The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick, narrated by William Dufris
Rating: * * * *
Homer, a boy with a talent for telling entertaining stories (some might call them tall tales) sets off on a heck of an adventure when he attempts to save his brother Harold, who was sold to the army during the Civil War. Homer meets a motley assortment of characters with interesting names like Professor Fleabottom.
William Dufris does an absolutely delightful narration of this story. All the character voices are distinct from one another, and each voice brings the character to life so that even minor characters become memorable.
Wildly funny and adventurous, the story nevertheless contains an undercurrent of sadness as Homer encounters kidnapping, thievery, war, incarceration, and death. The journey to recover Harold complete, Homer finishes up his account (mostly true) with humor and optimism, leaving the reader/listener wondering what is next for him – and knowing that whatever it is, it will be entertaining!
If you like this story and/or this narrator, you may also enjoy the Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith.
The Trial of Dr. Kate (Round Rock #2) by Michael E. Glasscock III
Rating: * * *
Shenandoah returns to the home of her youth to support childhood friend Dr. Kate Marlow and to write a newspaper article about the doctor’s arrest and upcoming trial for the murder of one of her patients. Set in 1952, The Trial of Dr. Kate explores social class structure in a small community in Tennessee through the eyes of a woman who escaped the bounds of her dirt-poor youth to become an independent working woman, a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), then a college-educated newspaper reporter.
This is an OK book, a quick read. It skirts some heavy issues – homophobia, sexism, alcoholism, racism, political maneuvering – without fleshing them out. There are a few anachronisms in speech, but nothing I find jarring. My only big beef is that the husband of the deceased patient doesn’t speak out until…well, you’ll see what I mean when you read the book.
If you like Nicholas Sparks’ books, you may also like this book.
I received an advance reader copy from NetGalley.
Shock Wave (Virgil Flowers series #5) by John Sandford
Rating: * *
A mega-chain store is planning to build a supermart in a small town, threatening the livelihoods of existing businesses and sparking heated environmental protests. All to no avail: building plans advance despite the controversy. Until bombs start exploding. The first claims a life at the corporate headquarters of the mega-corp. The second kills a construction supervisor on the job site. More follow. The story starts with a bang (no pun intended) and progresses quickly through a series of events. Wisecracking Investigator Flowers has his hands full trying to narrow the list.
Flowers has an inflated sense of studliness which gets in the way of this story. Despite his trademark wry humor and cheeky dialogue, his self-importance takes over this novel.
Almost all the characters in this book utter quirky and off-beat phrases. While it’s not unusual for one person in a crowd to do that, it is unusual for all of them to speak that way. This, too, gets in the way of the story.
Flowers is an engaging and often enjoyable character. While this novel is not my favorite, it has sufficient action and excitement and witticisms that fans of the series will almost certainly enjoy it.
James Penney’s New Identity and Other Stories from Thriller: Volume One, edited by James Patterson
Rating: * * * *
Short stories are a good way to check out new authors. I rate this audio collection four stars because it’s so helpful to me to find this sort of collection when I’m searching for authors I haven’t read before.
Lee Child’s short story in this collection, James Penney’s New Identity – a prequel of sorts – stars Jack Reacher in a secondary role. Having never read a Jack Reacher novel, let alone a Lee Child story, this was a treat and I have added the Reacher series to my wish list.
Denise Hamilton will not go on my authors-to-seek list, based on her underwhelming-in-the-brains-department heroine in At the Drop of a Hat.
Eric Van Lustbader’s story The Other Side of the Mirror is wonderfully detailed, although the style is not to my taste – but if a movie comes out based on his works I would consider it.
Raelynn Hillhouse’s story Diplomatic Constraints is crisp and enjoyable and I’ll look for more of her work.
Gayle Lynds’ story The Hunt for Dmitri is interesting, though forgettable and rather loosely woven.
Narrators on this collection are Dick Hill, Mel Foster, Michael Page, and Susie Breck. All are excellent.