On a cool June morning, Isa Wilde, a resident of the seemingly idyllic coastal village of Salten, is walking her dog along a tidal estuary. Before she can stop him, Isa's dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick - and to her horror, Isa discovers it's not a stick at all...but a human bone. As her three best friends from childhood converge in Salten to comfort a seriously shaken-up Isa, terrifying discoveries are made, and their collective history slowly unravels.
If Proust were to write a novel without suspense or imagination and with huge gaping lacunae in the plot, it would still be more readable than this plodding, spiritless, monotonous trudge. Save yourself!
Gay marriage is at the forefront of America's political battles. The human story at the center of this debate is told in Double Life: A Love Story, a dual memoir by a gay male couple in a 50-plus-year relationship. With high profiles in the entertainment, advertising and art communities, the authors offer a virtual timeline of how gay relationships have gained acceptance in the last half-century.
They both spoke only deflectively of the perils they and other children faced at the hands of predatory adults; I grew up in the fifties as a bi-child and the abuse was ubiquitous for girls and boys alike. Still, I was enjoying their diaries of bygone days until Norman gleefully described the "ground-breaking" ad he helped pioneer, depicting a woman as a masochistic victim in chains. Oblivious to his contribution to rape culture and the commercial debasement of women, he prattled on about his radical esthetic until I had to stop listening. As a lifelong activist in the struggle for equal rights in the USA for minorities, women, LGBTQ, religions, etc., I was ultimately disappointed in their self-absorption.
On New Year’s Day, a wealthy family is found slaughtered inside their exclusive gated community in north London, their youngest child stolen away. The murder weapon is a gun for stunning cattle, leading Detective Max Wolfe to a dusty corner of Scotland Yard’s Black Museum devoted to a killer who thirty years ago was known as the Slaughter Man. But the Slaughter Man is now old and dying. Can he really be back in the game?
Wolfe (Re-e-ally!?!) seems artificially fabricated from calculated hunks of macho mythology: Tortured Victim (can't help lovin' that ex-wife), through Ideal Dad (although his perfect daughter rarely sees him), and bumbling professional (twice barging into predictably perilous situations w/o waiting for easily accessible back-up), and irresistible Ladies' Man, thence to superhero Man of Steel (beaten up, knifed, beaten up again, clobbered with a champagne bottle and buried alive, and oh yeah,the rat) who still heroically manages to make the arrest. The author seems unaware of the medical repercussions of acid burns, knife wounds, concussion, or TBI. Oof.
Unbelievable, kinda like a True Crime Comix.. A police procedural with flawed methodology, no impulse control, and apparently no DNA testing totally stretched incredulity.
The narrator was pleasant but often slipped into whispered and/or mumbled passages. Since I often listen while at the gym, I lost whole passages to his sotto voce, which led to tedious decision-making about whether those extracts were worth retrieving.
Shanghai, 1912. Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of the city's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West - until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion, though she still struggles to understand who she is.
My problem with this book is that, while it seems to be about strong, resilient women, it's really a relentless and unsparing description of the experiences of women who have to choose between starvation and a life of being raped in exchange for cash and gifts. Certainly, there are still millions of girls sold into sexual slavery, and maybe it's our duty to acknowledge this, but 25 hours of it? I feel blindsided, like I bought a novel and got a diatribe. Moments of relief and humor, intimations of "courtship," and a ragged story line do not make this an engaging read. Amy Tan's editor was clearly too intimidated to insist on the reworking that might have made this book even tolerable.
It was generally tedious listening, occasionally droll, often unremittingly dull, and at times excruciatingly painful. Never fun. Never.
26 of 30 people found this review helpful
The bodies of four men have been discovered in the town of Bradfield. Enlisted to investigate is criminal psychologist Tony Hill. Even for a seasoned professional, the series of mutilation sex murders is unlike anything he's encountered before. But profiling the psychopath is not beyond him. Hill's own past has made him the perfect man to comprehend the killer's motives. It's also made him the perfect victim. A game has begun for the hunter and the hunted.
Another outstanding mystery from McDermid. A perverse serial killer is on the loose, and the attacks seem to center on Bradfield's gay community. The two main characters, Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, are dedicated and likeable and reassuringly flawed (even if Tony's problem seems somewhat overblown: a major issue resulting from what was a minor critique). They move ever so slowly into mutual trust and honesty with authentic caution.
The author's conceit of introducing the victims to us inspires our sympathy and keeps us cheering on the investigators. While the detail can be quite gruesome, especially when you've become fond of the victim, it isn't gratuitous, and the author does turn our eyes away before it becomes unbearable.
As grizzly as the book can be, the narrator is steady and impassive. He reads with the reassurance of one who knows everything will turn out fine in the end. I'm off to unearth more of McDermid's older mysteries, and search out what Graham Roberts is reading as well.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
"Of all of my novels, After the Night remains one of my personal favorites – and Faith Devlin and Gray Rouillard are two of my favorite characters. Faith is strong, proud, and fearless, and Gray – well, he’s just downright sexy. Faith’s search for the truth about the devastating scandal surrounding her mother and Gray’s father blazes with intrigue. Add some sultry Southern hear, and you’ve got a real scorcher of a listen." (Linda Howard)
I was surprised, not expecting a "romance" (I should be more careful), but certainly not expecting one of Howard's favorite characters to be an abusive, bullying, stalker who terrorizes women until they just beg for more. He uses his physical size and local influence to dominate, assault, and tyrannize, in a way only a masochist would call sexy. His actions often descend to the level of criminal offenses, and the "strong" heroine merely flutters. Faith is lamentably inconsistent: her character is supposed to be capable and successful, yet she makes one stupid and dunderheaded decision after another.
Amazingly, unchallenged throughout the book is the way Faith as a child is held responsible for the sins of her mother, while the sins of Gray's father are (reluctantly but casually) accepted, and never reflect badly upon his own children, and no one ever notes the hypocrisy. This incongruity, while perhaps unremarkable in the 50's or 60's, is both glaring and repugnant in a book published in 1995.
While I understand that the point of romances is for women to fantasize taming and winning the erstwhile unbreakable beast (perhaps why girls like horseback riding), this chauvinist pedophile was merely a sadistic terrorist with intermittent explosive disorder, no conscience or self-awareness, and absolutely no long-term relationship value. The concept of "romance" was entirely absent from this plague chronicle. I do not have enough thumbs to turn down on this travesty.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Troubles never come singly. Ellie’s old friend and housekeeper falls off a ladder and hurts herself after seeing a “ghost” in a neighbour’s house, while Ellie is trying to get rid of a desperate young man, who says he’s looking for his great aunt… who happens to own the house in question. Mrs Pryce had told everyone she was moving to a retirement home, but never arrived there.
What would have made Murder My Neighbour better?
Another author, another reader, and an interesting plot. The characters were predictable and hackneyed, the dialogue was forced and improbable, the story line was boring and unsatisfying. The only thing that could make this muddle worse is printing it backwards.
Has Murder My Neighbour turned you off from other books in this genre?
It has certainly turned me off from the author. Never again.
How could the performance have been better?
The reader seemed as bored by the story as we would be. The best parts of the performance were the subheadings: "Sunday morning.... Monday evening."
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
1. Disgust, that the subtext was so offensively Christian, and bordered on the absurd at times. 2. Irritation, that I'd wasted actual cash money on this trash. I'm not particularly anti-religion: I like Katherine Hall Page and Faye Kellerman. But when one can't pick up a physical book and leaf through it, reading the front leaf or back cover, one becomes dependent on the reviewers, and the integrity of Audible. I wish Audible would warn us in advance about explicit Christian proselytizing...
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.
Unpleasant and occasionally darkly humorous. Written by a phalanx of whining, casually vicious 14-year-old stoners, who are getting back at the teachers & parents who "don't understand them" by rewriting children's fables. Like that would work.
I'm a long-time fan from SantaLand days, travel long distances to hear Sedaris read, and have bought every book he's published, but the whingeing tone and the callous cruelty were a complete turn-off. If you're a big fan of adolescent badinage, this is the book for you. If not, wait for his next one. I deleted this after cringing through almost half of it, and am disappointed that I didn't move on sooner.
Before you buy this, note that [at this writing-Ed.] the rating isn't even 3.5, and his other books still run between 4 & 5. The 3.4 would be even lower if Audible permitted a no-star review. Squirrel is an appalling low point in the Sedaris oeuvre, and has apparently dissatisfied, not only me, but a huge number of fans. What a waste of Elaine Stritch, to boot! Buyer beware.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Twelve-year-old Love Liu, who lives in Zinjiang, China, loves languages and studying English. His friendship with his English teacher is one of the few constants in his life as China's Cultural Revolution rages.
Here is a captivating coming-of-age novel in the tradition of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.
Everything in the story line revolves around the viewpoint of Love Liu, a particularly self-obsessed teenage boy, perhaps an unnecessarily redundant description. Set against the background of the cultural revolution, this coming-of-age story keeps the cultural revolution way too far in the background to inform the listeners. The immensity of the cruel and erratic politics of the time are merely hinted at in the novel, but explicated in the afterword (should have been the "Forward."). Love Liu does not seem to register anyone else's reality as having any validity, and as a result creates catastrophic problems for his parents, best friends, teachers, and himself. Themes and events are introduced and then dropped, leaving enough loose ends to be frustrating and dissatisfying. The ending was limp and bathetic.
I love books by Chinese authors and nonfiction about China and was looking forward to this. Alas, thumbs down.
Best-selling author Brian Fagan brings early humans out of the deep freeze with his trademark mix of erudition, cutting-edge science, and vivid storytelling. Cro-Magnon reveals human society in its infancy, facing enormous environmental challenges - including a rival species of humans, the Neanderthals. For ten millennia, Cro-Magnons lived side by side with Neanderthals, an encounter that Fagan fills with drama.
...With his little tableau of a modern day nuclear family [hunter, "wife"(!), one girl, one boy]. The boy frolics, a Neanderthal appears, the children panic, mother comforts, father menaces. Come on, with this kind of ignorant and ill-considered anachronism, what could possibly be expected from the rest of the book? Anthropological, zoological, and archeological evidence all argue for the extended family unit, comprising, most often, enate family groupings of hunter/gatherers. So why should we believe whatever he says next?
Many thanks to the reviewer who suggested skipping Part 1. I'll try Part II to see in any actual data enliven the narrative.