It is 1894, and Nebraska’s glittering state capital draws young Bud Gardner away from drought and poverty towards a precarious existence within his uncle’s saloon, extended family, and eccentric circle of bootleggers. But amidst the whores, oddballs, and shady characters of Lincoln’s Haymarket district, Bud discovers Anna Marie, a fiery Czech girl—and the deadly forces that connect Chicago’s railroad strikes, Omaha’s slaughterhouse riots, a grisly Lincoln train wreck, and a local black man that has “conveniently” been accused of causing it.
Weaving together an intriguing storyline with the real historical events and luminaries of turn-of-the-century Lincoln, Nebraska, including John J. Pershing (commanding the Nebraska Corps of Cadets), Willa Cather (reporter for the State Journal), and Charles Dawes (lawyer and future Nobel Peace laureate), Barrelhouse Boys is a fictional romp through the gaslight era that shouldn’t be missed!
This was an interesting book and had lots of elements of appeal. BUT when the author had the bright idea to narrate his own work he should have taken a course (as if there is one!) in how to approach the task. While his voice was all right and character differinciation was quite good .... he was ridiculously fast in the reading. The hardest of all - and I nearly stopped listening over this glaring issue - there were no pauses, not even the slightest hint, between sections!
When one scene is over and the P.O.V. changes as well as the action, there is a break in the text. For a good reason. At these points in this narration the story thread is snapped and it is a chore to catchup to the pointofview sift. Slow down for gosh sakes and respect your ( readers) listeners. The break neck speed of the entire presentation was not a good experience and a shame the book was therefore disappointing. I have listened to many recorded books and the best of them present the material with listeners in mind; not as if it's all a bit of a bore and has to be gotten through like an express train.
I do want to add some comments about the book itself. It's obvious the author did a ton of research which is an admirable dedication to his subject. He also has a great imagination and invented many interesting situations and lots of action scenes. The last part of the book was a bit over the top with wild nonsense in all directions. But the story lines were all tied up I n the end and the historical elements were satisfying.
This audio book is truly an intriguing work of historical fiction! As the story develops, the author's jovial voice quickly draws me into the lives of his many characters. I'm able to imagine what life might have been like in turn of the century Nebraska, with engaging and very likable characters such as Bud and Anna Marie. Each chapter produces interesting historical perspectives and dialogue, straight through to the remarkable ending! Truly a work of art for his first book. Looking forward to a second!
I promised myself not to buy books read by the author especially now rhat there are so many good readers that let you live the story with them. Shame on me. I couldn't get past the first real even though I really had an interest in turn of the cenuury Nebraska.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful