Lucas Davenport had crossed paths with her before. A rich psychopath, Taryn Grant had run successfully for the US Senate, where Lucas had predicted she'd fit right in. He was also convinced that she'd been responsible for three murders, though he'd never been able to prove it. Once a psychopath had gotten that kind of rush, though, he or she often needed another fix, so he figured he might be seeing her again. He was right.
Terrific addition to the Lucas Davenport series. John Sandford is back at the top of his game. This one is more than worth the time and the credit.
Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from 20 years previously - a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.
Take one self righteous pedant. Add a simplistic authoritarian worldview. Eliminate any notion of the intrinsic value in every human being and replace it with a crass mathematical notion of good. Dress up the vile eugenics theories of a century ago in modern science fiction clothing and mix liberally. Leven the brew with sanctimonious self indulgence.
And you will have Robt Sawyer's latest, disappointing, lamentable, novel. Now throw this entire mess down the nearest toilet.
Absurdly epic fail. And if Sawyer's irredeemably silly philosophical premise were not enough to doom this work, it's presentation in a boring, repetitive story would be.
I am uncertain if this is somehow the latest manifestation of the Trump Derangement Syndrome that seems to be spreading across America or just a tragic example of the declining talents of a once-fine writer. No matter, really, this is not worth your time, your money, or your credit. Flee and save a half day of your life.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Twenty years in the future, America perches on the edge of collapse, devastated by drought and dwindling resources. California, now a totalitarian surveillance state controlling the lion's share of the nation's economy, is on the brink of secession. And family man Nathan Fisher finds himself at the heart of a bloody conspiracy that threatens the lives of his loved ones and the future of the country itself.
Konkoly is a fine writer but like so many other writers these days he seems to have decided to divide his stories into multiple pieces to wring just a little more money out of his readers. This tactic is tolerable when each of the parts of the series is a worthwhile standalone story. Unfortunately that is not the case with Rogue State. Here we have no new plot development, no character development to speak of, nothing that would warrant purchasing this is a standalone novel. Instead, we have a pyrotechnic road trip between the first novel in the series and the third. I might even accept this if the series as a whole were stronger but this is Konkoly's weakest effort ever and so after two fragments, I would counsel "skip the whole thing."
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
These 24 dramatic lectures examine key events from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome to medieval Europe and Asia. Spanning thousands of years and three continents, this course illuminates fascinating historical dramas on the individual scale.
These lectures probably deserve a rating better than a three. They might even warrant a four, had Professor Garland stopped at 20 lectures rather than stretching his course to 24. Doing so required that he work far too hard to "find" his last few "great" events. As a result, we are asked to accept as decisive turning points in history:
the opening of the Roman Coliseum;
the account by Ibn Fadlan of his 10th Century travels to Russia;
the appeal of Theodora to Justinian urging him to face down the Nika rioters; or
the reign of Chinese concubine empress Wu Zetian.
Compared to legitimate historical turning points (e.g., the sack of Rome or the battle Marathon), these are virtual hiccups, the last two seemingly included only so that both genders are represented in Garner's list. As listeners, we would have been better served by a shorter list, selected for true historical significance.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful
A world fallen under a plague of seven billion walking dead. A tiny island nation the last refuge of the living. One team of the world's most elite special operators. The dead, these heroes, humanity's last hope, all have.... Arisen.
Don't expect a novel. If you do, you will be disappointed.
Expect, instead, an extended set-up piece for some future novel. Here, you will face a bit of plot background (which is told, not shown) as well as lots of fawning praise for special forces troops and highly detailed reverence for military equipment. Character development is obviously low priority; we learn very little about any character and, as a result, have a hard time caring about them.
This book does a masterful job of demonstrating why plot alone is not enough to create a good novel. If we care about the people, we will naturally care about the plot. The reverse isn't necessarily true and is certainly not true in Fortress Britain.
The only good news here? At least this novel fragment is brief; you won't need to spend too long with this testosterone-mad paean to soldiers and their weapons to conclude that it is not worth your time.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Millions of people have thrilled to best-selling authors Bill O'Reilly and historian Martin Dugard's Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, works of nonfiction that have changed the way we view history. Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Nearly 2,000 years after this beloved and controversial young revolutionary was brutally killed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God.
I am not among those who reflexively dislike any book bearing Bill O'Reilly's name. I understand those who do, as well as those who will defend him without question. But both his knee-jerk critics and defenders speak more to the political polarization of our times than to the quality of Mr. O'Reilly's work.
That said, Killing Jesus is very poor work, especially for a putative historian. For the most part, this is merely a retelling of a history already well known by almost anyone with any interest. Despite O'Reilly's grandiose claims, there is nothing new here.
Worse, there are errors. One example: early in the text, O'Reilly describes the process of crucifixion and remarks that Romans sought to increase the suffering of many victims by breaking the legs of the already crucified person. This, he averred, was a sign of Roman sadism.
But that's just not true. Yes, the Romans would break the legs of the crucified after many hours of suffering on the cross, but this was an act of mercy, not of sadism. Crucifixion kills (usually) by suffocation. Once up on the cross, the victim's entire body weight is suspended by their arms. In this position, it is difficult to completely exhale. The victim could take shallow breaths for a while, but eventually would be forced to push himself up to take a full breath.
At that point, the victim can breath a bit more successfully but his weight is now supported by his legs and nailed feet, an excruciating position. Quickly, he becomes unable to hold this new position and collapses back to hang from his arms and hands, only to repeat the effort when he begins to suffocate again. This process could go on for a long time.
As an act of mercy, the Roman executioners would sometimes break the legs of crucified victims to stop this on-going process of self-torture. Unable to support themselves on now broken legs, the crucified victim would suffocate within minutes.
Errors like this are just sloppy and they should undermine our confidence in O'Reilly's work generally. Even more distracting, though, is O'Reilly's unseemly fascination with the sexual practices and proclivities of various historical figures. This fixation recurs throughout O'Reilly's "Killing" series and in no case does it illuminate the history he claims to recount. At best, it is a distraction and an insight into the author's peculiar obsessions. At worst, it is mere pandering.
Readers who are interested in the life and death of Jesus have many better options; Reza Aslan's "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" comes immediately to mind. Better to start there than to spend time sorting through the errors and fetishes of a wanna-be historian.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
He has fought the fight, and run the race. But the enemies never stop coming, and the race has no finish line. It has been three months since Captain Lee Harden found the survivors at Camp Ryder. With winter looming, Lee is on the verge of establishing Camp Ryder as a hub of safety and stability in the region. But not everyone agrees with Lee’s mission... or his methods.
Enjoy Apocalyptic Fiction? Read the First Two Entries in The Remaining series. They are top-notch, action thrillers. But maybe you should skip this increasingly silly entry in the series.
Why? A believable action hero is now maudlin and self-pitying. He day-dreams, takes obviously foolish risks, and refuses to hear new information in order to indulge personal pique. Most important, in response to the existential threat facing his band, he develops a defense plan based on geography and terrain that overlooks obvious routes to circumvent the defense.
In short, the trained, capable, resourceful leader in the first two novels is transformed here into a depressed, self-indulgent, self-important idiot who puts his people at risk, withholds information they should have for no reason other than personal secrecy, ignores sources of important information, overlooks obvious dangers and presses schemes that could not work anywhere except in the world of fiction.
Let's hope the next entry in the series returns to the standards of the first two and thereby justifies suspending disbelief and struggling through this disappointing offering.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Will Robie may have just made the first - and last - mistake of his career.... It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn't seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable: He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.
Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a 14-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn't an ordinary runaway....
No review this time. Just some quick notes.
The novel starts slowly. It takes awhile for the plot to grab your interest. But once it does, the ride is good fun.
The concluding tying up of loose ends is hackish. Build the conclusions into the plot. Don't wait for the last few chapters and then have the characters amaze each other with descriptions of how each plot line was resolved. At best, this is evidence of a lazy writer. At worst, an incompetent one. Baldacci is fully competent. He can do much better.
Narration is uneven. Female voices, in particular, seem miscast. An FBI agent with such a strong, though intermittent, Brooklyn accent?
Audio production is awful. The sound effects and music are distracting, making it impossible to lose yourself in the story. This audiobook would work better with less: fewer narrators (McLarty could handle it better alone), fewer sound effects, less music. It might be good for Baldacci to remember: One reason many of us prefer books to, say, movies, is that books allow our imaginations to "fill in the blanks." The sound of a stereotypical bullet adds little; and has a cost.
Conclusion? Decent escapist fiction. But probably a story better READ. Buy the book. Skip this audio.
77 of 81 people found this review helpful
Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon - the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him "the bitter neighbor from hell". But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness.
You probably know the feeling.
You stumble into something unexpectedly beautiful and touching. The world stops. Your chest fills and gently hugs your heart. Your eyes mist.
The sensation only lasts a moment and you wish it would last longer but aren't quite sure you could endure that.
Then the feeling passes. You take a deep breath. And you sit quietly while the world settles around you.
If you recognize such an experience, you know it is a gift. And you will find that kind of gift in A Man Called Ove.
Ove is a curmudgeon who has been worn down by personal tragedy and a world apparently concerned only with bureaucratic niceties. He is ready to give up. But first, he has to teach the new neighbors how to drive that moving van. And then there's that clown at the hospital. And the mangy neighborhood cat. And is everyone a bloody fool? Can't a man get a little peace??!!??
This is a story about character and loss and love and purpose and redemption and, ultimately, victory. It is a beautiful book; the best I have read or listened to this year. Newbern's narration is flawless; Backman's characters are memorable.
You will not find a better use for an audible credit.
442 of 475 people found this review helpful
He's 93-years-old, in retirement in Sussex, beginning to lose his memory, and subject to emotions he has resisted all his life. His name is Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes remains a literary and box office powerhouse. Or, at least, that's the only reasonable explanation for the success of this book.
On the other hand, Mitch Cullin's contribution to the Holmes canon is, sadly, forgettable.
Cullin offers us a novel in three parts -- three story lines set in two different periods of Holmes' life. Three new glimpses into the life of Sherlock Holmes could be treasures. But here, they're not. None of these stories is even especially interesting or exciting or engaging.
With Holmes, we expect a mystery to challenge and confound us. There really aren't any here.
With Holmes, we expect demonstrations of observation and deduction that cause us to marvel. Here, we don't find much at which to marvel.
With Holmes, we expect the tale to carry us away to his world as the original stories would: to his rooms on Baker Street or to Baskerville Hall or atop Reichenbach Falls. Here, the narrative has no power to take us anywhere. We remain firmly set in our own time and place and world.
But still, this is Holmes, so we can hope.
Surely Cullin will draw his story lines together and redeem his entire novel in an exciting denouement. How could we expect anything else for Conan Doyle's great detective?
But that never happens, either. Cullin allows each story to wander off on its own and gently fade away. There are no surprises. There are no mysteries solved. There are no exciting moments. There are no characters we will remember. There is no closure.
There is only a forgettable and unsatisfying novel that serves only to remind us that even great lives have dull moments.
Skip this one.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful