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.
Any additional comments?
John Sandford started out as a reporter and a good one. The only real flaw in the thoroughly
enjoyable "Twisted Prey" is the writer's atrophied reporting skills. The plot holes all come from the occasional and gaping failure of who-what-when-where-why.
Example, without spoiler: Two U.S. senators are name-calling in the press. One implies the other is a murderer. The other says her adversary is a drunk and a liar. There is easily obtainable medical evidence to disapprove the latter. Although the press reports the charges, no one at the Washington Post or NYT bothers to check them out. Pass on to the next chapter.
An evil character appeared in a previous book, but Sandford's hero appears to have forgotten her response to a crisis on her team. (Failure of "who".) She kills people. Our hero corners one of her thugs, and then does nothing. Deliberate nothing. He goes shopping for a custom-made suit. When the inevitable happens, he's surprised.
It's possible Sandford is lazy, but it's also possible that as he grows older he has lost faith in the rule of law and the importance of fact. This is a chaos book. Maybe the writer now agrees with Henry Miller that "chaos is the score upon which reality is written."
No good can come from that attitude.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Aaron Littmann, the chairman of one of the country's most prestigious law firms, has just been contacted by a high-profile defense attorney whose client is Nikolai Garkov, a Russian businessman arraigned on terrorism charges for pulling the financial strings behind recent treasonous acts. The attorney informs Aaron that Garkov is looking to switch representation and will pay $100,000 just to take the meeting.
Others have commented on the cliches. Yes, especially at the beginning. Once Mitzner hits his stride, they make fewer appearances. My problem is simple. I don't care. Mitzner didn't make me care about any of these characters. I didn't believe in their motivations or engage with their actions. Everybody is puny. They're adults with fast-lane careers and the emotional maturity of junior high school students. I skipped to the last two chapters half way through, to find out who did it. No surprise, I didn't care.
The narrator is wonderful, not wonderful enough to save this material (nobody could) but still quite admirable.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists - quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans - that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of Investigation.
Can ordinary citizens thirsting for justice make a positive difference when faced with the overwhelming power of a corrupt state? You bet. This story is so inspiring, both about the people who took it upon themselves to expose the crazy evil of J. Edgar Hoover and that crazy evil itself.
Did you know that Hoover hated black people? Journalists following the burglars lead got that from FBI files. We know, thanks to the burglars, about his persecution of Dr. Martin Luther King, but who could have ever imagined how far Hoover took his hatred, that every FBI agent had to have an informant trailing ordinary black people, and that in Washington DC every agent had to have six informants trailing black people?
Black activists? Given Hoover's rage, it's amazing how many survived. We know about the ones who didn't, but this book documents Hoover's role in many of their demises. Did you know that the FBI knew about the threats to Dr. King's life and where they came from, but failed to warn him, by order of Hoover? How about Fred Hampton? It wasn't just Chicago cops who murdered him. (Yes, murdered. Google it.) They got a big direct assist from the FBI, and praise from the agency after.
What we all know about Hoover, the bad things, come from this break into a small FBI office and the decision to release the stolen files to journalists. Note: The New York Times refused to publish those documents, and The Washington Post went ahead. When this book came out, 40 years later, the New York Times wrote a somewhat snotty review, while the Post praised it. It's hard for everyone to admit a bad judgment, but it's essential for a newspaper.
The book unravels a little bit at the end, with maybe too much information about these burglars. But it picks up at the very end with the final word from the 8th participant, who had been in hiding all this time. The others chose to hide in plain sight. None were never charged. It's a remarkable achievement, considering Hoover put 200 agents on the task of finding them. The FBI always gets its man? Please. The burglars won by keeping their mouths shut. Informants can't betray anyone when they have no information.
If you're interested at all in the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement, this is a great place to start. If you lived through that era and especially if you participated, even in a small way, this book is a joy. Overall, the Vietnam anti-war movements are a record of a tragedy, but this moment is a shining win.
PS: Why is Hoover's name still on the FBI building in Washington DC?
Here's Jonathan Rauch in the Atlantic:
"Now that the Confederate flag has been furled at South Carolina’s Capitol, it’s time to deal with another symbolic insult to minorities and the Constitution—the one inscribed over the door of the nation’s top law-enforcement agency.
A consummate bureaucrat and institution-builder, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s first director, was also a paranoid obsessive who put together a rogue secret service accountable only to himself."
How does Rauch know that? Listen to this book.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
Twenty-five years ago Katie ran away from home and never came back. But now she's suddenly reappeared in her best friend Olivia's life - in the form of a chilling confession. Olivia's father-in-law, wracked with guilt, says he murdered her all those years ago. Tom suffers from Alzheimer's and his story is riddled with error and confusion. Except for one terrifying certainty: he knows where the body is buried.
Not awful, but lacking a key ingredient in any novel - a sense that characters have lives. This story is like a diagrammed sentence. All the parts are there, but the life is gone. I like the narrator but just don't believe this story works as a story. It's an exercise in moral questions.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
Amid the tragic unfolding mayhem of the morning of 9/11, failed Brighton never-do-well Ronnie Wilson sees the chance of a lifetime, to disappear and reinvent himself in another country. Five years later the discovery of the skeletal remains of a woman's body in a storm drain in Brighton, leads Detective Superintendent Roy Grace on an enquiry spanning the globe, and into a desperate race against time to save the life of a woman being hunted down like an animal in the streets and alleys of Brighton.
I like Peter James' "Dead" series, but this one had problems. First, there were many different plots that eventually came together. Also, lots of skipping around from past to present. Making these difficulties more so is the odd sequencing of the recording. It tracks back not one chapter but 10 chapters. Yes, there's no way to go back and listen to what you missed without going way, way back. Very annoying. I almost returned this book but hung with it and ended up liking it, but this was a rough ride. Good narrator.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
The United States government is given a warning by the preeminent biophysicists in the country: current sterilization procedures applied to returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere.
I remember the terrible reviews when this book came out, late '60s. Stick characters, unbelievable dialogue, sluggish start and vague ending. But the A. Strain popped up as a daily deal, and given the rise of geek culture in the last half-century, I thought, why not.
For me, the original reviews were accurate. In addition, there's something creepy about the story that I wasn't expecting. The humans are so inhuman that I couldn't help rooting a bit for the space bacteria.
Consider the case of the baby. There's a baby survivor hustled into a lab and left untouched and screaming for its waking hours. That's all we know, and Crichton doesn't bother to say what happened to him/her. Yes, the kid is of so little consequence to the writer that he doesn't bother to say what the sex is. Does this fictional tiny person remain in solitary? No answer. The real question is, how did this book become a best seller and remain in print?
I'm happy nerd-geeks have risen up to become admired for their undeniable strengths, but this book doesn't show them to best advantage.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
Award-winning author William Kent Krueger has gained an immense fan base for his Cork O’Connor series. In Ordinary Grace, Krueger looks back to 1961 to tell the story of Frank Drum, a boy on the cusp of manhood. A typical 13-year-old with a strong, loving family, Frank is devastated when a tragedy forces him to face the unthinkable - and to take on a maturity beyond his years.
If I'm going to listen to a soap, I want it to have some zip. This one is sappy. The characters are forlorn and flop all over the story. Old wrongs reinvestigated. Actions considered from every possible point of view. What works for Proust doesn't work here. You know that moist, dank, dreary feeling? Press play, and it can be yours.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful
One of Joy Humbolt's dog walking clients turns up dead and she begins to look into the crime, first out of curiosity and then out of anger. As she digs deep into the secrets of Manhattan's elite, Joy gets too close to the killer with disastrous consequences.
I bought it because of the dog, but he's a minor sidekick in the tale, which starts as an urban cozy and switches, mid-story, into something more ragged and wild. Enjoying this story requires major suspension of disbelief. I don't think that the police would fail to test the blood at a crime scene, for instance, even if the fix is in.
Instead, dog-walker turned crime fighter figures it out largely on her own, with the dog by her side, once taking a bullet for her. That's not a spoiler, as the narrator reveals this detail-to-come on the first page.
About the much-maligned narrator. Calm down, people. Yes, she starts out slowly, maybe too slowly, but she speeds up and inhabits a great variety of New York voices with agility and charm. I like her.
And I like this story. I especially like how every time I was thinking we were hip deep in the weeds of stereotypes, the writer pulled past them with surprises.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful
On a beautiful Saturday in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, state investigator Kirk Stevens and his occasional colleague FBI special agent Carla Windermere witness the assassination of one of the state’s wealthiest men. The shooter is a young man, utterly unremarkable - except in his eyes. There is something very wrong in his eyes.
Of the three books of his on Audible, Owen Laukkanen has written one that's terrific ("Criminal Enterprise"), one that's OK ("The Professionals") and this one, which will be my last.
Looking for a distraction, I was willing to accept the ridiculous plot about a murder business employing brainwashed ex-combat soliders (zombie killers), but the story's too dreary, limp and dead. I was rolling with it, more or less willingly, until Laukkanen got to the basement prison scene of a new recruit learning to kill on command who is practicing on a cat.
The bad guy produced the purring cat, and I hit the off switch.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful
In Southeast Minnesota, down on the Mississippi, a school board meeting is coming to an end. The board chairman announces that the rest of the meeting will be closed, due to personnel issues. "Issues" is correct. The proposal up for a vote before them is whether to authorize the killing of a local reporter. The vote is four to one in favor.
I was eagerly waiting for the audio release of this book, but wow, it reads as if John Sandford dictated it instead of wrote it. He's got an intriguing plot and that's it. None of the bad characters have dimension. The old Sandford would have been able to give them some heft and complexity without slow down the speedy narrative, but now, even the narrative bogs down. Who are these straw people? They catch fire and burn out before we get much of a look at them.
Sandford appears to know this, which is maybe why he gave three of the murderous school board members the same first name: Jennifer.
And the great Virgil Flowers is a cardboard cutout of himself. His traits are tics, cited to remind readers of the interesting person they got to know in previous books.
My main complaint is the subplot: the dog stealers. I don't want to ruin this for anyone who's going to listen to it, but the writer exhibits no real concern about the dogs who've been stolen and mistreated. The ending is played for comedy. It's not funny. And Virgil gets a dog out of it? Really? That dog was stolen. No effort is made to find the owner? And that's heartwarming? What?
Eric Conger does his usual splendid job. If I'd read this review instead of written it, I'd probably buy the book anyway, because, hey, it's still John Sandford. A debased Sandford is still pretty good, although he needs to be ashamed of the dog part.
9 of 13 people found this review helpful