All Cry Chaos, a debut thriller by the immensely gifted Leonard Rosen, is a masterful and gripping tale that literally reaches for the heavens.
The action begins when mathematician James Fenster is assassinated on the eve of a long-scheduled speech at a World Trade Organization meeting. The hit is as elegant as it is bizarre. Fenster’s Amsterdam hotel room is incinerated, yet the rest of the building remains intact. The murder trail leads veteran Interpol agent Henri Poincaré on a high-stakes, world-crossing quest for answers.
Together with his chain-smoking, bon vivant colleague, Serge Laurent, Poincaré pursues a long list of suspects: the Peruvian leader of the Indigenous Liberation Front, Rapture-crazed militants, a hedge-fund director, Fenster’s elusive ex-fiancée, and a graduate student in mathematics. Poincaré begins to make progress in America, but there is a prodigious hatred trained on him—some unfinished business from a terrifying former genocide case—and he is called back to Europe to face the unfathomable. Stripped down and in despair, tested like Job, he realizes the two cases might be connected—and he might be the link.
This first installment in the Henri Poincaré series marries sharp, smart mystery to deep religious themes that will keep both agnostics and believers turning pages until the shattering, revelatory end. Anyone who enjoys the work of John le Carré, Scott Turow, Dan Brown, and Stieg Larsson will relish Rosen’s storytelling and his resourceful, haunted protagonist. Others will appreciate his dazzling prose. Still others, the way he bends the thriller form in unconventional ways toward a higher cause, in the vein of Henning Mankell in The Man from Beijing. In short, All Cry Chaos promises to become a critical success that garners a broad readership throughout the nation and across the globe.
An interesting plot that introduces an Interpol Investigator trying to locate the killer of an esteemed mathematician, whose elegant discoveries raise many questions.
For a 'new' writer, this is a not bad start to a series.
The Publishers summary is a bit overstated. This is not Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell or John Le Carre. Leave it at 'European in style' perhaps.
Grover Gardner reads well,as usual.
It considers the exploitation of people by capitalists, end of days fervour, greed, the effects of war, jusice and law, and a question. If there is an elegant design, does that imply a designer?
If you do enjoy mysteries, look at fractals and wonder and are willing to try a new author, you could well enjoy this one. I expect the stories will get better as the series progresses..
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
This is a good book, if not a great one. Narration is excellent. I won't hold my breath, but I will look forward to the next Poincare mystery (hopefully narrated by Grover).
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
End fell apart. Contrived? Uh-huh. Pity since the puzzle was intriguing, but I'm guessing that Rosen didn't have a solution so he kind of crammed one together. The trip to the end though is exciting and the characters are compelling. Can't recommend it though.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
Unfortunately, I suspect the appeal of this book will not be as broad based as it should be. The skillful weaving of science and theology into a tale of mystery and suspense that Rosen pulls off here may not be appreciated as fully by those looking for a plain vanilla mystery. I don’t know if the printed book came with illustrations as these would be helpful to those not previously exposed to chaos theory or fractals. Nevertheless, Rosen, I thought, was clear enough to have these concepts come through by listening to the reader alone. The ending, as some reviewers have mentioned, is a little on the deus ex machina side but regardless, with all that came before, Rosen has me looking forward to more from Henri Poincaré – particularly if some more science is included.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
The murder mystery begins with a bang. In his room at the corner of the top floor of an Amsterdam hotel, mathematics genius James Fenster is killed in a most unusual way. He's practically vaporized by a bomb made from highly volatile––and extremely hard to come by––rocket fuel. The hotel winds up looking like a giant took a bite out of the corner of the building. Because of the complexity and high profile of the case, Interpol's senior detective, Henri Poincaré, is assigned to the case. Poincaré's great-grandfather, Jules Henri Poincaré, was a celebrated mathematician and, while Henri is not similarly gifted, he has an appreciation of the beauty and mystery of mathematics.
James Fenster was a Harvard professor and had been about to give a speech at a World Trade Organization meeting about the inevitability of a global economy. This expands the field of possible suspects from those who know him, and possibly other mathematicians, to opponents of globalism––you know, all those people who run amok during WTO meetings. As Poincaré investigates, he must also include the head of a fabulously successful Boston mutual fund company; a man who funded much of Fenster's work, but who seems to have a ravenous greed for access to work that he believes Fenster has left behind on a computer hard drive.
While Poincaré is investigating the Fenster murder, he has other matters on his mind as well. Stipo Banovich, a Serbian Poincaré had arrested for the horrifying murder of 70 Muslim men and boys during the Bosnian conflict, is about to be tried for war crimes and he has issued dire threats against Poincaré's family. Poincaré is a devoted husband to Claire, father to architect Etienne, father-in-law to Lucille, and doting grandfather to twin boys and to Chloe, who has completely captured his heart.
As the two plots heat up, more fuel is added to the fire by a worldwide apocalyptic Christian cult whose members believe the Rapture will arrive soon (August, 2012, in case you want to make plans). Some of the "schismatic" members of the cult want to hurry along the chaos that is supposed to precede the rapture by suicide bombings. Poincaré's team must investigate the bombings and try to prevent more of them, along with their Fenster investigation and the Banovich threat.
Despite its complexity, the plot is lively and compelling. Chaos theory and fractals are part of the story, and author Leonard Rosen makes them fascinating. Even math-phobes are likely to think so. The tackles political, social and religious issues and respects its readers' intelligence. All the characters are well-drawn, especially Poincaré. A dogged investigator and a deeply moral man, he reminds me of Louise Penny's Armand Gamache. It's refreshing to have mystery protagonists with family lives and no substance abuse problems. (Psst: they're still interesting without all that baggage, brooding and booze.)
Since All Cry Chaos is subtitled "An Henri Poincaré Mystery," I'm thinking––hoping is more like it––that this is the start of a series. I see no evidence of a second book yet, but I'll be on the lookout for it.
Grover Gardner was a C+/B- reader for me. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his reading or pronunciation, but I didn't feel like his voice matched the material well. His voice is a little harsh. This book would have been better served by somebody like Ralph Cosham or someone with a bit of a European accent, since Poincaré and many of the other characters are French.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
I personally abandoned the book early in the story. Just too violent for my taste. I was looking for a John Le Carre type of story and clearly should have read critiques that might have alerted me as to its content.
Any additional comments?
Just too much violence for me.
13 of 16 people found this review helpful
An excellent start,well paced and controlling the listeners (readers') interest and attention.
Less well developed,but a good listen overall
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
This is well-written debut by Rosen; he's a very good writer. I enjoyed the intricate characters and the personality of Henri Poincaré, purportedly the great-grandson of his famous namesake. The story is intricate, with many twists and turns. I sort of guessed where things were headed, but the ending is quite preposterous. The mathematician Fenster resembles Benoît Mandelbrot in several respects, both in terms of his topical focus and in terms of his attempts to extend fractals to a comprehensive world view. A scientific world view is not the same as religion, and the conflict between science and religion are not well-drawn.
Grover Gardner does a good job with the voices of the different characters, and I enjoyed his reading.
The denouement was rather disappointing to me, quite unbelievable in its details and philosophically unsatisfactory (and philosophy plays a large role in understanding the motives of the some of the principal actors.)
The relation between science, mathematics, and religion is not well-drawn, yet it plays a big role in undertanding the motivation and behavior of a number of the central characters, although rather incidental to Poincaré himself.
An aside on the science and math described: The reader will get a good sense of the meaning of the notion of fractals and self-similar systems. The notiion that the world is fundamentally fractal is not unprecedented; again, see the writings of Mandelbrot and, more generally, the approach called cellular automata, such as by Wolfram. Scientifically, this has not met with much success.
As an aside, to the extent that the book touches on the work of the famous mathematician whose name the protagonist bears, it is not quite right. Although Poincaré talked about "relativity," (for example, in his 1904 lecture at the St. Louis World's Fare, he clung to Newton's absolute time and the ether concepts and even rejected the implications drawn by Einstein in his famous 1905 paper about "special relativity." Indeed, Poincaré disbelieved E=mc^2. Rosen states that Einstein owed a debt to Poincaré for general relativity (published in its final form in 1916). That is simply not true. In fact, Poincaré did not accept this as the correct theory of gravity. Although incidental to the plot, I was disappointed that the author did not do his homework on these matters.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I listened to this book several months ago and I still recall the bulk of the story line, the characters, if not their names, and the conclusion and atmosphere. That is rare for generally escapist fare, where maybe the main plot and maybe the main character are the only memorable elements.
But here the secondary and supporting characters stick out. The author allows for some real tragedy to befall the protagonist without providing a sugar and spice bow-tie recovery from the tragic events at the end. Poincare is cerebral, gritty, insightful and determined but doesn't flash superior in field action figure type skills that many thriller stories spring on a reader without semi-realism. He makes mistakes, his bosses make mistakes. Yet he steadily pushes forward even against his primary sidekick (who handles the action hero aspects) loses confidence in him and his mission as the story pushes the reader forward.
The denouement is a bit of a let down at first, but as it fully unfolds there is one last very human believable action by Poincare that is a satisfying surprise.
The main creditability weakness in the story is the globe-trotting field of investigation Poincare enjoys that is doubtful to expect from any criminal investigative bureaucracy, even an international one like Interpol which I suspect uses resources on the ground in its various participating countries.
The reader does a decent but not notable job. The range of accents characters should have, given range of locales the secondary characters inhabit, is quite narrow as delivered.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
It was so engrossing I had to put off doing things so I could continue to listen. I had to find out the answers - loved every minute of it.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful