Fourteen months later, Paul and Carol Gabriel are on the verge of abandoning all hope. Crushed by frustrating dead ends and exhausted by a police force that cannot (or will not) find their son, the Gabriels finally stumble upon a name - an elusive private investigator who may represent their last chance for answers.
Frank Behr is an enigmatic mountain of a man, a former cop who is reluctant to help - he knows better than to promise the Gabriels a good result. But Paul's plea for closure stirs up old personal demons that Behr can no longer ignore. Going against everything he fears, Behr enters into an uneasy partnership with Paul on a quest for the truth that is, in turn, dangerous...and haunting.
Richly textured and crackling with suspense, City of the Sun weaves a moody narrative that hinges on the bond between a damaged detective and a lost father. David Levien masterfully peels back the layers of his gripping story, taking listeners on an investigation like no other.
©2008 David Levien; (P)2008 Books on Tape
Mr. Levien has written a winner here. This is a fast paced, intelligent story of a boy who was abducted and a private investigator who tries to find him.
The action is reminiscent of Michael Connelly and the character development reminds me of Capote's 'In Cold Blood'.
The story starts off fast immediately and never backs off. I hate to use the cliche 'page turner', but that is exactly what it is. I could not turn off my iPod and listened well into the night. I didnt get much sleep and was tired the next day at work. But I just HAD to finish the audiobook... there was simply no good place to stop, it was THAT good.
Scott Brick does his usual brilliant job of narration. As someone else once said, "He could make a phone book sound interesting".
I don't often write reviews, and when I do write a review it's usually critical. But I had to share my enjoyment of this one. I listen to thrillers, spy novels, police procedurals, true crime, and even horror novels... this is the best book I've listened to in several months.
David Levien has written a thriller with an interesting plot, interesting characters, a good sense of acceleration, etc. However, Scott Brick is so annoying that he almost ruins the book. I don't understand his popularity. He only has one gear, and that is 100 mph. It is odd that he has narrated one of my all-time favorite audiobooks: The Ice Limit. His sense of pace fit that great book in a way that made his one-dimensional approach work.. However, for the 450 other books he has narrated, his limits are clear. Compared to Edoardo Balerini, for instance, he is outclassed in so many ways that Balerini should have narrated 450 books, not the other way around. In this book a 12-year-old boy is kidnapped by some sleazeballs, and he disappears for fourteen months before his grief-stricken parents give up on the police and hire a private investigator, the one-named Baer. In the classic form of the rogue ex-cop who could not fit in politically (this plot is becoming too common in thrillers these days) Baer can do things that the actual cops cannot. I won't spoil the denouement (Fancy French word, huh? It means the end and resolution of questions) for you, but rest assured it takes Levien a long time to get there, and by that time I got so annoyed by Mr. Brick that it was hard for me to continue. The parents of the kidnapped boy are appropriately grief-stricken and their marriage has gone stone cold. They just want to know what happened to their boy. In an interesting twist, Baer breaks his own rules and lets the father, Paul, help him work on the case. We get a good look at the unhealthy life of a strip club, but this is nothing new. I can't really recommend this book, as there are so many others in the genre that are better. Almost all forty of the Robert B. Parker Spenser series are better than this book, and each of them is only about five hours long. Elmore Leonard could write circles around Mr. Levien. Go for the Big Boys. Why spend your time with amateurs?
If you have not read Connelly, Verdon, etc., then go read them and come back when you have nothing to download and want a mystery on your drive to NY. I was glad I discovered David Levien BUT the story does not live up to your expectations at the beginning of the book. Quite frankly, it is way too easy for this P.I. to come across clues -- or even to figure out where to look. ("Mhm, let me find the bike that has been lost for a year and a half and that the police never thought to look for"...and a page later, his intuition pays off.) That said, I have downloaded the second novel in the series...I do have to drive back to Boston. (Scott Brick, who tends to annoy me as a reader, is actually quite good in this.)
This writer is a star in the making. I love the lead character! His second book (Where The Dead Lay) is even better. Trust me...ignore the negative review and download both books. If you like hard-boiled detective novels you will love Levien's work.
With inferior material, Scott Brick's highly dramatic narration can become a distraction; with really good material, he can make the story soar. The latter is the case here. Levien's story is a good one and the plot development, the writing and the characters are superb thriller material.
Three quarters of the way through I thought this was a five star book. Once the story turned to Mexico and the denouement, it went a bit flat. It often happens in the thriller genre that endings get a bit too fantastic or otherwise lose their center.
It would have been quite an achievement for Levien to satisfy the set-up here, especially with the emotionally explosive material, the kidnapping of a 12 year old by some bad people. Still a good tale and riveting listen, but the story is clicking on all cylinders while in Indianapolis, and veers off track once it moves south.
The PI Frank Behr is a superb character; I hope he returns.
Although like so many of these types of stories there was a bit of frustration and suspense, the end tied up loose ends and made the story satisfying.
The book was very formula based and so where the characters without much imagination or depth. Writng was also pretty basic and predictable.
Scott Bricks talents were a bit wasted here but he did make the book at least mildly entertaining.
Wow!!!!WOW!!!! Can this guy write!!! every sentence seemed to be loaded with action and suspense. I couldnt put it down. One of the best I have heard in a long time
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