LISTENER

Mary Hirsch

Denver, CO
  • 66
  • reviews
  • 32
  • helpful votes
  • 135
  • ratings
  • Blood and Money

  • The Classic True Story of Murder, Passion, and Power
  • By: Thomas Thompson
  • Narrated by: Mike Chamberlain
  • Length: 21 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42

Joan Robinson Hill was a world-class equestrian, a glamorous member of Houston high society, and the wife of Dr. John Hill, a handsome and successful plastic surgeon. Her father, Ash Robinson, was a charismatic oil tycoon obsessed with making his daughter's every dream come true. Rich, attractive, and reckless, Joan was one of the most celebrated women in a town infatuated with money, power, and fame. Then one morning in 1969, she fell mysteriously ill. The sordid events that followed comprise "what may be the most compelling and complex case in crime annals" (Ann Rule, best-selling author of The Stranger Beside Me).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • THIS IS A GREAT BOOK

  • By jaye on 10-20-18

Classic tragedy; love, greed, power, hate

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

Reviewed: 01-03-19

More drama, more intense personalities, and more twists and surprises than a crime fiction masterpiece. Romance, wealth, passion, police procedural and courtroom battles are in abundance; not so much plain answers. It is a story not to be missed by crime aficionados.

Thompson masterfully unravels a true story that is rife with complexity and side details. Some of the most puzzling elements of the story may simply have been random events, and not related to the truth of the case at all. Thompson manages to keep myriads of characters and incidents straight for the listener.

A true tale of strong wills colliding during Houston's wide-open oil-boom years. Fiction can't match this tale.

Some people will draw firm conclusions about guilt and innocence from this book. Others will feel that there are even deeper mysteries about what really happened to the beautiful and tragic Joan Robinson Hill, and her star-crossed husband, John Hill.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Insane Roots: The Adventures of a Con-Artist and Her Daughter

  • A Memoir
  • By: Tiffany Rochelle
  • Narrated by: Tiffany Rochelle, Diana Faltermaier
  • Length: 2 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars 1

Growing up, Tiffany Rochelle had no reason to believe her mother was not who she claimed to be, but that all changed when she was nine. She learned her mother had been living under a false identity since before she was born, and that the name her mother had used on her birth certificate wasn't real. From that point, Tiffany's life was never the same. By the time she was 25, her mother had used 27 known aliases and had created just as many lives to go along with them.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not finished! Where's the rest of the story?

  • By Mary Hirsch on 01-03-19

Not finished! Where's the rest of the story?

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

Reviewed: 01-03-19

Warning: Promised content not delivered! Con artist much?

Maybe there is a tale to be told here, but it wasn't told and I won't be risking this author again. It did not include most of the content promised in the Audible blurb. This is maybe 25% of a book, and I intend to return it.

The book ends abruptly and is clearly unfinished. The title "Insane Roots" is an overly-dramatic description of the content, at best.

I'm not sure why this incomplete book is offered as an Audible selection? Was something missed?

The book is about the author's childhood, and finishes with a last few paragraphs saying that the author's adult adventures with her mother are far more colorful ... and then the book ends. What ???

There are no "con artist" incidents, one of the primary features of the blurb. As for the "27 identities", there is only one brief note of one identify theft, without details of how or why it was done. The worst "insanity" are some drunk-and-drug parties and petty shoplifting. There is very little about what her mother was doing with her life beyond the fragments seen by a young child. The one redeeming feature of the book is the balance and restraint toward making her mother look even crazier.

The parent she describes is no flakier than many parents dabbling in drugs in our culture today. The story was told well enough for what it was, but it wasn't special. It might be good in an Al-Anon context.

The author is a barely-passable narrator. I didn't find her tone to be particularly listenable.

  • Inconvenience Gone

  • The Short Tragic Life of Brandon Sims
  • By: Diane Marger Moore
  • Narrated by: Chris Monteiro
  • Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10

The four-year-old Brandon Sims had not been seen since July 3, 1992, when he attended a birthday party with his 20-year-old mother, Michelle Jones. For years, Jones lied to her friends about Brandon, telling some that he was living with his father and others that he was staying with his grandmother in another state. When Brandon’s father, who had been in jail, came looking for Brandon, Michelle’s shocked friends confronted her. She confessed that Brandon was dead. She repeated her story of how Brandon died to a detective. The detective didn’t believe her story. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • OK story, but lacks essentials

  • By Mary Hirsch on 01-03-19

OK story, but lacks essentials

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

Reviewed: 01-03-19

First to get it out of the way: It's an odd experience listening to a male voice reading a woman's first-person account of her own experience. Couldn't get used to it. It wasn't consistent with the author's phraseology and tone, and it was a major distraction to the story. A bad choice on someone's part, including the narrator.

After this listening experience, I've already rejected another Audible book written as a man's first-person account of his own experience, but read by a woman. Too much distracting dissonance between the voice and the story.

I rated Inconvenience Gone with only 2 stars = "it's ok", because despite a story the could have been compelling, "ok" is all it is. This is the lowest rating I've given an Audible book that I didn't return.

The author-prosecutor tells a story about her own legal tactics, not the 'why's' behind this tragic crime. The lack of in-depth background research and a fuller insight into the defendant and her life is an acute failing. A fuller account of someone who worked so hard to rise above her past and achieve considerable success at a young age, only to turn on and murder her only child, and then hide the crime for years, would be a riveting story, indeed.

This is not that story.

The account of the crime comes down to a bare and spare "this is what happened (probably)". Instead, the author presents a fairly solid march through the administrative side of a prosecution, from reading investigator's reports, to filing charges and eventually to trial and sentencing. There are weak attempts to personalize it with sandwiches and lunch conversations, but even then she admits to having such a lack of connection with the primary investigator that she can't even give us his own remarks about what he thought.

No deeper research is offered to give a more complete picture of the defendant's life story starting from childhood: how family and friends knew her from a child into adulthood; her motivations and dreams for her life; why she continued moving through her changing cast of boyfriends and social circles; and how a child fit - or didn't fit - into her plans. Even the witness interviews were primarily done by others in law enforcement to get sufficient facts to build a case. We are left to guess and surmise the intrinsic, human details ... as the author does.

In short, this true-crime book is far, far short of the quality of work done by insightful true-crime authors such as Jack Olsen, Erik Larsen, Richard Lloyd Parry, Ann Rule and prosecutor Vince Bugliosi. If you are looking for that level of quality, this is not that book.

Most unfortunate of all is that there is nothing directly from the defendant herself, until near the end. And even that was gleaned from a report and not from a real true-crime author's carefully-forged connection and conversation with the young woman who literally sacrificed her child to her ambitions. Without her own voice, our view of this young woman is limited to what witnesses said about her whereabouts and what she said to them.

It seems that the author-prosecutor is so interested in her own story that she has little real interest in the defendant, beyond winning at trial.

In fact, the prosecutor-author states that she never even heard the defendant's voice until *after* the trial and the guilty verdict, until the sentencing process was ongoing! She seems to have had no contact with the defendant other than prosecuting her in the courtroom while the defendant sat silent.

Whatever excuses the author can offer for failing to truly tell this story with more research, nonetheless, what she does have is not enough for a book, in this listener's opinion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Wife

  • A Novel of Psychological Suspense
  • By: Alafair Burke
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,095
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3,761
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,750

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother's home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great listen

  • By Toni R. on 02-03-18

Aptly titled ... needs a second listen!

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

Reviewed: 12-12-18

This is the well-crafted, well-written tale of the wife of the man trapped in a scurrilous public scandal of his own making. The wife who doesn't know what happened because she wasn't there when it happened. The wife who faithfully believes what her husband tells her ... and as his lies are revealed, the wife who stands by her man on principal even if her heart is leaving him ...

And other than to say that it does get very interesting at the end, I'm going to leave it at that. :) Oh, and, this one may become a classic of suspense fiction.

Going to listen a second time now that I know the end of the story. This story could do with a sequel.

If you start reading any reviews or comments that may have spoilers you should definitely avert your eyes and enjoy the book instead.

Xe Sands has a clear, lovely voice. Although I wasn't crazy about the rather modern city accent she used, it did suit the setting and times of the novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Son of a Grifter

  • The Twisted Tale of Sante and Kenny Kimes, the Most Notorious Con Artists in America: A Memoir by the Other Son
  • By: Kent Walker, Mark Schone
  • Narrated by: John Glouchevitch
  • Length: 16 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 143
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 137
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 136

In 1988 a troubled young man and his flamboyant mother were arrested for murdering a wealthy widow in her New York City mansion. Suddenly America was transfixed by a pair of real-life film noir characters. The media couldn't get enough of the twisted relationship between Sante Kimes and her 23-year-old son Kenny. But the most chilling story of all was never told - until now. Kent Walker, Sante's elder son, reveals how he survived 40 years of "the Dragon Lady's" very special brand of motherly love and still managed to get away.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • CON PEOPLE AT THEIR WORST!

  • By jaye on 07-03-17

Fascinating, well-written, well-narrated

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

Reviewed: 11-10-18

Just a note that the book assumes that the reader has some awareness of the publicity around the murder of Irene Silverman by the author's mother Sante Kimes and the author's half-brother, her younger son Kenny Kimes. If not, I suggest a brief review of an article or two before reading the book. The earlier part of the book has several indirect references to what many readers are likely to already know from public media about the Kimes family saga, long before the author explains those events in his narrative.

This book is not really about crime, rather it is an autobiographical reflection on growing up under the thumb of a sociopathic mother who dominated the family, including a narcissistic but weak father. Actually, two weak fathers, the author's bio-father Edward Walker and stepfather Ken Kimes.

And it's not really about the flamboyant, outrageous, destructive mother as much as it is a tale of two brothers raised by the same people, one brother growing up to live a normal, middle-class life, and the other brother who became his mother's evil henchman and thrall. The oldest brother (the author) who rejected their mother's demands and is now a regular working stiff like the rest of us, and the other brother who is serving life without parole for two murders, having confessed to at least one other, all done at the behest of their mother.

The book put this reader into the family dynamic well enough to grasp at least some understanding of why events rolled forward as they did.

The narration by John Glouchevitch is superb. It is listenable and reflective of the author's tone. Near the end of the book the narrator perfectly captures the essence of Sante Kimes herself rambling endlessly to her son about her own twisted perceptions of life and reality.

Of course the book is Kent Walker's personal perspective on his family more than it is an objectively factual recounting, but nonetheless it is insightful. I am sure his stepfather Ken Kimes' own family, especially his adult children from his first marriage ("the creeps" per Sante Kimes), would have many objections to some of the material. Their view of the family history, and of their father, is not included. It would also be difficult for even a family member to ever know the full truth about characters as devious and conniving as Sante Kimes and her youngest son Kenny. This is Kent's own story, and there will always be personal biases in any autobiography.

If you have been interested in the sensational media accounts of the Kimes, including the movie "Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes", this book gives a more complete picture of Sante and Kenny, and their life history before and after the Silverman murder.

The book was clearly published while Sante Kimes was still alive as it does not mention her death in prison in 2014 at the age of 79. Kenny Kimes is today in prison in California serving life without parole. It is truly 'life', as he is now 43 years old, having entered prison at age 25.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Full Disclosure

  • By: Stormy Daniels
  • Narrated by: Kate Burton
  • Length: 6 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 440
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 397
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 398

She was already well-known in some circles before March 6, 2018, but that's probably the first time you heard the name Stormy Daniels. That's the day she filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump over a nondisclosure agreement negotiated before the election but never signed. How did Stormy Daniels become the woman willing to take on a president? What is it like to be reviled by some, held up as a beacon of hope by others, and to be an object of fascination to all? In this audiobook, Stormy Daniels tells her whole story for the first time....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining, Funny, Shocking Beautiful

  • By B Van Het Hof on 10-04-18

Fascinating and well-told autobiography

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

Reviewed: 10-11-18

I did not plan to buy or listen to this book, but I am so glad I was convinced to do so.

Stormy's story is well-written, engaging, honest, and glows with her warm humor. This book is a self-portrait of a bold spirit who navigated a dark and unconventional childhood largely on her own, to emerge as a strong, intelligent, courageous and daring woman in an unconventional profession.

She writes as a survivor who is without self-pity. Her journey illustrates how she taught herself very early to think and act for the long-term, to keep showing up and moving forward in spite of adversity and heartache, and to never let go of her priorities, her forthrightness and her humor.

Even without the public controversy, this book is a great read because it is about her whole life, not just the one thing the public knows about her.

In fact, the context of the current media firestorm around her story is likely to make the latter part of the book somewhat dated over time, and make the description of some events more defensive in tone than will make sense at a later date. Hopefully someday Stormy will be able to update her story and bring it forward to a time when things have cooled off for long enough that the controversy no longer matters.

Stormy would doubtless be gratified to hear that, for this reader at least, her book cleared up so many stereotypes and misconceptions that I have not known that I had about the people in her profession, and about the strange, ongoing uproar around the story of the one-time sexual encounter with a man who would become the President. For myself, going forward I will think differently, and better, about those involved in 'adult entertainment', thanks to Stormy's enlightening self-portrayal.

To date I have had very little interest in following the Trump/Cohen vs Stormy ruckus and I can't say I have any greater interest now, post "Full Disclosure". To me, this book is worth reading regardless, and fortunately most of it is not about the one event or its aftermath. However, the book did bring home to me that Mr. Cohen has been his own worst enemy in his ridiculous but ominous struggle. He wanted Stormy's silence, he had Stormy's silence, but he couldn't leave it alone.

Narrator Kate Burton gives this story the perfect voice and tone. I actually searched for video clips of some Stormy interviews in hopes that Burton's voice was similar to Stormy's own and thus adding to the authenticity of the story. I'm satisfied that Burton's narration is indeed in the spirit of Stormy's public voice, and if anything Stormy's own voice is even more pleasant.

Read / listen to this book for the story, putting the current events around it aside. This is one to enjoy, all on its own.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Menendez Murders

  • The Shocking Untold Story of the Menendez Family and the Killings that Stunned the Nation
  • By: Robert Rand
  • Narrated by: Eric Martin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

Married for 26 years, Jose and Kitty Menendez appeared to be a happy couple and proud parents. Twenty-one-year-old Lyle Menendez was enrolled at Princeton, where he was a star on the tennis team. Eighteen-year-old Erik Menendez had just graduated from Beverly Hills High and was about to start college at UCLA. The Menendezes appeared to be living the American dream. But it was all a façade.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another look with more evidence

  • By Mary Hirsch on 10-10-18

Another look with more evidence

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

Reviewed: 10-10-18

First: The narrator is superb. Beautifully listenable voice with just the right tone for a tale that blends a variety of emotions with factual and legal material.

The author is certainly right about one thing: Had the trial - even the murders - first taken place 30+ years later in this year 2018, the public attitude, the legal approach and the outcome would most certainly have been very different.

Once the entire factual case of the Menendez brothers is laid out - and that takes the entire book to accomplish - there is a great deal to think about for the jury that is the public readership, who forever sit in a judgment of their own about sensational crimes.

The book held my interest even through the wealth of detailed information. For those readers who, like myself, never knew much about the case, there are a number of substantive revelations that explain why the author is a believer in the brothers' story of sexual abuse and emotional manipulation that led up to the murders. The author makes sense of the tangle of disconnected public information that floats around about this case, including some of the more colorful side characters.

And, even at the end of the book, there are some final, recent revelations about events before the murders that lend more substance to the brothers' story.

Another element of the story that is mentioned only once in the author's comments at the end of the book, but which may well be the reason for writing it, is that even though both brothers are in prison under a sentence of life without parole, it may well be that their legal quest for freedom is not over yet. That alone makes this book worth reading, as any future legal action on behalf of the brothers will undoubtedly enjoy wide media coverage.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • I Am Watching You

  • By: Teresa Driscoll
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,031
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,540
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,535

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it - until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she's decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls - beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard - has disappeared.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Creepy Thriller With Depth

  • By Sara on 07-15-18

Untangling the mystery, thread by thread

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

Reviewed: 10-07-18

If you took the real-life Natalee Holloway story of an older teen / young adult who goes missing during a getaway trip with a friend her own age ...

... and completely re-worked it into a middle-class English setting, with a train trip to London instead an exotic vacation ...

That begins the premise of this book, which follows the incremental revelations and clues as to what actually happened to young Anna.

An engaging story that held my interest, much of the story is seen first-person through the troubled eyes of the one adult ear-witness to a portion of the girls' journey. But the tale is also broadly insightful into the inner stories of Anna's companion on the trip, Sarah, as well as both of the girls' families, and even some friends. How do those who want to find a dearly-loved missing person help with the investigation while protecting their own secrets?

Throw in the persevering official investigators as well, and this is a well-rounded progress of the gradual untangling of the mystery.

  • Mom Said Kill (Pinnacle True Crime)

  • By: Burl Barer
  • Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 25

When Jerry Heimann's son arrived at his father's home in Everett, Washington, he found his grandmother, an Alzheimer's patient, alone in the house, starving and dehydrated. His father was missing. The furniture was gone. Within hours, police realized that Jerry's live-in housekeeper, Barbara Opel, had robbed him and fled. But where was Jerry? The next morning, Barbara Opel's 11-year-old son led police to Jerry's body. Soon, stunned detectives were getting confessions from a ragtag group of teens and preteens.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • pretty good overall. crazy story for sure!

  • By Bernard Dupuy on 08-21-18

Young killers manipulated by an evil adult

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

Reviewed: 10-07-18

But but but .... That seems to be the theme of this book. The author has a profound true story of murder to tell, that he himself seems to be struggling to define and understand. He's frank about that, at least.

Minors whose immature motivations were twisted into horrifying actions by a thoroughly evil adult manipulator ...
... but who willingly participated ...
... but who showed their limited understanding of the true nature of the murder and its consequences ...
... but who showed little remorse afterward ...
... but who would probably never have done such a thing without the engineering of one evil adult ...
... but who the criminal justice system has treated as adults with harshness and limited or no effort at reform ...
... and so on ...

In the second part of the book, the author has several other agendas to push at length concerning social evils and a flawed justice system. Some of these topics wander well away from this crime, but may be of interest to people who are concerned with the same issues.

Another major concern I have about the book is the utter lack of background given for several of the juvenile participants. The focus is on the adult instigator and the kids most under her direct influence, probably because that is the most easily accessible information through court, police and media records. However, other key minor participants have very little, sometimes nothing, from the author about their families or prior history. The exception is one girl whose life background became material in later court proceedings. By excluding those life histories, the author fails to give any real context for the influence that Barbara and their friends were able to exert to persuade them to kill.

Except for the one individual, the lack of background is very apparent for the young killers' own friends who were approached by the kids themselves after the murder, and who agreed to help hide the body and cover up the crime. What would those kids' family and friends have to say about their life history, and who they were as people, that would have explained why they were so suggestable? Those interviews and research appear not to have been done, or at least not included in the book.

To me, this book, in the form that I listened to it (it may be expanded someday), was far short of being ready to publish. It hasn't been cleaned up to stay on topic. And it needs considerably more research on several of the key participants. It's an interesting story, but it is far from finished. I wonder if the author wrote solely from court, police and prison records, and from whatever published media accounts he could find, because there isn't much in the way of interviews with other family members, or broader background information.

All that said, the author's interest in these young killers is relevant as they are probably far more typical of much juvenile crime than we would like to believe. There are other juveniles caught in the justice system who got there after following Fagan-adults into serious crime, or even attempted trips overseas to join ISIS. And who are treated just as harshly in the courts, but whose backgrounds and victims are not getting this much attention. The how's and why's are a troubling reality to face.

I would have given this book 4 or 5 stars if it were not for the research shortfalls on some of the young participants, and the general failure to stay on point. Otherwise it is reasonably well-written. But the editing and the holes in the research are holding it back from being a truly excellent book about an important topic.

  • Lethal White

  • A Cormoran Strike Novel
  • By: Robert Galbraith
  • Narrated by: Robert Glenister
  • Length: 22 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,827
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6,466
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,435

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike's office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic. Trying to get to the bottom of Billy's story, Strike and Robin Ellacott - once his assistant, now a partner in the agency - set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best 22 hours of the last week

  • By Jennifer on 09-27-18

Characters to ride along with like old friends

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

Strike is back, with Robin right alongside.

"Lethal White" picks up just where the last one left off, and is as riveting as the previous books in the series. The main characters' survival of daily life, against the backdrop of their deeply flawed love lives, is the real process at the heart of the story.

The one bit of drag is the amount of time consumed by Robin's emotional scrabble as she tries to piece together a marriage that was known to be a poor match about three books ago. Why the wasted time and energy is allowed to plod along ... oh well, I guess that's what makes a story. Sometimes.

The authenticity of these characters in their speech, thoughts and actions is just as fascinating as it has been from the first book. In fact, now that the investigation business is gaining traction, so is the confidence of the characters in who they are as people.

This bodes well for future offerings in this series. So does an interesting new character, a struggling combat veteran hired by Strike to help cover the increased business, who so far has only a limited presence in the story.

Albeit the one red flag in the saga of the increasing attraction between Robin and Strike. If ever a romance will almost certainly spell the end of a good friendship, this would be it - so I am hoping we'll be learning of other, better choices for each. Neither seems to be very good at selecting lasting mates for themselves, though, a symptom of many great detective stories since Sam Spade. It's a poignant shadow that two people who are so good at unraveling the mysteries of other people's lives are so poor at understanding their own.

Also consistent with the prior Strike episodes was that, when it is finally unearthed, the motive is improbable and downright cartoonish. The elements of the crime are numerous, intricate, and didn't really make any sense to me. None of that matters, though, as the crime and the motive are just Hitchcock's McGuffin, the thing that has no importance in and of itself other than how the characters behave in relation to it.

For what it is worth, I very much like the cover illustration. The two main characters doggedly making their way into the mists of the great city of London reflects the "showing up every day" that makes the stories so relatable and alive.

And there is some good news of plans for at least 5 more Cormoran Strike novels, and a television series (perhaps already released in the UK). Looking forward eagerly to each new release!

6 of 9 people found this review helpful