San Francisco | Member Since 2006
I had never read anything by Thomas Cook before. He has won awards in the mystery/thriller genre, and it's easy to see why. Also, I had never heard of Ray Chase. If it is possible to be better than brilliant (in caps!), then Mr. Chase is that. The book is set in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. Racial tensions had not been this high since the Civil War. The rape and murder of a twelve-year-old black girl sets up the plot. Sgt. Ben Wellman of the BPD is assigned to the case, and he brings to it a ferocious determination. Mr. Chase's range and variety of voices, accents and nuance is absolutely astonishing. You can almost believe that there are about a dozen actors in this play. This is the time when Dr. King was building his power base, and white Southerners (not all of them, to be sure) were scared and outraged down to their very bootlaces. This was the moment when the fire department turned powerful hoses on completely peaceful marchers. It almost seems like this all happened in another country. In five years both Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy would be assassinated.
Ben feels intense heat from all directions, even (and particularly dangerously) from within his own police department. Many people from many segments of the community do not want Ben to solve the murder of Doreen Bollinger. Ben tries to get to know the girl's aunt Esther, but even such an apparently innocent contact is fraught with peril and suspicion from both whites and blacks. Ben feels pressured from all sides, and he is like a bug under a microscope, every move examined to the nth degree by everyone in town, or so he feels. The plot drives us so powerfully that I wouldn't recommend reading this just before you go to sleep, seriously. I hardly ever say that. In this case, the book can keep you reading well into the wee hours, and it can mess up your day at work. At the same time, I never wanted it to end. On a personal note, I was in Nashville during this time, at Vanderbilt. The most bizarre sight I have ever witnessed was the day after Dr. King's murder, when US Army tanks (!) rolled down West End Avenue, the long edge of the campus. Vanderbilt at the time was a hotbed of complacency, and it may still be. Black students numbered in the few dozens. What did they expect, an explosive race riot?
Enough about me. Get this book right now. Anyone who truly loves this genre, and has some feelings about racial conflicts in this country, will be so engrossed in the book that he or she might miss a few meals.
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.
There is absolutely nothing which would do that.
This is a book which should never have been published. Mr. Vonnegut's successes were well known in the last century, and so, being a celebrity of the publishing world, he must have thought that simply anything that he put on paper, no matter how preposterous, was worth reading. In the case of this book, he was wrong.
Actually, I love Stanley Tucci. I have watched him in a number of movies, and have been seriously impressed by his acting chops (don't you just love these words?). However, there is no narrator, not even Frank Muller or Edoardo Ballerini, who could have transformed this hogwash into something worth reading. You can put lipstick on a pig...
Not a one.
No. There are so many other police procedurals, murder mysteries, detective stories, etc. that are so much better than this. The first two books in this series are way better than this.
Probably not. I think he has gone to this well enough times. Although of course I know nothing about the author's life, but the book really sounds autobiographical to me. There is an awful lot of talk and almost no action. The life of a police reporter on the crime beat has no real dramatic value.
Yes. Both are slow. The narrator does what sounds to me like a valid Rhode Island accent (although I am no authority on this). However, what little plot there is is drowned by detail that may have journalistic value but is a poor cousin of good fiction. Mr. De Silva should read a little Thomas Perry. Then, he should go back to being a journalist.
Yes. In fact, I have been doing so for about twenty five years now. Mr. Burke's sense of place is magnificent. He describes Iberia Parish and New Orleans so perfectly that you can almost see, feel, smell and taste them. Further, he addresses moral, ethical and personal areas, particularly around issues of conscience, that few other writers would ever even attempt to discuss.
Although you always know that Dave Robicheaux will eventually come out on top, his road there is strewn with vicious characters who put him into very dangerous plights. His buud, Clete Purcell, is a walking hand grenade, ready to explode at any moment with his own brand of hurt from his time in Viet Nam. Dave is also hurt and vulnerable to depression, particularly when he feels the racist big shots running the towns. Dave's sense of morality is a complicated, developing thing. Everything about his life is interesting to the reader. I may not have read all of his books, but it is hard to imagine Mr. Burke writing anything below truly extraordinary prowess and sensitivity. He puts most other thriller writers to shame.
I have. I can't name them right here, but his voice is quite distinct. His portrayal of Southern accents is awesome. At times there is some overlap between the voices of Dave and Clete, but this is a quibble. He holds my interest almost as well as Mr. Burke's content does.
I can't possibly do that, for reasons I am not really sure about. Twelve hours is a long time, and I can't think of anything I do without stopping for that long. I find it nice to read several hours, and then in a few days come back to the book, as the talents of these two men are things to savor, and I like to make them last for a long time.
The opening, as above, was promising. The setting, the ice caps around the Arctic Ocean, is rendered quite vividly, and the characters are introduced in a way that promises good things to come. They really never do.
I don't think so. I don't believe he has the talent to keep the reader's attention for that long. When I put this down after about four hours, I listened to "Strip," by Thomas Perry. Very quickly I felt amused, entertained and completely enjoying the talents of a truly great writer. Some got it, and some don't.
I think the performance is OK. It's the material that gets scientifically as stiff and boring as a corpse. We get small doses of interesting ideas to whet our appetite, and then we are completely overwhelmed by science which is stupefyingly boring.
I don't think I could answer this question, other than to say that you would improve the book by cutting it in half. I was reminded by a quote from Elmore Leonard, a truly masterful and prolific writer. When someone asked him why his books were so entertaining, he said, "I leave out the parts that people don't read."
Thrilling, ingenious and moving.
The scene in the river where our hero, Matthew Corbett, and several others confront the most profound perils in nature: crocodiles. This scene alone will keep you on the edge of your chair, and is worth the price of the book alone.
I have listened to almost all of his audiobooks, with only a few missing. Mr. Ballerini has taken on the mantel of Frank Muller, which is the highest possible praise. I would say that the entire Robert McCammon series might be a favorite, but there are so many: Beautiful Ruins, We live in Water, Malevita: the mind boggles. Mr. Ballerini is a unique talent, and I really hope he never stops narrating audiobooks.
I can't do that. Seven or eight hours of sitting is much too much for me physically. Plus, when you stretch out your favorite books, you get the pleasures of anticipating what happens next, trying to hold in your mind the main characters and plot developments...I am very happy to stretch out this book for several weeks, if possible. And then I wait a year or two, and do it again!
Mr. McCammon has taken on a truly daunting project. Matthew Corbett can be called the first of the modern detectives...in the year 1700. Matthew works with his mind and with very few external tools. His plots are the fruit of an astounding fount of creativity. I do at times wish that Matthew would marry the lovely Berry. They could have around-the-world adventures together. But, whatever. I will snap up every single book that comes from the fertile mind of Mr. McCammon and the interpretive mastery of Mr. Ballerini. I loved this book.
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