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Ghost Sniper is a fascinating tale of the liberation of Normandy in 1944. Told from alternating POV's, both allied and German, the horror of war and the nature of the sniper comes through clear in both the narrator's voice and the author's writing. This is not a dry retelling of history or a gung-ho unrealistic war story, it is an exciting cat and mouse tale of predator vs predator. Need, and skills gained hunting in his mountainous home, placed Micajah Cole as the best sniper in an eclectic team of American soldiers. When they cross paths with an infamous German sniper, who is reeking havoc on the allied soldiers, it becomes a fight as to who will kill who first. The narrator brings out the suspense and individuality of the characters well and nails the different accents excellently. This is a thrilling story with suspense, humour, and some great characters. I liked that the author gave the book a somewhat open end, in war and real life things are not always wrapped up nice and neat and it left an opening for more sniper face offs in the next book.
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Sniper battles are more strategic than tactical and have been compared many times to chess matches. You have to think several steps ahead in the battle of wits against another sniper. And that is what this book is really about: getting into the heads of two snipers as they hunt each other.
This book reminds me a lot of the movie Enemy At the Gates, featuring a similar sniper showdown between Ed Harris and Jude Law. I see a lot of similarities between Ed Harris' character Major König, and the Von Stainger character in this this book, and I'm wondering if the author used him as inspiration. Which isn't a bad thing. German WWII snipers seemed to have an aristocratic air about them - they knew they were the cream of the crop, and acted accordingly.
This is my first book from David Healey, and other than the nitpick I list in the spoiler paragraph, I found the writing smooth and pleasant to listen to. The book was suspenseful, and kept me engaged during the entire listen. There was however, one inconsistency in the book that's hardly worth mentioning, but I thought I would include it in the review for completeness sake and because it took me out of the story in a &quot;Wait a second&quot; moment. Perhaps the author could edit it for the next version of the book?
A Mauser rifle fell from Wolff's hands after being shot. Von Stainger used that rifle to attach to Fritz' hands. Then later, Cole climbed the tree and retrieved the same rifle from Wolff to train Joline how to shoot. Hence, a re-spawning rifle!
J. Scott Bennett did an amazing job with the narration. His voice is perfect for a storyteller. It's smooth and gentle and doesn't get in the way of the story. His enunciation is precise, and his pacing is spot-on. He is one of my favorite narrators and I don't see that changing. Ever.
This audio book was gifted to me by the narrator in exchange for an unbiased review.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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Or: "A game of chess, with rifles."
Growing up in the post war Britain of the 1940s and '50s, there was a plethora of fictional war story books available and, being an avid reader, I devoured as many as I could.. Perhaps understandably, they all tended to glorify the allies and denigrate the Germans and I had to wait until I found The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw before I read one in which the Huns were treated as ordinary humans, too. So this story of a German sniper, one of the Germans putting up a losing defensive battle against the incoming American and British troops of the Normandy landing, and the mutual duel into which he and a U.S. farm boy hunter on the allied side engage, is refreshingly balanced. Both have flaws and weaknesses, both have qualities to endear them to the listener - and both are determined to kill the other.
Starting off with the horrific landing on Omaha Beach, the story follows both a hastily put together tiny sniper unit of Americans, formed to try to protect the vulnerable troops surviving the landing from being picked off by the Germans encamped in and around the open field areas as the allies slowly advance into France; and, simultaneously, that of a German officer sniper, itself an unusual combination, wounded and decorated on the Russian front and recuperating in France.in sight of the allied landings. As time passes, the battle between the German and one of the Americans becomes personal, each trying to outwit the other as the rest of the war continues around them.
The inherent tensions and excitement of this story are further enhanced by the excellent narration. J. Scott Bennett's deliciously expressive southern accent perfectly complimenting the text and giving extra life to the protagonists, especially that of the American, Cole. His voicings of all the protagonists is good, although the single Tommy does have a slightly odd accent, but it is consistent and still recognisable as a Brit. But it is the steady pacing in which he excels, calmly, calmly just as a sniper must watch, wait, unhurried, Mr.Bennett increases the breath holding scenes to near bursting capacity. Two rivals, each well matched and both with their life to lose in a fraction of an ill considered moment. Fantastic.
This is a war story, yes, but so much more. it is a battle of wills, moments of near stillness when the chaos of life swirling about. And it is a fight to the death.
Simple but brilliant story, filled with real people in an unforgiving situation, tension filled but with flashes of humour, wonderfully read - what more could a listener require?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful