Truth is, I'd read most of them before I realized they were now available as audiobooks. Didn't stop me at all -- listening would just allow me to enjoy the stories again, in a different format. The characters didn't sound quite like I'd expected them to -- I didn't expect that Sheriff Salcido would sound quite as ethnic as he does. But after a couple of hours, it was fine. That WAS the way the Sheriff talked!
The fun thing about them is that they start so slow... just an average working day, some little thing takes place, but you never have any clue that it's going to get as complicated - and interesting -- as it does. It's just a delight to watch the story unfold, something else happens, which makes something else happen. Before you know it, you've got as much white-knuckle activity as any book in the world -- but its all real people, the kind of people you know and interact with every day. In terms of building believable characters, no one beats Steven Havill.
One Perfect Shot is a good book to start with, because you get to meet Estelle Reyes, who comes to star in the series a few books down the line. She has to be one of the most interesting of police procedural characters in any contemporary fiction. She's intense, powerful, but in her own way. There's no bravado for her -- just sheer intelligence and quiet determination. You'd think that a lot would be made out of the fact that Reyes is a female cop in a very traditional male-dominated culture in rural New Mexico, but there isn't. Which is as it should be -- for all of her attractiveness and quiet grace, it would never occur to Reyes that she should have any advantage -- or any disadvantage, either -- because she's a woman. She just does what she does, and does it very well. An admirable character.
Oh -- and one other thing: you'll soon learn to develop a taste for smothered green chili burritos. I actually have never had one -- not available in Israel, where I live. I'd never heard of such a thing until I started reading these books. But I looked it up, saw pictures, read about them, and now, every time Bill Gastner sits down to eat one -- breakfast or any other time -- I start to drool. That must be a really fine thing to eat! Some day....
Let me say first, I'm a HUGE fan of J. A. Jance. I've read most of the print copies of her gazillion books, and have purchased eight of her audiobooks, mostly the Johanna Brady series. This was my second Ali Reynolds -- which is a good thing: if I had listened to this one first, I never would have bought another.
First of all, this has to be one of the worst-produced audio books I've ever listened to. At random moments, some peppy, jazzy, supposedly uplifting elevator music interrupts the reading, sometimes drowning out the narrator's voice. It's so inappropriate - what on earth was someone thinking?? It's not chapter divisions, one such interruption was mid-sentence. Totally weird -- and completely destroys whatever mood the book was building toward.
Then too, much of this book is told in the form of blogs, which might work well on paper, but in an audiobook, not so much. Listening to the narrator's letter-reading voice has a limited appeal - nothing happens, no action or interaction with someone else, just pretty darn dry statements of opinion and articulation of thoughts.
Finally, a word for authors out there, even really really good ones, like Jance: Perfect people get pretty boring after awhile. It's all well and good to create a laudable character -- not ALL protagonists have to be "flawed". But there has to be a limit. If I wanted to engross myself in completely selfless behavior, I guess I'd opt for Butler's "Lives of the Saints" instead. At least those were real people. Just how perfect is our multi-fired, multi-sued, widowed, about to be divorced nee widowed girl, who always-and-forever puts everyone else on the planet's wishes ahead of her own? One example: a consummately evil man has broken into her home and is beating her to death. In the last possible second, she breaks away, gets her gun, and shoots him to death. Then we have to put up with an agony of soul searching, as Ali beats her breast over what she did to the man's MOTHER -- not anyone she knew, of course, just the woman who had given birth to this monster. "What must she be feeling? I killed her son!" Ali ponders.... well, I don't know what the mother was feeling, assuming she felt anything at all. But I guess if it were me, having marginally survived such a brutal attack, I really don't think fretting about his mother would be at the top of my list of worries -- but then, I'm not a saint. Thank Gd.
All this is overlaid with Ali's (more understandable) agonizing over the supposed suicide of her best childhood friend. She feels guilty for not having... well, you can imagine. Bottom line: too much agonizing, too much introspection, too many selfless goody-goody acts from a woman who, supposedly, was once a nationally-famous news reporter, who absolutely MUST, at some point, have kicked serious butt to have attained THAT.
One good thing: we get to find out where Sam the cat comes from, which solves that mystery. As for the rest of it, give this one a pass. The subsequent Ali Reynolds books are pretty good. I guess this was just the practice book.
An extremely amateur -- written and narrated both -- attempt at, what? A mystery? A diatribe against the religious right? A collection of leftist cliches, thrown unto the pages, in some random order?
Only redeeming social value: if you wonder what's wrong with American colleges and Universities today, this will help you understand. With kids graduating from institutions like this, maybe it's a wonder the country isn't worse off than it is -- assuming that's possible.
I'm an audiobook purist. In terms of narration, my wants are simple. I simply want someone to read the book to me, straight out -- no requirement for acting out each character, although for those narrators with serious talent (Scott Brick comes to mind, as does Davina Porter among many others) narrators who have the ability to give individual voices to characters without being annoying are especially appreciated. I award bonus points if the narrator pronounces location names correctly and refrains from eating while narrating (as one especially irritating narrator does.) I don't need musical introductions or interludes, and in general I don't think having multiple narrators improves anything.
So I bought this book - it must have been a Daily Deal -- without paying too much attention. Then when I started to listen, and heard that it was being read by a professional "repertoire company" I almost clicked off, right at that point. Having a book "acted out" doesn't appear at all. To me, audio books are -- as one OTR program famously says -- "the theater of the mind". I'll create my own scenes, in my mind, as we go along. I don't want actors playing the parts, dramatizing the story. If I want actual theater, I'll go to Netflix.
But I persevered - and I was surprised. It wasn't bad at all -- each of the narrators did a very good job, didn't over-act, basically they just gave individual voices to the several characters. Overall, I don't know that this method improved the book any, but it didn't detract, either. It was fine.
And the story was good -- suspenseful, believable and kept me listening. I liked it enough that I just bought a second book by Heather Gudenkauf -- which has to be the ultimate compliment. This was a good book -- give it a try!
I know I'll like this book much better the second or third time around... this first time I listened, I was holding my breath during most of it, so I couldn't really concentrate. It's VERY tense -- and if you're a crazy dog lady like I am, you will be scared to death something is going to happen to Maggie.
"Suspect" is a great book in every respect. I loved Maggie, the damaged, come-from-behind German Shepard -- everybody will love her. It would be impossible not to love a dog with that much heart. Loved Scott James, the equally damaged police officer, trying for a comeback, battling his own demons. The villains were just evil enough, perfectly believable. Crais wisely didn't try to insert a "love interest" or try to turn this into a love story, when the book needed no such thing - it was the love between Maggie and Scott that was important. MacLeod Andrews did a perfect narration -- including narrating Maggie's parts, which he did very well. All in all, just great.
Interesting that a very similar -- and equally good -- book came out awhile ago, "Burning Man" by Alan Russell, also available on Audible. In that book, the damaged police dog was "Sirius" who'd been seriously burned in the line of duty, and the also wounded police officer trying for the comeback was Michael Gideon. "Burning Man" has a more complex plot, with several "cold cases" going on, whereas Robert Crais spent more time talking about working dogs, how they learn, what they learn, what astonishing capabilities they have. I loved that book too -- they're both well done.
I'm hoping for sequels to both books -- keep 'em coming!
This isn't my genre, and normally I'd give any book with the word "psychic" in it a wide berth, but it was a "Daily Deal", and I've had good luck with those, so I went for it.
I liked it. This isn't great literature, you understand, but as a nice, casual, interesting summer listen, something a little different, it was more than fine. The "psychic" element in the book didn't come off as weird or kooky, but merely as interesting. All in all, it had a well-constructed plot, interesting characters, and was well narrated.
The ultimate test? If I came across another Abby Cooper book, I'd probably go for it.
Listening to "Manner of Death" -- published in 1999 -- now is a delightful reminder of just how good this series was, in the beginning. And how far it fell, before author Stephen White put a merciful end to it a few months ago.
All the characters are here, Lauren with her Multiple Sclerosis in an early stage, neighbor Adrianne, alive, not married yet, no son on the horizon, and of course Officer Sam, with his homespun wisdom, his diets, not to mention his funny accent, so well replicated by narrator Dick Hill, the very fine voice of Alan Gregory.
There's a couple of slimy ex-FBI agents who make you wonder, a sizzling hot former classmate, one of Alan's old flames, who looks for a little while like she might give Lauren a run for her money, there's Emily, the Bouvier, plus a list of characters with walk-on parts who prove interesting... and a plot that holds your attention, minute by minute.
Listening to this book was like a visit with old friends.... I'm sure I'll tune in to it again and again.
I'm about two hours in and I quit. I may come back to it at some time -- I generally enjoy Sara Paretsky's books -- but this one is filled with so much anger and bitterness I just can't take it anymore.
Justifiable anger and bitterness, most probably, especially the Holocaust victims/scenes. But even the rest is rendered in a harsh Germanic accent, so with everyone shouting at everyone else, making accusations, the bitterness and the bombastic talk everyone affects -- even Mr. Contreras comes off as a shouting old man -- then it's too much.
I don't know if you want to listen to this when you're in a good frame of mind, and can tolerate it. Or when you're already miserable, in which case it won't make it worse.
Maybe better read than listened to? Could be.
Back in 1961, FCC Chairman Newton Minnow called television a "vast wasteland" -- and he was right, back then. Today, television is in a magnificent resurgence, with exceptional programming like BBC's "The Street", PBS's "Sherlock", and best of all, BBC's
"Call the Midwife", which I first encountered via Netflix. Seeing that first episode, I was entranced -- and spent the next several evenings watching every episode available. Amazing, the acting, the stories, the history, the clear but soft presentation of moral issues -- no preaching -- not to mention the insights into life in London's East End in the 1950's -- not that long ago, in the scheme of things.
So it was with some trepidation that I bought the audio book -- which was the exact reverse of a situation for me. Normally I read the book, and then am reluctant to see the film because it's almost never as good. In this case, I'd seen several seasons of the astonishingly good television series, and found myself wondering if the actual book could be anywhere near as fine.
It was. And then some -- in fact, the TV series follows Jennifer Worth's written memoirs very carefully, at least in the situations and scenes presented. The TV producers added a little more love interest than was in the memoirs -- for several of the young women, not just Jenny -- but otherwise it's all there, the Sisters, with their various eccentricities, Jenny, with all her sincerity, Fred the handyman with all his schemes, and of course "Chummy" -- well, how would anyone describe Chummy? But the book character is very similar to that played by the enormously talented Miranda Hart. I find myself smiling whenever she appears -- whether in the book or in the films.
There are a few more historical details in the book than in the series, which I found fascinating. Again, 1950 wasn't all that long ago, but it continued to amaze me that so many medical advancements we take for granted now weren't available then.
The audio book is greatly enhanced by the perfect narration by Nicola Barber. Her very soft voice, perfect enunciation, is absolutely the right choice for this memoir. Well done!
All in all, highest recommendation possible for this audio book -- and for the BBC series!
A new author to me, happy to have come across this one as a Daily Deal. (So pleased with Audible for offering 'Daily Deals' -- it lets us test run new authors or genres without a major investment. I've found some awfully good listens this way -- new authors I'll be looking for in the future.)
Like this one: "Rogue Island" is a good solid detective story, lots of fascinating trivia about Rhode Island, which was fun -- who knew?
Downside? A little too much baseball lore. For those of us who don't either know or care much about professional sports, at times it felt like I was listening to someone else's conversation, most of which was going over my head. The names of players being tossed around were all foreign to me, and I kept wondering of there were clues there, that I was missing. (There may have been -- I still don't know.)
Another curious thing that puzzled me throughout the entire book: DeSilva has a lawyer character -- a bad apple -- playing a prominent role. He names this character "Brady Coyle", and has him based in Boston. Which is very strange, because the protagonist of the best-selling -- 24 books strong -- legal thriller/detective series by William Tapply is a Boston lawyer named Brady Coyle. Tapply's "Brady Coyle" is a good guy, big time. DeSilva's is a crook.
Why would a new author do that? Steal the name, profession and even home base of another author's well-known fictional character, but make his new character the exact opposite of the original one?
What? There aren't enough names to go around?
Funny, too, because until very recently, there was a triumvirate of detective fiction writers based more or less in Boston, who -- in real life -- were close friends: Tapply, Phillip R. Craig and his Martha's Vineyard series, and Rick Boyer with his Doc Adams tales. Tapply and Craig are now, sadly, deceased, Boyer is still writing. But because all three loved fishing, and because they write the same general genre, set in more or less the same locale, it was common for one writer's characters to appear, playing walk-on parts in another author's book. So Tapply's lawyer Coyle already had a reputation for turning up in Phillip Craig's books, and in those by Rick Boyer. Which meant that when DeSilva introduced his own "Brady Coyle" there was every reason to believe this WAS the same Tapply character -- except that it wasn't. A needless confusion, I'd say. No point to it at all.
Other than that, it was an enjoyable listen -- great narrator, too. I'll be looking for more by these two.
Quite possibly one of the best short stories ever written. An amazing little tale, lots of authentic details, unparalleled suspense, an ending... well, no spoilers here. Scott Brick's narration is perfect.
I listened to it, was so taken by the story I wanted to send a print copy to an elderly friend who only reads paper books, not audio or electronic. Surprisingly, the book is not available. In fact, it's not available as an audiobook from Audible right now, either.
Not sure what's going on, but I will continue to look for a paper copy -- if you haven't read/heard this one yet, you've missed something. Hope it will be available again soon.
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