By Robert B Parker
Appie Knoll is the kind of suburb where kids grow up right. But something is wrong. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett disappears. Everyone thinks he’s run away — until the comic strip ransom note arrives. It doesn’t take Spenser long to get the picture — an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends…friends like Vic Harroway, body builder. Mr. Muscle is Spenser’s only lead and he isn’t talking…except with his fists. But when push comes to shove, when a boy’s life is on the line, Spenser can speak that language too.
An early Spenser novel and this one was one I like because it introduced Susan.
Of course, this one has all of the sarcastic humor from Spenser that is enjoyable in his novels. Not much action, and a pretty straightforward plot with a bit of a twist at the end.
My issue with the audio book was the narrator. He reads novels like a droll weather sports reporter listing stats. There’s no tension in his voice for the tense or dramatic parts. The inflections for the sarcasm are very subtle and his voices for the different characters make the listener stretch to imagine. I’ve listened to this guy before on longer books and because of the bland reading I lose the plot often.
This book, not so much because it wasn’t very long and, like I mentioned, pretty easy to follow.
Another good Spenser novel.
By Stephen Hunter
The 47th Samurai, Bob Lee Swagger, the gritty hero of Stephen Hunter’s bestselling novels, Point of Impact and Time to Hunt, returns in Hunter’s most intense and exotic thriller to date.
Bob Lee Swagger and Philip Yano are bound together by a single moment at Iwo Jima, 1945, when their fathers, two brave fighters on opposite sides, met in the bloody and chaotic battle for the island. Only Earl Swagger survived.
More than sixty years later, Yano comes to America to honor the legacy of his heroic father by recovering the sword he used in the battle. His search has led him to Crazy Horse, Idaho, where Bob Lee, ex-marine and Vietnam veteran, has settled into a restless retirement and immediately pledges himself to Yano’s quest.
Bob Lee finds the sword and delivers it to Yano in Tokyo. On inspection, they discover that it is not a standard WWII blade, but a legendary shin-shinto katana, an artifact of the nation. It is priceless but worth killing for. Suddenly Bob is at the center of a series of terrible crimes he barely understands but vows to avenge. And to do so, he throws himself into the world of the samurai, Tokyo’s dark, criminal yakuza underworld, and the unwritten rules of Japanese culture.
Swagger’s allies, hard-as-nails, American-born Susan Okada and the brave, cocaine-dealing tabloid journalist Nick Yamamoto, help him move through this strange, glittering, and ominous world from the shady bosses of the seamy Kabukicho district to officials in the highest echelons of the Japanese government, but in the end, he is on his own and will succeed only if he can learn that to survive samurai, you must become samurai.
As the plot races and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that a ruthless conspiracy is in place, and the only thing that can be taken for granted is that money, power, and sex can drive men of all nationalities to gruesome extremes. If Swagger hopes to stop them, he must be willing not only to die but also to kill.
Some of the fault of me not quite getting into this book was the narrator of the audio version. He’s done other Hunter stories and other books and he’s difficult to follow. He tries for voices and almost succeeds.
As for the story, it took me a bit to get into and for a while I lost track of some things. I think it had good action, a good look at Japanese culture and the baddies are developed well.
The story doesn’t quite bring in other Bob sniper quality. There’s a bit at the end when he’s planning the raid on the bad guy compound, but I thought I’d see more throughout. I thought the sword training Bob endured interesting if a tad bit long.
Decent story otherwise.
By Chris Kuzneski
In a secret bunker, one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists is under interrogation-until he is rescued, and his captors are slaughtered.
Ex-MANIAC honcho Jonathan Payne vows revenge-but there is more to the bloody atrocity than terrorist reprisal. There is a plot in motion that will burn the world in the fires of holy war.
Another Payne and Jones story with some good humor, a lot of action throughout and a mildly action climax. I don’t know what it is about these stories but the endings tend to lose their intensity.
I think the plot was pretty good and there is an author’s note at the end telling how he conducted research and chose the plot not to offend, but to tell a good story. This one involves a good soldier who develops problems, a terrorist with a grand scheme and some interesting locales that bring in the different cultures.
I had to catch up quickly because there are a couple stories going on at the same time and listening to the audio version, I was not sure about the changing scenes until later.
The author brings in a couple of repeat characters for some assistance and humor
All in all, this is a decent story with some very good writing and Dick Hill is always a good narrator for an audio book.
By Chris Kuzneski
Working in secret, an acclaimed group of scientists has developed a radical new approach to modern medicine that could change everything we know about the human body and its limitations. But such knowledge does not come without risk. When their laboratory in Stockholm is attacked, it becomes clear that someone will stop at nothing to keep this research from reaching the masses.
As more details come to light, Interpol director Nick Dial realizes that the bombing in Sweden has exposed a hidden collective of the world’s greatest minds. What’s more, this group has been operating in the shadows for more than a century. What have they learned during all that time? And why would someone want them dead?
Jonathon Payne and David Jones soon find themselves drawn into the mystery. On a collision course with the man behind the massacre, the duo must follow the history of scientific discovery in order to stop a villain determined to use modern advancements to create his own vision of the future—a future where he alone controls who lives and dies.
I enjoy the pairing of Payne and Jones. They work well together and add some good humor to the story.
This story was a bit disjointed in that I found it a bit difficult to follow the various scenes and locales in the audio version. I kept the basic thread of the story, only missing a couple pieces here and there. The climax was a bit disappointing in that I expected a lot more action.
Still, the story and the adventure were well written with lots of action throughout. This is a standard Kuzneski story in that there’s death and mayhem followed by Payne and Jones getting involved followed by clues here and there. Then an explanation and a climax
Sometimes standard is good.
By Agatha Christie
Beautiful Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, but just like the nursery rhyme, there were five other “little pigs” who could have done it: Philip Blake (the stockbroker), who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist), who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcée), who had her roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess), who had none; and Angela Warren (the disfigured sister), who cried all the way home.
Sixteen years later, Caroline’s daughter is determined to prove her mother’s innocence, and Poirot just can’t get that nursery rhyme out of his mind.
This is a simple short mystery, no complex involve plot, just tidy and neat. Sometimes I like those.
The audio version was full cast so it was easy to keep track of everybody.
Typical Poirot, and standard ‘bring everyone together at the end for the reveal’. Nero Wolfe did it and I didn’t mind a bit. Ditto here.
Just sit back and enjoy.
By Michael Palmer
Gabe Singleton and Andrew Stoddard were roommates at the Naval Academy in Annapolis years ago. Today, Gabe is a country doctor and his friend Andrew has gone from war hero to governor to President of the United States. One day, while the United States is embroiled in a bitter presidential election campaign, Marine One lands on Gabe’s Wyoming ranch, and President Stoddard delivers a disturbing revelation and a startling request. His personal physician has suddenly and mysteriously disappeared, and he desperately needs Gabe to take the man’s place. Despite serious misgivings, Gabe agrees to come to Washington. It is not until he is ensconced in the White House medical office that Gabe realizes there is strong evidence that the President is going insane. Facing a crisis of conscience—as President Stoddard’s physician, he has the power to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment to transfer presidential power to the Vice President—Gabe uncovers increasing evidence that his friend’s condition may not be due to natural causes.
Who? Why? And how? The President’s life is at stake. A small-town doctor suddenly finds himself in the most powerful position on earth, and the safety of the world is in jeopardy. Gabe Singleton must find the answers, and the clock is ticking. . . .
So, one of the things I like to do is read some of the reviews already posted. Especially, the 1 star reviews. I like to know what others think is crappy about the book. A fair percentage don’t deal with the book/story, but rather with Amazon itself, problems with the Kindle version, or the disappointment at receiving a copy of the book that was not in as good a shape as expected. Unfortunately, these types of reviews aren’t fair to the book itself or the author.
With this book, I read some of the 1 star reviews and while I may find some of the technology and/or characters in the book a stretch of the imagination, sometimes that’s part of the plot and the entertainment.
Part of the plot involved nano-technology. I don’t think it’s out of the realm to speculate and imagine what-may-be, even if it’s not truly believable at the present. Think of the strides in technology in the last five years. So, those who pooh-pooh the story because ‘that couldn’t happen’ are not going to be satisfied with a lot of books dealing with science and technology.
In regard to the character flaws pointed out, again, I’ll disagree. Baddies come in all shapes and sizes and professions. Twists and surprises are part of the mystery/thriller genre.
In this story, I would have liked a bit more hint before the reveal that the big baddie was the big baddie. I don’t like when someone shows up early for a minor scene, then at the end is revealed to be Mr. Big. More inclusion in the story would give credibility.
Otherwise, I thought the story pretty good. Palmer tried to deal with several characters and have a double main character and, for the most part, it worked. Several good scenes of action and the climax was pretty good.
The narrator did a pretty job of voices and paced the story well.
Just have fun with the book, enjoy it.
By Richard Castle
NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat gets more mystery than she imagined when she arrives at her latest crime scene. The body of an unidentified woman has been found stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left sitting on a Manhattan street. A startling enough death, but an even bigger shock comes when this new homicide surprisingly connects to the unsolved murder of Detective Heat’s own mother. The gruesome killing of this Jane Doe launches Heat on a dangerous and emotional investigation, rekindling the cold case that has haunted her since she was nineteen. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she also digs into unexplored areas of her mother’s background—areas Nikki has been afraid to confront before, but now must. Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Heat’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?
I know this is the 4th book in the series but it was the first I listened to. The narrator did a pretty good job of some voices and keeping up the excitement for the listener.
The story itself was pretty standard and is, of course, based off the television series with a writer teaming up with a cop. The case involves the Heat’s mother’s murder and parallels the series with the cop’s mother murdered and the years’ long search for the killer.
I thought the story played out well. The characters were interesting, funny, and varied. I did think Rook stepped over the line on tact at times, but, for the most part, he was humorous.
It was a good mystery/police procedural with some interesting twists.
I’ll be interested in the others in the series.
By Tom Wood
Victor is a freelancer, a professional, a killer—the best there is. He’s ice cold, methodical, and deadly. He lives alone. He operates alone. No one knows his background, or even his name. For him, business is a straight transaction. He’s given a job; he takes out the target; he gets paid.
He’s in Paris to perform a standard kill and collect for an anonymous client. The contract is simple, routine, and Victor completes it with trademark efficiency, only to find himself in the middle of an ambush and fighting for his life. Faced with powerful and determined enemies, and caught in the crossfire of an international conspiracy unfolding across four continents, Victor is forced to go on the run across a winter-ravaged Europe. Pursued by the authorities, hired assassins, and intelligence agencies from both sides of the Atlantic, he discovers that no place is safe for him anymore and there is no one he can trust.
But Victor is no easy target, and he’s every bit as ruthless as those hunting him. He will find out who wants him dead and why, one corpse at a time.
I enjoy stories where the author has a in depth knowledge of the character. Where a story begins with a character hardened to his craft with no slip-ups, no mistakes. Then that character is presented with a challenge to that precision, thrown off balance.
This is one of those stories. Victor is a wonderful character who has honed his ability and then is thrown into a circumstance that still utilizes his skills, but adds another factor or two into the equation.
There is plenty of action, good details, nice descriptions, baddies here and there. I thought the narrator might have read it with a bit more excitement or tension in his voice, but I think the way he read it fits the Victor character – methodical, no wasted motion, and good command on himself.
I like the story, though it’s an oft used plot. I wondered about the ending and Victor’s decision, but realized if things went awry, then he’d handle it.
Good read and I would pick up another of this author’s stories.
By David Moody
REMAIN CALM DO NOT PANIC TAKE SHELTER WAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS THE SITUATION IS UNDER CONTROL Society is rocked by a sudden increase in the number of violent assaults on individuals. Christened ‘Haters’ by the media, the attackers strike without warning, killing all who cross their path. The assaults are brutal, remorseless and extreme: within seconds, normally rational, self-controlled people become frenzied, vicious killers. There are no apparent links as a hundred random attacks become a thousand, then hundreds of thousands. Everyone, irrespective of gender, age, race or any other difference, has the potential to become a victim – or a Hater. People are afraid to go to work, afraid to leave their homes and, increasingly, afraid that at any moment their friends, even their closest family, could turn on them with ultra violent intent. Waking up each morning, no matter how well defended, everyone must now consider the fact that by the end of the day, they might be dead. Or perhaps worse, become a killer themselves. As the status quo shifts, ATTACK FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER becomes the order of the day… only, the answers might be much different than what you expect….
I’d seen this book years ago and was interested, but only recently have I been able to listen to the audio version. The narrator did a pretty good job of voicing a middle class, harried, married man.
The story itself is something a bit different. Not quite as stark as the world waking up to zombies, but a branch of it.
The story moves along for about a week with the ever increasing problem until…well, won’t play spoiler here, but an educated guess might get you the answer.
This is part of a trilogy so it doesn’t conclude per se, rather it ends but sets up the second book.
Pretty good action as seen by the narrator/main character.
It’s not ‘scary’ scary, but it has tension and builds up to an exciting climax that lets the character get on with adventures in the second book.
It’s a bit graphic, but not overly so.
The story does take a philosophical turn and the question of who actually are the people who hate is discussed a bit. Maybe it will continue in the next one.
By J.A.. Kalis
Travis is a jungle tour guide. Randy is a reporter after a hot story about a Mayan excavation in Guatemala. After finding the excavation/explorer camp deserted, they enter the ruins and are soon, trapped, lost, and on the run from mysterious natives. Discovering one of the team members, they risk danger at every turn to escape.
When I read an adventure story, I want intrigue, mystery, secrets revealed. With the obligatory woman involved, there should be be some romance, a hint of involvement or the potential for one by the end between the main character and the woman.
This story had none of that. This was a constant chase through tunnels, rescue, a bit of murder. No clues to be revealed later, no treasure, no ancient secret to be discovered. And more problems on top of these.
Travis: jungle tour guide
Randy: Clean shaven, reporter, green eyes, thick dark brown hair, divorced with son
Chiara Carmine: green eyes, dark blonde hair, epigraph er
Okay, there are more than three characters in this, but they were either bad guys or other members of the team who didn’t matter other than be other characters. The first, glaring thing about all of these people is, other than Chiara, nobody has a last name.
When writing books, authors need to be mindful that each character needs his or her own voice, personality, and should act like what they are. Cops need to be cops and if they don’t act like cops, then readers won’t believe the story.
So, here you have a jungle tour guide who seems to have all of his supplies but no support team. Just he and Randy venturing into the jungle. Then you have an excavation/research team who, apparently, like Travis, can’t remember directions. Near the end, when they escape from the ruins, and find their stripped camp, nobody remembers from which direction they arrived from civilization. Instead, they wander off in a random direction…only later for someone to remember, hey there’s a make-shift airstrip near here.
Characters are supposed to develop throughout the story. Randy stays the same whiny pansy throughout, Travis and Chiara and another take turns being the brave hero to fight the bad guys but don’t really develop as characters. Again, I didn’t care about the others because they weren’t described or developed.
I haven’t read so much b-movie, cheesy dialogue in a long time. Too many examples to mention. Too many instances of, ‘We have to get out of here or we’ll all die’ type exchanges. Too many uses of the words thugs, bastards, brutes in dialogue or from the narrator. Too many examples of awkward or weak dialogue that didn’t or shouldn’t have fit the character. Too many instances of irrelevant-to-the-matter-at-hand conversation took place.
No profanity but this one could have used a bit more.
So, example of weak writing. A lot of telling not showing. Too many instances of making sure the narrator tells how people look/feel rather than show. He didn’t try to hide his disappointment. How? Show me the ways he didn’t.
Unnecessary things: After Chiara, Randy and Travis go deep into the caverns, and are trapped by a sliding door and have to go farther, Chiara makes the statement that she’s never been to that part of the cavern. Duh! That was fairly obvious.
-More booby traps or dangers. There is one booby trap, the door that traps them from retracing their route. Others were hinted at but never shown.
-Chiara was to have translated some ancient writing but she never does. It’s never revealed what the writing was about. This was a big plot hole because the bad guys mentioned they needed the translations, but they went through with a ceremony anyway. Did I miss where her translations were needed for this?
-A better sense of the motivations of the bad guys for conducting the ceremony in the first place. More background of them and their lives.
-A better sense of the cavern system. Some of the characters get really deep into the caverns but somehow find a way to the sacrificial altar, then somehow meet up with some of the team members, then somehow meet up with Randy who had backtracked earlier, then somehow make their way near what appears to be the main entrance, then they have to escape another way. I became lost with no sense that anybody knew anything about their location but somehow, most of them escape.
-No big climax. It was as if the author had to find some way to end the story, so, there’s a quick, unspectacular (at least description-wise) demise of the bad guys and we bring in suspicious characters from earlier and make them pretty decent people.
-No aftermath. Does Randy return to the states with the big story and earn better pay or a promotion? There was no resolution to Travis’s family mysterythat was mentioned early on. No showdown with the bad guy about it or clues to further the story in another book. A few times Travis found Chiara attractive, but after she told him off for leering at her, there was no further mention. No romance? No change of heart from Chiara? A nice history lesson at the end that should have been developed throughout.
I saw one misspelling, no punctuation or grammar, so that barely saves this book from dropping to the lowest rank. Still, the weak writing, bad dialogue, and lack of an intriguing, interest-capturing plot earns no more than: