I have always been an avid devourer of the written word. I am now no longer to read books and cannot wait for Audible day each month.
This is Dan Brown back to his best; a racy thriller with more twists, turns and total plot inversions than any one book could possibly be expected to contain. It is not great literature, but, then again, it never claims to be. A précis of the plot isn't really possible without spoiling the whole book. Suffice it to say that Robert Langdon, a character who needs no introduction, is back to what he does best, racing across Europe in a desperate attempt to thwart the baddie; who the baddie actually is, however, is swathed in layers of smoke, mirrors and downright misdirection until well into the story.
Whilst Langdon is delightfully the same, he is supported by a cast of well drawn characters who are at once believable yet, in most cases, fundamentally flawed. It is not possible to say more than this without spoiling some element of the caduceus-like plot.
For Audible, however, the performance can make or break the enjoyment of a book, and, in this, the American narration spoiled this to a certain extent. The only non-European character is Langdon himself, so I would have expected some effort on the part of the narrator to reflect this. The entire book is read in American English, the exception being the Italians, whose accents were almost risible in parts, and with such verbal horrors of "niche" continually pronounced to rhyme with "pitch", and "fertile" to rhyme with "turtle". This utterly set my teeth on edge after a while. I appreciate that this is entirely my own personal "taste and fancy", but this is my review and it is sometimes difficult to retain total objectivity.
Overall, this is a great listen, narration aside. Dan Brown fans everywhere will love it; those who never warmed to his oeuvre of the thriller wrapped in conspiracy theory may well be disappointed once again.
I find that Kate Atkinson's books can either be excellent or disappointing - this book definitely falls into the first category. I forgot to take my iPod on holiday, and had to try reverting to reading to stop myself going mad; the only book shop I had access to had this as one of its few offerings. Unfortunately, due to a deteriorating illness, I just could not get past the first few chapters, but the book had ensnared me and as soon as I got home I just had to download it. I listened to the whole book in only two or three days and it totally renewed my faith in the author's tales. The book itself weaves several disparate lives together in a way that could've come across as forced, but didn't in the slightest. The ending, where everybody's life finally comes together, was excellently written, apart from one tiny element that I still don't quite understand despite several 'readings' of the book. I shan't spoil the denouement for those who haven't yet read this marvellous book, but if anyone can explain how the firearm ends up where it does, please let me know. I cannot recommend this book enough.
I bought this book on a whim with a refunded credit; I really cannot say why. What I can say, with total certainty, is that I'm extremely glad that I did.
It is a psychological whodunnit, centred on the inexplicable murder of a Polish nanny, whose corpse is discovered in a fairly public place by the female presenter of a daytime magazine-type programme. Naturally, the police become involved and the plot twists and turns from this point onwards. The quasi-psychological denouement is built up, not gradually as most novels of this type are apt to do, but in steps and plateaux. This is refreshingly different, although I cannot say much more without spoiling the story for others.
The story is written in the first person and the narration is a perfect rendition of the main character's thoughts, actions and, more than anything, her feelings and emotions. The other main characters are the cliche'd personae of the high-flying city lawyer, the Eastern European nanny, the world-weary Met police inspector, the newspaper hack and the upper middle class Home Counties best friend. Whilst they might be cliche'd characters, they are expertly cracked open and their quirks, foibles and flaws are laid bare and dissected.
In conclusion, I really cannot recommend this book highly enough, but with the caveat that it is not really suited to anyone without a fondness for fictional crime/detective novels. I have awarded the full five starts, both over all and for the superb narration. I have, perhaps, been a touch harsh on the plot and marked it down to four stars. The reason for this is that there are not only a small number of non sequiturs in the peripheral story line, but also the occasional poor construction of language; this broke the rhythm of the prose. As I have said in many previous reviews, this is my review and I dare say that this small criticism is purely subjective and is the direct result of my own "taste and fancy".