I picked up this audiobook on a whim. The mystery sounded complicated and perhaps a bit convoluted, but very intriguing. The audio was read by Alfred Molina, and I thought he’d make a good narrator. Lastly, the book was written in a way that fascinated me, like a real life round robin story with each new author building on what the last author wrote, not knowing the plot ahead of time.
I very rarely read thrillers, so when I do, they really have to capture my attention. This one did so right away, despite being a bit convoluted and focused on settings/historical events that I’m not very familiar with. (And despite all the musical interludes on the audio, which were not my favorite.) The book was not too gory or violent, which is another thing that turns me off in thrillers, and there was a lot of focus on character development, a huge plus. I was a bit dubious about how the round robin aspect of the book would work, but each chapter fit together almost seamlessly. Each author focused on a different aspect of the plot, or on a different character, and every few chapters, the plot would center back on the main character. There were a lot of twists and turns, and until towards the end, they all felt plausible and like they had been planned in advance, despite the fact that they weren’t.
Towards the end, the story fell apart a little. Some of the last few chapters felt rushed, and a bit contrived as the starting/finishing author (Jeffery Deaver) had to pull together all the elements that other authors had brought in. I felt like it would have gone smoother with a few more chapters, or with fewer twists in the last little bit. Twists are good and necessary in a thriller, but a few at the end felt forced, contrived, and/or not as plausible.
Other than the last little bit, though, the book was fantastic, and it makes me want to go out and read novels by each of the contributing authors. I’ve never read anything by any of them in the past, and they all did a really good job, especially in keeping a fairly consistent style up through the chapters. I know that Deaver edited the whole thing, which I’m sure helped with the consistency, but I think a lot of credit goes to each of the authors. I was very impressed by that aspect.
The audio production was pretty good, except – as I said above – all the sound effect or musical interludes. There were interludes at the beginning and end of each disk, between each chapter, and between each section within a chapter. While I actually appreciated the last of these – a short note played to signal a section change – the rest I could have done without. Otherwise, Alfred Molina did a fantastic job narrating, with all the different characters’ accents and keeping the story clear and at an even pace.
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