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What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Nothing. Every book in the Renko series, from Gorky Park to Wolves Eat Dogs, was brilliant, IMHO. I felt like I knew Renko as a human being. I think that Polar Star may be the best audiobook ever written, and listening to Frank Muller was one of life's purest pleasures. In addition to the character of Renko, the books were all so thoroughly researched that it was truly impossible to tell fact from fiction. And so forth. This book is so far away from that level of creativity that it is almost not credible that Mr. Smith has written it. The narrator was irritating. The pace of the book is jerky. I didn't find Cenzo to be particularly appealing, and, as other reviewers have commented, it doesn't seem likely that a "simple fisherman" could also be a brilliant artist. I also found it hard to believe that the Nazis would devote all those resources to the chase after one eighteen-year-old Jewish woman, particularly at a time when they were getting beaten on every side of the war. Certainly the little fishing village was quaint, and the affection among the people was touching. The hatred between Cenzo and his brother, I thought, was well drawn, but almost nothing made me want to keep reading.
Has The Girl from Venice turned you off from other books in this genre?
No. I have probably heard enough about WWII, as I have said in other places, but mysteries and thrillers are still my favorite genre. One book will not change that.
What didn’t you like about Zach Appelman’s performance?
I didn't like his voice at all. It is harsh and not pleasant to listen to. He certainly has a fine ear for how other languages are spoken, which is quite a useful talent here.
What character would you cut from The Girl from Venice?
There are so many characters that I couldn't begin to keep them all straight. There are so many political/national divisions, so many narrative paths to follow and keep track of, that I gave up trying after a while.
Any additional comments?
It is possible that Mr. Smith has set such a fantastically high standard for novel writing that he may never approach it again. This is sad. I will read whatever he writes, but I don't think that Renko will reappear. This is much sadder. If you haven't read the Renko books, you are in for a wonderful time. Even if you have no Russian blood or genes, or any interest whatsoever in Russia, its history or its people: the Renko books will delight you. I could go on and on on this topic, but I won't. Please don't let this be your only taste of Mr. Smith's enormous talent. In the past fifty years or so, he has been one of the very best novelists anywhere.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The Girl from Venice again? Why?
No...I have too many other books on my list to listen to The Girl from Venice again.
What does Zach Appelman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
The story really came to life with Zach Appelman's reading. He does a very good German accent, too. He was able to help me visualize scenes and people by the tone and inflection of his voice.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful