Mini-reviews: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession by David Grann; The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum; and While I Live by John Marsden

Title: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession
Author: David Grann
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Vintage Books
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Reporting, like detective work, is a process of elimination.

David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, has a reporter’s nose. He can smell a story. He hears those little anecdotes or offhand comments that most of us barely take note of, and he chases the whole story down. Then he writes the story with human interest and unbiased honesty. I admit that some of the articles in this collection interested me more than others, but that was simply due to subject matter and not to writing style. Grann has become one of my favorite non-fiction authors.

Title: The Bourne Identity
Author: Robert Ludlum
Genre: Spy thriller
Publisher: Bantam
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Scott Brick
First line: The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp.

It is interesting how different the book version of The Bourne Identity is from the film, which I saw first. The book was written in the middle of the Cold War, before computers, cell phones, and all the other gadgets we’re used to see strewn through modern spy thrillers. It made for a different story, but equally good. Ludlum knows how to spin a tale – but I wish he had edited it a bit more. There was a lot of repetition of phrases, a tactic that was meant to show the fractured state of Bourne’s mind, but listening to these mantras over and over on audio became a bit tedious. I will still continue the series, though, as I love the characters and the audiobook narrator.

Audio notes: Scott Brick is probably my favorite American audiobook narrator. His voice is smooth and dark and he alters it just enough for the different characters’ voices. He also is adept at various European accents, which is necessary for the Bourne books.

Title: While I Live
Author: John Marsden
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Scholastic
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: We were halfway up the spur when we heard it.

Oh, how I missed Ellie! I loved Marsden’s Tomorrow, When the War Began series (You can find my reviews under his name on my Reviews by Author page.) and I was sad when I finished it. Then I discovered that he wrote a follow-up trilogy called the Ellie Chronicles, and I treated myself to them with some Christmas money at the beginning of the year. This book has everything I loved about that series: action, relationships, realistic emotion, and authentic characters. It picks up shortly after the last book in the Tomorrow series, and it felt like no time had gone by between finishing that one and starting this one. I am looking forward to the other two books in this trilogy, but I’m making myself wait just a bit, as I will hate to say goodbye to Ellie when I turn the last page.

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8 Responses to Mini-reviews: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession by David Grann; The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum; and While I Live by John Marsden

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I love how you qualify your statement that Brick is your favorite AMERICAN narrator (leaving room for Simon Vance perhaps?). Brick is good for sure. I feel safe when a story is in his hands, and even an average book is going to entertain because of his voice.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I probably should have said favorite American MALE narrator, cause I love Cassandra Campbell, too. :) And, yes, you have to leave room for Simon Vance, don’t you? ;)

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I’m disappointed to see The Devil and Sherlock Holmes isn’t better than that.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – it’s still worth reading – there were just a few stories that I didn’t connect with due to the topic.

  3. Kailana says:

    I really need to get around to reading more from John Marsden!

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