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Joseph Kucharski III

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  • 37
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  • Wrecked

  • An IQ Novel
  • By: Joe Ide
  • Narrated by: Sullivan Jones
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 600
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 556
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 552

Isaiah Quintabe - IQ for short - has never been more successful or felt more alone. A series of high-profile wins in his hometown of East Long Beach have made him notorious. Dodson, once his sidekick, is now his full-fledged partner, hell-bent on giving IQ's PI business some legitimacy. So when a young painter approaches IQ for help tracking down her missing mother, it's not just the case Isaiah's looking for but the human connection. And when his new confidant turns out to be connected to a dangerous paramilitary operation, IQ falls victim to a threat even a genius can't see coming.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointment for this once promising series

  • By Terry on 10-27-18

More IQ!

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

Reviewed: 11-24-18

Joe Ide opens “Wrecked”, the latest of his neo-noir IQ series, with the book’s protagonist in a world of trouble. For Isaiah Quintabe, the eponymous hero of Ide’s novels, his world consists of the mean streets of LA. Yet, hot to help a desperate artist track down her long-lost mommy, IQ’s world expands as he becomes tangled with Blackwater-ish consulting firm involved with the Abu Ghraib atrocity. IQ, naturally, only wants to be involved with said desperate artist and her tricked-out GTI. “Wrecked,l unlike Ide’s other offerings, sets IQ’s usual introverted coolness into conflict with a perilous need for action. Intuitive reflection gives way to risky reaction, placing this otherwise unique offering a step into the general genre.

Ide is a master in presenting a character’s progression. Dodson, IQ’s quote-unquote partner, is a newbie daddy who begins to realize that the hustle of the street is not beneficial to being a father, or a husband. He introduces Grace, who is neither quite a damsel-in-distress nor a femme fatale yet sits in the delta of the love interest Venn diagram. Ide, as always, excels in cutting to the quick with the villains du jour: Walczak, an ex-CIA op, and Rictor, a disgraced ex-LAPD. Ide gives meaning to their machinations and even a touch of honor to their code, warped or not.

“Wrecked”, though, has too much going on in the peripheral to properly come into focus. Aside from the case with Grace, IQ dabbles in other side projects as well as his dealings with Seb, the Rwandan criminal responsible for the death of his older brother. Any of these sub-plots had the potential of greater real estate and at least one instance achingly demanded more screen time. Mixed altogether, Wrecked becomes heavy with possibilities, slowing down its cause for that one righteous quest.

But only slightly.

“Wrecked” is a hip, cool cat of a crime tale stroking Ide as a worthy successor to Leonard’s offbeat tales. IQ’s mythology works at its best when pitted intellectually against a foe while verbally sparring with the slick-tongued Dodson. Wrecked is pure mainlining of adrenaline. It misses out on those quiet beats where the story usually comes together deep in Isaiah’s thought stream.

Being the Sherlock Holmes of Long Beach comes with its share of responsibility, which makes for a great read. “Wrecked” is a worthy entry into a world where everyone needs some extra IQ.

  • Righteous

  • By: Joe Ide
  • Narrated by: Sullivan Jones
  • Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,079
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,936
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,927

For 10 years something has gnawed at Isaiah Quintabe's gut and kept him up nights, boiling with anger and thoughts of revenge. Ten years ago, when Isaiah was just a boy, his brother was killed by an unknown assailant. The search for the killer sent Isaiah plunging into despair and nearly destroyed his life. Even with a flourishing career, a new dog, and near-iconic status as a PI in his hometown, East Long Beach, he has to begin the hunt again - or lose his mind.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Ide can write!

  • By 6catz on 10-20-17

Joe Ide's IQ is just plain Righteous

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

Reviewed: 03-02-18

Somewhere, either on the dust jacket or within on the literary reviews page, Florida-based writer Carl Hiaasen offered an outstanding critique of praise stating, essentially, no matter how fast Joe Ide writes, it’s clearly not fast enough. Couldn’t agree more. After reading Righteous, I need IQ #3 to drop on the market right now.

For the time being, we have Righteous, which as a follow-up is right in line with IQ. Here, the defining factor being this book’s narrative, which is separated into a dual timeline. One, in which IQ and Dodson deal with each other while rescuing a deep in-debt couple from the Triads in Vegas, while elsewhere IQ attempts to solve his brother’s murder back in Long Beach, possibly involving the Los Locos gang. And oh yes, both stories slam together spectacularly. Ide keeps the action fresh and the dialogue quick, but man, it’s the relationships between specific pairs Ide builds upon that truly make this story excel.

Naturally there is Isaiah and Dodson, the chronicled stars. Friends, perhaps partners, but not quite bosom buddies, the two verbally spar. Constantly. Their patter and witty repartee is amusing, endearing, and I did not want it to end. Ide has perfectly captured the true essence of these two characters, making them unique and refreshingly real.

Ide goes deeper, especially with the villains, and even those morally gray, such as DJ Janine and motorcyclist Benny. Star-crossed lovers whose love of gambling outweighs everything else. Then there is Janine’s father, Ken, a particular type of scum working for Tommy, who leads the Triads and places Ken in a similar position of servitude like those that Ken enslaves. There are Rwandan refugees Gahigi and Seb, the latter of which might, huge emphasis on that might, but still, rise to the level of Isaiah’s Moriarty. Los Locos gang leaders, the washed up Frankie, seeking one last street-wide brawl to cement his name with the barrio elite, and Manzo, his replacement who desires to corporatize the gang-banging lifestyle. And finally, the lovable loan shark Leo the Lion-Hearted and his Canadian giant heavy, Zar. Each of them exceptional with their layers of excess as Ide allows them time to grow and breathe and conclude their arcs.

Ide presents more than the usual genre offerings. His neo-noir style is combined with a hint of the best of the tried-and-true buddy cop pairings. The end result is… righteous. Or is that too easy? How about addictive… because if the next IQ runs late, I’m heading into massive withdrawal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Uncommon Type

  • Some Stories
  • By: Tom Hanks
  • Narrated by: Tom Hanks
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,256
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,032
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,025

A collection of 17 wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor. The short stories are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Absolutely the best..

  • By Joan B on 11-04-17

Good Stories by the Right Type… Writer

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

Reviewed: 12-02-17

Tom Hanks wrote a book. Yeah… that Tom Hanks. You know, the Academy Award-winner who is the closest to taking on that “everyman” actor mantle since the departure of Jimmy Stewart? And his book, Uncommon Type, is really quite fun.

"Uncommon Type" is a collection of 17 short stories. Like any anthology, the stories presented within are a mixed bag depending, of course, on the reader’s taste, station of life, and adventures that being on the road will take said reader to the place in time when this book is actually read. Some within are very good. So good, in fact, you don’t want them to end; you crave for the full novel. Some are charming enough to be enjoyable, but also be charmingly forgettable. Four of them, and thank Tom there are only four, are mortally terrible.

Of the very good, Hanks presents the following: "Three Exhausting Weeks" presents the fun tale of four friends, two of which decide to experiment with the old friends-with-benefits idea. "Christmas Eve 1953" tells of a WWII vet who recounts his time overseas ten years back. "A Month on Greene Street" has a divorced mother encountering her possibly-flirtatious neighbor all set on a mythical suburban street in August. And "These Are the Meditations of My Heart" is a love letter to the typewriter, which is a theme Hanks carries throughout the entire novel as typewriters of all kinds make an appearance in each of his stories.

The very bad all involve a cranky writer named Hank Fiset who complains about technology and New York and coffee and wishes life could remain stuck in the 1960s American Midwest, which actually sounds like hell to me. And those stories are as close to that infernal realm as I chose to presently get. They are also mercifully short.

Full disclosure here. I listened to the audiobook, because I can listen to Tom Hanks speak for much longer than the ten hours spent enjoying this book. And for an auditory treat, Hanks, he’s an actor remember, adds certain flair to some of the stories. In "Go See Costas", for instance, Hanks recounts the story of a Bulgarian-by-way-of-Greece immigrant coming to New York. Hanks plays up a mild accent for the role, which is a nice touch to a nice story that reminds readers that, oh yeah, America is still one great big melting pot, regardless of what “Those-In-Office” may otherwise think. He concludes with a radio-style play, complete with an appearance from bosom buddy Peter Scolari, that is painfully campy, but solid in heart.

Hanks knows how to craft a story; the man can tell a tale. And most of the stories within follow his everyman, and every-woman in a number of instances, ideals. Some of the stories let you get lost in the world he creates, while others are as uncommon as they are short, which is the ideal premise of what a collection of short stories should be all about. After all, didn’t Hanks once play a character that compared life’s choices to a box of… I dunno… something that comes in boxes… anvils? Right?

  • Lightning Men

  • A Novel
  • By: Thomas Mullen
  • Narrated by: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
  • Length: 12 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58

Officer Denny Rakestraw, "Negro officers" Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith, and Sergeant McInnis have their hands full in an overcrowded and rapidly changing Atlanta. It's 1950, and color lines are shifting and racial tensions are simmering. Black families - including Smith's sister and brother-in-law - are moving into Rake's formerly all-white neighborhood, leading some residents to raise money to buy them out while others advocate a more violent solution.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Little Too Much

  • By Joseph Kucharski III on 11-08-17

A Little Too Much

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

Reviewed: 11-08-17

Thomas Mullen certainly gives his readers the service they want with Lightning Men. Building off the previous novel, Darktown, Mullen goes deeper into the plight of Boggs and Smith and their careers as Atlanta’s first African-American police officers. He builds on the story of Officer Denny Rakestraw, a white officer who is not totally opposed to the idea of black officers, but finds himself living in a transition town – white suburbia now threatened to become another Darktown. Mullen’s plot twists and turns with real estate deals, moonshine and marijuana, and tensions between the always-incompetent KKK and their threatening successors, the Colombians. All and this more is breached cover-to-cover in one of the very few times that the old adage once made famous by Sir Mick about too much never being enough is unfortunately not true as Lightning Men suffers from that dreaded curse of sequelitis.

You know, that stigmata is not entirely fair. Lightning Men is a compelling, well-written, and highly entertaining read. Mullen fleshes out 1950s Atlanta and presents the attitude of the city and the blatant bigotry throughout. Mullen digs deeper with his plot, tying various, complicated threads to key characters and letting the reader watch it all unfold. Yet, some of this plot is too obtuse. The map presented sprawls and rambles as long and as wide as Peachtree Street. Maybe Mullen binge watches Game of Thrones and as such, gives too much importance to the B-, C-, and D-story arcs, thus taking away the importance – and the very relevance – of the A-story. Crime novel readers don’t want a ramble down a shady lane in the sun. They want a punch to the gut. Hard punches. With a blow to the nose and a killer uppercut to knock you out. Lightning Men doesn’t have enough punches, but plenty of weaving and feints.

Lightning Men is a worthy follow-up and is successful in structuring, then embellishing, the characters’ arcs. However, too many new characters are introduced and with that comes a level of convenience in working the plot around these new characters and as a result, the story suffers.

Just a little. And just too much.

But not enough to keep me away from my next visit to Darktown.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • IQ

  • By: Joe Ide
  • Narrated by: Sullivan Jones
  • Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,429
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,071
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5,052

A resident of one of LA's toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores. East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch. They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • IQ way better than OK

  • By green ice cream garden on 12-21-16

IQ and the Hounds of Bakersfield

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

Reviewed: 07-13-17

Sherlock Holmes updates are a plenty in the early 21st century. Guy Ritchie’s take has RDJ as a bare-fisted fighter. Steven Moffat’s Sherlock, like any Millennial, is glued to his Smartphone while Watson is married to a superspy. Then comes author Joe Ide whose eponymous character is a young, black man in LA solving crimes for the poor folk of the ‘hood for payments of blueberry muffins. IQ drives a maxed out Audi while Watson, this time going with the rhyming handle Dodson, is a Tupac-loving, ex-drug dealer. And brother it works.

Hardly your typical noir LA PI, Isaiah Quintabe is a quiet man who has the gift of observation. As a means of absolution, he simply wishes to help, while his former roommate, Dodson, who sets himself up as IQ’s business manager, gets him involved in a case involving a rapper targeted by a hitman who specializes in breeding pit bulls. Ide provides a hip-hop soundtrack as the unlikely duo works the case while the b-plot reveals the friends’ former criminal ways that breaks IQ away from the genre and into an untapped realm.

Ide’s dialogue is fresh and, typical of the Sherlock genre, revealing as IQ proves himself, distances himself, from mundane, particularly those in his community who see happiness by way of Benjamins and bling. The plot is fast and fun if even the solution runs on the convenient side. Best yet, Ide has a follow-up planned. Having more IQ is always a good thing.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Everything I Never Told You

  • A Novel
  • By: Celeste Ng
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8,682
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7,804
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,828

Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet.… So begins the story in this exquisite debut novel about a Chinese American family living in a small town in 1970s Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Character Novel

  • By colprubin on 07-16-14

Compelling Mystery; Cliché Drama

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

Reviewed: 06-26-17

Initially reading through "Everything I Never Told You", those other players in the American family drama genre game come to mind. And not those pseudo-comedic slices of live stories that "Parenthood" and "Grand Canyon" were so fantastic at portraying, rather, something much more Americana – the family tragedy. Like "Ordinary People", or "American Beauty" to be slightly more contemporary, where the family bond is decapitated by one destroying event.

The event within Celeste Ng’s book is the death of teenager Lydia Lee. Ng unfolds the mystery surrounding such – was her death a murder, a suicide, or simply a terrible accident – while revealing the secrets, both personal and, more often than not, trite, of the entire Lee family. The Lees, a typical Chinese-American family living in Ohio in the late 1970s you see, are not so typical, as Ng presses to expand upon. And she mostly succeeds.

Those initial genre reactions degrade as the Lees, it is realized, ARE typical. They run through the same fears and desires and stresses of every other family, albeit without ready access to SSRIs. That normality that has been promoted to the super-normal becomes super-annoying as the novel digresses into a downward spiral of complaining, whining, and ungratefulness. James, the patriarch and provider, is stuck in a standard job. Marilyn, the Anglo-wife, who dreams of being more than a mom. The siblings, all three of them, are normal, and boring, and ignored, and invisible. "Everything I Never Told You", builds on the compelling mystery of Lydia’s death on top of all the clichés of a standard drama yet is providential enough not to collapse.

Perhaps the most surprising theme uncovered is that Ng almost wants this mixed-marriage to fail. As if this novel were a thesis on how inter-racial marriages cannot, and maybe should not, succeed – a theme that when using a 21st Century vantage is most absurd. To her credit, however, she does emphasis the difficulties such a family dynamic would present, especially in 1970s Ohio.

Ng has a pleasant, accepting writing style and plots the story with a progressive pace aptly exploring each personality. Unfortunately, the deeper those characters become, the more vexing they are revealed to be and the easier to ultimately forget. The emphasis of a family tragedy is to grieve when these characters befall a certain fate. Otherwise, all you get is "Hamlet". "Everything I Never Told You" is more akin to a sigh of relief.

  • Neverwhere

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,359
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23,525
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23,516

Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Vivid, imaginative.

  • By Joseph on 10-29-09

A Short Story Slowly Expanded Upon

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

Reviewed: 05-23-17

In a strange set of circumstances, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is a novelized adaptation of a BBC miniseries he co-created. Working backwards, as opposed to having a written work adapted for film (Stardust) or TV (American Gods), Neil fleshes out the everyman hero of Richard Mayhew and delves deeper into the fantastical and eye-winkingly comical land of London Below, complete with black friars and elephants within castles, and where Richard, looking for an exit back to his terribly-mundane and beautifully-predictable life, is essentially trapped after helping the injured Lady Door. The question being if such elaboration was entirely required.

Certainly, Neverwhere is completely Neil Gaiman. The worlds are imaginary, the characters are rich of back-story and tales, and his intricate writing style flourishes with grand, beautiful descriptions of settings, feelings, and thoughts. Through all that, Neverwhere is also too long, too slow, many of its scenes are missing the pop of a fast-paced television series.

Neverwhere could have been a fantastic, longer entry in Trigger Warning, Gaiman’s 2015 collection of short-ish stories, or even a novella akin to Ocean At The End Of The Lane. The complete novelization of Neverwhere makes a tiring marathon out of what could have a pleasant afternoon jog. Absolutely, an enjoyable, magical read by a master, but shorter can sometimes be sweeter.

  • Born to Run

  • By: Bruce Springsteen
  • Narrated by: Bruce Springsteen
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,803
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,285
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,251

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl's halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That's how this extraordinary autobiography began. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to this audio the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Boss demonstrates his strong work ethic and dedication to excellence as he tells his story.

  • By Tim on 12-21-16

A little of the glory of...

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

Reviewed: 03-05-17

Bruce captures his glory days – and ignites them – in his autobiography Born To Run. Ever the craftsman, the lyricist, the poet, the storyteller, the everyman, Bruce Springsteen pens in his memoirs in an enlightening, entertaining way that anyone from the hardcore fan who knows every song by heart to the casual listener who thinks “Born In The U.S.A” is a patriotic foot-tapper will find enjoyable and, believe it or not, relatable.

I waited until this book was available on Audible for the sole purpose of getting the chance to listen to Bruce, to the Boss, to have him tell his story directly to me. His book is not only full of tales from his life, but his philosophy on rock music; his responsibilities to his fans, his band, and his family; how weakness can make one stronger; and how to be an inspiration.

For over 18 hours, I got to listen to one of my heroes talk to me. I heard intimate stories, rowdy bar tales, rock’n roll hobnobbing, and the fears that most every father has. Bruce talked - to me - about all these and more for over eighteen hours. And I cannot wait to listen to it all again.

  • Not Dead Yet

  • The Memoir
  • By: Phil Collins
  • Narrated by: Phil Collins
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,025
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 953
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 947

The long-awaited autobiography from Phil Collins, one of the best-selling music artists of all time. This is the roller-coaster journey from his beginnings as a child actor to his domination of the charts as both a solo artist and part of Genesis. His success is astounding, his music has global reach, and his story is legendary.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Funny, moving and honest

  • By Brian Haworth on 11-03-16

Not Dead Yet… and Thank God for that

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

Reviewed: 12-30-16

As an impressionable young boy in the summer of 1985, fully discovering my personal musical tastes, I distinctly remember purchasing Genesis’ self-titled release, on cassette of course, and probably due to the fact that local-Philadelphia radio station WMMR was, as it was quite known for doing, playing the album to death. But more than the familiarity of certain songs, the opening track of “Mama” was magical. The drums’ rhythm, the hard guitar, the spooky synths. And that evil laugh. Captivating. Thirty-plus years later, I still find that laugh, and the man responsible for it, just as captivating.

Phil Collins presents in his memoir "Not Dead Yet" plenty of tales. Some known, such has when he became the frontman for Genesis as well as his own successful solo career, to the unknown. Three divorces and rampant alcoholism? News to me. Through it all, Phil never comes across as preaching, or bragging, or self-indulgent. Instead, he’s telling you telling tales. Maybe from across the bar at the pub. Maybe at an AA meeting. But great tales.

Yes, personally, I would have liked the addition of more Genesis details, but Phil does spend a large portion of his novel to his time with the band, as they were a large part of his life, but he has obviously done plenty outside of the band. I very much remember him flying between stadiums for Live Aid, but completely forgot, as I’m sure Phil would be thankful for, that he played second drummer in the Led Zeppelin “reunion”.

Hey. Phil was, and still is, a huge, driving force in music. His book definitely has major fan appeal, but contains enough of the personal, the human, element, that even the casual fan, who might only be familiar with Tarzan or “In The Air Tonight” to be completely accessible and enjoyable. "Not Dead Yet" makes Phil relatable. And you want to meet him all the more.

And for that merely casual fan, I highly recommend "Genesis" by Genesis. If just for that laugh.

  • The Night Manager

  • A Novel
  • By: John le Carré
  • Narrated by: David Case
  • Length: 18 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 175
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 162
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 163

John le Carré, the legendary author of sophisticated spy thrillers, is at the top of his game in this classic novel of a world in chaos. With the Cold War over, a new era of espionage has begun. In the power vacuum left by the Soviet Union, arms dealers and drug smugglers have risen to immense influence and wealth. The sinister master of them all is Richard Onslow Roper, the charming, ruthless Englishman whose operation seems untouchable.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • War is a racket.

  • By Darwin8u on 10-05-16

The Night Manager: No Martinis, Not Enough Booms

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

Reviewed: 09-02-16

Full disclosure here. Even though I have read other Le Carré selections, The Night Manager only came to my attention by way of AMC’s fantastic miniseries. That miniseries, which I highly recommend watching, was one of those rare instances where the adaptation slightly exceeds the source material. The miniseries edited out much of the backroom politics and verbal backstabbing, which Le Carré excels at, and was replaced with character drama, situational tension, physical action of all types, and explosions, which, cliché or not as a truth, Americans most eagerly respond to.

The Night Manager, the novel, with its grimy locales, dry dialogue, and political guesswork in hopes to obtain knighthood, probably presents a more accurate take of a modern day spy more so than England’s reigning pop-culture Superman, James Bond, as well as, you know, the alluring looks of Tom Hiddleston. A spy who crawls into deep, tight situations, conspires with uncomfortable characters, and, one would think, doesn’t rely on pithy one-liners during a bout of fisticuffs, is exactly Jonathan Pine’s role in the story; even though he does get to throw the occasional punch, as well as take one. Or a dozen. If anything, the true hero of the tale is Pine’s MI-6 contact Burr, the protagonist with a raging desire to take down, once-and-for-bloody-all, drug-runner and arms-broker Richard Roper, who has been tagged with the title “The Worst Man in the World”. As such, he fails to be awarded with a corporate beer sponsorship.

While Pine’s plight is definitely the more sexy one of the story, Burr gets a great deal of attention as he seeks to fight evil internally not only among his peers at the Riverhouse, but to do so with bureaucracy. Friends, bureaucracy ain’t sexy. And it can make for an overly-lengthy read. Burr is a fun character to get into, he’s strong and just, which gives the many overly-dry chapters that John Le Carré is known for a reason to continue. The American male side of me, however, was waiting for the explosions. Waiting for that denouement of “Ha-ha! Got you Dickie Roper!” But Le Carré doesn’t work that way, frustratingly so.

The Night Manager is a long, slow read that is probably a great representation of deep cover sting work but makes for a tiring read, with a resolution that is unfulfilled and wanting. What was missing were a few more well-placed explosions.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful