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)
I'll be the first to admit that the storyline is engaging. The only reason I finished the book is that I couldn't resist finding out "who done it." However, the characters are completely flat. Each person falls into one of two camps: Completely Good or Completely Evil. In fact, I have trouble sympathizing with the narrator from the beginning; the author gives us no reason to! The worst part of this book was listening to clich? and after clich? dribble off the tongue of the overly dramatic narrator. One almost imagines that the author had a list of catch phrases next to him as he wrote the book. All in all, the author clearly has a talent in weaving out an engaging plot, but the character development and writing need some work.
The quality of the story kept me listening to this book, in spite of the grating narration. It is truly pitiful that the producers could not have found someone with a semblance of a Southern accent to narrate this story set in Salisbury, NC. Besides that, I find the narrator's approach to the story unsuitable for the protagonist. It just doesn't fit the character.
The protagonist himself is a pathetic loser, unable to live his own life, unable to even think lucidly. Frankly, he's a jerk.
In spite of these criticisms, the book is well worth a listen.
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.
I love audio and ebooks but only give them a 5 if they hold my attention. An avereage story gets a 3 . Thrillers & Crime are my favorites.
I bought this book at the time most of the reviews were positive but wish I had waited until more reviews were written. The basic plot is good and I kept listening to find out who was guilty but much of the story line was dragged out to the point I just wanted to groan on several occasions. At almost every point where a couple of characters were having an important conversation, one character had to drag the answers out of the other to the point I just wanted to scream "just answer it already!"
The main character, "Work" is accused of killing his father; he thinks his sister did it and does a lot of really stupid things that get him in deeper trouble. Near the end of the book he finally just asks her.....dah!
Without giving it away, once he knows the answer it changes things. I did like the ending and the performance was not bad. I would not want to listen a second time so my basic rating is just a three.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
I listened to this puzzle-murder-legal-procedural-mystery about four years ago. And forgot that I had!!! Found it in my library and about two hours in, I recalled whodunit. And yet everything is so intricate and only dimly recalled so Hart had me again. It's a good listen. David Chandler's merely VERY good. Which means his greatness doesn't intrude. Chandler's presence becomes invisible, which is a MAJOR compliment to an actor.
My how the lead character changes as this yarn unfolds. It's all about introspection and personal revelation, sometimes in such detail that I wonder if Hart wasn't padding the page count a little. Also, I wish the editor had done a global search for the word "sorry,: deleted half of his findings and used a thesaurus to morph another 50% of the remainder.
But… Knowing the ending, which I recall came as a surprise the first time through, the layers of plot complexities were even more intriguing. Uh-huh…it's a good listen… Enjoy it, huh?
The plot's fine, but the writing is so staggeringly melodramatic--with long, cliched descriptions and forced language--and made worse by the overly dramatic reading! Wanted to scream several times. Stuck with it just to find out whether my own prediction of "whodunnit" turned out correct.
This is a very rich book. Anyone who does not appreciate it may have read or heard too much truth. I really hope this character returns. Started hoping that around the middle of the book. John Hart is on my list of people to watch for. I heard his voice here but it was in the same vein as Turow. The narrator was good. Glad they didn't have a plummy NC accent doing it. Production value was interesting. I could always hear the tape recorder being turned on and off...
I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. The plot, with its miriad twists and turns, kept my attention. However, beyond having an excellent plot, this book also provided an excellent depiction of Southern living and mores. Indeed, the entire experience was reminiscent of Greg Iles, who is one of my favorite authors.
Badly written, replete with phrases that a schoolboy would be ashamed of, cliches galore, no noun goes without 1 or 2 adjectives. It goes nowhere and ever so slowly; I heard it in 35 minute spells (my journey to work) and it was insufferable - Elmore Leonard would have covered the same territory in 3 minutes. It was unbearable waiting for it to get moving. I can't believe this won an Edgar award for best first novel, it's terrible and needs a team of editors to reduce it to about 3 hours, not 12. Over-written, insubstantial, dull, the hero is not a hero, he's a whiner. Booklist said "Hart is a fine stylist, turning phrases with a panache that recalls Raymond Chandler." Rubbish, Chandler would have had Philip Marlowe kill the hero and the writer for murdering the English language!
I'm so glad this wasn't the first John Hart book that I listened to because it was painful. I've thoroughly enjoyed other books by Hart, but this one was horrible. The plot was predictable, the suspense was non-existent and the narrator was horrific. I rarely say that about any reading, but David Chandler should probably look for alternate employment. In the hundreds of hours I've spent listening to Audible, I've never heard such audible swallowing and breathing by a reader. It was awkward, annoying and,
at times, disgusting to hear. John, please take a drink of water for God's sake! We can hear the heaviness of you dry tongue in every chapter :( John Hart is truly a good author. Check out some of his other books and don't judge him on this disaster.
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