Lauded as his number-one favorite book of the year, Stephen King advised President Obama, in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, to pick up Michael Gruber’s previous book, The Good Son. With an unforgettable hero, The Return is as exciting and provocative as Gruber’s best work.
The real Richard Marder would shock his acquaintances, if they ever met him. Even his wife, long dead, didn’t know the real man behind the calm, cultured mask he presents to the world. Only an old army buddy from Vietnam, Patrick Skelly, knows what Marder is capable of. Then, a shattering piece of news awakens Marder’s buried desire for vengeance. With nothing left to lose, he sets off to punish the people whose actions changed his life years earlier. Skelly shows up uninvited, and the two of them together raise the stakes far beyond anything Marder could have envisioned.
As Marder and Skelly head toward an apocalypse of their own making, Marder learns that good motives and a sense of justice can’t always protect the people a man loves. With a range of fearsomely real characters, from a brutally violent crime lord to a daringly courageous young woman, a roller coaster of twists and turns, and a shattering exploration of what constitutes morality in the face of evil, Michael Gruber has once more proven that he is “a gifted and natural storyteller” (Chicago Tribune), and shows why he has been called “the Stephen King of crime writing” (Denver Post).
©2013 Michael Gruber (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
Gruber's stories are all superficially different from each other. Characters, story locales and threads are, with a single exception, not repeated. What they all have in common is some supernatural overlay that ranges from obvious to subtle. What they also have in common is good writing. I have never read a book I enjoyed where the author could not handle dialogue. Gruber can. In this book he weaves together a wide variety of characters in a tangled plot of the full range of human qualities and foibles: love, guilt, revenge, hope, passion, and the quest to give meaning to one's life. The story takes place within the drug cartel wars of western Mexico into which the protagonist injects himself. It was thoroughly enjoyable. The narrator is superb. He is quite clearly fluent in Spanish, moves easily among male and female voices and, in the lead character sounds exactly like George Clooney.
I've liked the earlier books enough to listen to them again, all of them, but this one is just a little too far out. If he does another book, I'll try it, but I was disappointed in this one.
I'm a huge fan of Gruber's "Forgery of Venus." Read 2 other of his books that were ok. Couldn't get through much of this one, so I never really found out the plot. I kept waiting for some glint of humor or insight to penetrate the 2-D testosterone-laiden characters, finally gave up - one credit wasted!
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