The Retribution is a suspenseful, gripping thriller. The serial killer Jacko Vance was one scary villain. His ruthlessness, his methodical approach to...moreThe Retribution is a suspenseful, gripping thriller. The serial killer Jacko Vance was one scary villain. His ruthlessness, his methodical approach to his vengeance, and how well he knew those he sought to take vengeance on came together to create a truly scary killer.
However, there were a lot of characters minor characters I found easily blended together. Or rather, they didn't distinguish themselves from each other much. They were generally one of the crime investigation team members. Occasionally, the author would try to hint who the killer was after by describing them or where he was, but I couldn't tell by the description who they were talking about. I'm not sure if this was because it took me a while to read (only because of time constraints and not because of the book) or because of a lack of connection with the characters.
The other thing that bothered me was the tendency of the author to head-hop. Sometimes it would only happen at the very end of the scene. Other times, the narration would slip into another character's head midway through, then return to the original character's point of view. Head-hopping never fails to be annoying and confusing.
With those two problems, this potential four-star story dropped down to a three-star. And yet, it left me wanting to know more about the main characters. And if the author can create such a suspenseful story and gripping villain, I'd read others in this series.(less)
I have read other Fairstein books, and one or two with the Alexandra Cooper character. But this one was so focused on the relationship between Alexand...moreI have read other Fairstein books, and one or two with the Alexandra Cooper character. But this one was so focused on the relationship between Alexandra and her French lover, Luc, who came off as an ass, to be honest, I felt like I was reading a romance rather than a mystery or thriller. Cooper was constantly contemplating her relationship, while at the same time putting up with Luc brushing aside her opinion and concerns, belittling her career, and giving her the cold shoulder when she dared to obey her boss's call to return to New York. Some romance. It's too bad, because the story this lame romance was obscuring was actually interesting. I kept pushing myself to listen for a few more chapters because I wanted to know what happened. But the characters irritated me too much. And so did the reader. Yes, I listened to the audiobook. The narrator is one I've heard before and I do not like her style of reading. I hadn't checked the narrator before getting this book, though. She reads so slow, with a couple of seconds between sentences sometimes, it actually kills any momentum a scene might build for suspense or tension. It doesn't sound like much, but when you hear a pause that long you think at least there will be a switch in speaker, and possibly the end of a scene, or some time passing. But no, the same person's talking, with the same thought, in fact. The narrator was just taking another long (and loud) breath (yes, you can hear her breathe, and it's annoying. Sure, you need to breathe, but other narrators clearly manage to do it silently.). It may seem that the bad narration turned me off the book, but I found enough reasons to stop reading aside from that. The bad narrator was simply the last straw. (less)
Fast paced, never let you go from the first scene. Liked the relationship between Julie and Will. Baldacci's style of crisp, stripped down language le...moreFast paced, never let you go from the first scene. Liked the relationship between Julie and Will. Baldacci's style of crisp, stripped down language lends itself to an action-packed story. (less)
Enjoyed Sharp as much or more than Clean. Poor Adam suffered even more in Sharp - he just cannot catch a break. Things turned from bad to worse to wor...moreEnjoyed Sharp as much or more than Clean. Poor Adam suffered even more in Sharp - he just cannot catch a break. Things turned from bad to worse to worse and worse. And then they got worse! By halfway through the story, his ability to stay clean, his dignity, his freedom, his job, his livelihood, even his life - everything was on the line.
No one seems to notice how hard Adam tries. No matter what happens, he's at fault.
The stakes continued to rise with every chapter! No one trusted him, no one but Swartz. If he lost him, he'd lose everything... (view spoiler)[Adam kept losing ground, with more and more at stake, more clues to follow up, more of the mystery to uncover, with fewer answers, until he literally had a gun to his head. Cherabino was forced to use their link to get to him. Maybe now she'll start to see the good things about the link? She really needs to cut him a break! (hide spoiler)]
And when all was settled, the author dropped something else on us, just enough that I've got to come back for more! Hope it's not to long till the next book!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I enjoyed getting back to Harper Blaine, though this seemed to start out a bit slower than previous stories. It felt like Richardson was explaining a...moreI enjoyed getting back to Harper Blaine, though this seemed to start out a bit slower than previous stories. It felt like Richardson was explaining a lot, but this simply could be that I've read all the previous books, and there's information a new reader would need. Still wish it was spread out a bit more. Harper is a bit more connected to the case she becomes invovled in, in that she becomes part of the case. Not quite a victim, but she suffers a bit more than usual. Well, she does tend to suffer in various ways for her clients, so perhaps this is usual. But she's more scared than usual, it seems. Like she has less control, more at stake. And she's more aware of that fear, and other emotions, than in previous stories. Like she's learned not to shut out the whole world. But I have a new character to hate: James Purlis. Ugh. Keep away from Quinton and Harper! He seems just the right balance of calculating, cold, resentful, and knowledgable to cause them a great deal of trouble. And it looks like he'll be causing plenty more in the future. A wonderful mix of ghosts and government spooks, the next story is already set up and promises to be quite the doozy. Lots of trouble headed Harper and Quinton's way. Perhaps this one was a quieter, more moderately paced story because the next will not be? A ghost story through and through, with all the creepiness you'd expect, just a little calmer pace than I'd come to expect from Richardson. (less)
Really a 4.5 star rating. An interesting and exciting addition to the Pendergast series, though different in some ways. A lot of character time was gi...moreReally a 4.5 star rating. An interesting and exciting addition to the Pendergast series, though different in some ways. A lot of character time was given to Corrie Swanson, especially in the beginning, so that I started to feel like it was her story and not Pendergast's. I like the character Corrie, but I'm reading for Pendergast, so I was a bit disappointed in how much I didn't get of him.
The mystery unraveled slowly at first, then became two mysteries that slowly merged into one. It definitely finished better than it started. More suspenseful, more exciting -- and an ending not for the faint of heart!
The Sherlock Holmes angle was fascinating. At first, it seemed an odd direction for Pendergast to take. And the Holmes story in the middle of the Pendergast story was interesting -- but at the same time, it was in the middle of the story. It did kind of bring the Pendergast story to a halt, killing the momentum and suspense. By the time I'd finished the Holmes story, I'd forgotten what was going on in Roaring Forks. So I'm not sure how successful that was as a device.
There were some great Pendergast moments here, like his entrance to the town. The Pendergast we see here is not the same as we've seen. He went through the harrowing events of the last three books, and had spent time "recovering." So far, that seemed to mean ignoring everyone and drinking heavily. But it seems Corrie's situation may have pulled him out of his funk. We'll have to see what he does for his next trick.(less)
A beautiful addition to the Robicheaux series. The Montana setting was as much a part of the story as the characters, who were as alive as ever. The e...moreA beautiful addition to the Robicheaux series. The Montana setting was as much a part of the story as the characters, who were as alive as ever. The evolution of the characters Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell is heart warming and heartbreaking at the same time. They're acutely aware of their age, and are more often looking back on their life, wondering if they've accomplished enough, if it was all worth it, if they're worthy of what they've gained. Clete in particular goes through a struggle with his accomplishments and deeds, and comes out the other side bruised and battered, but still Clete.
It's unfortunate that I read this story so quickly that I did not take more notes on the aspects of the story I most enjoyed. So I can't give this story the review it deserves. I'm sure I will reread it in the future and be able to add to my review, but I will have to leave it as a must-read for any James Lee Burke or Dave Robicheaux fan, and for anyone interested in a mystery/thriller/crime story that is more thoughtful, has more developed and complicated characters, and is beautifully written. James Lee Burke has managed to outdo himself again. (less)
I reread the entire series to prepare to read Skin Game. And it did not disappoint. There is so much backstory now, it's probably impossible to really...moreI reread the entire series to prepare to read Skin Game. And it did not disappoint. There is so much backstory now, it's probably impossible to really properly enjoy this story coming in anywhere but the beginning. But what that creates is a layered, fully formed universe for Harry Dresden. Every action has always had consequences in the Dresden universe. And some of those consequences play out in Skin Game.
(view spoiler)[Mainly, this is the story of Dresden fulfilling his debt to Mab as her Winter Knight. But, as usual, there's so much more to the story, and even Harry doesn't find out the whole purpose of what he's doing until he's in the thick of things. Regardless of her intentions, Mab is true to herself. She found a way to use Harry's earlier refusal to be compelled to do things against him by making sure the circumstances don't allow him any other choice.
It was disconcerting to see how much further -- even more so than when he'd been dead -- his friends have moved away from him. They've stopped relying on him to be there to save the day. That says more than anything about how far removed from their lives he's become. Of course, Mab had a role in that too. Even in keeping Molly away. Their first conversation went far better than I expected it would.
Harry's arrival on Michael's doorstep was heartbreaking, but inevitable. During their conversation, Michael, ever the good man, said what Harry needed to hear. But Harry's Id said what needed to be said. Ouch.
The truth about the parasite - well, Murphy's reaction was priceless! And it raises a lot of interesting questions. Questions we'll now have to wait to have answered...
The heist was nerve wracking in that I kept waiting for it to get worse, for someone to turn on Harry, for something to attack them. Which all happened! Repeatedly! But as a consolation -- Harry made Nick cry... *cackle*
Hades was a great character. And he apparently sees a lot of himself in Harry. Is that a good or a bad thing? Goodman Grey was intriguing. What we find out about him in the end made him more so. I was particularly intrigued that he knew Harry's mother. Are we to take that as coincidence? And he basically compared her to a naagloshii. I can't wait to find out more about this "piece of work." She must have been something.
Butcher gave us a bit more closure than usual in this book. It was satisfying, knowing how long it'll be before we get another book. At least I can say FINALLY for Harry and Karrin. It may be just a kiss, but I'll take it!
Lastly, I must say, WAY TO GO, BUTTERS! There was so much awesome in those scenes, there's really not much I can say briefly. Only this:
"Mister, where I come from, there is no try." (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ghost Story is a very different story than the previous books in the Dresden Files. Which is saying something for the author. After nearly a dozen boo...moreGhost Story is a very different story than the previous books in the Dresden Files. Which is saying something for the author. After nearly a dozen books, he still comes up with something totally different. And, boy, is this one a ride and a half.
The one thing wrong with this story is not with the story, but the audiobook. James Marsters did not read Ghost Story! It wouldn't matter who replaced him, Marsters has become the voice of Harry Dresden in my head, and to have someone else read for him was just wrong. Apologies to Mr. Glover.
We learn a lot more about Harry's past in Ghost Story than in previous installments, both in passing and in full flashbacks. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks -- I feel like they put the story on pause -- so I was torn. We do learn about a crucial time in Harry's life, though: when he had to leave Justin DuMorne and fight his first battle at sixteen, a life-altering event. I'm not sure whether it needs two chapters to give us everything we need to know of the story, though. And I wonder if it could have been positioned differently, so it doesn't seem like a thinly disguised request by Lea for the story in exchange for answers to three questions. Yes, Lea says she doesn't know what happened at that time in his life. And yes, Harry says the Sidhe are ravenous for information. It is their basic currency, in fact. But it doesn't quite feel compelling enough as a reason for the two chapter flashback.
(view spoiler)[ This story, including the flashback, does help bring Harry to understand that much of his life, and the events that seemed to just happen around and to him, have been directed and planned, an idea that's been hinted at throughout the series. At times, he was even led to certain situations, as with He Who Walks Behind. But for all the storytelling, I was waiting for a bigger shoe to drop, a greater connection to Harry's life, his past or his future. Perhaps this will be revealed in time.
Instead of further revelations, He Who Walks Behind and the story of their first encounter act as a window into Harry's earlier life. We've only gotten peeks at that time before, so I enjoyed learning more about younger Harry. It seems this is not the last we'll see of He Who Walks Behind. Whether or not there are larger connections remains to be seen then.
Harry is a bit more introspective than usual throughout the story, which makes sense as a ghost (ok, ghost-ish), so I'm okay with that. Especially since Harry is told that ghosts are made of memories, so it seems right when he slips into a memory from time to time, such as the first time he used magic. And eventually he has to reach for his memories to use his magic, and so we get more background, but these seem to have a purpose, which makes it part of the story. It is fascinating to see these bits of his life we've never seen. But it's so unusual, since we usually just get a tease, a droplet of a peek into his life, it was surprising at first. I realized how much I didn't know about Harry Dresden.
He does seem sidetracked from his mission at one point, but even he acknowledges that. Instead of looking for his murderer, he ends up trying to help Murphy find who shot up her house. When he finds them, he vows to help one of the boys instead. Then he sees Mort kidnapped and tries to free him. He does need him, since it's easiest for him to communicate with others through Mort, but others have found creative ways to get their messages across the life-death line, so he's not essential. What is important for him is that he has dragged Mort into his problems, and he feels he owes it to him to help him. Which is the same reason he wants to help Molly, whose condition is partly if not mostly due to Harry's actions. Eventually, Harry notes that he's not doing what he's been sent to do, even though Lea says he's been doing nothing but. He and we just had to wait and see how all these pieces fit together. It was just a bit more complicated than usual.
For most of the story, I wondered where Thomas was. It didn't make sense -- until we got the explanation at the end. I had considered that Harry might have been doing some memory blocking thing on his brother somehow. But I missed Thomas. I like the character. It's a bit of a stretch that he could block him out of his mind so totally that he would not think of him when he thought of the last time he'd seen Molly, when she was shot at Chichen Itza. That was also the last he'd seen Thomas, who'd pledged to guard Molly with his life. But the author's given an explanation, and I rarely have issues with these stories, so I'll give the guy some slack.
There were a couple of little inconsistencies. For example, as a ghost, Harry has to not only be out of the sunlight, but in a place considered a sanctum, a sanctuary of sorts, to be safe from the dawn. He goes to his grave the first two nights. But when Butters comes for him, he jumps into Bob's skull for safety, then jumps out at the warehouse. Why is he -- and Bob, who shadowed him the whole time -- safe in there? What makes it a sanctum (but without a threshold, which would have kept out him and Bob)? Or is it? Not sure of the explanation for that one.
Now -- that ending? Did not see that coming. Not. At. All. Yes, yes, it made a lot things make sense. But who his murderer was? Not in a million years. And the kicker? For all that planning, for all those gut-wrenching decisions that were made, it didn't work!
He now has to fulfill his promise to Mab to be the Winter Knight. Sure, he made a great challenge to Mab at the end as a condition to his service to her. But will it work? His experience as a ghost taught him that he was his own. No one can take away what is essentially him about him, what makes him Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Will he manage to remain himself? It's Luke joining up with Vader. Mulder working with Smoking Man. It can't turn out well. There will be some bad moments, maybe more bad than good. (hide spoiler)] This line made me laugh out loud: Murphy: There's a circle made of copper wire in the kitchen. If it gets hot in here, you can run for it. You know how to empower a circle? Mortimer: Yes, of course. Though I can't imagine running for my life and stopping in the kitchen. Meaning no offense to your protective ability, but I'll stop when I'm home, thank you.
That Mort, he's a smart fella.
What I'm more concerned about, really concerned about, is Cold Days, the next book, is the last book! I'll have to wait for the next! How will I do that? Some serious withdrawal ahead...
On my second read: And yes, this was a read -- I didn't listen to the audiobook, knowing it wasn't read by James Marsters. It was too jarring last time, and this time I've gone through the whole series by audiobook, so it would have been worse.
(view spoiler)[I said above I thought that a bigger shoe would have dropped when they linked Harry's first attack by He Who Walks Behind, when he was sixteen, to everything that had followed, hinting that much of his life has been manipulated or at the very least linked. I think instead the information is just coming out slower. That was a big confirmation of what was slowly becoming obvious, but there will be few big reveals here. Although Cold Days has a few of its own in store.
Anyway... Knowing what was coming didn't always make things easier. Watching Murphy try to accept Harry's death was just as heartbreaking. As was Harry's goodbye to Mouse and his daughter at the end. No, I think that was worse, actually.
I realized Molly was way more messed up than I first thought. She's been killing humans, those helping the Fomors, and found it "easier than it should have been." She's not the same Molly that went to Chichen Itza.
And I understand the end, the explanation for it all, a bit better this time. How Harry was manipulated by so many beings of great power: Mab and Demonreach wanted him alive, but Uriel was the one who wanted him to take care of the Corpsetaker, as I understand it. Except he thought he'd been given the choice more clearly than Jack had laid it out. Uriel was still manipulating him in the end, since he didn't tell him he wasn't dead. He just said he had to accept the consequences of his actions. All these powerful beings putting their two cents into how Harry's life works out says a lot about Harry. He must be someone crucial to the future. Or at least with a lot of power to change things, to alter the course of the future, to act where perhaps others can't. Maybe. Something huge is in store for Harry. Even bigger than being the Winter Knight, I think.
I can't wait to find out what that is. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After the tremendous all-encompassing conflict of the last book, I wondered how Butcher would top it, or if he could.
Well, he did. In Death Masks, ins...moreAfter the tremendous all-encompassing conflict of the last book, I wondered how Butcher would top it, or if he could.
Well, he did. In Death Masks, instead of end-of-the-world catastrophe, Harry is attacked on all sides. At once, of course. In fact, at chapter eighteen or so, I noted that Harry had yet to sleep! And it had been two days. He'd already been challenged to a duel by a powerful vampire, shot at by the mob, attacked by one of the Fallen (and still his day was to get worse). Oh, and there's a prophecy that if he tries to find what he's been hired to find, he'll die. But if he doesn't, everyone dies.
All that without a nap.
Harry finally slept when it was over. I think he slept for a couple of days.
This story was just as fast paced as the previous ones, if not more so. It grabs you immediately and doesn't let go till the end. Harry was confronted with so many threats that a duel with a vampire warlord actually took a backseat.
On to the next. Can't wait to see how Butcher tops this.
Observations on my re-read: (view spoiler)[I'm now curious about Thomas's tapping as Ortega's second. Was he really sent by his father? Or was this orchestrated by Thomas? Or by someone else? Lea perhaps? Thomas could have arranged it in an attempt to protect Harry. Lea, also. I'm thinking Thomas.
I noticed Ortega bowed "slightly" to Mac when he entered his bar. What is Mac that 600-year-old vampire warlords bow to him? I can't wait to find out.
I don't think I really understood what Shiro had done the first time I read this. He and Michael had understood that Harry was in danger, that there was a curse on him. Shiro took his place with Nicodemus to save him. They must have an understanding that Harry is very important, in general or in the future, for Shiro to give his life for Harry's.
I always wondered why Harry picked up the coin instead of picking up little Harry. But I think the reason for that is in his admission that he feels a darkness in him, one he struggles to ignore or at least control. That darkness reached for the coin instead of Harry. (hide spoiler)]
As I re-read the books, I actually feel like I need to read them again - there's so much in each, so much detail, hints, foreshadowing, I'm sure I'm missing some even the second time around. I guess I'll have to sacrifice and read them a third time... :-D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The second in the Harry Dresden files was just as fun as the first. I'm getting to know Harry a bit better. He's awkward, sincere, inept, a terrible l...moreThe second in the Harry Dresden files was just as fun as the first. I'm getting to know Harry a bit better. He's awkward, sincere, inept, a terrible liar, not all-powerful, has a weakness for women in distress and women with long legs, wickedly sarcastic, flippant, irreverent, arrogant, sometimes slow on the uptake, worries about the little guy, hates bullies, tries to be responsible, doesn't always succeed, cries, worries about his cat, will puke after seeing a torn-up dead body.
Harry takes risks, usually to help someone else, and this time, comes too close to magic he shouldn't play with. We get to see him go up against werewolves and mobsters, and it's not clear who he's more intimidated by. He succeeds in stopping those who would do nothing good, but he pays a price.
An oft-misunderstood wizard, blamed for many things he's usually trying to stop or prevent, Harry Dresden is perhaps unlike any character I've read. Certainly one of the most memorable. I had instant affection for this character, especially how he's read by James Marsters. I'm moving on immediately to the next in the series.
On rereading, I have greater insight into Harry's personality, his character arc, and what makes him tick. A few observations: Harry's got anger issues. His anger is right below the surface, which makes it easy to access with his magic, making it easy to misuse his magic. He always feels the dark side lurking behind him, close by. Perhaps it's because of his anger. No wonder Lasciel and him got along so well.
His subconscious-not-Evil Harry seems like a future Harry - leather duster instead of canvas, wiser, the beard - he notices the similarity when he gears up to fight, except for the growth of beard. Maybe he was mistaken in making this connection and that wasn't a picture of him in the near future, but of years later. When else did he have a beard? Only after Susan died, and he didn't look so put together. Perhaps he grows one on Demonreach. Could totally see that. Except his duster is gone. I think.
That he called Susan for help after being shot and stranded outside Chicago without a ride, losing McFinn, seems a little contrived now. He couldn't call Mac? I don't know if he considers him a friend. But he's reliable. And he fretted so much about calling on Susan and bringing her into it. So why not call someone else, like Mac? He's really the only other one he could have called. Harry literally had no one else. Maybe his mind went to Susan because he wanted her there. Or maybe that's how Jim Butcher wanted the story to go. (less)
I haven't listened to a Harry Bosch tale in a while. The narrator has a distinct way of speaking I've come to associate with Harry Bosch. While engros...moreI haven't listened to a Harry Bosch tale in a while. The narrator has a distinct way of speaking I've come to associate with Harry Bosch. While engrossing enough to listen to during a commute, this story disappointed me on several levels. WARNING: Ahead there be spoilers.
I found Connelly explaining a lot. Things that were obvious he said anyway. A lot of explaining of gestures, for example. The editor in me kept saying 'you just repeated yourself,' or 'that's obvious from what you just said.' It was distracting, interrupted the pacing, and took away from the narrative. Kind of a lesson what not to do for a writer.
I may have forgotten details regarding Harry Bosch's character, but he behaved differently than I remember him acting in other stories I've read. Namely, he is more aggressive in this story, and well, he's kind of an ass. He consciously shuts out his partner, David Chu, ordering him about and outright telling him he isn't going to tell him what was going on. Once he tries the "I'm trying to protect you" line, but it comes off as patronizing and he never returns to the idea anyway. Besides, that's not how partners work. He's working a political case, but he should show Chu how to deal with the politics. Instead, he took control of the investigation himself, ordering Chu about, even though Chu calls him on it and tells him he doesn't appreciate being shut out.
Chu was out of line talking to the reporter, but when Chu confronts Bosch with how he's treating him, Bosch refuses to acknowledge it, insisting on holding Chu to a standard he's not keeping for himself. He treats Chu poorly and has no guilt about it and no desire to forgive Chu. He just writes off Chu as a partner.
Another thing I didn't understand was his reaction to Hannah. They get romantic after knowing each other a short time, and Hannah tells him about her son, who committed a horrible crime. When Hannah asks how he feels about what she told him, he is at a loss to offer anything but sympathy. When Hannah says she can't ignore her feelings, that she has to deal with what her son did and that he was in prison -- a reasonable statement, in my opinion -- Harry suddenly comes to the conclusion he's made a mistake with her and blows her off. It seems a huge leap that didn't have an explanation. There was no connection between point A and B. I don't see how he came to his conclusion just from what she'd said. Maybe it's a guy thing? Hannah starts talking about feelings, Bosch jumps to "this is a mistake"? There's something missing there to me. And somehow, Hannah "knows" she "messed up" with him when they next talk. I don't see how, since he doesn't give any indication except being a little abrupt in how he ended the last conversation. If she can sense he's annoyed, I don't see how she would have figured out why. It seems Connelly was operating with more knowledge than he was sharing with the reader.
By the end of the story, Harry has made a U-turn on his opinion of Chu, presumably because of how he handles their second case. I have to assume that, because he never explains his change of heart, except that he manages to tell Chu he did a good job with the case, and later tells himself he's going to move on and stop holding a grudge. But how did he get there from the deep insult he'd felt? It didn't seem plausible.
Chu was also a bit annoying in his reaction to Harry's behavior. While he tries to stand up for himself and complains to Harry when he shut him out of the case, that's all he does. Then when Harry finds out about the reporter, Chu insists he's going to make it up to Harry and practically begs Harry for a second chance. Repeatedly. The guy needs to grow a pair.
The Hannah storyline is left dangling a bit. But at that point, I didn't much care. With Harry being a general ass, I was less than happy with this story. (less)
I started reading this without high hopes. I thought I'd soon put it down. Instead, I was drawn into the story. And yet, now that I'm finished, I'm tr...moreI started reading this without high hopes. I thought I'd soon put it down. Instead, I was drawn into the story. And yet, now that I'm finished, I'm trying to pinpoint why. The style and voice are unusual. It is written in -- or translated into -- the present tense, which threw me off at first, but that lasted only a page or so. Mainly, the opening of the story made me curious. As the story progressed, it revealed its secrets slowly, without indulging in backstory before its time. It gave just enough to want to know more. So I kept reading.
But soon, I found the number of characters introduced a bit overwhelming. I couldn't see exactly where the story was going, nor did I have a handle on the characters. We slowly learn more about them, such as when it's revealed that Eva is an operative. But it's brief and almost as an aside. Instead of revealing aspects of the characters, only hints were given and often not explained.
This story is written in the omniscient POV. This was also a problem for me when I read Dune. It was again the case with Haystack, especially when the inner dialogue switched between characters in a single paragraph. That is simply annoying and feels like head-hopping. When I start a scene, I orient myself through the character who starts the scene, who obviously has the POV. To have to repeatedly change that is disorienting, and as a result, I get pulled out of the story on a regular basis. It also seems to keep me from feeling close to any of the characters.
In this case, I don't think it was the omniscient POV that kept me at a distance from the characters. There were moments when I got inside their heads and felt some connection with them. But that only went so far. We simply never learned enough about the characters to build a real connection.
One of the major complaints I have with this novel is how the author structured the dialogue. It's in italics, without quotation marks, which just on a subconscious level I think is disorienting (makes me think it's internal dialogue). But what's worse is each speaker doesn't get his or her own line. You basically have to guess who's speaking and when the other speaker starts speaking. No tags, no breaks. Just a paragraph of italic text. It's extremely confusing and forces the reader to do some detective work to figure out what's going on.
Even more puzzling: Only at about page 100 did I figure out that chapter one was actually a prologue of sorts. The next chapter went back in time to before the murder, but there was no indication of this whatsoever. I can't imagine why an author would do that. At chapter fifteen, we get to the point in chapter one, when the man is killed and his body dumped where he was found in chapter one. It does say something about the story that, in the fourteen chapters in between, there was so little attention paid to the the murder the detective was supposed to be investigating, that I sort of forgot about it. Those chapters developed the various characters, mixing backstory with events happening at the time. The characters, what I learned about them, were interesting and often surprising. But the structure of the story is bewildering. You should not find out more than halfway through the book that you'd stepped back in time at the beginning.
In the end, while an intriguing story, it meandered a bit much. Many events seemed unrelated. Many characters were peripheral with little connection to the main plot. Such as Giribaldi's wife and the baby. What was the point of that?
I'm finished, but I'm not entirely sure what happened.(less)
This story grabbed me from the start, with a protagonist who is not only skilled - highly trained in telepathy - but is also a recovering addict. An a...moreThis story grabbed me from the start, with a protagonist who is not only skilled - highly trained in telepathy - but is also a recovering addict. An addict who struggles every day with his addiction, while he tries not to lose his job. And throughout, he tries to do the right thing, even when he has to swallow his pride. A great balance for a dark hero. The world of this story is intriguing, and I appreciate how the author reveals it gradually, as the story unfolds. It's a world dealing with repercussions of a war with technology -- pencil and paper are now common tools -- but yes, there are flying cars! A unique world that continually fascinates.
As the main character follows the evidence, he's taken deeper into his past. He has to call on the help of those who trained him then kicked him out. When he finds that the crimes involve telepaths and teleporters, he faces more suspicion than the usual he gets from all those who don't trust the telepaths. He constantly faces choices between what he wants and what he needs. He makes mistakes, but tries to rectify them. You can't help rooting for the guy, even when he's messing up.
I've fascinated by this character and this world. Immediately moving on to the next book in the series. I just hope there are more to come. (less)
Rereading Storm Front and the rest of the series for the upcoming release of Skin Game, and it's great to read with the perspective of knowing how the...moreRereading Storm Front and the rest of the series for the upcoming release of Skin Game, and it's great to read with the perspective of knowing how the whole series unfolds. Now I can see where the foreshadowing came in from the start. I can better understand Harry's choices. And I can see how he's changed over the course of 14 books. When Skin Game comes out, that Harry Dresden will not be the same character that was introduced in Storm Front.
Below is my review from my first read of Storm Front. I adjusted my rating to 4 stars - I would give it 4.5 stars if I could - because I would say it's not the strongest book in the series. It's clear Mr. Butcher was just revving up. *** I listened to the audiobook, and couldn't stop listening till I finished -- two and a half days in all. This book grabbed me immediately, and it was all in the character in Harry Dresden (and perhaps in the great narration by James Marsters). The character's voice is distinct, captivating, and utterly his own. Harry Dresden is someone you could see yourself sitting down and having a beer with in your favorite pub. He's not a tough guy, he gets sick at the sight of mangled bodies. He truly wants to do the right thing, but sometimes people suffer for his efforts.
There's plenty of his past we haven't learned yet. We got a tantalizing taste of what his life has been like. I look forward to learning all his secrets.
I'm thrilled there are a dozen more books to get to know Harry better. It's like meeting a new friend you really enjoy and can't wait to meet up with again. How did it take me so long to read this? No clue, but I'm about to make up for it!(less)
Lovers of Agent Pendergast may be thrilled or horrified by the opening part of Two Graves. But it is a hint, and perhaps a warni...moreTrue rating: 4.5 stars
Lovers of Agent Pendergast may be thrilled or horrified by the opening part of Two Graves. But it is a hint, and perhaps a warning, of the depth of treachery and danger Pendergast will face. I took it as an indication of the depths of his misery. Pendergast doesn't wallow. He acts, and boy, it would have been quite the final act.
But I hate spoilers, so I'll try to keep them to a minimum here!
I was entranced throughout the story. It lived up to the reputation of the series, with suspense and action to spare even. Well, mostly.
With so much going on, about three-quarters of the way through I thought another book would be needed to wrap up the many story lines. Pendergast was hopelessly entangled in South America, rather far for D'Agosta to be of any help. Never mind how they'd left things when D'Agosta and Pendergast had last spoken! Then, in the span of twenty pages, things took such a turn for the worse, I was hoping D'Agosta could come in to help Pendergast.
Corrie's story line was a bit confusing, though. Aside from the fact that she found the Nazi papers that drove her into hiding, there was no clear reason for her to be in the story. Perhaps it's going to tie in to the next book, but it didn't seemed related to the story line at all. If I were the sort of person who skips over parts, I would have skipped over those parts. I just didn't see what her subplot had to do with the rest of the story. And with the suspense of the predicament Pendergast had found himself in, it was a bit of a let down to then be taken to suburban Pennsylvania to deal with a framed bank robber.
I would've liked more D'Agosta in the story. Usually D'Agosta comes to Pendergast's aid or to assist him, but this story was different. This was really Pendergast's story. He was teetering on the edge much of the time, came close to giving up, didn't care if he lived or died a number of times, was actually suicidal, had to face the grimmest of realities... To add his friend--one of a very few--as a witness to his turmoil might have been too much for him. I would have liked to see the repairing of the relationship between them, though. I needed a bit more than D'Agosta telling Laura that Pendergast once again called him 'my dear Vincent.' Perhaps more in the next book?
Don't get me wrong -- Two Graves was gripping, at times shocking, and a true couldn't-put-it-down read. Pendergast got himself into a far worse mess than he has before, came closer to having no escape than I can remember, left behind many more bodies, and faced a far more frightening enemy.
As I've read through the Pendergast series, I got used to lining up the next one while I was reading. Now I've caught up. I can't move on to the next one. There isn't a next one. I have to WAIT for it to be written. I'm not happy about that. I've been getting a Pendergast fix about once a month for maybe a year now. What am I going to do now?
Creole Belle is very much Clete's story, a first for James Lee Burke. I saw it coming in previous stories, and Creole Belle was everything I could hav...more Creole Belle is very much Clete's story, a first for James Lee Burke. I saw it coming in previous stories, and Creole Belle was everything I could have hoped for. Full of contradiction and desperate choices. Nothing in the world of Dave Robicheaux is black and white. They live in a world of gray.
Dave contemplates death much more these days. He and Clete think about death, their age, wondering if they're irrelevant, and recall the New Orleans of their youth with a sense of loss akin to mourning. The troubles and pains of their pasts do not taint their memories of New Orleans, and the city of their childhoods remains like a laughing infant, joyous and thrilled with its own being.
The chemical traces remaining from the oil well blowout are like a stain reminding them of what they've lost. Dave mourns the loss of the wetlands, marshes, and bayou of his youth, and resents that the loss comes at a deliberate hand.
The story is as involved as ever, building layers over the characters, bringing some to the end their lives led them to. I did have a few moments of terror when I thought Mr. Burke had taken from us one character whose loss I could not abide.
If I have any complaint, it's that I missed Will Patton's voice. I read this book, though I usually listen to the audiobook. Patton has become the voice of Dave Robicheaux for me.
A few favorite quotes: "No matter how it played out, my vote would always remain with those who'd had their souls shot out of a cannon and who no longer paid much heed to the judgment of the world." -- Dave Robicheaux in one sentence.
"Does it make sense that the same species that created Athenian democracy and the Golden Age of Pericles and the city of Florence also gifted us with the Inquisition and Dresden and the Nanking massacre?" -- Dave sees contradiction as intrinsic to the human condition, even though he doesn't always understand it.
"Evil men feared and hated Clete Purcel because they knew he was unlike them. They feared him because they knew he put principle ahead of self-interest, and they feared him because he would lay down his life for his best friend. I think Ben Jonson would have liked and understood Clete and would not have been averse to saying that, like his friend William Shakespeare, Clete was not of an age but for all time." -- a fitting description for the man at the center of this story, and a testament to the admiration and love Dave Robicheaux has for his friend. (less)
Swan Peak is James Lee Burke's usual -- meaning it's beautifully written, with characters that make you want to scream and cry. The difference for thi...moreSwan Peak is James Lee Burke's usual -- meaning it's beautifully written, with characters that make you want to scream and cry. The difference for this installment is location. Dave Robicheaux has moved to Montana to get away from things in New Iberia and the New Orleans area. But trouble finds him anyway.
The use of first person and third person POVs has broadened the potential of Burke's stories. We now have more insight into the dark recesses of Clete Purcell's mind than ever before. It's fascinating. And it leaves me feeling in need of some of his whiskey. Or whatever he's drinking at the moment. That's a dark hole that houses Clete's mind.
The character of Nix makes you want to believe in hell. Then Burke goes ahead and makes him start changing, so he becomes almost sympathetic and you have a hard time hating him. Dammit. And then Burke goes and redeems him -- the story's villain -- and turns the victim into the bad guy, albeit briefly. I still think Nix is rotten deep down, but he showed a shred of humanity. It was his victim that couldn't get past the sins perpetrated against him that put him in Nix's place. How's that for a plot twist.
One of my favorite lines, demonstrative of Burke's ability to create an image: "…inhaling a breath that was as sharp as a razor in his throat." Don't tell me you don't feel that.
Another of my favorite passages demonstrates Burke's deft hand with a thoughtful moment for Dave, where he sums up so simply and eloquently the philosophy of Dave Robicheaux and how he sees his world: "But if there is a greater lesson in what occurred inside that clearing, it's probably the simple fact that the real gladiators of the world are so humble in their origins and unremarkable in appearance that when we stand next to them in a grocery-store line, we never guess how brightly their souls can burn in the dark. Or at least that's the way it seems to me."(less)
What gripped me about this story was less the crime that made up the main plot and more the role the hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their consequence...moreWhat gripped me about this story was less the crime that made up the main plot and more the role the hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their consequences played in it. The effects of the storms on the native city of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell were not separate from how they affected the characters. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that James Lee Burke had been to New Orleans right after Katrina or while it hit.
The entire book is filled with his grief over the losses endured by the city and its people. Details I'd never heard of -- like the flocks of birds flying in the sky as if they had nowhere to land -- made the destruction and loss all the more real. In the end, the book gave me a strong sense of how it might have felt to have been in New Orleans after the hurricanes. A unique novel.(less)
Unlike many of his other novels, I read Pegasus Descending, rather than listening to the audiobook. Reading James Lee Burke is different than listenin...moreUnlike many of his other novels, I read Pegasus Descending, rather than listening to the audiobook. Reading James Lee Burke is different than listening to the audiobook. The chosen narrators have really captured the character of Dave Robicheaux. I have those voices in my head now when I read a Robicheaux novel. It works.
A few general observations that struck me about JL Burke's stories: Nothing is ever as it seems. Even the gambler with a vendetta has a twist of her own. Burke doesn't do cardboard characters. They all have depth, history, and substance. The full humanity of Burke's characters is revealed gradually. A look, an unexpected response to a question, or a lack of response. A gesture, failure to make eye contact--all demonstrate flaws that have led or will lead to tragic consequences for one character or another.
The setting has so much depth and vibrancy, it's a character as well. Burke paints a sunset over Lake Ponchartrain or a cluster of live oaks dripping with moss that will have you believing you've been there.
One more thing: he doesn't ignore race. His stories aren't about race, but this is the South, Louisiana, and often race a factor in disputes, politics, in the social landscape. Race still matters. JL Burke doesn't forget that.
Pegasus Descending starts out similar to other Robicheaux stories: unrelated incidents in Dave's life dredges up the past, and they gradually converge into a big problem for Dave. In the end, one thing remains true: In Dave Robicheaux's world, solutions are never easy, and justice is never simple.(less)
I've been happily working my way through Preston and Child's Pendergast series. My latest read, Dance of Death, kept the suspense high throughout the...moreI've been happily working my way through Preston and Child's Pendergast series. My latest read, Dance of Death, kept the suspense high throughout the story by constantly upping the stakes and making the situation worse for the characters. Pendergast is a fascinating character, with tightly controlled emotions and many mysteries in his past. To see him reach a point where he nearly couldn't control his emotions and almost decided to accept defeat in the face of his enemy ratcheted up the tension further. These moments weren't overdone, though. Preston and Child used small details, such as a tremble in Pendergast's hand or voice, to betray his desperate state. It made more of an impact than if they had spent time on heavy descriptions of the man's emotions.
The thread of Bill Smithback felt a little extraneous, but that might be because I'm not a fan of the character. Even the whole background story of the museum and the delicate situation with returning a set of masks to the original owners felt not quite wedded to the story. But the main story was gripping enough for me to ignore these faults.
This story was not the most suspenseful, and I have issues with the protagonist, Tempe Brennan. (NOT because she's an entirely different character tha...moreThis story was not the most suspenseful, and I have issues with the protagonist, Tempe Brennan. (NOT because she's an entirely different character than the Bones version. She was just a bit too weepy for me & for what I expect from a forensic anthroplogist.) But it wasn't a bad story. What made it less enjoyable was the narrator. I listened to the audiobook, and the reader was so ...dead. She lacked emotion, inflection, or anything else that makes a story interesting to listen to instead of read. (She did great with one character who was supposed to have no inflection or emotion in his voice.) Her wooden performance really affected my perception of this story.(less)
A suspenseful story, but the writing itself was a disappointment. Far too much "telling"! It got annoying at times. I found myself deleting lines and...moreA suspenseful story, but the writing itself was a disappointment. Far too much "telling"! It got annoying at times. I found myself deleting lines and rewording sentences myself, and wishing his editor hadn't given him such a pass on this book. I may be picky, as a former editor myself, but this was a bit much. Still, the story itself was suspenseful enough to take me to the end. I'd give it 2 1/2 stars if we could do that here.(less)