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Cholmondeley

Santa Barbara, CA United States
  • 41
  • reviews
  • 190
  • helpful votes
  • 421
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A Ten-Hour Christmas Letter

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-31-19

This is truly terrible. It is like the worst Christmas letter ever written. Ten hours of bloviating self-promotion.

4 of 10 people found this review helpful

ALL the elements of every thriller

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-24-17

A retired couple built their dream house in my neighborhood. They found an architect to combine all the architectural features they had seen and admired over a lifetime. To include everything the house is at least five times bigger than a single couple can comfortably occupy. The combined effect of a merger of many, many ideas that come from several radically different styles evokes criticism from people who have never before paid attention to building design.

Ted Bell has studied the genre with care. He has assembled a sizable collection of "thriller tropes," and has crammed them all into this single novel said to the first of a series.

Thanks to the excellent narration by John Shea the result is much, much better than my neighbors' house.

The characters, settings and plot devices are familiar. The way they are combined is, well, brave. I couldn't resist listing the first thirty that came to mine when I finished listening to the novel. What follows may warrant a Spoiler Alert. Or, it might enhance the pleasure of listening to the book by creating an anticipation of these features that appear in an unpredictable order.

(1) London hotels: The Connaught (grill/bar), Claridges, The Dorchester, #10 Downing
(2) Arab sheik in mountaintop castle/fort (3) Sumo wrestler as guard (3) Gibbets with human remains (4) NFL football player >> Navy Seal >> NYPD detective (5) Garden of poison plants and trees (6) Flying and landing gliders into mountains (7) Venice - Harry's , Danelieli Hotel (8) Harem of female assassins - hashish (9) Man eating komodo dragon (10) Cigarette boats, 200' yacht (with fireplace) & various high speed boats (11) Cuban special forces operatives (10) Bride shot by sniper as she leaves church (11) Elevator rigged to allow sniper to shoot from 60' up tree (12) Butler and every other manner of servant (13) Scotland Yard inspector who spouts Sherlock Holmes (14) Kidnapping by syringe disguised as ring and helicopter (15) Chinese operatives (16) Atomic weapon design by Indian grad of Cal Tech (17) Jihadist disguised as Greek-American cop (18) Boston whaler navigation off Maine coast in thick fog (19) Exclusion of rich wannabe from private London club/restaurant (20) Atomic bomb - "linear implosion" and Harvard prof to explain it to good guys (20) Hail Mary with football shaped-bomb (21) Transcendental numbers (22) The UK PM and the US Secy of State and the US President (23) A scissors assassin (24) The 100 missing Weapons of Mass Destruction (25) Miami's Little Havana (26) Vietnam War (27) Bone fishing (28) An Arab bodyguard called TippuTip (after the Zanizabari slave trader circa 1900) (29) "Stiltsville" off Miami coast - staple in Miami action stories and the Doc Ford series (30) Mutated smallpox virus.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Romance - not historical thriller

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-24-16

This is a Romance which begins interior monologues by different women sizing up physical appearance of different men. I couldn't listen to it for even a half hour.

Disappointing

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-24-16

Robert Harris can write a good story about almost anything. The election of a pope is an exception. This was a disappointment in that the characters felt flat and the plot felt thin and contrived. It's impossible not to compare this to Morris West's books about the Vatican which are much better.

Story fine but wrong narrator.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-24-16

The Joe Demarco series by Mike Lawson is my favorite discovery of the year. I got most of the audiobooks through Hoopla from my local library, but the books are good enough that I'm willing to buy the rest of the series here. This is the second book, before they found Joe Barrett to narrate. The reader is Scott Brick who is a favorite of many audiobook listeners. I'm not one of them. In general I find his performances too "emotionally labile," which is something Joe Demarco is not. The deep, steady voice of Barrett in the later books is just right.

Dissappointing

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-24-16

I'm a fan of the Later Grishman (eg The Appeal) but this book was early /Grishman and disappointing with respect to characters, plotting and even writing style. It's almost as if an early, rejected manuscript was pulled out of a drawer and resubmitted for publication.

As told from the perspective of the child

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-17-16

Probably okay as a children's book. I got it as the daily deal and couldn't listen to more than fifteen minutes of it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

You get your money's worth

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-17-16

Neal Stephenson keeps the action going for 35 hours without letup and Malcolm Hillgartner is up for such a long read with a roomful of voices, each different and recognizable while all from the same "key" - by which I mean that none is outlandish or jarring.

As always Stephenson delivers a Big Bang.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-12-16

I listening to the series - this time in the order the books were written - two years after the first listen. I don't do this often and never with a gap of only two years. But the content of Stephenson's books is so dense and some of his best lines so subtle that the material feels fresh and worth paying attention to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Dubious plot developed with poor dialogue

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-12-16

This book was featured on the front page of the New York Times Book Review, which is a better endorsement than the content of any review. In this instance the review was rightfully lukewarm.

The plot is the product of Dickensian aspirations, which is good in an audiobook because it increases the ratio of minutes of entertainment (or distraction or background sound) to the cost of a credit. The elaborate plot, while thin, is not the central problem. The problem is that Carr, an established, experienced and successful writer, couldn't figure out how to write Holden Caulfield dialogue for 2016 for both a wiseass teenager and two adults with doctoral degrees.

Every time I read Catcher again I increase my estimate for the number of times it was rewritten. Holden's language sounds casual, but in no sentence is there an extra word, wrong word, or a missing word or misplaced comma or period. There isn't a sentence that can't be read aloud for an enhanced version of the effect when read silently.

Carr three central characters - two are adults - talk like contemporary Holden wannabes. For the adult characters that's the issue; they are adults. An adult who talks like Holden in 1950 or in an update of Holden in 2016 is just a dope.

Carr's writing resembles the way a lazy, C- high school student would write dialogue if told there were no constraints on swearing. The kind of swearing in this book is not objectionable because it violates moral sensibilities. It's objectionable and annoying because, like most swearing, it's a lazy way to communicate. The words deliver less information than the reader or listener deserves in exchange for the effort of attending to the creator's content.

The NYT Review accurately describes the book's promise to reveal the logical flaws in "forensic" criminalistics which evolved in response to kind of prosecutorial needs and demands which effectively control the delivery of the funds that nurture the growth of the "science." The subject of SCIENCE is always fair game for serious criticism. Carr tries. His shots might hit the target occasionally, but he can't get the range and therefore can't fire for effect.

I've worked as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense lawyer. I'm interested and engaged in the problems of institutional bias, ordinary, unintentional human bias, bias as a product of neurobiology, and bias as the result of our otherwise effective use of heuristics which may have originated in conditions radically different from those in a criminalistics lab. If Carr had a case to make I'd pay attention; if necessary I'll charitably construct or charitably reconstruct the words in order to get his point. I would buy and read the hard copy if I thought it would help me understand something significant and new about this field and these kinds of concepts. I am a good audience for this kind of book.

If a case was made, I didn't get it. I didn't get the case, and I wasn't tempted to get a copy of the hardcover.

****

I started to give the book a single star for narration, but there was nothing wrong with the with the way it was read. Taylorson did what he could with bad material. I gave him three stars because perhaps it's possible that a great reader/actor could have saved the text from itself, but I don't know how.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful