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If you only read one book by Michael Chabon, this should be it. And, fortunately, David Colacci reads it, with his typical skill and verve. The book might be called over-written. Many of Chabon's books are like that. The story, however, is a remarkable one. Josef Kavalier escapes from Prague to eventually land in New York City during the early 1940s. He is welcomed by his cousin, Sam Klay, and the two young men rise to the very top of the world of comic books. Their hero, the Escapist, is a superman-like hero who is always escaping from Nazi-like traps and then returning to beat the Nazi-like guys to bloody pulps. The story of the personal lives of Kavalier and Klay is told in great detail. The book is extremely carefully researched. The ambience of New York City during this period is lovingly recreated by Chabon. There are a number of remarkable scenes. Kavalier has studied the great Houdini (whose real name was Erich Weiss) and has become an escape artist himself. He is also a magician and a clever entertainer. The book goes on perhaps too long, but if you are truly entertained, then Chabon and Colacci have done yeoman's work. The scenes of Kavalier's stretch in the Navy at a base in Antarctica are particularly memorable and heroic. Chabon's writing style is an acquired taste for many, but this is exactly the sort of thing for those who like this sort of thing.
By now the genuinely authoritative voice of Frank Muller has come to represent for me the finest in what audiobooks can do for the listener. This story is true, as the author says in the epilogue, but he has turned it into a novella, which is just a great format, IMHO. There are two interweaving plots. One is the cancer which is slowly killing Clay, the grandfather of John, the young narrator. The "main" plot concerns John's hunt for a deer, which turns into a musing on life and death that is unique and could only be told by a hunter who is stalking his quarry, not as a trophy, but for meat, which his family needs to eat in the preposterously cold winters of northern Minnesota. I won't spoil the end of the plot for you, but will just say that it is worth what comes before it. This is truly a magnificent pairing of a wonderful writer and the greatest of all narrators. Please enjoy yourselves. I can't imagine anyone not having a great time here.
The entire "walking down" of the doe is not just a moment, but is probably the last third of the book. However, the (12-year-old) man is trailing the deer in a way that is careful and knowing, so that he can wear the deer out and finally get the deer to the point at which it simply falls. There is one moment in which the two stare at each other from close distance for about two full seconds, which seems like hours to John, and he does not fire his rifle, which is on his shoulder, with his finger on the trigger. What, he asks, is going on here?
Every single thing. Frank knew everything there was to know about pace, tone, emotional valence of independent voices both male and female, what people of all ages sound like, and so forth. He was such an artist that his death was an unforgivable loss to the world of audiobooks and drama in general. While I listened to this I thought about the role of death in my own life. No other reader could ease me onto that track so gently and yet so firmly. This guy was soooo good.
I am not good at this kind of thing. however, here goes: Life meets Death in Minnesota.
Nope. I'm good.
This is kind of a goofy question. I have almost stopped reading with my eyes, as I have discovered that the audiobook format is so much richer than just words on paper. Therefore, the audio version is always better than the print.
I think that there is a very clear winner here. It is the scene(s) in the quarry where the massive force of the good guys is arrayed against the sneaky power of the bad guys. All are searching for Amanda, who has "gone missing." The setting is wonderful: the quarries are full of water, dark even in the daytime, very cold, full of mysterious channels, etc. Patrick and Angie have joined forces with the good guys, lawmen from all over Massachusetts, in a desperate attempt to trade the missing child for $200K. That is, if the missing child is even alive. The tension is heightened in a way that Mr. Lehane specializes in: anything can happen at any moment, and it frequently does. I will leave it to you to learn whether Amanda is dead or alive, found or kidnapped, etc. This is truly a marvelous mystery, written by a guy who knows his characters well, and who loves them. I am now glad that there is so much of Dennis Lehane to read, although my standing objection still rules: the full-size novels are too long by half. Hard to argue with serious success, though.
Jonathan Davis is truly marvelous, in many ways. The stock answer to this question is probably Patrick and Angie, who have a relationship which has held my interest through several novels. There are a whole bunch of ancillary characters whom Mr. Davis does in a masterly way: the repulsive Cheese Oleman, the slimy Chris Mullen (not the basketball player), the absolutely marvelous Bubba...I could go on. Mr. Davis's talents as a narrator are almost limitless. I would be disappointed to find another Dennis Lehane book that was not narrated by Jonathan Davis.
There are quite a number of scenes in which Patrick and Angie's relationship lifts up off the pages and soars. These two are trying very hard to live sane, sensible lives, but they are surrounded by the worst of Boston thuggery, at every level. Each case draws them into the mesh of those lives, and the palpable tension between wanting to leave to have a simple life versus staying in the Boston they know: they just can't decide.
I am now a confirmed Dennis Lehane fan. It has taken me a few books to fully appreciate the partnership between him and Jonathan Davis, but I do believe I have it now. I hope they keep doing this for a very long time.
I absolutely would, and will. I look forward to every new book by Lawrence Shames. This guy will make you laugh under any circumstance you might be in, no matter how dark or gloomy. I guarantee satisfaction. All his books are set in Key West, which has to be where Mr. Shames lives. He describes it beautifully. The main character is typically a New Yorker. The Mob is always involved. Some of the characters are continuing. Bert the Shirt is my favorite. Bert is now a very old ex-mobster who wears exquisitely tailored shirts, and who carries around his tiny, sickly Mexican Chihuahua everywhere. Richard Ferrone is also an excellent narrator, delivering each chuckle and smile with expert timing and great accents. The plots are all variations on a theme, but somehow Mr. Shames makes them fresh. He does not repeat the jokes, which, when you think about it, after five or six novels set in the same place, is quite an achievement. There is a plot, which is not just an excuse for the humor. Each time I read one of Mr. Shames's books I feel like I have taken a small vacation in Key West. I don't believe I'd like the humidity, but everything else about the place sounds like paradise.
I love the romantic scenes between Jake, the main character, and like Shames an ex-New Yorker who is a writer, and Claire, who is an executive and all-around gofer for a TV program which is aptly called Adrift. Shames can write romance in a gentle way, giving us the small details which ring so true. I liked best the restaurant scene in which Claire and Jake share a tiramisu with a slice of mango. At just the exact same moment, the two put their forks into the dessert, and the tines touch in a small but electric way. I obviously can't write like Mr. Shames does, but read it for yourself. He is a charming and witty guy.
I think I just answered that question. There are many of them. One comes very early in the book, and sets up the whole plot, and I won't ruin it for you.
No. I can't do that. It would involve sitting in one place, or lying down, and devoting all of my attention for many hours. It would resemble how kids devour TV programs they like: they sit there and gorge on twenty episodes, something like Scrubs, for instance. My rear end would get very tired, and I think I would get tired all over. It's nice to have another segment to look forward to.
Buy this book. Have fun. Humor like this needs no justification. It is pure fun, which I believe is exactly what Mr. Shames is going for.
I bought this book because it was recommended by Tim Hallinan, who is one of my very favorite writers. His talents are so far above those of Mr. Lin and Mr. Chin, that there is really no comparison, although I will note a few discrepancies. First, Tim's books are loaded with humor, lovable characters, plots that are written with breakneck speed, and also are full of Tim's love of the Thai people and of many aspects of the Southeast Asian countries. Mr. Lin's book has almost none of these. It begins with a grim murder and then goes quickly downhill from there. The primary character is a dour, pleasure-free man who hates his existence, which involves mainly working in a sidewalk barbecue stand in Taipei. There must be some pleasure, humor and/or adventure to grab the reader's attention. I found none of these in the slog that is trying to get through even a few chapters of this book. Enough said.
All of the above.
Mr. Chin would appear to have virtually zero narrative skills. He speaks in an uninflected monotone. He speaks in exactly one voice. The good and great narrators to whom I have listened over the years have often been trained as actors, and you can hear this in their performances. This audiobook moved me to exactly nowhere, slowly.
All of them.
A waste of your time and money. I still love almost everything Tim Hallinan writes, although I have to say that the Poke Rafferty books are way more to my liking than the Junior Bender series. It is hard to get involved in and attracted to a man who makes his living as a burglar. As for Mr. Lin, he should hold onto his day job, even if he deplores it.
Its length! Can I say that again? Are you really in the mood for six solid hours of courtroom drama? I had a hard time with it. Certainly Mr. Turow and his editors don't care a fig about how I feel here, but something tells me that I have some company here. Ir's just too damn long! The plot is very clever, the writing is smooth and masterful, the narrator does a fine job, but even given all these, they lost me somewhere in the third hour of courtroom back and forth. And, I am interested in the law to begin with. I am a psychologist who has worked (some of my time) with lawyers and judges, and the issues addressed there still interest me. However, I have made my point. As I have said previously, brevity is the soul of wit.
Probably not. I can't see him cutting down the length of his books, as this is the standard length of a novel now. Nonetheless, someone some day (I have a niece in the publishing business; I'll call her) will take a risk and fiddle with this tradition. Mr. Turow does not seem like a fiddler. The world of law is the highest upholder of conventionalism in our society.
They did. I have no complaints about either of them. Mr. Hermann is a well-known actor, and his stage presence, so to speak, is considerable. I have not heard of Ms. Cassidy before, but she, too has a very pleasant voice, very easy to listen to.
I have to say no here. Over twelve hours, most of it spent in a dusty courtroom...Even though the plot is really extremely clever, a bit soap-opera-ish, but still you do want to find out if the judge really did murder his wife. And also who offed Carolyn Polhemus twenty years ago. It's just the mind-numbing details, and the trivia of what gets dissected to no end in a trial (I do know whereof I speak; testifying in a trial makes it clear to you that trials are BORING). It is well-nigh impossible to keep up the suspense over such a long time. I will admit that The Testament, Polar Star, and The Ice Limit are all books that kept me totally involved through the ends, but those three are true masterworks. You just don't find many of those. I will keep looking.
I think I saw another review in which the reviewer said that the Mom did the killing, although I am sure he/she meant the first killing, of Carolyn Polhemus, out of sheer enraged jealousy. She surely didn't kill herself. Or did she?????
It's way up there. Tim's writing is unique. It is hard to make comparisons. Each book is filled with humor. There are several serious chuckles on every page. I guarantee it. In addition, there is the beautiful family that Poke has created: his wife, Rose, their street-urchin daughter, Miaow (if you don't laugh at that name, then there may be no hope for you), a surprise character whom I will not name, as I don't want to be a spoiler; and Miaow's boyfriend, Andrew Nguyen, who is self-conscious, comes from a wealthy family, is a very gawky and awkward adolescent AND has diabetes: this is a well of inventiveness that it is a pleasure to jump into. I believe there is no bottom (not to stretch that analogy too far). The family also includes Poke's best friend, Arthit, a Bangkok policeman, who lets us see the corruption that the BPD is crippled by, as well as the individual well of human kindness that reaches into Arthit's soul. This is quite a band of characters, and Tim keeps us jumping from one scenario to the next. This is writing skill at its highest level. Tim is starting to win awards. The reviews from his colleagues are glittering. The cream has risen to the top. In the thriller/detective/quasi-detective genre (did I really write that?) Tim stands right up there with Thomas Perry. Fine company indeed.
I addressed some of this above. I think that the relationships between Poke and Rose, and the budding relationship between Miaow and Andrew: my interest in these will keep me coming back; that, and almost every other aspect of Tim's books. There is nothing that I didn't like about the book.
Again, hard to pick. The chase scene in which Miaow and Andrew scramble through the heating ducts in the old abandoned hotel: this one is particularly mesmerizing. The use of Andrew's diabetes kit as a weapon is so creative that you just have to tip your hat to him.
I guess I am going to spoil it after all: the moment when Rose tells Poke that she is pregnant...if you don't get all warm and fuzzy here, then you are missing something really deep and astonishingly personal. Remember that Rose was a bar-girl (read: prostitute) for many years, and in this moment she has risen to the ultimate in love, acceptance, belonging, and pure, unadulterated pleasure. I didn't cry, but I coulda. Tim has almost created his own genre here, in the manner of Thomas Perry. I will buy every book that each of them writes until I die.
Having not read the print version, I can't say. However, all other things being equal, I always prefer the audiobook, because the performance aspect adds so much to the story that it begins to resemble a movie that is cast in your head. In this case, there actually is a movie of the Drop. It is James Gandolfini's last performance, and it also includes a stunning performance by Thomas Hardy, whom I personally cannot get enough of.
It did. The Chechens seem like the nastiest people on earth. Their vicious characters contrast in a very poignant way with the gentleness of Bob's adoption of a puppy, who, of course, turns out to be a pitbull. Along with this we have a permanently wounded woman, whose ex-boyfriend is a truly crazy individual who claims to have committed a murder that he actually didn't do, just to give him some street cred. Are you on the edge of your seat yet?
The plot just keeps getting wound tighter and tighter. Mr. Lehane never lets a loose thread get away from him, even though there are cross-currents all over the place.
I seldom have a single scene that I remember above the others. Thomas Hardy is in almost all of them, and each scene he is in, he's just like Bette Davis: you just can't take your eyes off him. Even in scenes with James Gandolfini (I realize that I am now referring to the movie. So?) Mr. Hardy keeps the screen and holds it. He brilliantly portrays the depths of this character, from one extreme of human cruelty to the other of human kindness and love. Mr. Lehane has written a terrific book here: as they say, it will stay with you for quite a while.
I neither laughed or cried. I did feel sympathy for the down-and-outers who populate the book, although the truly evil ones do not elicit much fellow-feeling. The initial scene, in which Bob picks up the puppy from the garbage can, and sees the way in which the prior owner has beaten the puppy within an inch of its life: easy to remember writing like this.
It is really good to see Mr. Lehane branch out from the Patrick Kenzie-Angelo Gennaro series. Many writers get trapped in their own successes (you, you know who you are) but Mr. Lehane shows us that he can do stand-alone books that are sometimes better than the series books. Different characters, different plots, although all are located in Boston. Mr. Lehane clearly can keep writing for many years. My proverbial hat is off to him. I'm a fan.
That's (a) goofy question.
This is about the eighth book I have read by Mr. Lehane, with (I believe) Jonathan Davis narrating all of them, although maybe not. In any case, this book is a powerful demonstration of all of the gifts of both of these men. I will also note that this book is half the length of his standard book, and I think it's no coincidence that it's the best of the lot. The plot covers a lot of distance, but it never gets out of control, even when we are treated to the monstrous Russian gangsters who do truly unspeakable things. Prepare yourself for that. The gore is a little over the top, but I will grant him license (as if he cares about whom I grant what) because both the stories and the characters are all brilliantly written. In addition, Mr. Lehane maintains his extraordinary descriptive ability when it comes to almost all aspects of his beloved Boston. And Mr. Davis is likewise fantastic at reproducing the many Boston accents and sub-dialects, the sounds of the streets, and even of the suburbs, although this last is the least of his concerns. I won't give you the plot, as it is much too complicated, too multi-faceted to describe in such a small space; plus, you deserve to have the pleasure of discovering it yourself. I do wonder about several things, which gives you something of an idea of how these books and their characters have come alive for me. In Moonlight Mile Patrick and Angie have a four-year-old daughter, Gabriella. They are married. And I think it is not spoiling it to reveal that at the end of the book Patrick decides to leave his profession. You have to wonder if Mr. Lehane will develop some other characters, or what. I'll be glad to see. The Drop is also a great book, and it does not belong to the Kenzie-Gennaro series.
I think it is not unfair, this being fiction and all, to merge Patrick and Angie together into one character, which in some great marriages comes very close to that. They are both fully human, warts and all. They both want their version of the American dream, and the both struggle mightily with the obstacles in the way of attaining the dream. The passion between them is a gorgeous thing to listen to: both Mr. Lehane and Mr. Davis are artists of the first order in writing about romance, often an extremely difficult thing. The fun that they have with little Gabby is delightful. It reminds me of when my sons were children. The only real cartoon character is Bubba, and I'll give him that. Like Hawk in Robert Parker's books, there has to be a mysteriously powerful guy who can swoop in and yank the damsel off the railroad tracks.
I have only listened to Mr. Davis narrating Lehane's books, about eight of them now. He is great in all of them. I will look for some other author's work with Mr. Davis reading, but he is so perfect in these that it's a little hard imagining him in another world completely. If he can master accents of places other than the Boston area, I would say that he is truly a gifted gentleman.
The end of the book is very moving, but there are quite a number of scenes in which the passion/friendship/partnership that exists between Patrick and Angie comes fully alive. I sure wish I could write like that.
If you enjoy mystery/thrillers, this should be a delightful experience for you. Save the twice-as-long novels for later. This one and The Drop are some fine, fine entertainment.
The relationship between Patrick and Angie is very well written. They have become almost like real characters in my life, which is evidence of good writing. Their dialogue is witty and the feeling between them is deep and complicated. The problem with the book is something I have said before about Mr. Lehane: he just doesn't know when to stop. The second half of the book is gigantic padding, with gore and viciously murdered bodies flying around everywhere. The plot twists become so outrageously overwritten as to become cartooonish. What starts out as a clever idea, the cult-like church which preys on young people with trust funds, is pushed so far beyond the limit that the whole thing devolves into utterly unreal "murder-for-hire" stuff which has been done to death. A book half the length of this one would have been far, far, far, far....you get the point.
Anticipating the next question, I feel that the narrative skills of Jonathan Davis are so good that in some ways it doesn't matter that the book is weighed down by tired cliches. His voice is rich and very easy on the ears, as it were. He is funny (all right, Mr. Lehane is funny, too) and deadly serious and true to all of the material. Next to Edoardo Ballerini (high praise, indeed, coming from me), he is the best narrator around. Maybe Victor Bevine, the narrator of Timothy Hallinan's books, is just a little bit better.
I just answered this question. I like just about everything he does. The book would be much less enjoyable if read by a narrator of lesser skills. I will look for other books that Mr. Davis has narrated.
That is too complicated a question to be answered easily. One of Mr. Lehane's books, The Drop, was recently made into an extraordinarily watchable movie. It was the last work that James Gandolfini ever did, and knowing this makes his performance even richer than it is. Plus, the lead actor is Tom Hardy, who is, again, IMHO, one of the best actors around today. Go see him in any other movie you can find him in. You'll be delighted and amazed with his virtuosity as an actor, and his ability to climb into various characters. At this, he is almost as good as Cate Blanchett, which is saying a whole lot, believe me. I think that she is the best actor alive today.
One of the best things about The Drop is that it is half the length of Mr. Lehane's other books. I didn't know this when I saw the movie, but it proves without a doubt that, in some areas of life, less is indeed more. Brevity is the soul of wit, as some famous guy once said.
In the top third.
No. There is too much repetition. The book has many things to recommend it but it's not all that suspenseful. I'm not sure why it took me so long to get to Dennis Lehane, but now I think I know. Mystic River was an amazing start, the movie truly one of the best I saw in the last century. The Kenzie-Gennaro partnership is good. Witty, plenty of sexual tension (which you know will never be resolved), but the other characters tend to be one-dimensional and kind of cartoonish within this genre. There's way too much of Patrick's macho swagger with the other tough guys. This is the kind of book that Elmore Leonard would cut down to about 100 pages; although, in truth, he would never write it. Too much padding. A very good sense of Boston, though. The same neighborhoods that Spenser hangs out in. Spenser, though, is terse where Lehane overwrites for no apparent reason other than to have as many pages as he can crank out, I am sorry to say.
I have listened to him before, although I can't remember specific books. He is great. He gives both Patrick and Angie very memorable voices. He actually is better than the material he is narrating, IMHO.
I am not really good at witty tag lines or eye-catching teases. I have much more fun casting actors for the roles. However, that was not the question.
I will definitely read more of the series, even though I have distinctly mixed feelings. Mr. Lehane can write up a storm, although he doesn't know when the storm should blow over. His sense of place is almost as good as James Lee Burke's, which is quite a compliment, I modestly say. There is a lot of wit here. The plot so far is actually the weakest aspect of the book. Kenzie and Gennaro are an interesting duo, and I would enjoy learning how they work as time goes on. Speaking of time, I hope these two do not get frozen in it. Some successful writers feel that their characters should never age. I dearly hope that Mr. Lehane does not fall into that trap. Mr. Lehane is no Thomas Perry, but he certainly write.
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