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Thousand Oaks, CA United States
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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-19-17

Brilliantly Balanced Storylines Pay Off

Bosch + Haller go to the mat and pin their opponents with tag team diligence and deft persistence of principle to spoil a plot threatening Harry's knight errant principles. Interwoven story finds Bosch goes alone undercover to track down two hired killers and in doing so uncovers the schematics of how today's opioid crisis has become a cash cow for its bad players and dark descent for its victims. Welliver's narration as usual is spot on. Keep 'em coming, Michael.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-07-17

What a Pack of Cards

While I've been a lifelong reader of mysteries and suspense fiction, I'm fessing up that this is my first go of a Robb (or Roberts) work. Normally, I give most books a fifty page grace period to pull me in. While I wasn't drawn to the story, cast of kooky characters or desire to discover the outcome, I stayed with it in the hope Roberts skilled writing chops might redeem this madcap mashup of victims, suspects cop cronies. Sadly, that wasn't enough. To her credit, Susan Ericksen earnest performance/narration made my going along for the ride a bit more palatable. The Eve and Roarke pairing might have worked for me but I just couldn't buy into their dynamic. I allowed at the top of this review that this was my first stab at a J.D. Robb work. Will there be another? Jury is still out.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-31-17

Poundstone Turn As History Docent Figures Mightily

Now who would have thought to summarize past and present moments in one's life by interlacing the events with a half dozen or so historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Sitting Bull, the Wright Brothers, Beethoven, Honest Abe, etc. Wisely Paula chose a device that leverages both her intellect, curiosity and hyperbolic wit to share some of the more painful and mirthful moments in her past and present life with luminaries who bore their own struggles. She does get a wee overwrought with the tribulations of raising her adoptive children but I do admire her freely admitted quirks of character and how they square up with life's ironies. Should anyone think she implies parity with the pantheon of legendary figures she profiles doesn't understand the stylistic self-deprecating humor that has informed her work and the roles she's undertaken to make her way from Boston to Santa Monica. Her observations and revelations are well meaning and honest, sure. But she herself admits she can drone on. Fortunately the narration is pure Poundstone and I would accept no substitute.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-07-17

Can You Say Suspend Your Belief Beyond Belief?

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Okay, I was asked to spend nearly 11 hours with this narrative. Felt like I was a cab driver with multi-state fare "Nick Hanson" in the back seat talking in my ear with this protracted yarn that set up a story with a Hitchcock-like stumble into a mysterious rabbit hole of his past. For 72 chapters on and on Nick drones, sewing together this patchwork quilt of odds and ends characters, uncertain motives, cloak & dagger devices and "peek-a-boo" surprises. I stayed with it hoping for a "Hail Mary" save that I knew in my heart wasn't going to be answered.

What was most disappointing about David Bell’s story?

While many of the reviewers were wildly pleased with this who-why-and-WTF-dunnit, I think Bell's choice of giving a first-person voice to the story might have been rethought. As is, Bell puts a patina of maudlin musings on his knight errant protagonist Nick. First-person exposition by nature requires the reader/listener to place faith in Nick, but our guy proves to be a flawed conduit of credible narration. Overwrought in many places, stymied and petulant in others, his to-and-fro blasts from the past Nick to the contemporary nearing middle age Nick finds him downright hopeless, helpless and clueless until plot devices are set off like metaphorical strategic land minds to shake up the moments of truth.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Andy Paris was fine, given the material, multitude of characters (male and female, young and old.) He had to finesse to keep pace with staged scenarios and perfunctory red herrings, dealt from a shuffling deck of cards. I kept saying "hit me" hoping a the next deal would pay off.

Could you see Somebody I Used to Know being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Hallmark Channel?

Any additional comments?

I'm generally more generous in my reviews and approach works that fall below expectations with an "I wish I could have liked it more" as I know how challenging the craft is and earnest the author is in that tacit contract with readers. Why my expectations were not met, it really comes down to this: "What was my role in this?" Please give me a few credible clues and suspicions to ponder. No, Bell seems to be saying "you'll have stay with me and I promise you'll be pleasantly surprised and satisfied." I was neither, despite my high hopes that I would be.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-26-17

Overwrought and Underwhelming: Too Bad

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Economize the story. Felt like ten pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag.

What was most disappointing about Sara Paretsky’s story?

No wonder was V.I. so exhausted and exhausting in chronicling the roman a clef historical overlay with this narrative of class struggles, confused family org charts and dubious foul deeds. The material from which it was drawn held some interest, but the shuffling of characters resembled more of a game of three-card-monte than a well plotted journey. While I understand the device of the teen Egyptian refugee's dilemma, I wanted to slap Benjy's characterization bow-legged. What an annoying little twerp.

What does Sandra Burr bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Hers was a Herculean task to help match the characters voice and personality and emotions with the need to shepherd the reader through the dramatis personae. I think she was able to the task as challenging as it was.

Did Blacklist inspire you to do anything?

I stuck with it as I've read a good many of Paretsky's works (including listening to other audiobooks) and while there were many points I say "this is a hot mess". I was looking for redemption by the book's end. Not terribly satisfying, but did appreciate Sara's earnest effort and cloaked "then and now" comparisons with the HUAC cum Patriot Act's darker underpinnings. She made her points.

Any additional comments?

I hope V.I. was to sleep this one off as it was a dozer for the listener/reader.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-13-17

Suspended Disbelief Tested For the Duration

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I was in for a penny and then in for a pound, but the return on (time) investment was low payout. I've read one other Scottoline book and she's a gifted writer and storyteller, but credulity was challenging. Granted, this was one of the author's earlier efforts and perhaps later fare shows improvement in her craft.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Forensics was captured well and general suspense held up, Unfortunately the "sister act" was a contrivance that wasn't working much of the time. I stayed along for the ride, bumpy as it was. Some of the trial scenes could have been modified. We know the tests of wills between the D.A. and Defense are inherent, but in this tale the number of fits and starts were overwrought and hobbled the pace.

Did Kate Burton do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

With as many major and minor characters (both male and female) Burton did an admirable job in consistent individual characterization. One outlier was a witness in the trial who when testifying came across with a thick Philly/Jersey accent though we learn shortly he's an Hispanic from Texas who only been in the Philly area for 2-3 years. I doubt he would have lost his native inflections.

Do you think Mistaken Identity needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Not sure it could redeem the faults of this one. Yes, there were loose ends and it may have been intended to be for the very purpose of a sequel. But I've other titles I'd like to explore.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-18-16

Winner, Winner - No Chicken Dinner

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A story with a more plausible premise and story development, more credible characters and a not so many overwrought dramatic devices.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not sure. Somehow I neglected to read the reviews as many were spot on after the fact. I've read and listened to other works of Baldacci and on the strength of that I gave The Winner a go. Would have had better luck with the outcome by buying a lottery ticket.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Frances Cassidy?

I might. She had a challenging task given the shape-shifting nature of the villain and less than convincing leading female character.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Winner?

LuAnn Tyler's shower scene. Not because of its mono-erotic content but it did have a bit of that bodice-ripper conceit.

Any additional comments?

I largely stayed with it to the end as so many laughable (and often predictable) turn of events found me responding to (as I did as a kid to any ridiculous book or movie trope) with an "I'm so sure!" utterance. What I wasn't so sure about was what the author (albeit a gift writer) was going for. It's as though his left hand on the keyboard was guided by Thomas Harris and his right hand channeled by Danielle Steele.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-22-16

Knight Errant Savvy Meets Historical Intrigue

What made the experience of listening to Night School the most enjoyable?

Given its mid 1990s setting allows for a more timeless/classic Reacher and the mix of the familiar MP major's milieu and supporting cast against the craven cabals and confounding conundrum of the AWOL search mission. All these elements are layered over the political underpinnings in Germany at that time to elevate the drama and intrigue and sustain it throughout the duration.

Which character – as performed by Dick Hill – was your favorite?

Narration by Dick Hill is comfortably consistent given he had quite a few major and minor characters to intone. What I appreciate his is deft handling of women's voices that have a verisimilitude that I believe few voiceover talents can match.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Couldn't do it all in one sitting. Like an hour or so at a time to better absorb both the writing, backstory, rising action and epic urgency of the mission's outcome.

Any additional comments?

While I appreciate the comfort and consistency of Reacher's character, cadence and tacit responses to questions and comments from the dramatis personae, I also like more backstory discoveries to find their way into the narrative exposition our favorite heroic and stoic Army MP.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-07-16

Reliable Reacher Formula Fare

Where does Without Fail rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The Lee Child + Dick Hill collaboration of story/character/performance has been true to the brand and Reacher fans can take comfort that their expectations will be met, down to the perfunctory "Reacher said nothing." narrative device.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The women in the Reacher series (recurring and new) are vital to giving Reacher some room to expand what would otherwise be caricature.

What does Dick Hill bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

While some reviewers may be put off by the avuncular quality of Dick Hill's pacing and enunciation, he is really quite adroit at setting the narrative tempo with the action and pauses in action.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Without Fail" - more than a passing grade.

Any additional comments?

Whatever happened to that "clock in Reacher's head" that made wearing a watch so very unnecessary? (Like one of Reacher's more inexplicable super powers.) Several times throughout Without Fail, Reacher looked to his military issue Bulova. What's up with that? Time zone function fail?

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-29-16

A Buffet Line of Mashed Up Story Lines

Would you try another book from Harlan Coben and/or January LaVoy?

I've read Harlan Coben before and found his writing sparkling and storytelling gifts and characters engaging. Narrator January LaVoy save me from running out of gas and exiting the book early.

Has Missing You turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. There's elements/conceits of other masters of the genre (and previous Coben's works) so that wasn't my problem. Multiple plots lines, some stock characters, a few red herrings, but mostly the convoluted A+B+C stories within were too much. Promising start. Interesting concept, insights into online dating/catfishing and other tech stuff was well delivered.

What does January LaVoy bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

LaVoy had a challenge given the number of characters she had to personify in the narration. Some came from central casting, others more original and quirky. Pacing was fairly well choreographed with the author's footwork.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

With some rewrites and subplots thinned or eliminated, yes.

Any additional comments?

One notable (and painful) flaw in the craft was the abundance of narrative/exposition conveyed in dialogue that was overwrought and fraught with "guessing games" reluctance and presumptions of hidden agendas. Expected better from an author of Coben's level.

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