clever to be true Alistair belongs there.
Turow has been writing great novels since PRESUMED INNOCENT reinvigorated the Legal Thriller and gave way to careers like John Grisham's.
One of his best's traits is his ability to create narrative voices, so unique and deep, it feels as if friends had departed with the last page.
He is also able to produce surprising twists that fit perfectly into his characters moral biases and principles. There's a logic behind his plot, and a logic that works firstly in Kindle's County's world, and never submits to the expectations and predictable turns of a blockbuster novel.
The sequel wasn't as surprising as the first novel, but then, who could surprise you like that again.
I will count the days for the next Kindle County novel to arrive.
Edward Hermann's read is wonderful. Both when he does Rusty's voices, the third person narrative behind Molto, or Nats personal thoughts.
Shame that Audible doesn't credit Orla Cassidy in the Narrated credits. She does a wonderful job with Anna. Not only in capturing the character's voice, but going beyond reading, projecting the character's feelings into her voice with complete ease. She's become one of my favorite narrators with this book.
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