It is 1947 when Joseph Burke, ex-Marine, ex-husband, ex-somebody–is hired as a bodyguard to protect Lauren Roach, 25 and spoiled rotten. The unlikely duo becomes entangled with Burke’s boyhood hero, color-barrier breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson, in a story that is both thrilling and engaging. It is in the historical character Jackie Robinson that Mr. Parker finds inspiration and Joseph Burke may find his redemption.
This is a work of fiction about a real man. Most of what I’ve written I’ve made up. I have, however, attempted to render Jackie Robinson accurately. As he was, or as I imagined him to be, in 1947, when I was turning 15, and he was changing the world. The rest is altogether fiction. It may be more Burke’s story then Jackie’s story. But, without Jackie, Burke would have had no story. And neither would I. Robert B Parker.
©2003 Robert B. Parker (P)2003, 2014 New Millennium Entertainment, Phoenix Books
"This should be required reading for all aspiring storytellers....A masterful recreation of a turbulent era that's not only a great and gripping crime novel but also one of the most evocative baseball novels ever written." (Publishers Weekly)
"Deeply felt and intimately told....Fusing this chapter of sports history with a hard-boiled gangster plot and haunting recollections of his own Boston boyhood, Parker fashions a hugely entertaining fiction..." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A grand-slam combination of adventure, mystery, and sports, and an evocative but unsentimental memoir." (Forbes)
"If you only read his Spenser novels, it's easy to forget how versatile Parker can be. This story...reminded me." (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly)
I read this book several years ago when I first began my "Robert Parker Phase." I'm a baseball fan, so I of course enjoyed the book but it wasn't really a WOW or "this is great book" kind of book.
Robert Forster's narration absolutely makes this book both wow and great. He catches the malaise of the character in just the right way. There is almost a delayed reaction in the reading, just as if Burke was too tired and too unattached to answer. Parker's books are 99% dialogue, with a lot of he saids and she saids. You don't even notice them because the narrator does such a fine job of dropping his voice down after he says the meat of the sentence, and often even attaches emotions to the he saids and she saids.
I grew up in Mississippi before civil rights. It was very painful to hear some of the language spoken because my father talked like that as a matter of course. He was born in Selma, Alabama in 1918 and I like to think he didn't know any better, but that's no excuse. I cannot imagine the confidence and security Robinson must have possessed to put himself through what this books hints at what he must have experienced.
This book is not even five hours, and it was over way too quick. I plan to listen to it many times.
This is a character study of two very different people, but both with an honor that can't be disputed.
Five stars, yes, five.
Robert Parker's Spenser novels have been a favorite of mine, as have the narrators, particularly Joe Mantegna, who manages to convey the humor of the hero as well as his strength and heart. Robert Forster does a fine job here, but Burke, the hero of this tale is a damaged human being, physically and emotionally, and there is little warmth and infrequent humor to be found in Parker's habitual terse prose. Once in a while you become aware that the short sentences and Forster's matter-of-fact delivery - perfectly rendered and appropriate - becomes almost comical, like a send-up of the style. The violence described is a bit more intense than I'd expected, and Burke's relationships with women are, from a woman's point of view, equally intense, terse, and a bit incomprehensible. But there is a very sort of film noir atmosphere throughout, making it a compelling listen, and Burke's (fictional) growing relationship with Jackie Robinson, who comes out of the story as a truly remarkable hero, is great stuff, and there is a lot of fine historical and baseball procedural detail that makes this an informative listen as well as an entertaining one.
It seems that one is either of fan of this guy's writing or not -- judging by other reviews. I am a fan.
This is not a part of any series -- no comfortably familiar characters. But, the writing is excellent -- if you like Parker's most dry style. The "he saids, she saids" are part of this extremely dry style and are excellently read by the narrator.
It's a wee bit slow to get started, so give it a chance if you like Parker -- it's worth it.
This is a story of Parker's love of baseball set around the story of Jackie Robinson.
It put you right in the time, and has enough interesting charcters, and a good story.
I loved it!
This is not a bad little story and Robert Forster certainly does a great job narrating.
It's the "saids" that get me. I first noticed it in Parker's Spencer novels and I was hoping he didn't keep it up in other books. But he does.
Dialogue becomes tedious and a little like fingernails on a blackboard because each sentence ends in "he said" or "so&so said".
I know print journalists are foresworn to always use "said" but in the audio format, well, it's painful.
Could someone at Audio please tell the audio producers/authors or decision makers to pull the plug on "saids". If Forster had left out 50% of them the book would have worked. If he had left out 90% of them, I would have given a couple more stars
However, the story is a great format for talking about race relations (or the lack thereof) in the 40s-50s.
This book had romance, action and suspense. The story was engaging and the characters well developed. Will get more books by this author as a result!
Robert Forster's fabulous reading of this evocative book makes it truly one of the greatest audiobook experiences I've ever had. It is especially appropriate to listen this year, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's entrance into major league baseball. The characters are well-drawn, the story gripping and inspirational. This works for fans of baseball, mystery AND civil rights.
This was not the best choice I have ever made. I had hoped for alittle more of a sports story and got a gangster story instead. But it was parading as a love story, and lost. Don't waste your credit or money.
The protagonist was seriously wounded in the war; and the war caused him to block his emotions. The narrator takes this to heart by delivering the story in monotones. He gets back to the states, physically heals, and ends up as Jackie Robinson's bodyguard. In between this story are the author's memories of growing up with baseball. Or, at least, that's what I think those were. At least there was some emotion in that part. Didn't like the main characters; didn't really care what happened to them; did like Jackie Robinson, but he was more a setting than a character. The best thing I can say about this book is that its pretty short.
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