In Holy Chow, the next mystery from bestselling author David Rosenfelt, the beloved characters—both human and canine—of this fan favorite series are back on the case with the author’s trademark wit and humor.
Retired lawyer Andy Carpenter’s calling has always been running the Tara Foundation. The dog rescue organization places hundreds of dogs in new homes every year. It’s added up to so many dogs and new owners that Andy can’t even do the math. But there’s one dog—and one owner—Andy will always remember.
About a year ago, Rachel Morehouse came to the foundation looking for a companion. In her sixties and recently widowed, Rachel wanted a senior dog that also needed someone. Andy took a liking to her, Rachel took a liking to Lion, an older Chow Chow, and the rest is history.
That is, until Rachel calls Andy begging for a favor: If Rachel dies, will Andy take care of Lion if her stepson cannot? Andy agrees, no questions asked, and promptly forgets about it… until he receives a call from Rachel’s estate to attend her will reading. Which is where he meets Rachel’s stepson, Tony, who is promptly arrested for his stepmother’s murder. And he wants Andy to prove his innocence.
Andy has continued to learn more about the woman he so greatly admired and the businesses she ran, and holy chow, was this woman impressive. The person who killed her deserves to be held accountable, and if Tony is to be believed, they’re still out there. And that possibility is too much for Andy to remain on the sidelines.
Yes, yes, I know. Seems like yesterday I was reviewing a David Rosenfelt book, but that one was Citizen K-9, a K Team series mystery. Between the two, although don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the K-9 team series too, just that for me I know even if this is Book 25 of the series, I’m going to be entertained and finish the book happy with the time spent. My only problem is that they are usually short audiobooks.
The Andy Carpenter novels have a winning formula. Andy is retired, wealthy, and supports a dog rescue called the Tara Foundation. He has Tara and Sebastian, as well as his wife Laurie and their adopted son. He also has an amazing team—love the character of Marcus—a most unique character and he has the chance to shine in this one.
There is a mystery involving a dog, he’ll grudgingly accept the case, usually because he really feels in his heart the person is innocent. The case that may have started simple usually gets real complex and eventually goes to trial, and yes, I always enjoy that legal bamboozle as well. So much fun.
Fun? Yes, that’s at the heart of these pseudo-cozy mysteries, the humor, the snark, and the right amount of witty dialogue combined with serious and intelligent fact-finding. These audiobooks will keep you in a good mood even when you have to go grocery shopping. Trust me.
I’ve learned not to try and figure out the guilty antagonist (sometimes more than one) and just go with the flow. Listen and enjoy.
I can think of no narrator other than Grover Gardner who so clearly IS Andy Carpenter just as George Guidall is Walt Longmire on Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire mystery series. Whether or not you read or listen to the audiobook, you still hear their voices. I would strongly suggest the audiobooks for the sense you just won’t get reading.
Catch my review of Book 23 Dog Eat Dog and hang on for the next one. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my favorite library of course. These are my honest thoughts.
The Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.
The Narrator: Grover Gardner’s narration career spans twenty-five years and over 550 audiobook titles. AudioFile Magazine has called him one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and features him in their annual “Golden Voices” update. Publishers Weekly named him Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2005. His recordings have garnered 18 “Golden Earphones” awards from AudioFile and an Audie Award from the Audio Publishers’ Association. http://grovergardner.blogspot.com/
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF NPR’s BEST BOOKS OF 2022
A must-read debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).
“It’s the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side…. A page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty.” —Maggie Shipstead, best-selling author of Great Circle
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.
In the kitchen, bare foot and pregnant—oft repeated back then.
Neither my cousin nor I were considered for any kind of serious college education because back then women were—in the kitchen, ironing, cooking, cleaning, and having babies (see point 1). You don’t need an education to be just a housewife. Right…
And here is Elizabeth Zott, brainiac and early 1960s chemist, fending off unwanted advances at Hastings Research Institute.
Mz. Zott is fired when she gets pregnant, unwed. She met and fell in love with Calvin Evans, her intellect equal, brilliant, a Nobel-prize winner. But she refused to marry him and become background to Mr. Calvin Evans. He’s as socially stunted as she. They click beautifully—there is real chemistry here—but his unexpected death finds her with child and without a job.
In the meantime, the author racks up some amazing characters, most well drawn sufficient to draw conclusions as to whether or not they are likable or loathsome. A few were the latter—admittedly men—but not all of them. Six-thirty, the dog, is amazing and actually has his own POV. Yes, it dips heavily into anthropomorphism but works well.
When she finds herself a single mother with an extremely precocious four-year-old who is being taken advantage of at school, she demands to talk to the father and comes away with a new job; too broke to say no to being host of a cooking show on TV. Called “Supper at Six” she has very simple ideas on how to handle it–chemically. The station’s managers want her to dump the lab coat for a sexy dress. Not going to happen. It’s not a kitchen–it’s a lab. And the demographic loves it.
Yes, there is blatant sexism (that’s the way it was then), atheism, the glass ceiling, and possibly a few liberties using more recent scenarios in the atmosphere of the 60s decade. Sorry it fell back to Elizabeth being beautiful–couldn’t she have been just an average-looking woman?
Not uncommon then for a woman to downplay their own intelligence in a male-dominated world, but she does not. There are subtle bits of humor and the audible chuckle kind and I suspect there are probably more women forty and over who can laugh the loudest, identify the most, connect more strongly than the younger women.
I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local very well-stocked library—this being a prime example and I thoroughly enjoyed the narrators. Thought to be the barn-burner for 2022, there were also some critical thoughts on it—but you can’t say it isn’t engaging. Highly entertaining, intelligent, fast-paced maybe.
There’s real chemistry here. How did you feel about it?
The Author:Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked for a wide range of clients, in the US and abroad, focusing primarily on technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.
It’s the eve of 1953, and Aloysius Archer is in Los Angeles to ring in the New Year with an old friend, aspiring actress Liberty Callahan, when their evening is interrupted by an acquaintance of Callahan’s: Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter in dire straits.
After a series of increasingly chilling events—mysterious phone calls, the same blue car loitering outside her house, and a bloody knife left in her sink—Eleanor fears that her life is in danger, and she wants to hire Archer to look into the matter. Archer suspects that Eleanor knows more than she’s saying, but before he can officially take on her case, a dead body turns up inside of Eleanor’s home . . . and Eleanor herself disappears.
Missing client or not, Archer is dead set on finding both the murderer and Eleanor. With the help of Callahan and his partner Willie Dash, he launches an investigation that will take him from mob-ridden Las Vegas to the glamorous world of Hollywood to the darkest corners of Los Angeles—a city in which beautiful faces are attached to cutthroat schemers, where the cops can be more corrupt than the criminals . . . and where the powerful people responsible for his client’s disappearance will kill without a moment’s hesitation if they catch Archer on their trail.
Okay, yeah, it’s Archer, Book #3. I did catch the first in the Archer series,One Good Deed, and found it…compelling, dispassionate, unusual. Somehow, I missed Book 2 but seems I didn’t miss much. This is the same Archer I remembered from Book 1.
Perhaps what I notice immediately is that 50s style delivery. Not quite Friday-esque, but almost. It’s rather black and white that tends to turn gray sometimes.
But this entry to the series didn’t quite grab me. Perhaps there were just too many characters. Archer has a lady friend, Liberty Callahan—perfect for the 50s Hollywood set. Back then it was easy to visualize Bogey, Sinatra and his cronies wielding their Hollywood power and mining the darker side of LA for opportunity. Archer, as a private eye is contacted by Eleanor Lamb who is worried about recent threats. Then she promptly disappears leaving a body in her home. (If it’d been me, I’d have dropped it right there.)
Between the mob-riddled Las Vegas scenes and LA, Archer works with Liberty and his partner Willie Dash (a character in his own right) to hunt for the missing Eleanor and the murderer—or is that one and the same?
While the male narrator’s delivery of the storyline was geared toward the period, it just didn’t light a fire, the characters remained a bit blah for me, and the female narrator at times seemed to have phoned the whole thing in, sometimes lagging or slightly disjointed in the dialogue. I suspected she read her part from a remote location.
It’s a bit of a slow burn, noir crime fiction. There are the usual themes in noir fiction of gangsters, drugs, secrets, smuggling, and murder; entertaining if not engaging.
I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. 3.5 stars
Genre: Historical Thrillers, War & Military Action Fiction Publisher: Grand Central Publishing ASIN: B09Q89CMLT Listening Length: 11 hrs Narrators: Edoardo Ballerini, Brittany Pressley Publication Date: April 19, 2022 Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections) Title Link: Dream Town [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Three-point Five Stars
The Author:David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, “because every mom needs a break now and then.”)
David published his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, in 1996. A feature film followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 44 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into over 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold worldwide. David has also published seven novels for younger readers.
David is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across the United States.
Dark Sacred Night: A Ballard and Bosch Novel: Harry Bosch, Book 21 by Michael Connelly
Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat–known in LAPD slang as “the late show”–and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin.
Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift–and she wants in.
The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. Along the way, the two detectives forge a fragile trust, but this new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.
Yes, I know—Michael Connelly is becoming a bit overused, certainly on this blog as well as the print and screen media, including the Bosch series and now Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer), but let’s face it, Connelly is a master at creating iconic characters that stand out—over and over.
I can’t help it—I really am enjoying these books, audiobooks, and particularly when Renee Ballard teams with Bosch in the late show.
This entry to the series, Book 2, follows The Late Show (Renee Ballard Book 1). There are five in the series; I’ve listened to three (only because my library apparently doesn’t have the other two). The CE reviewed The Dark Hours.
Renee is introduced to Harry Bosch in Book 2, discovering him in the Hollywood case files in search of the Daisy Clayton file. (I recognized this thread as we burned through the Harry Bosch series on Amazon.) Interesting to actually hear Welliver’s (pleasing male) voice and the two narrators do an excellent job.
Bosch is actually retired at this point, but still works on cases, and Renee works cold cases, so they team up to solve their current cases, as well as work on the layered threads underneath the two main plot lines.
I enjoyed the two working together, each separately at times, then coming together again sharing clues, piecing the storyline bit by bit.
Both are strong, complex characters coming from complicated background experiences. I was slower to engage with Bosch than Ballard until I watched the Amazon series. I’m still not sold on Titus Welliver, but totally get the character’s moral compass—his code. Ballard is sharp, crafty, and comes at the case with a bulldog attitude.
As always, it’s fast-paced and never lets down or slows the momentum, although there are certainly times when the focus is on the character, fleshing them out, making them real, revealing character traits. Bosch has a daughter; Ballard a surfboard and canine companion. Both characters are strong, effective, good at their jobs, and have each other’s backs. Engaging and entertaining. Easy to invest in both.
How deep have you delved into Connelly? The Bosch books? The Haller books? Did you like Renee Ballard? Any of his others you’d like to recommend? I’m all ears.
Genre: Noir Fiction, Urban Fiction, Fiction Urban Life Publisher: Little, Brown & Company ASIN: B07G3J6SXC Listening Length: 10 hrs 39 mins Narrators: Christine Lakin, Titus Welliver Publication Date: October 30, 2018 Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections) Title Link: Dark Sacred Night [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
The Author:Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over eighty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty-five foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent New York Times bestsellers include The Law Of Innocence, Fair Warning, The Night Fire, Dark Sacred Night, Two Kinds Of Truth, and The Late Show. Michael is the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch, starring Titus Welliver and streaming on Amazon Prime. He is also the executive producer of the documentary films, “Sound Of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story’ and ‘Tales Of the American.’ He spends his time in California and Florida.
TV Netflix Series The Lincoln Lawyer vs Audiobook by Michael Connelly
So, have you been thoroughly saturated with The Lincoln Lawyer yet? First, we had the book written by Michael Connelly (2005), then the movie starring Michael McConaughey (March 2011), and now the Netflix series starring Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. No? There’s a reason for that (besides the male stars of either screen version)—it’s good. Escapist entertainment, satisfying, realistic well-drawn characters. (But I have to be honest with you—I didn’t see the movie version.)
“Idealistic lawyer Mickey Haller runs his practise out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car, taking on cases big and small across Los Angeles.”
Season 1 is actually based on Connelly’s second novel,Brass Verdict, as conceived by David E Kelly and developed by Ted Humphrey. Haller is a defense attorney whose practice and marriage to prosecutor Maggie McPherson (McPherce) were curtailed by his painkiller addiction. Now clean and ready to resume his legal profession, he inherits a colleague’s caseload. The caseload includes one new and a couple of ongoing cases that are pulled to the fore with a team necessarily involved in extensive investigation.
The part of Mickey Haller is handled well byManuel Garcia-Rulfo (although I’m not sure if I missed an explanation for his accent or not),
Neve Campbell as Maggie McPherson,
Becki Newton as ex-wife number 2 Lorna Crain, Jazz Raycole as Haller’s driver Izzy Letts, and Christopher Gorham as Trevor Elliott as well as a number of other prominent parts, including Angus Sampson as Cisco.
Christopher Gorham as Trevor Elliott plays his despicable part to Emmy level and for the most part, the cast works well. LA always sparks an iconic atmospheric setting and who doesn’t love those ginormous old Lincolns? The series sets an early hook and keeps the viewer gripped with a tantalizing and complex plot, full of suspense, ending each episode with a cliff-hanger into the next. It’s well done.
I could see Netflix following the book, making expected changes for a series often predicting the scene and plot line of the book but not necessarily the timeline. There were subtle differences but not so radical as encountered with a few of the previous books to small screen conversions lately. I suspect Connelly had a strong hand in keeping the series version authentically Connelly. In any case, the series is engaging and entertaining using wildly divergent characters to glue together a gripping thriller.
INSPIRATION FOR THE ORIGINAL SERIES THE LINCOLN LAWYER – THE #1 TV SHOW ON NETFLIX
The bestselling legal thriller has charismatic defense attorney Mickey Haller taking on a slam-dunk court case involving a Beverly Hills playboy — but as it spirals into a nightmare, he finds himself in a fight for his life. Mickey Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers — they’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list. For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, it’s about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes it’s even about justice. A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high-paying client in years. It is a defense attorney’s dream, what they call a franchise case. And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career. Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face-to-face with evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal — this time to save his own life.
Mickey Haller is handed a “franchise” case in the form of an entitled, rich playboy who is very used to calling the shots. Haller, however, working out of the back of his Lincoln isn’t exactly flush himself and could use the revenue. On the surface, it didn’t look like it would be a tough negotiation.
Haller isn’t new to the game. He’s defended and accumulated a client list of a variety of defendants from bikers and con artists to drug dealers. Louis Ross Roulet is the spoiled child of a wealthy mother who will do anything to keep her son out of jail. He is accused of beating up a woman he met in a bar when they went back to her room. He vehemently denies hitting her and further asserts she set him up. What could go wrong?
Well, I have to say I liked the character of Haller, even with having two failed marriages and his ex-wives still in the picture, no less, along with a small daughter. He is charismatic, there’s a heart of gold beating in there somewhere, and it shows in the clients he’s successfully defended and willing to perform some pay-back work.
Haller is complex; obviously, he has his failings, his flaws. He brings intelligence, wit, and energy to the story. He’s been around long enough to know the score and quickly begins to smell a rat. Something about Roulet isn’t ringing true. And if nothing else, he won’t allow himself to be manipulated beyond his moral compass. I love the way he deals with his antagonist.
Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over eighty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty-five foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent New York Times bestsellers include The Law Of Innocence, Fair Warning, The Night Fire, Dark Sacred Night, Two Kinds Of Truth, and The Late Show. Michael is the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch, starring Titus Welliver and streaming on Amazon Prime. He is also the executive producer of the documentary films, “Sound Of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story’ and ‘Tales Of the American.’ He spends his time in California and Florida.
The Netflix Series
WOW! I have to hand it to the Netflix version. While it doesn’t follow Book 1 to conclusion (after all, it’s a series), it does include all the important plot points, charismatic characters, and atmospheric LA locations and scenes. The character of Haller’s first ex doesn’t fit for me—feeling she appears older, not just in terms of maturity, but age as well, looking a good ten years older to his youthful good looks. Doesn’t work for me as well as ex number 2, although I can understand why that marriage didn’t work either. It appears that Haller could be a player, but he’s a great deal more dedicated to his profession than to his women. And he’s very, very good at his profession.
I’ve become a solid fan of the Connelly style of writing a legal thriller; the mystery, the suspense, the characters all well-drawn and engaging. The fast-paced plot never sags and he brings a satisfying conclusion to the narrative, if just a tad beyond plausibility.
Genre: Legal Thrillers, Literary Fiction Publisher: Hachette Audio ASIN: B000BND03U Listening Length: 11 hrs 36 mins Narrator: Adam Grupper Audible Release: September 27, 2005 Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections) Title Link: The Lincoln Lawyer [Amazon]
Netflix has done an admiral job of bringing to the small screen an authentic feel of the original work by the author. With just a couple casting wobbles, it engages and entertains solidly throughout the episodes with an equal level of suspense leading the viewer to continue the series and looking forward to Season 2 (and surely there will be a second).
The book, in my case audiobook, narrated capably by Adam Grupper hooks from the beginning and becomes suspenseful, gripping, and thrilling. I enjoy legal thrillers anyway, and this checks all the boxes for me that include a seriously complex plot that doesn’t sag.
Happy either way—one or both—entertaining and looking for more. Have you read the book? Listened to the audiobook? Saw the movie? Viewed the series? What did you think? Haller or Connelly fan? I’d love your comments!
In Darkest Fear, Myron Bolitar faces the most emotionally shattering case of his career. And it all begins when Myron’s ex-girlfriend tells him he is a father – of a dying 13-year-old boy….
Myron’s sports agency is struggling. Now more than ever, Myron needs to keep his eye on the ball, sign up some big-name clients, and turn away from the amateur detective work that is taking precious time away from the agency.
But life is not going according to plan. Myron’s father, recently recovered from a heart attack, is facing his own mortality – and forcing Myron to face it, too. Then comes another surprise. Emily Downing, Myron’s college sweetheart, reappears in his life with devastating news: Her 13-year-old son, Jeremy, is gravely ill and can be saved only by a bone-marrow transplant – from a donor who has vanished without a trace. And before Myron can absorb this revelation, Emily hits him with an even bigger shocker: Jeremy is Myron’s son, conceived the night before Emily’s wedding to another man.
Staggered by the news, Myron plunges into a search for the missing donor. But for Myron, finding the only person in the world who can save a boy’s life means cracking open a mystery as dark as it is heartbreaking – a mystery that involves a broken family, a brutal kidnapping spree, and a cat-and-mouse game between an ambitious reporter and the FBI.
Somewhere in the sordid mess is the man who once signed his name to a bone-marrow donor’s registry, then disappeared. And as doubts emerge about Jeremy’s true paternity, a child vanishes, igniting a chain reaction of truth and revelation that will change everyone’s life forever.
At once a riveting mystery and a spellbinding journey into the secrets that haunt families, lovers, and friends, Darkest Fear proves once again that Harlan Coben is a master storyteller like no other – and one of the most original talents in suspense fiction today.
Whoa, another series into Book 7 but my first. Yes, I’ve done it again and this is a series in which growth and change continue so this should probably not be read as a standalone, although it does sneak in some backstory.
Myron Bolitar has a struggling sports agency, so this series usually has a totally different focus. He does, however, do some amateur detective work but that’s not the reason Emily Downing comes calling.
Emily is a former college sweetheart. She informs him that her thirteen-year-old son is seriously ill and will die unless she can track down the possible donor, already identified, but missing. She’s frantic. Oh, and by the way, Myron is the father.
Apparently falling to pattern but with a much darker vibe than in previous series entries, Myron begins the search that quickly becomes complicated and you know will get more so.
There is a very rich, powerful family and it doesn’t take long before even the FBI is involved. Myron has quite the sarcastic wit and sense of humor, not tempered in the least by sidekick Win. To add to the mix, a new romantic interest in his life, which, of course, you gotta have in any detective series.
The storyline is hampered somewhat by a slow and convoluted start. Depending on how quick or how deep I’m hooked and also my multi-tasking, I’m apt to listen with half an ear if not thoroughly engaged. This one takes quite a while, introducing characters, then twists and turns and can switch from serious to wisecracking in the blink of an eye.
There are a few of the old tropes thrown in for good measure along with quotables:
“His blond locks had been parted with the precision of old ladies dividing up a lunch check.”
Now that’s funny! I must admit to enjoying some witty barbs. If you’re a Coben fan, you’ll no doubt enjoy this dark departure from the usual in the series—or not—but the sense of humor is still there.
I previously listened to Tell No One, not part of this series, and really enjoyed it. A copy of this audiobook was supplied also by my favorite well-stocked local library, this one narrated by Jonathan Marosz. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: Mysteries, Suspense, Suspense Thrillers Publisher: Random House Audio ASIN: B000OYAJBC Listening Length: 7 hrs 40 mins Narrator: Jonathan Marosz Publication Date: April 21, 2006 Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections) Title Link: Darkest Fear [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Four Stars
The Author: With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including RUN AWAY, FOOL ME ONCE, TELL NO ONE, NO SECOND CHANCE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.
Harlan is the creator and executive producer for the Netflix television dramas SAFE starring Michael C. Hall, Audrey Fleurot and Amanda Abbington, and THE FIVE starring Tom Cullen and OT Fagbenle. He is currently filming THE STRANGER, based on his novel, for Netflix starring Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) with Alexandra Lamy and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK) with Virginie Ledoyen. KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.
Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONNE) was turned into the renowned French film, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. The movie with subtitles is now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVD/Blu-Ray.
Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
[truncated—please see the author page for his full bio]
Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.
TV Netflix Series Along for the Ride vs Audiobook Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
I’m sure you are gasping or at the very least rolling your eyes. As you know, I don’t do Romance or Teen and YA Fiction and yet here it is, so things do happen when pigs fly.
So let me explain what happened. Have you ever been in a hurry to go get the shopping done but just finished your last audiobook? And then, this time of year with so much time spent in the garden—where’s my audiobook? So, no, I didn’t dump it right away and opt for something in more of an adult thriller (other than facing current grocery prices).
Okay, then…yeah, I got interested; sucked in with the character of Auden. She’s eighteen, just graduated, and has decided to spend the summer with her dad and his new (much younger) wife and new baby in their little beachside town of Colby. Auden’s mother is not exactly the clingy type; she’s intelligent, extremely independent, and cerebral surrounded by fellow literary types. She’s the more successful of the two parents, her father working feverishly on his second book and not doing so as well.
Yes, I know you’re with me so far as the book has been out since 2009 which also tells you how long it takes for something to finally hit the little screen. The book is one of many from this author in the same vein.
So here I am, innocently finishing up the audiobook when I see it’s just landed on Netflix and if nothing else, I am curious.
Along for the Ride released on May 6, 2022 on Netflix. It was written and directed by Sofia Alvarez and stars Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli, Kate Bosworth, and Andie MacDowell, among others.
Of the film, Netflix says, “The summer before college Auden meets the mysterious Eli, a fellow insomniac. While the seaside town of Colby sleeps, the two embark on a nightly quest to help Auden experience the fun, carefree teen life she never knew she wanted.”
Auden is, after all, the daughter of a successful academic, a serious student who had not participated in typical high school activities, friends, or related experiences. She was held remotely, the younger child of the divorced couple. It seems she never wanted for money as much as time and attention.
On one of her nightly loner excursions, she meets Eli who, also an insomniac, rides his BMX bike in and around the Boardwalk.
I warmed up to Emma Pasarow as the lead character pretty quickly, took a little longer for the same with Belmont Cameli. And bless her heart, Andie MacDowell, one of my favorite actresses, is just too old to play Auden’s mother (looking more like her grandmother). Maggie holds back acceptance of Auden and then suddenly becomes overly solicitous to the point of disbelief. While the book discusses the situation of her dad’s marriage, her academic focus, and lack of a normal high school experience, it seems the latter is the focus of this Netflix interpretation. Suddenly it’s playtime and there are numerous scenes of dancing and parties (alcohol, no drugs).
Her father’s character is played well. This viewer took a dislike to him as quickly as the book version. He’s narcissistic, uninvolved with either his new wife or baby, and focused 150% on his book.
Of course there will be conflict—Auden and Eli, Auden and her father, Auden and her mother. There is a dawning awakening with her mother. Her stepmother is another character played well and doesn’t have nearly the clueless ineptitude with her baby as she does in the book. She does, however, look for help with the crumbling of her marriage to Auden’s dad with Auden’s mother. (Talk about fairy tales!)
Well, we have a short and poignant boohoo scene, another party scene, dad goes back to Heidi and their new baby, the fight with Eli works out and he’s off to Barcelona, while she and Maggie ride into the sunset to the university where they’ll be roommates.
What? Did I miss the whole conflict resolution? It all got worked out during the last party I guess. Or maybe it was when I got up to let the dog out. Things changed mighty quick.
As my daughter used to say, “gag me with a spoon.” So much of the development of Auden is lost in the Netflix version. She goes on a “quest” to do the fun things she’d formerly missed out on—as in teenage bucket list? To an extent, it did somewhat change that stilted visage we first saw. I never really did get Eli and didn’t see a lot of chemistry between them. He had a dark secret that was divulged pretty quickly and I couldn’t understand how her presence made the difference that fast.
On its own, if you haven’t read or listened to the book, you might very well enjoy.
Nights have always been Auden’s time, her chance to escape everything that’s going on around her.
Then she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, and he becomes her nocturnal tour guide.
Now, with an endless supply of summer nights between them, almost anything can happen. . . .
The audiobook as narrated by Rachel Botchan has a slightly high, immature quality, annoying at first although I’m sure meant to convey the voice of a teen. Once used to that, the character of Auden begins to take on an empathetic quality and if the reader can’t identify with her, can engage in her character at arms’ reach and enjoy the journey to discover the life that is her father’s—one that she has not previously understood.
Her father is even more distant than her mother, so intent on his agenda he has no room left for her. Her stepmother is at her wits end with a screaming infant with no clue how to care for it. It’s written off as colic and nothing for it but to let her scream. Heidi is almost immediately sympathetic. She is exhausted and has literally no support, nor does she feel she wants to relinquish the care of the infant (described in the book as six weeks) to any help.
Eli is mysterious and in his own world, but he is a good listener and Auden learns there is much she missed—something Eli shared with others that was lost—and still is. Auden is being introduced to the world of peers, friends, fun times, and the haunts or secrets of their little town as well as the beauty of it. She is also introduced to the world of bike racing and jumping and is finally taught to ride, something she eventually does with Eli in her prom dress after she is stood up the second time by the same guy (not Eli).
“And the bottom line is, what defines you isn’t how many times you crash, but the number of times you get back on the bike.”
She is visited by her mother surveying the stepmother’s boutique and her brother, more than once, when he comes back to introduce his fiancé to the family. She is a total shock to their mother in particular, and a complete opposite to any her brother had previously dated.
The conclusion happened in the blink of an eye, no problem too big to handle. Eli comes to terms with the death of his best buddy and heads off to Barcelona (where does he get his money??!), her dad returns to his young family, her mother with her smitten stalker, and all the university angst is conquered.
There is more going on in the book than the oft-vapid teenage world portrayed in the Netflix version. The characters of the book were somewhat developed though not complex, although if you were searching for a solid plot—forget it. It’s a YA platform—fun and games. These teens also played at working (so maybe there was some responsibility). I loved the daily “dance break” both in the audiobook as well as the Netflix version. Okay, yes! but it was cute.
The Netflix version left me flat wondering why I’d just sat through the whole thing—because I wanted to compare it to the book? The characters, the ones they used from the book, had little depth. They skipped much of the heart of the book. Auden learned she could have girlfriends. What else…Auden could party like the rest. Hmmm, Auden learned her mother wasn’t so bad but her father was worse?
The genre listed for the (audio)book is “Teen & Young Adult Fiction on Marriage & Divorce. Oops. That latter part was glossed over in a hurry.
Anyone else see a resemblance between the author and the lead character (Emma Pasarow)? Also, there was an interesting little interview with the two main leads on the Netflix Book Club, “But Have You Read the Book?” with Uzo Aduba that you might wish to check out.
This time my vote has to go to the author’s book. Fast, easy (or listen) read—look for it—there is a message.
Genre: Teen & Young Adult Fiction on Marriage & Divorce, Teen & Young Adult Parents Fiction, Children’s Books on Marriage & Divorce Publisher: Listening Library ASIN: B002DN9I8M Listening Length: 12 hrs 46 min Narrator: Rachel Botchan Audible Release: June 16, 2009 Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections) Title Link: Along for the Ride [Amazon]
The Author: I’ve been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I’d sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, “She has such a wild imagination,” which usually meant “I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth.” I have a tendency to embellish: I think it’s just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it’s hard not to do it all the time.”The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn’t tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry’s A Summer to Die or Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it’s the best thing to which any writer can aspire. “As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, some lizards, and two dogs who are completely spoiled and rule me completely. I like to work in my garden—although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive—-and, in my weaker moments, shop. I have a bit of an addiction to the Gap clearance rack, to be honest. I have this strange need to buy huge quantities of black pants. How many pairs of black pants does one person need? (Obviously for me, the answer is 11 and counting. But I digress.) What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that’s a good thing. It’s always more fun to make stuff up anyway.”
I'm glad I learned to express my thoughts clearly and everyone loves to read them. Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking power to think about the surroundings. Someone who likes it, someone who enjoys it, appreciates that he is writing very well. Reading and commenting on the post I wrote would give me a lot of bullshit and I would get new ideas to write new ones.
I'm really glad I got your response.