Work's troubled sister, her combative girlfriend, his gold digging socialite wife, and an unrequited lifelong love join a cast of small town characters that create no shortage of drama in this extraordinary, fast-paced suspense novel.
Hart's mastery of prose and plot belie his newcomer status as he explores the true heart of a man. An illuminating anatomy of a murder and the ripple effect it produces within a family and a community, The King of Lies is a stunning debut.
©2006 John Hart; (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC
"[A] stunning debut, an exceptionally deep and complex mystery thriller....Few readers will be able to resist." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a first novel that lunges off the page, just grabs the reader by the throat and won't let go....Hart is a fine stylist, turning phrases with a panache that recalls Raymond Chandler." (Booklist)
This is a beautifully-written book. I live in North Carolina about four hours from Salisbury (Sols-berry) where this story takes place. John Hart has pinned small town society right to the mat. He writes in a metaphor-rich southern cadence and really puts the reader in the moment. The reader can literally "watch" the story because it is written so completely well.
The real gripe I have is that the company in charge of hiring a reader for this book must need a new talentscout. They made a terrible, terrible choice. Not only does the reader not have a Carolina accent, he doesn't have any kind of Southern accent at all. He reads aggressively, like a hard-nosed detective rather than a gentile southern lawyer with a near-broken spirit. I just can't believe the recorded reader missed the heart of the book so very completely.
I would highly recommend this book as a "must read" book, in both senses of the term.
It's a great mystery/thriller, wonderfully and achingly written, and for those readers who have lived in the south and are aware of the carved in white pillars class distinction, it is bang on the head of what that class separation is all about.
It's a very satisfying book and one I will definitely "read" with my own eyes next time.
I can't imagine what Recorded Books was thinking...Mickey Spillane reads Harper Lee. Sheesh.
I was first introduced to Hart about three years ago with his book The Last Child, and having already read his third and fourth books, I finally got around to reading this debut book. And we are now 4 for 4.
This novel about a lawyer and his family is much more about dysfunctional family relationships than it is about anything having to do with the law, so it is more of a murder mystery than a legal genre. But there is a fair amount of insight into both the process that law enforcement uses to focus on suspects and on the strategy that one might use if they wanted to present themselves as an alternative suspect, diverting attention from a family member who may be the one who is truly guilty.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the author's method of back-filling the story. You meet the characters and then, through one device or another, you eventually get to find out the story about that character. The entire book is told from the perspective of the main character, "Work" Pickens, who could best be described as a pompous, arrogant, and only marginally sympathetic, jerk. My negative reaction to him was heightened by his self-absorbed perspective in the story. In his eyes, almost everyone in the story is a villain, and I would have to assume, that had I been in the story, he would not have liked me either.
Enough about the book... go ahead and read it. But I want to further compliment Hart. In his first 4 books, he has written four very different books. The common element: they all end well. The highest praise I can give Hart is that I am satisfied with his endings. Not saying I necessarily "liked" the endings, but that I feel like he finishes the book by resolving the issues he has created through the course of the book. I can enjoy a book that does not finish well, but it sure is more satisfying to feel like the author has successfully taken you on a journey that arrived at the intended destination. I can't wait for book #5.
Mr. Hart definitely knows how to write a good story! Hooray for all us mystery lovers. Terrific plot, fully defined characters (some to like, some to love, and some to hate) and enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. When I find myself exclaiming "Oh, no!" or some such during the narration, I am really hooked. The main character, while flawed, was engaging and very likeable. I found myself smiling with him, dismayed when he stumbled and in the end, hated to say goodbye.
My narration standards are high. There are many books I would love to get, but I refuse to listen to what I consider a bad narrator more than once. David Chandler definitely goes on my "approved" list. I am from NC and appreciate David Chandler for not having a southern accent. The temptation for many narrators is to go over the top with the drawl, and it truly grates on my southern born and bred ears. The reading speed was excellent, and his voice is pleasant to hear. The narration never interfered with the story which, in my opinion, is the point. No regrets in using this credit!
At the risk of sounding like a Philistine or a cultural lightweight, I must tell you that I could not get into this book. It is probably a great book, but it did not suit my mood. It was so dark and disturbing that I just did not want to live in that world for 12+ hours of audio. I had to abandon the book about 1.5 hours into the program. I thought this book would be a Grisham-type southern lawyer mystery with just a bit more depth. But this book was very different. The author probes the depths of disturbed souls, more like Dostoyevsky. It was not what I wanted for light summer reading.
Now I must say that it was very well written. The language of each sentence was exceptional. The author has a way of turning phrases with piercing originality-- the kind of phrases that say so much in so few words-- something like Joseph Conrad does. It is almost worth listening to this book just to hear some of the stunningly poigniant sentences that the author has written.
However, it is a dark world that he writes about and the characters are deeply troubled people. The heaviness of this was exacerbated by the reader's voice and inflection which to me seemed to over-dramatize every sentence. He reads every sentence as if it is the profound last sentence of an epic novel, and this I found to be exhausting.
With all that being said, I will definitely try this author again on his next book which I hope is just a bit lighter and less troubling.
I recently stumbled on Hart's latest book Last Child. LOVED IT TO DISTRACTION. So I went straight to Down River and though it was also fantastic, it didn't trump Last Child. This author is just getting better and better and I can't wait until his next offering.
Despite my need for more Hart, I almost didn't buy his first book: King of Lies because of the reviews whining about the narrator.
I was worried about all the purported lip smacking and swallowing by David Chandler.
I am glad I took the chance. Chandler is an excellent narrator. I think the problem lies with the production company. I guarantee you that Scott Sowers and, my personal favorite, Scott Brick, smacks occasionally in the audio booth too, but state-of-the-art editing software renders such distractions a thing of the past.
Bottom line, Chandler was pretty damn good and quite frankly, his purported "smacking" is not that bad. Ignore the negitive reviews and get this book. Just FYI. Recorded Books produced the King of Lies. Last Child was produced by McMillan Audio and Down River was offered up by Audio Renaissance . Critique the production company,not the narrator.
I don't give many books five stars. Four stars maybe but this was a great listen. I really hope to be able to listen to many more books by this author. I read some of the other reviews (after listening, fortunately) and don't really get the complaints about the narrator who I thought was very good. I'm a big fan of whodunnits and love it when the author can keep you guessing up until the end. I have to admit I had a hunch who had done it toward the end but had not figured out all of the details and the unraveling at the end was very enjoyable after listening to such a long book. Not complaining about the length though. When a book is good you want it to be nice and long. And this one had enough plot twists and turns to keep it moving and keep my interest. Great listen!!!
This book is one of the best books that I've listened to in my two+ years of membership with Audible. The plot is well developed, the reader is excellent, and the story draws you in to the point that you can't put the book down. Excellent book. Highly recommended.
As a former book reviewer I have read many books, but there are some that are really special. This is one of them. The plot is so carefully crafted, the characters so believable, and the writing so lucid that I found it hard to stop listening to this audiobook. A true thriller with an artistic touch. The dialogue, descriptions, and introspection of the central character just absorb you along the way until the shocking and unexpected ending. The narrator also does an excellent job of conveying the story. I can't wait for his next book to come out--maybe it'll be even better!
I absolutely loved this book. It was so well written and suspenseful. The end was a complete surprise and the epilogue pulled together everything I wanted to know about the characters.
I hope this author writes another book soon. I'll be first in line to purchase it!
Oh, and the reader was excellent, too.
When I downloaded this book, there appeared to be no reviews. Now there are 43. My web browser must have been acting up. In any case, I rushed back here to warn people off this book only to find all the other reviews and the two polarized camps. I fall into the "good plot tritely written" camp.
I kept thinking that it's as though the author was a painter who turned out a sparkling work only to keep labouring over it until it turned to mud on the canvas. At one point, he had a good book there, perhaps in an early draft, but he worked too hard at making it clever.
That being said, I would give the King of Lies the following rating: 4 Stars for the plot. It was intricate and compelling, and the only aspect that kept me reading it; minus 1 Star for groan-out-loud cliches and hackneyed phrasing masked as personal epiphanies and introspective wisdom; predictable, stereotypical, uni-dimentional characters: minus 1/2 Star; annoying, effete narration: minus 1/2 Star = 2 Stars.
On the positive side, I did like the way the main character dug a big hole for himself by his seemingly benign actions, which ended up driving the tight plot. Not being from the US, let alone the South, I can't comment on the accuracy of how the class issues of North Carolina are captured, but I do think the book would have been significantly better if a reader like Will Patton or Stephen Hoye had read it. They perhaps could have turned the plodding, monotonous narration into a humid Southern story full of genteel tension -- if in fact that's in the work to begin with. It's hard to tell.
All in all, if you value your credits skip this book and look into works by James Lee Burke or Ellmore Leonard.
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