Soooo ... turns out I listened to book 3 almost straight on the heels of book 2 after all, because I've had some fairly major anger and sadness issues to go through lately, and nothing helps in that process like a really dark-hued book, right?
As a matter of fact, it turns out that yours truly wasn't the only person in need of some healthy dose of anger management here. I knew going in that this is a serial killer novel (that much is clear from page one); actually, though, the person ultimately revealed as the killer is only one of several seriously sick and violent bastards, all of whom have a major personal gripe with Strike and therefore pretty much auto-suggest themselves as suspects -- I mean, who other than someone pretty obviously out to make Strike's (and Robin's) lives hell would send them body parts and go stalking Robin, intent on ultimately killing her, too? (No spoiler here btw.; this, too, is obivous right from the beginning.)
But speaking of Robin, in this installment she is having to deal with some pretty substantial anger management of her own in turn, and she's unfortunately not doing all that brilliantly ... in fact, for the better part of the novel she's behaving more like a sulking teenager than like a grown up woman. We learn a lot about her background here, and about the reasons why she gave up university and kept on clinging to Matthew, her boyfriend of nine years, despite his obvious dislike of her work as Strike's assistant -- and up to a point I can empathize with her insecurities
(she's a rape victim and developed agoraphobia as a consequence, which it took her a full year to overcome and even so much as venture out again at all).
However, I have decidedly more of a problem empathizing with her for throwing a major fit every time Strike doesn't go to the end of the world to treat her as a full-fledged partner -- and for her coming within an inch of fatally jeopardizing both her own and Strike's lives, not to mention his work, on several separate occasions as a result; not least towards the very end. For an army / MP veteran with 15+ years of experience on the job as an investigator to accord that kind of equality to an untrained temp secretary who'd started in his office barely over a year earlier would be a ludicrous expectation under any circumstances, but even more so after she had repeatedly failed to follow his orders, thinking (wrongly) that she knew better, with disastrous consequences every single time. And no, Robin, you don't get to chalk that one up to your experience in university, horrific as it doubtless was. Because this isn't a matter of anyone denying you your basic, inviolate human dignity -- it's a matter of (un)realistic expectations, plain and simple; and if you did have even the most marginal claim to the position to which you aspire on the job, this would be the first thing you'd realize. I don't doubt that your experience created major insecurity issues, but if those are truly still overwhelming to this degree, Strike is even more justified than he is, anyway, on the basis of your lack of training and repeated misconduct, in not treating you as an equal partner. For him to be able to do that -- and trust you with the blind assurance that true partnership in a dangerous job such as the pursuit of violent criminals would have to entail -- you would have had to demonstrate that such trust on his part would be justified. You, however, have demonstrated the precise opposite.
And I can empathize even less with Robin for her petty bit of revenge on Strike at the very end, getting married to Matthew after all -- not because she's determined she really loves him and he is the man in her life now and forever, but simply to get back at Strike for sacking her ... for what had been her most blatant act of stupidity and professional misconduct yet. I hope by the time we get to the beginning of the next book, which it turns out is due to be published sometime soon now, she's got a grip on herself. And if her marriage had gone to hell in a handbasket in the interim, I wouldn't feel particularly sorry for her -- you don't marry for revenge, period. Even less so a guy who you've realized is the wrong guy for you to begin with and to whom you're only clinging for sentimental reasons now (as you're very well aware, too).
So anyway, minus one star for Robin's temper tantrums, but full marks, as always, for the writing and for Strike's character development -- as well as for introducing us to a guy named Shanker, who I very much hope is going to make a reappearance or two in the future. The serial killer plot isn't of the ingenious, never-seen-before-new variety, but more than merely competently executed, and I've also had quite a bit of fun touring Northern England and the Scottish borderland with Strike (and, in part, Robin) on the hunt for the killer.
Hell's Heaven! I haven't been this torn about a book in a long while. UNBURY CAROL was brave in exploring new territory, (weird western, I'd call it), while at the same time it wallowed in repetition.
Carol has a rare condition which causes her to fall into a coma for days at the drop of a hat. To anyone unfamiliar with her disease, she appears to be dead. It's important for at least someone to know what's going on with her so that she doesn't get buried alive by mistake. However, Carol is reluctant to tell many people for fear of rejection, and in one case, the departure of her true love who just didn't want to deal with the responsibility. Will she ever find true love again? Will there ever be a cure for her malady? You'll have to read this book to find out.
I'm going to attempt to be honest here, while also attempting not to spoil anything. I feel obligated to mention the repetition of certain words and phrases. They had me rolling my eyes repeatedly. "Hell's Heaven" (!), is a phrase that nearly everyone uses to no end. It's this world's version of OMG, or "Holy shit!", I guess. One overused word was "outlaw." (I get it. These are outlaws. We're in the west, they're wanted men.) Lastly "pig-shitters." Low down and dirty are the pig shitters. I get it. EVERYONE gets it. I'm speculating that the author used these words and phrases with the aim of world-building, and perhaps they helped to accomplish that...at first. After that, they just became so repetitious and irritating that it became kind of funny. (Or that could just be me, I'm told my sense of humor is off.)
Speaking of that world-building-I've read that the hardcover has a map of the Trail. (Everything that happens in this book happens along the Trail itself, or in the villages and towns located on the Trail.) That map is something I would like to see and I'd also like to read more about the Trail in the future. The villains in this book were interesting and a lot of fun, and they ALL had seemed to have some history that involved the Trail. In most cases, those people and the Trail's history were more interesting than the main characters-at least for me.
So, again, I am torn. I loved the creativity and imagination that went into Carol's disease and the building of this western world, while I was bothered by the repetition and what felt like an anti-climactic finale. Where does that leave us? At a 3.5/5 star rating. As always, your mileage may vary and I wold love to hear your thoughts on UNBURY CAROL when you're done!
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*
You can probably guess what the twist and even the outcome of this book from other reviews, but I'm not giving anything away in mine.
I guessed the massive twist, but it was still entertaining and the very end was still a bit shocking. Wouldn't mind seeing a sequel just to see the accused get some revenge. It had some minor plot holes and some little inconsistencies, but it still kept me engaged enough to read it all to see how it ended.
The book was a freebie and I thought it worth the read. 3 stars
Look at that cover and those crazy, crazy eyes and tell me you could’ve resisted!
This is a cute audiobook about a man who insists he didn’t start out as a cat lover. Yeah, yeah I’ve heard that story before! He never really had anything against them but his parents preferred dogs. He was also scratched pretty badly as a kid but never held it against the entire species. His take ‘em or leave ‘em feelings towards them changes when he marries an animal lover named Linda and suddenly their house is filled with birds, other assorted animals and lots of cats. Six of them by the very end and he clearly loves them all.
He recalls how all of these cats came into his life and the stories are sweet, funny and, whew, sorrynotsorry for the spoiler alert, none of them die! I have to tell you, I was extremely worried about that but he ends the book before that ever happens. If you’re an animal death wimp like me you can feel safe reading this one.
I think any cat lover will enjoy this audio but you really do have to be a fan of the feline because it’s most definitely a cat person book. The writer is a neurotic man who only wishes “to stay in a good mood for longer than hour”. If you can relate, you will enjoy him and his many idiosyncrasies. He reminded me a bit of Eeyore and that is okay. I enjoy reading about other people’s problems and their naughty pets. It makes me feel better about my crazy bunch who have shaved years off of my life with their cord chewing, string eating, demonic ways. So, while there is nothing earth shattering here and it didn’t make me laugh out loud (but nothing does, really because I’m a crab), it’s an amusing and pleasant, stress-free way to spend a few hours.
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Tom Perkins and he is a pleasure to listen to for hours on end. You know I’d tell you if he wasn’t!
*I received this audio from Tantor Media a shamefully long time ago. Thanks, Tantor!