Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Trio of Audiobooks - Winslow, Grant, Hurwitz

I have three remaining audiobooks from my reading/listening in June, so in an effort to get caught up, I'm going to do mini-recaps of these altogether in this post.

First I have CALIFORNIA FIRE AND LIFE by Don Winslow. Jack Wade is a former police arson investigator turned insurance arson investigator. When his ex-girlfriend's half sister dies in what the police are calling an accidental fire, Wade investigates further and doesn't think it's so accidental. The only problem is that he thinks the arsonist is the victim's husband, a Russian mobster.

The plot of this novel was excellent. The characters I enjoyed immensely. My only criticism of the book: it was way longer than it needed to be. Winslow included a lot of back story on almost every major character in the novel, which I didn't think was necessary to the overall plot. I'm also a believer that more is not always better, and this book was an example of that. There were several scenes that included detail that weighed it down. Had Winslow been a bit more minimalist in those scenes, they would have been a lot more effective. But, overall, I enjoyed the novel and Ron McLarty's reading of it. Winslow has a knack with fun, dynamic characters.

I also listened to EVEN, Andrew Grant's debut novel. David Trevellyan is an agent with the Royal Navy Intelligence. He's wrapping up a job in the U.S. and is out walking after dinner when he encounters a murdered vagrant. But the vagrant turns out to be an American agent and Trevellyan finds himself framed for the murder.

I'm not much of an expert on spy thrillers. I haven't read many, but I would venture to guess that EVEN would be a book that James Bond fans would enjoy. The plot was well developed, a good action story line. I just didn't find myself connecting with the characters in this novel. I thought Tanya, Trevellyan's colleague, seemed to have some inconsistencies in her character. I do think I could grow to like Trevellyan, though, so if there's a follow-up to this novel, I'll probably check into it.

EVEN was read by John Lee. I have mentioned before that I am not an expert with dialects, but I was very impressed by Lee's alternating between the American and the British dialects. He seemed to do it flawlessly, especially in scenes that were fast-paced dialogue between characters with different dialects. That was impressive.

And to round out June, I listened to TROUBLESHOOTER by Gregg Hurwitz. U.S. Marshall Tim Rackley hunts down escaped convict Den Laurey. Laurey is a member of the Laughing Sinners, one of the most violent biker gangs in Los Angeles. Rackley's hunt is personal: Laurey shot Rackley's pregnant wife, Drey. But when the Marshall's investigation collides with the FBI's investigation, all hell breaks loose.

TROUBLESHOOTER was simply an all-around great thriller. The action was constant, and at times quite creepy. The characters were excellently developed. Even though TROUBLESHOOTER is part of a series with Tim Rackley, it can definitely be read as a standalone without a feeling that you're missing something. I am a great fan of Hurwitz's female characters, and Drey Rackley is no different. Her role in this books was minimal visually, but she was still critical to the plot and the development of Rackley's character. I especially liked the character of Bear, Rackley's partner. When a writer can create supporting characters that leave as strong an impression on the reader as the main characters do, he/she is doing something right with characterization.

While TROUBLESHOOTER is a dark, action-packed thriller every once in awhile Hurwitz throws in a zinger that you aren't expecting at all. Most times they actually passed me before I realized it was funny. And I think that effect made them even more funny. TROUBLESHOOTER was read by Erik Steele who did a top-notch job. As I mentioned earlier, this is simply a great book all around.


le0pard13 July 5, 2009 at 10:09 PM  

I need to pick up some of that earlier Hurwitz series. The Rackley character sounds interesting.

John Lee is one of the great audiobook readers in that field. His dialect skills are extraordinary. I've listened to a couple of audiobooks where he was the narrator, and his mastery of local language is incredible.

Thanks for the wrap-up, Jen.

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