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I read this book several years ago when I first began my "Robert Parker Phase." I'm a baseball fan, so I of course enjoyed the book but it wasn't really a WOW or "this is great book" kind of book.
Robert Forster's narration absolutely makes this book both wow and great. He catches the malaise of the character in just the right way. There is almost a delayed reaction in the reading, just as if Burke was too tired and too unattached to answer. Parker's books are 99% dialogue, with a lot of he saids and she saids. You don't even notice them because the narrator does such a fine job of dropping his voice down after he says the meat of the sentence, and often even attaches emotions to the he saids and she saids.
I grew up in Mississippi before civil rights. It was very painful to hear some of the language spoken because my father talked like that as a matter of course. He was born in Selma, Alabama in 1918 and I like to think he didn't know any better, but that's no excuse. I cannot imagine the confidence and security Robinson must have possessed to put himself through what this books hints at what he must have experienced.
This book is not even five hours, and it was over way too quick. I plan to listen to it many times.
This is a character study of two very different people, but both with an honor that can't be disputed.
Five stars, yes, five.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Robert Parker's Spenser novels have been a favorite of mine, as have the narrators, particularly Joe Mantegna, who manages to convey the humor of the hero as well as his strength and heart. Robert Forster does a fine job here, but Burke, the hero of this tale is a damaged human being, physically and emotionally, and there is little warmth and infrequent humor to be found in Parker's habitual terse prose. Once in a while you become aware that the short sentences and Forster's matter-of-fact delivery - perfectly rendered and appropriate - becomes almost comical, like a send-up of the style. The violence described is a bit more intense than I'd expected, and Burke's relationships with women are, from a woman's point of view, equally intense, terse, and a bit incomprehensible. But there is a very sort of film noir atmosphere throughout, making it a compelling listen, and Burke's (fictional) growing relationship with Jackie Robinson, who comes out of the story as a truly remarkable hero, is great stuff, and there is a lot of fine historical and baseball procedural detail that makes this an informative listen as well as an entertaining one.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful