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richard

63 y/o psychologist with two sons, living in SF Bay Area. I absolutely love all the feedback I've been getting for my reviews. It's very gratifying. Thanks to all of you.

San Anselmo, CA, United States | Member Since 2013

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 3 reviews
  • 7 ratings
  • 774 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015
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15

  • An Officer and a Spy: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Robert Harris
    • Narrated By David Rintoul
    Overall
    (426)
    Performance
    (371)
    Story
    (375)

    Paris in 1895: Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of 20,000. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus' guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military.

    Ryan says: "Top Notch Historical Fiction"
    "Only for Francophiles and military historians."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story of Emil Dreyfuss is fairly well known to people like the above. They will no doubt love this book. As for the rest of us, not so much. It's pretty slow going. First, the narrator: David Rintoul's French accent is so good that it's annoying. He over pronounces every French word, street name, personal name and so forth that it actually grates on the nerves. Modern French is a beautiful language, spoken with melodic phrasing, lots of elisions and a casual manner which is hard to master. Mr. Rintoul has done the opposite. He pronounces each word as if it were a royal address in front of an extremely learned and stuffy body. He could really lighten up. The book suffers from his formality and the absence of nuance in his speech. Less would definitely have been more here.
    The story of Dreyfuss's conviction for treason, clearly a misstep by the French government of the late 1800's, is sickeningly riddled with ferocious anti-Semitism. The coverup by the military and politicians is as plodding as an elephant. The hero of the story, Major George Picard, is a very easy guy to like, a guy who believes in the truth and is genuinely horrified to see the government turn against him, convicting him in a kangaroo court. Corruption, petty and large, is rampant. Villains are juicy and easy to hate. For those of you who haven't read Robert Harris before, you may be delighted at how deep his research is, how authoritative his voice is, and how you come to fully subscribe to his version of reality. These things just must have happened in this way, because Mr. Harris says so in such an articulate fashion. And, in case there was any doubt about the collusion of the French with the Nazis in WWII, that doubt should be put to rest here. Even though there are over 140n years between the Dreyfuss affair and WWII, the French come off as slimy collaborators. The camps may have been in Austtria, Poland and Germany, but the Jews were rounded up in small towns all over France, stuffed into rail cars and sent off with the utmost cruelty to their unspeakable deaths. It is hard to be romantic about France, a country I have visited many times, and a country which is justifiably proud of its culture, art, music, food, wine, museums, and so forth. To see up close and personal the evils that underlie all of that beauty can be a very tough thing to face. Mr. Harris makes us face it unflinchingly. The book is a tough read, but Mr. Harris continues to put out authoritative, brilliantly researched depictions of some of the most important points in human history. Pompeii is worth listening to. I found this one a pretty rough go.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Fidelity

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Thomas Perry
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (371)
    Performance
    (154)
    Story
    (158)

    When Phil Kramer is shot dead on a deserted suburban street in the middle of the night, his wife, Emily, is left with an emptied bank account and a lot of questions. How could Phil leave her penniless? What was he going to do with the money? And, most of all, who was he if he wasn't the man she thought she married?

    Jerry Hobart has some questions of his own. It's none of his business why he was hired to kill Phil Kramer. But now that he's been ordered to take out Kramer's widow, he figures there's a bigger secret at work - and maybe a bigger payoff.

    richard says: "Thomas Perry is, quite simply, brilliant."
    "Thomas Perry is, quite simply, brilliant."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The above is a quote from Robert B. Parker, a guy who should know. I am now in the process of reading all of Mr. Perry's novels, and I am sad to say that there are only a couple left. The man is remarkable, and again, Michael Kramer is the perfect voice for these amazing books. Mr. Perry is the opposite of formulaic. His creativity and inventiveness seem to know no bounds. This book starts with a killing, and takes almost the whole book to solve it. Through the book we get to know a number of people who are so much flesh and blood that we might actually know them in real life. The villains, however, are so scary that we are glad not to know them. Each time I listen to one of these, I just can't imagine how Mr. Perry is going to top this one, and yet, he does. At times here the suspense is literally unbearable. The plot quickens to the point where I had to put it down to make it last longer, if you understand. I was tempted to just sit and listen to the whole thing, but summoned up enough will power to let it be. Once again Mr. Perry writes with wit that is sometimes understated and sometimes just hilarious. He skewers a rich man who is also a monster, and also his sycophantic wife, and their lives of sheltered unreality. This man hires a killer to stalk the wife of the detective who dies at the beginning, and the contest between the two of them is a war of wills and wits. Emily is another extremely well drawn woman, something which Mr. Perry does easily while other male writers struggle with their inability to write nothing but cardboard women. At first I thought that The Butcher's Boy could not be topped. Now I know that Mr. Perry's talents are truly limitless. Enjoy yourselves. Mr. Perry cannot be beat.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Sixkill

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Robert B. Parker
    • Narrated By Joe Mantegna
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (257)
    Performance
    (159)
    Story
    (159)

    On location in Boston, bad-boy actor Jumbo Nelson is accused of the rape and murder of a young woman. From the start the case seems fishy, so the Boston PD calls on Spenser to investigate. Things don't look so good for Jumbo, whose appetites for food, booze, and sex are as outsized as his name. He was the studio's biggest star, but he's become its biggest liability...

    Jean says: "SixKill"
    "Parker: a marvelous old friend who makes you happy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Robert B. Parker was one of this country's most prolific authors, in league with Elmore Leonard. Like Leonard, he simply wanted to entertain us, and he succeeded almost every time out. Likewise, Michael Prichard was an amazingly prolific performer (and may still be). And Joe Mantegna is also an incredibly prolific and likable actor and narrator. Choosing between these two narrators is like trying to choose between the best apple pie and the best peach pie: very hard to do. In Sixkill, Parker again puts Spenser in his usual slot: a very tough guy on the outside with a very tender inside. The dialogue is, as always, witty and brief. You start chuckling right out of the gate. Mantegna seems to have a little more trouble with the repetitive "he said, she said" stuff than Prichard. I seem to notice that less when hearing Prichard. Mantegna, OTOH, is a face many of us know from movies and TV, and his voice is that of a friendly guy who might live next door to you, who happens to be one of the best storytellers anywhere. The plot of Sixkill is really just an excuse for Spenser to act, to play the tough guy when he wants to and the tender lover of Susan Silverman when he needs to. Not that the plot is trifling: it is clever and tugs at your heartstrings, in some ways. Sixkill is a huge Indian who once played great football, but then fell down a terrible slide. Spenser takes him on as a project, and between Spenser and the talk-about-tough-but-silent Hawk, they reclaim Sixkill in a way that is very humane and caring. Parker was a genius. Both Prichard and Mantegna make him sound wonderful. I have only tried to listen to one book narrated by David Dukes, and I hated it. Sit down with Parker and have a great time.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Butcher's Boy

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Thomas Perry
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (630)
    Performance
    (414)
    Story
    (410)

    Thomas Perry's Edgar Award-winning debut novel follows a professional hitman on the run from both the mafia and the government.

    richard says: "A writer with extreme talents."
    "A writer with extreme talents."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is Mr. Perry's first book, originally published in 1982. Although it's a little dated (a full gas tank, 12 gallons, for $10!) that is the only flaw I can find. Michael Connelly, one heck of a writer himself, has written an introduction to the book, which accurately describes Perry's awesome talent and assuredness. Connelly uses the word "velocity" as a description of plots that delight us, and this is the perfect word for Perry's plot. There are only two main characters, the unnamed professional hitman, and the Justice Department agent Elizabeth Weiser, plus many other characters. Perry cleverly alternates chapters between these two characters to hold our interest, and this is a very successful suspense device. The book flies by. The hitman takes on the Las Vegas mafia families single-handedly, and you believe that he can manage it. He is no non-human superhero, though. He is believable in every way. Likewise, Elizabeth is also a real human being, in the field reluctantly for the first time, and simultaneously doubtful and self-confident. You just have to read Perry's work to see how smoothly he creates these characters. He also sees Las Vegas as what it is, or was thirty years ago. The narration is flawless. Mr. Kramer understands the writer, and has narrated all of Mr. Perry's books. He is fluid and entertaining. He builds the suspense for us. You can never guess the plot's twists and turns. You will at one moment fully suspect that someone with a gun will sneak in the door, and then Mr. Perry surprises you. Even Elizabeth is surprised and hoodwinked. This is a terrific book, and I am sure that I will eventually listen to all of Mr. Perry's books. Great entertainment!

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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