Agnes Crandall's life goes awry when a dognapper invades her kitchen one night, seriously hampering her attempts to put on a wedding that she's staked her entire net worth on. Then a hero climbs through her bedroom window. His name is Shane - no last name, just Shane - and he has his own problems: He's got a big hit scheduled, a rival trying to take him out, and an ex-mobster uncle asking him to protect some little kid named Agnes. When he finds out that Agnes isn't so little, that his uncle has forgotten to mention a missing five million bucks he might have lost in Agnes' house, and that his last hit was a miss, Shane's life isn't looking so good, either. Then a bunch of lowlifes come looking for the money, a string of hitmen show up for Agnes, and some wedding guests gather with the intent to throw more than rice. Agnes and Shane have their hands full with greed, florists, treachery, flamingos, mayhem, mothers of the bride, and - most dangerous of all - each other.
©2007 Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer; (P)2007 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I've recently become a fan of Jennifer Crusie and I think the "Hitman" book is a nice addition to her list of titles. The book itself seems to be a lot of fun; the characters are a little stereotypical but it's fitting for the genre and entertaining nonetheless. My biggest problem with the book was the narrator. The Cranky Agnes character could be a lot of fun for a narrator to read and this could have been one of those books that enhances the writing with a great narration. But to me it sounded like the narrator was going for a Marilyn Monroe-esque voice for Agnes that, in my opinion, did not fit with the descriptions, dialogue or character. The other characters talked at times about their fear of Agnes when she is angry, but the little breathy Marilyn voice just didn't strike fear into my heart. I didn't hear Cranky Agnes, I heard Ditzy Agnes.
I agree with other reviewers that the echo chamber effect used when characters are thinking is annoying and unnecessary, plus very difficult to hear. A good narrator is generally able to distinguish thinking from dialogue with vocal inflections and I have almost never found myself confused as to what is a thought versus dialogue in other audiobooks. It's still a good book, and it's still a fun listen, but I think it could have been a lot more with some different choices on the part of the narrator and producer.
Crusie and Mayer have written a fun action-romance book with compelling characters. Unfortunately, this audio production is annoying. While Sandra Burr does a credible job switching between characters, her vocal performance as Agnes gives the character an almost lightweight presence, which made me take her less seriously as a heroine. More irritating are the echo effects applied to the characters' interior thoughts. I usually walk while listening to audiobooks, and I found the echo was difficult to hear unless I had the volume turned way up, which then made the main body of the piece too loud to hear anything else.
I'm about a third of the way through this and am not sure I'll finish it. The narration is horrible, although it's not necessarily the narrator's fault. The author uses lots of "asides" given in the characters' thoughts, and the director or producer of this book decided to use a "canned" effect to differentiate the thoughts from the general narration. These asides have a "canned" sound, and are recorded at a much lower volume than the rest of the narration. If I don't turn the volume way up (so it then blasts my eardrums when regular narration resumes), I can't hear them, so I feel as if I'm missing half of the book. This is so disruptive that I've tuned out a lot of what I've been trying to listen to. The main character has imagined conversations with her psychiatrist in addition to other asides, but I can't understand what is being said in any of these parts because of the "special" effects. Whoever controlled these effects did a real disservice to the author, the narrator, and the listener. I generally like Jennifer Crusie books, but I don't know whether I'll finish this one. Thumbs down!!
This book had great characters and was laugh-out-loud funny! If you like comedy with a splash of mystery and romance, you won't regret this purchase.
The story was fun and enjoyable EXCEPT that there are many times the characters are thinking, and the narration is in an echo chamber. It is very hard to understand what they are saying (thinking) I have hearing problems and it was even hard with my noise canceling head phones. If you are going to make a character think, try a whisper, not an echo chamber. I know I missed a lot because of this, that is why only 3 stars. It wasn't the narrators it was the production.
I can't believe the people who are writing reviews of this mess saying how funny it is. It is like a roadrunner cartoon where the roadrunner is blowing the coyote up, dropping anvils on his head, pushing him off cliffs, and this is supposed to be funny because the coyote is only a cartoon and he's never actually hurt anyway. But in this story, it goes along trying to be a light, amusing romance, and then suddenly, somebody is dead and there is blood on the floor. Then it switches back to trying to be a frothy romance again. And I'm not just talking about one body. At the point where I shut this stupid book up, the body count was up to four.
Jennifer Crusie, in her early days, wrote some of my favorite romances of all time. But for some incredible reason she has agreed to write with this Bob Mayer guy and they have turned out nothing worth reading as far as I can tell. Mayer seems to want to write spy-thrillers of the type where you have a cold-blooded government man fighting the forces of evil. So each of them writes part of the book, and they do not mesh. We have a few paragraphs of light comedy romance, and then a few paragraphs of cliched special agent man. Then it's back to the light comedy again.
And the "hero" is anything but. He tells the "heroine" that he is a hitman. If some man told me that he killed people for money, I'd wait till he left the house and then lock the doors before I called the police. But apparently our heroine thinks it's okay to take money for killing. That's more of the mixed up message in this book. Many of the people in this book have mob connections. This is treated as if it were amusing, but it kind of falls flat when you have innocent bakers and florists being threatened with death at the hands of the mob.
And the heroine is absolutely embarrassing when it comes to her issues about being alone. Some women do end up alone, and they stand up straight and carry on with life. But this jellyfish of a woman is willing to be the sometime plaything of a hitman if only she doesn't have be be alone. Get a spine woman.
Well, I have plenty more I'd like to complain about, but you don't want to read a review that's as long as the book, so I'll stop. But I REALLY don't recommend this book. If you want some good Jennifer Crusie, get something she has written without the dubious help of Bob Mayer.
This review is solely based on the audio production. What production team in the right mind would put an echo chamber sound effect for Agnes' internal dialogue? Do they really think the listeners are too dense to figure out when she is speaking out-loud and when she is in her head?
The narrator seemed ok but I was too distracted to give an honest assessment. I've read/listened to Cruise's other books and they were great so I may just get this on Kindle at some point
I was looking for funny, not psychotic. Female lead was a freaking sociopath nutcase with unbelievable anger issues that she used to constantly maim and kill. Where the heck is the humor and entertainment in that?? And if that wasn't bad enough, the narrator gave "Cranky Agnes" a horrible syrupy-sweet and breathy Marilyn Monroe voice. Cringe.
The performance was lively and fun. The only flaw are the special effect thoughts where the volume drops dramatically. I had to rewind to understand it. Other than that one problem this book is delightful. A great mix of the romance and mystery genres. And very funny!
I'm always a bit skeptical when I see two authors have paired up to write one book, but in this case, it worked. Jennifer Crusie's great characters and humor, but with an edge to it that makes it very different. The narrator does a great job, too, wtih all the different voices. Totally improbable plot, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!
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