Fourteen days ago, CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, received a cryptic message from an agent operating deep undercover in Russia: "He has betrayed us and wants to go to war." Unable to make contact, the director of operations is forced to turn to one of his most deadly field officers - Will Cochrane. His mission is simple: infiltrate the remote submarine base in eastern Russia's Avacha Bay, locate the MI6 agent operating under the code name Svelte, and decode his message - or die trying.
After reading a few reviews of Matthew Dunn's other books I decided to start with Sentinel. Unfortunately that didn't save it for me. Rarely do I stop listening to a book before the end, but I did with Sentinel. The characters are a flat, not dynamic at all and I found the plot started to DRAG very quickly. I found myself wanting to listen to almost anything else before I'd gotten 1/2 way through. By the 2/3 mark I had to punch out...
Additionally Rich Orlow's narration is not my particular favorite. The character's voices get garbled and indistinct after a very short while. Listen to the sample and imagine adding a bunch of characters, something I normally like, but no way to differentiate them. FRUSTRATING.
All this is too bad because there are moments that hint at more. But those moments come too far apart for me to continue. I really wanted to like this book, but I am sorry to say I'll be asking for my credit back.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
15 thriller masters. 1 masterful thriller! Former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton possesses a previously unknown score by Frederic Chopin. But he is unaware that, within it's handwritten notes, lies a secret that now threatens the lives of thousands of Americans. As he races from Poland to the U.S. to uncover the mystery of the manuscript, Middleton will be accused of murder, pursued by federal agents, and targeted by assassins.
I was drawn to this book to a large degree because of its unique premise. One story passed along through 15 different authors with no guidance or notes passed with it, just the trust in fellow professionals to do what they do. A bold concept.
Although The Chopin Manuscript is not as sharp and tight as a book written by a single author, you will still find the misdirects and twists you expect in a good thriller. Also several themes are carried through the entire book that binds the story together. There were lot of characters for a book this size and it did read a little spasmodic at times, and though I am no English major or literary expert, the differing “voices” of the authors (which I enjoyed) was evident through out. It wasn’t perfect, but I applaud the author team for doing a good job. Overall I found the book engaging and fun to read, so I say it worked.
As for the narrator, Alfred Molina is a talented actor and bounces between accents with amazing fluidity. He does a truly great job of bringing the dialogue-packed story to life.
In the end I gave the story 3 1/2 stars, and the performance 5 stars, for a solid 4 overall.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Court Gentry is known as The Gray Man - a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible, and then fading away. And he always hits his target. But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness. Now, he is going to prove that for him, there's no gray area between killing for a living-and killing to stay alive.
Unfortunately Court Gentry (the Gray Man) is a cardboard cutout of a character, and that makes it hard to connect with him. Add to that, the author spends more time telling the reader how scary and dangerous the Gray Man is, and not enough time showing it.
Even the chase scenes get a little cartoony after a while...a very short while in fact. If you like nonstop thrill rides this is the book for you. If like me, you like pauses in the action, then this book will leave you wanting more.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Faced with the end of his quiet, settled life, reluctant spy Milo Weaver has no choice but to turn back to his old job as a “tourist”. Before he can get back to the CIA’s dirty work, he has to prove his loyalty to his new bosses, who know little of Milo’s background and less about who is really pulling the strings in the government above the Department of Tourism—or in the outside world, which is beginning to believe the legend of its existence.
Having enjoyed Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist I tried The Cairo Affair, and disliked it. Naturally I was unsure about trying The Nearest Exit. I took a chance and was surprised to find it better than the first Milo Weaver book. They changed the narrator and that took some getting used to but The Nearest Exit did not disappoint.
Olen Steinhauer's books demand you listen intently. If you are looking for a mindless listen where the author walks you by the hand through the story, highlighting everything you need to pay attention to to stay with the story, then pass by this one. BUT it you like a book with a complex plot that will challenge you to keep up, then Milo Weaver is your guy.
Be advised, Milo Weaver is not a super hero. He is a guy doing a job. He needs help at times, gets captured, beat up and limps afterwards. If you like the invincible man protagonist this might not be the book for you.
This book picks up where The Tourist left off, so if you haven't I would listen to that first. The reader is forced to find out a lot more about the Department of Tourism. I enjoyed the peak behind the curtain.
In The Tourist, Milo is tiring of the multiple cover identities and the semi-rootless life. He leaves it by the end of that book. Circumstances force him back in but he struggles. The story really unfolds because Milo tries to do the right thing and that throws a wrench in the works.
We catch up with familiar characters from the last book and meet some new one along the way. Fellow "tourist" James Einner is back along with two new tourists. Alan Drummond takes over Thomas Granger corner office in the Avenue of the Americas building. We meet BND director Erika Schwartz and her crew. Xin Zhu, a shadowy Chinese spymaster is hinted at. And of course, like any good espionage story, not everyone is who they seem.
Minor Tourist SPOILER: we catch up with Milo's biological father again and we learn a little twist concerning his mother.
The book is not perfect, the author overuses the word tourist too much for my taste. Some of the secondary and tertiary characters could use some development. He gives some of them interesting Idiosyncrasies but then just overuses those. Sometimes less can be more. Also Milo's wife get annoying. In all fairness that might be because I identify more with the protagonist and I am a man. She is well written, it is simply that she make me mad, and that might be the point. Judge for yourself.
Tom Weiner (the narrator of The Tourist) is an acquired taste, but I like him, so it took me a while to warm up to David Pittu's performance. Now that I am "acclimatized" to David's narration, I enjoyed the story.
Life is about choices and the scars we receive with each questionable one we make. Milo has quite a few scars and they tug from time to time. The Nearest Exit examines what is done in the name of the greater good and brings to light the scars those choices can leave behind. I enjoyed the book and hope you do too.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
In the vein of John le Carré and Graham Greene, this contemporary international thriller follows Milo Weaver as he is drawn into a conspiracy that links riots in the Sudan, an assassin committing suicide, and an old friend who's been accused of selling secrets to the Chinese. Once the CIA and Homeland Security are after him, the only way for him to survive is to return, headfirst, into Tourism.
The Tourist rewards you for paying attention. The story weaves its way along so if you are a reader that like to be carefully lead, then you might be disappointed. But if you enjoy a book that makes you think then you will want to give The Tourist a listen.
"Company" man, Milo Weaver works out of the Avenue of the Americas secret Department of Tourism as a clandestine operative ... a Tourist. Like a tourist, he has no connection to the country he happens to be passing through.
If you are expecting another Jack Reacher or Victor the Assassin character, you will be disappointed. As much as I enjoy those characters, I found myself drawn to this "everyman" spy. Milo (named after a dog) is every bit a professional, but one with a life and a past that unfolds as the story develops. And that past has more than a little bearing on the story.
And as for the story, you have to pay attention as POV and time and place of the story change. Things don't jump around in a jumble, but they do flow. And you can stay with it if you are willing. I enjoyed those twists right up to the last.
As for the narration, I think Tom Weiner's performance is just fine. I have listened to several books narrated by Tom and was pleased with them. So when I read a LOT of bad reviews about his reading of this book, I discounted them. Turns out I was right to do so. He might not do the best "woman's" voice, and that can be said of many male narrators, but I enjoy his work. It might be he is an acquired taste.
I can't say I know any CIA employees / operatives, but I doubt they sit around talking about "the company" or that they can do anything at any time, any where. I suspect they are real men and women, smart and capable, but people. Something like Milo. At no time do you mistake him for superman, but he is certainly fun to ride along with. Take a chance on The Tourist, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Michael J. Sullivan garnered critical raves and a massive readership for his Riyria Revelations series. The first book in his highly anticipated Riyria Chronicles series of prequels, The Crown Tower brings together warrior Hadrian Blackwater with thieving assassin Royce Melborn. The two form a less-than-friendly pairing, but the quest before them has a rare prize indeed, and if they can breach the supposedly impregnable walls of the Crown Tower, their names will be legend.
I chose to listen to Michael J Sullivan’s books in published order, The Riyria Revelations prior to The Riyria Chronicles. Either way will work, but I’ll say The Riyria Chronicles are the more polished stories. Like any good author MJS has honed his craft over time and it is noticeable.
The Crown Tower brings the unlikely pair of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater together for the first time. Ride along as the duo is sent on their first mission by Professor Arcadius. Although you will recognize Royce and Hadrian, they are not yet the friends they will come to be. Not only do we get to watch as Hadrian and Royce come to learn about each other, but we also get Gwen origin story. If you enjoyed The Riyria Revelations you will be more than pleased with this first story in The Riyria Chronicles. If you have not listened to Revelations feel free to try The Crown Tower. You won't be disappointed.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Three times they tried to kill her. Then they hired a professional. She hired Riyria. When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as thieves for hire. Things have gone well enough until they receive the odd assignment to prevent a murder.
Weather or not you've listened to the other Riyria tales first, you can listen to The Death of Dulgath. Michael J Sullivan stories continually get better as he hones his craft as a writer and he weaves another entertaining tale in The Death of Dulgath. We follow the two thieves as they travel through Avryn on a seemingly simple and innocent mission. But nothing is ever that simple for Royce and Hadrian. The story is enjoyable, but the real fun, for me at least, is the interaction between the two friends. MJS writes from Hadrian’s or Royce’s completely different POVs so wonderfully that the reader is completely immersed in that character.
Tim Gerard Reynolds does a superb job of bringing these two great characters to life. He is quickly moving up the list of my favorite narrators. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job.
The combination of TGR spot-on performance and MJS fresh and witty writing that keeps me coming back for more.
Royce and Hadrian's continually growing friendship erases any real differences between the two and what’s left is…well Riyria. Two who are one. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
While carrying out a hit on a terrorist financier, Victor finds himself the target of an assassin who proves to be just as deadly as he is. Never one to let such a thing go, Victor sets about hunting down his attacker and those who sent her. She is Raven - a freelance assassin with a dark past and hidden agenda. If Victor wants to stay alive, he must find out who Raven really is and what she is truly after. Does she really want him dead, or does someone else want them to kill each other?
Before May 2014 I had little interest in thrillers and never heard of Tom Wood nor Victor the Assassin. How times change. Now I can't get enough Victor to suit me. I jumped on Darkest Day as soon as it became available and I wasn't disappointed. Another great Victor the Assassin tale. Tom Wood grounds his stories with facts about locations, weapons, and other items and fill in with his descriptive prose. I have listened to each book at least twice, so that might tell you something.
As for The Darkest Day, it's another winner. Characters are the engine that drives a story and Darkest Day does not disappoint. There are characters aplenty, a spoiled prince, a diminutive taylor that once made suits for the Nazi's, a jaded call-girl, and more. In the background there is a shady organization linger just off stage. In this one Victor faces off against Raven, a femme fatale worthy of him in every way. Close calls follow. No spoilers, but for all Victor's shortcomings perseverance is not one of them. I'll just say don't get on Victor's naughty list.
The Darkest Day puts Victor's quiet charm, athletic ability, foresight, technical and tactical proficiency on display again. As the story unfolds we travel from DC to Prague to Dublin to Port au Prince to New York. The Darkest Day fulfills every expectation laid down by the previous Victor novels. Take a chance, spend the credit, and enjoy.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to 2,000 calories of badly flavored soy every day. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service. With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth.
Not that I am saying that Terms of Enlistment and Starship Troopers are all that similar, it's just the feel of the stories. I especially enjoyed the boot camp chapters.
As for this book itself, the author focuses on the story and not the tech. Granted there are cool gadgets. but he doesn't get bogged down in describing every little thing. He emphasizes the story. And this story is about Andrew Grayson. He wins the lottery and that allows him to leave the projects and join the military. He makes his way through boot camp, but (no spoilers) things don't all go his way. Grayson is just a regular guy put in extraordinary circumstances and that is very enjoyable and refreshing to read. He deals with few bump in the roads. The battle scenes are good and there are more than a few.
The down side, some of the characters are 2D cardboard cutouts, and much of the dialogue is cheesy and stereotypical. I have heard dialogue like this in bad movies, likely written by people who's never spent time around military officers actually doing their jobs. Luke Daniels does a good job narrating. That aside I think Marko Kloos does an alright job with this one, but it falls short of great.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Robin Monarch is a man with a complicated, secret past and a very grim future. Currently locked up in the USDB - the military supermax prison known as Leavenworth - the CIA offers Monarch one shot at freedom and a pardon. All he has to do is steal something from a highly secure position at ground zero of a war zone, and escape undetected.
Mark Sullivan likes flashbacks...a LOT! AI get it, a good flashback scene enriches a story. But too much of a good thing does not make it better. If I were reading it might be different. You can see the scene change, but that is not the case when listening. If the author stayed focused on the story and didn't vomit in so much backstory, I would be inclined to add a star or two. As it is, I am afraid to purchase any of his novel length audiobooks because half of these stories are in flashbacks. That is truly unfortunate, because Robin Monarch is an interesting character. Until I find out he's writing differently, I'll have to pass on Mark Sullivan’s offerings.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful