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Luther is the most riveting crime novel I have read in a couple years. Listening to the narrative is very much like witnessing a gruesome accident from which we find we cannot avert our eyes. Neil Cross has created a compelling character in John Luther and to a purpose. A highly experienced and intuitive police officer, Luther is convinced that he is uniquely suited to stand opposite the most twisted and depraved individuals in society and, in effect, interpose himself between them and the innocents upon whom they seek to prey. What sets him apart is that he also comes to realize that there is a price which must be paid by those who choose to come to grips with undiluted evil. In a kind of increasingly chilling zero sum game, we watch him gradually sacrifice in his own life all the things which he is working to preserve for others. His ability to believe in himself as a "good" person; his capacity for joy; his vital connection with a wife whom he adores.
It is one thing, and a very good thing, when an author presents us with realistic characters who are never paragons of unadulterated virtue nor irredeemable ciphers for evil. It is quite a different and somewhat less common thing that Cross is doing here. After providing us with a convincing portrait of evil in its most distilled and irreversible form, he forces us to acknowledge the profound personal and spiritual sacrifices which may be necessary if we are to confront and defeat it. The result is Luther, a scapegoat who is forced into the wilderness bearing the excruciating marks of the guilty action which preserves us. In the end you may decide that Cross has created a false choice, but at the very least you will have to wrestle with the question seriously.
This is not pleasant material. Listeners who cannot abide portrayals of abhorrent crimes or who have problems with realistic language or sexual situations should look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you are interested in a gripping and convincing story which challenges some of your fundamental assumptions, you could hardly do better. The book is read superbly, and you may continue to hear it whispering in your mind long after Audible has hoped "you enjoyed this book."
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
Detective John Luther's calling in life is murder. He's exceptionally good at it -- not at committing the crime, but uncovering who did it. He's an extraordinary man; he has a near-genius IQ and has the personality to be liked and trusted by everyone with whom he works and lives. But what stands out about Luther is his eerie sixth sense about people, the type of overwhelmingly powerful intuition we sometimes hear and marvel about (and perhaps were all meant to have but which got lost in evolution somewhere for most of us). When Luther's on the trail of a murderer, he's obsessive, unrelenting, madly driven, super-charged, and ... oh, yeah -- very, very dangerous.
The narration by David Bauckham is excellent. The story by Neil Cross is superb but dark and brutal. It is not for children or even adults who are easily shocked, offended or unnerved. It graphically describes gruesome or horrifying scenes (murder and otherwise) without apology, clearly expresses what Luther sees and feels at the scene and while on his hunt for the killer, and precisely communicates the growing and perhaps soon-to-be unmanageable rage within him. The subplots flow quite well within the story and add to, rather than detract from, the overall characterization of this extremely complex man.
This is one of the few crime novels I would recommend spending your credits on, if you think you're strong enough to take it.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful