©2009 Olen Steinhauer; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"[Weaver] is the perfect hero for such a richly nuanced tale." (Booklist)
"Superbly accomplished at both plotting and characterization....highly recommended." (Library Journal)
I loved this book. I mostly listen to audiobooks while driving and found that I was glad to sit at red lights and run errands across town for more listening time with this story.
"Spy tales focused on international deception in the post 9/11 world" according to Steinhauer's web site. That's a good description. I am really looking forward to the next book in the Milo Weaver saga.
The narrator does a great job. His "female voices" were sometimes a bit much, but overall listening to this narrator was a pleasure.
For simply incredible prose and superb fiction check out the Louise Penny novels featuring Chief Inspector Gamache.
This is a first rate novel, but I will tell you (what might appear arrogantly) that this book is NOT written for a person who needs to be led by the nose through the intricate twists and turns of a spy novel. It is complex and a review of the plot would be difficult. Suffice it to say that I believe you will find it very enjoyable.
Our hero... the tourist (a CIA field officer)... is not at all what he seems to be. Perfect for a spy, of course! The cracks in his veneer are clear for all to see.
Seldom do a spy's family take part in a spy novel... except peripherally... but here, they merge nicely into a subplot and are active characters. They are likable.
There are numerous changes in time, in character and you must pay attention.
The reader had a nasty job with this book because of those many characters, their positions and their nationalities... and I think he did a credible job.
This book is not intuitive. It requires the concentration that readers of a John LeCarre novel must have in order to enjoy it. By no means though is it LeCarre. Not better... not worse... just really good.
You may eventually see the final direction of this novel, but you sure won't see it until the last hour or so... and even then, it will surprise you.
This is my first read of this author... and when I finish this review, I'll try another.
As so often is true, pay NO attention to the "Publisher's Summary". It is nonsense and must have been written either by a complete idiot or a person who never read the book. It damns it with faint praise. It is better than the summary.
I gave it 5 stars. I expect you will like it also.
The author weaves an interesting tale that CIA adventure story afficianados like myself will enjoy. However, it kind of peters out near the end and never delivers on its promise. The big problem with this book is that the reader does a horrendous job. While he does OK on some of the male characters, you are not sure whether to laugh or retch each time that he provides a female characterization. It is really too bad because while I did not love the book, I think that I could have enjoyed it considerably more if it had a decent reader. Overall, there are better summer listens out there than this.
This book might be good, but the reader is not. He seems like he is reading the news, rushing through the sentences, all in the same cadence (except when he does an accent). If this book plot is nuanced as the reviewers say, why not get a nuanced reading? Or at least some expressiveness or variation in tone or inflection. If I had a slow speed on my iPod, I would use it, just to get through the book. But after about an hour of straining to keep up with his reading, I have lost track of the plot and I have absolutely no connection with the main character. This is a disappointment. I wish I had not bought this one, but I got sucked in by all the promotion.
When I first began listening to this book, I thought the reader must be the author. Usually, when you hear a reader who is not all that great, it turns out to be the author. (Neil Gaiman is an exception: he's an excellent reader as well as a great writer.) In any case, the reading sounds clipped and too fast, and it can be difficult to understand. As others have mentioned, character voices, especially for female characters, are not done well.
This reader might do fine on non-fiction but he just wasn't well-matched to this novel. I gave up after about 2 hours.
The narrator makes or breaks an audiobook for me. Couldn't stand this one, I couldn't make it through this book. Why do male narrators speak in high voices for female characters. Ugh - huge pet peeve. Too bad, seems like interesting story.
The story is marginally interesting, but I found my mind constantly wandering off while istening. The narrator is extremely boring and monotonous, its hard to stay interested.
Uninteresting characters involved in an artificially convoluted story line lacking suspense or action. Unfortunately I plodded through the book which had been recommended by Audible. It is like a bad movie...If the first 15 minutes are disappointing, walk out and ask for your money back. They never get better.
A very good spy novel, lots of twists and turns, very solid plot, dialog and writing. This story is narrated well and had an ending that is suspenseful and out of the grasp of predictability and so is a fun ending. The story stays within the bounds of believability and takes the reader on a trip through Europe and other exotic locals mingling with other "tourists" the nomenclature for spys in this novel. If you like international espionage then this would be a book you would enjoy. If you are looking for a departure from the normal crime saga this would be a good pick as well - highly recommended.
I fell a sleep several times trying to get thru this book...
Had to keep replaying the parts where I dozed off.
It just never got better.
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