Not one of Hiaasen's best; the plot is a little thin and it doesn't hang together quite as well as some of his others. But it's good fun, overall, wit...moreNot one of Hiaasen's best; the plot is a little thin and it doesn't hang together quite as well as some of his others. But it's good fun, overall, with a high dose of his trademark smutty, zany, lunatic characters. It's a beach read, escapist fantasy that works mostly because we've all known people that were almost like this (or with a dash or worse luck or a little more insanity could be). (less)
Haven't read a Grisham legal thriller in a while, partly because they were getting repetitive, partly because they were getting so cynical it just was...moreHaven't read a Grisham legal thriller in a while, partly because they were getting repetitive, partly because they were getting so cynical it just wasn't fun to read them any longer. Instead of underdogs triumphing over great odds in a ripping yarn with cool legal maneuvering going on, it was generally stories about decent people being beaten into the ground, overwhelmed by cynicism and despair, with corruption and greed generally winning the day. Hardly fun.
This is more of a fusion of the two: it's still pretty cynical, but there's a bit more hope attached to it. It's also very damn clear about who the villains of the piece are and they're almost cartoonish in the venality. (I'm actually ok with this. Too many authors are in love with the idea that there are no real heroes or villains in a story, only differing opinions and shade of grey. While that kind of story can be great, it also leads to a lot of lazy writing and poorly shaped characters with little moral center. It's nice to see someone unafraid to pick a villain and let you despise them from time to time.)
Grisham does nail pretty effectively the corruption and deceit that really goes on in judicial elections and how the campaigns are constructed and executed. Money talks and the truth is irrelevant. The end result is a pretty thorough damning of our judicial elections system (particularly in the South, where Grisham is from and knows best) and a bit of realistic frustration.
A good, fast read. Not as great as his earlier work, and the dialog doesn't snap quite as cleanly. But it's better than some of his other more recent legal thrillers and seems to be getting back to his roots. He probably needs a renewed dose of optimism about the law & our legal system...but who doesn't?(less)
Was given a few of these in the series, so I tracked down the first one and just finished it. It's pretty good, but there are just enough misses for m...moreWas given a few of these in the series, so I tracked down the first one and just finished it. It's pretty good, but there are just enough misses for me to downgrade it a bit.
Problem 1: Lucas Davenport, Our Hero. Except he's not very heroic, no matter how much the author wants us to root for him. He's a little too awesome, what with being brilliant and rich and liked by everyone (including his bosses) despite his maverick ways. The women are flinging themselves at him. He wants for nothing. He's got these demons driving him, but we never see what any of them really are that keep this guy from being happy (and the way he's set up in the book, he should be happy). He's barely real, you know?
Problem 2: the level of contempt shown for almost everyone who isn't a cop. Especially the media (which is a bit jarring, considering how cozy Out Hero is with some of them). The only non-cops who get a likable treatment are a crime victim and a nun. Madonna-Whore complex going on here?
Problem 3: the graphic excesses. We're inside the killer's head here, and Sandford goes to some extremes to show just how sick this guy is. YMMV on whether it was necessary; I'm thinking he may have gone fruther than he needed.
That said, it's still a decent book. He gets late-80's Minneapolis down pretty well and the cat-and-mouse moves between the killer and the cops is very nicely done. By making Lucas a game designer, it's set up especially well for the tactical elements. (though there was one fairly snotty reference to fantasy RPGs that was off-putting; makes me think Sandford is an old-style wargamer with an attitude) The killings are appropriately thematic and it builds well. Worth trying the second one, i think; it may be the sort of series that improves a bit now the bases are laid down.(less)
Decent, but not great. Having trouble really liking Sandford's detective, who seems to only have one real flaw and it's played off like it really isn'...moreDecent, but not great. Having trouble really liking Sandford's detective, who seems to only have one real flaw and it's played off like it really isn't a flaw at all only another reason why he's more awesome than everyone else. There's also a reason why these books are filing under "crime" rather than "mystery"; there's very little mystery involved, especially when you see both sides throughout the whole book. Frankly, it could use a little more mystery, a little less trying to be hard-boiled.
Overall, I liked this better than the first one, though.(less)
A decent outing that sets up Davenport into a different type of job. Sandford really likes getting inside the heads of his killers, and I have to admi...moreA decent outing that sets up Davenport into a different type of job. Sandford really likes getting inside the heads of his killers, and I have to admit it's the least interesting aspect of these books for me. Diving deeply into the dark heart of murder isn't all that interesting for me. That said, he has gotten away from revealing the killer immediately and then making the entire book a big chase. It's been much more fun trying to figure out who the killer is, even as we get a peek inside the nutball's brain.
This one is pretty compelling, especially with the insights into small town living and how the gossip works, the conflicts, etc. It falls apart a little at the end, once the killer is revealed. The final sequence where Davenport and the cops chase him down isn't particularly interesting and it's not all that competent either, a major change from the rest of the book. A misstep, but still overall a decent book.(less)
If you've never read Hiaasen before, then you need to understand: this is exactly what he does. he does not hold back, he ramps up the zany to just sh...moreIf you've never read Hiaasen before, then you need to understand: this is exactly what he does. he does not hold back, he ramps up the zany to just short of implausible, he takes no prisoners, and he runs the filth all the way up to 11.
And it's almost always a heck of a lot of fun.
This time out he's got his vicious pen focused right at celebrity culture, paparazzi, the excess of the manufactured and useless people and he loads up on all of them with unrelenting glee. You get all of the horrible archtypes: the sleazy and gross paparazzi, the drugged out and slutty pop star, the stupid and venal parent-managers-leeches, the amoral producer, cold-hearted publicists, etc. And since it's Hiaasen, you also have at least one good guy, a few stone killers, and Skink (the unhinged former Gov. of Florida who has been living in the swamps for the past 30 odd years)
Damn skippy it's fun.
It's a bit more predictable than some of Hiaasen's work, and honestly the targets are a little too easy to be as much fun as they should be. Plus, most of them are such vile people they can't really get what they deserve.
But it's still a hoot and fun to read. Hiaasen knows how to set up a scene and create fascinating characters that should be ludicrous except for that he somehow shades it back across the line to plausible. It's a testament to his skill as a writer that you can get sucked into this world of insanity and buy that it really could all work this way.(less)
Enjoyed this more than many of Grisham's recent legal thrillers, in part because it wasn't quite as predictable as he's been recently. He'd really fal...moreEnjoyed this more than many of Grisham's recent legal thrillers, in part because it wasn't quite as predictable as he's been recently. He'd really fallen into a pattern that was a little too bitter and a little too predictable. While this wasn't nearly as twisty as some of his earlier works, or as high-stakes thrilling, it does have a few nice character portraits and some strong moments that keep it flowing.
It's still a little light on character details; beyond the lead, the rest of the crew is little more than a slapdash jumble of traits. But you still kind of root for them to pull it off, and there's a pretty good indictment of the mass tort bar, big corporations, and big law firm factories that isn't as preachy as it could have been.
The dialogue is still Grisham's strongest point and the courtroom stuff feels right. There's a nice bit where it becomes clear that despite their experience in various legal matters, none of them has a clue what to do in a federal courtroom which is kinda fun.
A decent thriller, but nothing to write home about. Lee Child is a pretty good descriptive writer but there's a fair number of hole and flaws in both...moreA decent thriller, but nothing to write home about. Lee Child is a pretty good descriptive writer but there's a fair number of hole and flaws in both plot and characterization that make this a bit of a slog. Modern decompression doesn't help this book, which could have been written 30 years ago...in half the pages.
To be fair, if you're a fan of the hard-boiled detective crime thriller, there's some things to like here: Reacher is very much a two-fisted hero who doesn't screw around with whinging over moral ambiguity and conflicts. It's sort of refreshing, which is clearly Childs' intent.
At the same time, the romance subplot isn't very compelling and feels like a shoehorned sex scene in a movie. You'd buy this kind of "romance under stress" play in a movie where the leads have undeniable chemistry, but on the page it just sort of lies there. There's also a few times where Reacher pulls something off using his skills as a military policeman...but you have no idea how he did it until after the fact, when he explains it to someone in reasonably clunky exposition. It makes it harder to ride along with Reacher on this adventure, which is a little problematic since it's a first-person narrative.
I do understand why fans of the series were so furious over Tom Cruise being cast as Reacher for the movie, though. Reacher is consistently portrayed as a HUGE man, it's remarked on more than a few times and plays an important part of the book and who the character is. To have Tiny Tom in the role...yikes. To be honest, I was picturing someone more along the lines of Vin Diesel.(less)
Pretty sure most reviews of this book are going to start out with a reference to "A Time to Kill"...and I'm not really any different. That was one of...morePretty sure most reviews of this book are going to start out with a reference to "A Time to Kill"...and I'm not really any different. That was one of my favorite Grisham books. I loved so many of the characters, and the dialogue just leapt off the page for me.
The trial maneuvering and snarking back & forth with the attorneys...it's the sort of thing you wish being a lawyer was like. (It's not) A Time to Kill was a ripping yarn.
So I was excited to revisit this town and these characters. And while it's not bad...it's just not as compelling a tale.
Sure, Jake is still a kick-ass lawyer and generally good guy. Harry Rex is vicious and playing in the dirty end of the field. The judges are a pain, the opposition lawyers are smug, arrogant assholes and race relations are still a mess. but it's a much quieter story in a battle over an estate and it's just not quite as engrossing and is a little too predictable and how it all falls together.
It's nice to see everyone again and it's enjoyable but it's not one of the best.(less)