Like the Ice Cream Man (stop me when I'm passing by), all Stephen King's suspense novels are guaranteed to satisfy. I was given an advance copy of this Saturday and finished it Monday.
King stirs up a super-odd trio:
a mentally disabled, milquetoast mid-40s lady who still lives with her moma;
a rather boring, recently-retired, suicidal and alcoholic police detective in his mid-60s who failed to solve that last big case; and,
a 6'5" squeaky-clean, high school African-American kid.
As the story develops, they come together to rush against time to try saving the lives of 4,000 screaming teeny-boppers at a "Round Here" [see, One Direction] concert from the psychotic bomb plot of an Oedipal Ice Cream Man. The kid's mom and sister are in the crowd, adding to the tension.
Undeniably, King is still on his game, even without the supernatural to aid his story. The twists in the plot keep coming to build toward a concerto crescendo. This isn't a "character-driven" plodder that'll be taught in lit classes 100 years from now. With the King, the story rules and the characters are given enough that you care what happens.
King is and has been the master of creating the verisimilitude of evil in many forms in the genres of suspense, thriller and horror novels. This fits the first, but this is quite the mastery King has achieved in thriller and horror novels. While the antagonist here is quite creepy, King has painted much darker villains. This psycho isn't evil incarnate; his evil has a cause (probably not THE only cause) and, without revealing too much, it has something to do with an Oedipal aspect to the story, of which the details are so revolting that the reader-results should range from "rendered nauseous" to "released vomitus."
This is more of a modern-day suspense novel, which are churned out these days like rows of wind turbines, by much lesser talents and by some who have mastered the modern-day suspense more than has Stephen King. It's not Mr. King's strongest suit. While the bomb plot at a teeny-bopper concert hits REALLY close to home and the internet and car break-in aspects of the story were interesting, I had a difficult time suspending disbelief over the combination of the protagonist detective and his peculiar sidekicks.
This is a perfect beach read though: a rapid-paced suspenseful story that will keep you hooked until the end.
Actor Will Patton has become the go-to guy for blockbusters because of his super acting talent in the *performance of narration.* He is clear, crisp, low-key until the story calls for him to turn it up; he never overdoes a character and, with him, after a while of listening you just get lost in the story and forget about the narrator. To me, that is the ultimate ability for an audible narrator; isn't that why so many of us love Tom Hanks? You forget it's Tom Hanks after watching for a while and get lost in the movie. Same thing here.
In the genre, I give Mr. Mercedes 4 stars. It does not stand out as a 5 when compared to some of the supremely talented novelists who have mastered the art of suspense in a modern-day, non-supernatural setting. 5 stars for Will Patton.
I was so moved by this novel. It left me to ponder: How many moral quandaries can a medium-sized novel hold?
I would have to place Chris Cander alongside Flannery O'Connor. Since Ms. O’Connor, I haven’t yet read another author who has fully captured Evil lurking beneath the Zealot’s cloak in religion as Ms. Cander did in WHISPER HOLLOW. The setting is Whisper Hollow, West Virginia, a coal mining town, from prior to WWI until the late 1960s.
It is a story exploring the bonds of the different kinds of love, amorous v. familial, true love v. the vows of a marriage arranged young. In the ruins of a coal mine disaster, Chris Cander paints a scene so strong and mired in moral dilemma it suffocates the soul. And cues a later scene that is at once devastating and redeeming. Not just because of the coal mining locale was I reminded of D. H. Lawrence in "Sons and Lovers."
Myself, I wish the publisher would change the cover which makes the novel appear to be something of a romance or romantic historical fiction. It’s neither.
"Whisper Hollow" is a masterful literary novel, as good as any I’ve read by modern authors.
This is it...the last time I fall for a decent review of a book by Harlan Coben, I promise myself.
I dunno, maybe it's my fault that I cannot overlook dialogue that's apparently important to the story, in which one character cries out to The Stranger, "Well, Mr. SECRET REVEALER!!" It reminded me of comic lines by the buffoonish Ben Stiller character to straight-faced Vince Vaughan, in the film, Dodgeball. Here, I also laughed, so hard i swallowed drink down the windpipe. And choked.... Then gave up on another self-inflicted stomach punch in reading a silly Coben book.
"Rock Springs" reminds me why I love realist short stories of unique people in faraway settings to experience .
In picturesque prose precisely crafting unique situations, Richard Ford explores turbulence in relationships and the human's restive consciousness, made all the more evident against Ford's halcyon landscapes, from the wide ranges of Wyoming to the highlands of Montana. Each story one of resolution or revelation, eliciting intumescent empathy.
The best set of short stories I've heard or read in a long time. Maybe ever.
The narrator did a really good job.
This especially praiseworthy for a first novel, particularly when I compare to some of the early works of other authors of the Southern lit (noir) ilk, like Daniel Woodrell, whose praise graces the novel's cover. I keep wanting to compare it to a Ron Rash short story (like those in the stellar and sulphurous "Chemistry and Other Stories") expanded and developed further into a rather short novel, which is in no way intended as a criticism.
Written as a first person narrative of Jacob McNeely, apparently 18, around the time of his former classmates' HS graduation. He dropped out of school to help out in the family business, a West Carolina mountain meth mob of which his daddy, Charlie McNeely, is the don. The book revolves primarily around the relationship between Jacob and daddy, their ties to the community (vel non) and particularly to "bulls" (law enforcement officers). The themes include whether one can escape blood and environment ("blood is thicker than water, and I'm drowning in it"), and the irrefutable difference between what's right and what's wrong and how this distinction sometimes gets muddled by a life full of "broken windows."
Jacob's love interest Maggie (his old girlfriend he grew up beside) and their possibly rekindled romance are a driving force in the story and she is symbolic of "a way out of here." And yet, I never could relate to it so much because I felt she was not fully developed and thus their relationship not realized in a way that made me feel despair at the threat of losing it. Perhaps that's what Mr. Joy intended. I did get a sense of the emptiness of a life lived with a daddy don and a momma meth head, with a little dark and *addled* spice of Flannery O'Connor thrown in.
The novel is intriguing and kept me hanging until the end. Mr. Joy employs clear and conversational prose to convey a funereal context. I can't help but believe that if he'd had a little more experience under his belt, he might have more fully explored the story of Jacob + Maggie and have hit a homerun.
I look forward to reading more from this gifted writer. He can tell a hell of a story, with profundity and clarity, set in a stark and cursed world few see aside from on nightly newscasts.
The accent seemed too strong at first, but the narrator quickly recovered and did a really good job.
This synopsis/collection of philosophy (from the Greeks to the leaders of today) and inspiring personal stories of someone who has persevered on each topic should be required reading before being awarded a college diploma to help the bright-eyed, the bubbly, the go-getters, et al. I am not being coy when I say this. I think someone should help those entering the real world to realize that everything will not go their way, that there will be obstacles on the path that, depending on your perspective, can be turned into the new path toward even greater goals. These coming obstacles of life will surely come his/her way, and some will, at first glance, appear so devastating that it seems to shatter the personal myth most of us hold dearly upon exiting high school or college. You know, the myth about you having big house, a perfect marriage, 2 straight A kids, and a well-planned career you love and that makes you tons of money.
This is a new perspective coming from many different angles on turning obstacles over and around and about, into positives that may well be a better way than that shattered personal myth. I often go back to this book often and find a treasure I really need and that I'd forgotten from my first reading.
This is not a feel-good, power of positive thinking, Dr. Phil hogwashing or Eckhart Tolle powder puffery.
It's real and it's practical.
A poignant memoir of author's search for the sense of his brother's suicide. If there's a better description of the grief suffered, of the need to understand, of the empty place in the soul that one tries to, but can never, fill after the loss of a family member to suicide, I'm not sure I want to read it.
Mr. Connors provides a vivid and moving account of how he could not move past his younger brother's suicide until he had followed all traces of the moments and days leading up to the gunshot wound to the temple, until he spoke to others who had talked to his brother, before he could track down photos and an autopsy report. In short, the author had to satisfy himself that there were some things he would not know, could not know. When he came to grips with this fact and to a peace within, he was finally (but not fully) freed of the constant thoughts, guilt and the feelings of emptiness within himself.
The things Connors did, the places he worked and the people he met, all on his journey to peace and self-revelation, add up to make this a memoir a rewarding read/listen.
The narrator did an admirable job.
I didn't fully appreciate this when I read it 25 years ago, at least as I can recall. This new translation is refreshing and easily comprehensible without watering down the tale's mysticism or sacrificing its bite.
Very good performance by the narrator.
I really liked this easy-to-listen crime novel with its dryly witty, yet dark, plot I'd sum up as:
Great Lakes Goombah Guns Down 4 G-men, Goes to Vegas, and Turns into a Tony with a Torah.
Rabbi David Cohen (aka Sal Cupertino, a 35-year-old shadowy hitman with a bad plastic surgery job) appears to go through a existential crisis-lite as he misses his wife and young son and considers the Torah that he's basically committed to memory (his mob nickname was "Rain Man"), but maintains his killer karma. While Mr. Goldberg has fun playing with the interplay among Italian mobsters, a hitman's rabbinical conversion and perhaps a reptilian shedding of the Jewish skin, he doesn't glamorize gangsters, the mob lifestyle, Jews or G-men. The novel maintains a diabolical darkness in 1990's Las Vegas despite the comedic diversions.
I'd not heard of Tod Goldberg before seeing the good reviews for this book, but he really seems to have hit his mark. I'll be looking forward to his next book.
If you loved "The Sopranos" and "Bugsy," you should revel in "Gangsterland."
My only complaint is the narration. I hate it when a narrator botches an easily recognizable, nearly household name, like Brett Favre (as Fave-ruh), a Hall of Fame QB, in an important part of the story, and then repeatedly mispronounces it. Of course, the Producer is just as much at fault for not correcting this.
Excellent, suspenseful beginning to the series. Lehane was able to create magic mojo between partners Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro from the start, for a super 1-2 Irish-Italian P.I. punch, taking it to the Boston streets, dodging bullets, brawn and barbs from 2 black street gangs and some powerful politicians.
This is a close 2d in the series to #4 "Gone Girl." I have criticized a couple of the other (particularly, #3) in the series as being too implausible and feeling forced. While the plot in #1 could be seen by some as far-fetched, it all seemed real and true to me.
A highly enjoyable potboiler on the backstreets of Beantown.
An engrossing exploration of the failures of the "war on drugs" and the reasons why, through a narrative of the war's czar, users and abusers, peddlers, law enforcement, the poor souls who have been "collaterally damaged," current policy makers and governments who have legalized certain drugs (like Vancouver) and all drugs (Portugal). I also found his coverage of studies on addiction fascinating.
Mr. Hari makes a compelling argument for legalization of all but darkly-affecting drugs like heroin and crack. I cannot say he's convinced me of the answers, but I am much more open to the persuasion of the arguments, as to certain drugs, after reading this book. While I do not believe I will see such legalization happen in my lifetime, this is a much-needed treatment of the subject that is certain to start conversations.
I enjoy Mr. Hari's conversational writing style; yet, in parts, he seemed unable to control his supercilious tone.
The narrator was terribly annoying, indulging himself in affected, preposterous American accents, depending on who he (the narrator) decided should be ridiculed (ironically).
I definitely recommend this if you have someone near and/or dear to you with a drug problem.
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