Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Step Behind by Henning Mankell

This was good as an audiobook but only meh as a traditional read. I didn't have time to finish listening before this disappeared from my phone* so I  was forced to check out the hardback to read the last 50 pages or so. While I enjoyed listening to this book on my daily walks, I kind of had to force myself to finish reading it. And the end is a letdown -- by the time they catch the killer I didn't really care why he did it, which was a good thing, since Mankell never really bothers to explain his motivation beyond that of being a psychopath, which I think is a cop-out.

One Step Behind is a traditional police procedural, and if you are a fan of that type of thing than you have either already read it or know what to expect. Dick Hill is the audiobook reader; he was engaging to listen to and pronounced the Swedish names with panache. I think I might have even enjoyed the last bit of the book better if I could have listened to him read it to me.

Earlier this year (or some time last year?) I said I was off mysteries. I still am, but not as audiobooks. I have different criteria for audiobooks and one of them is that there be a certain amount of suspense, which mysteries provide. Another requirement is a traditional narrative structure, with no jumping around in time, and a limited POV. Standard police procedurals usually adhere to these rules too. Everything happens in order, and it's usually only the cop's point of view, or maybe in some cases, the cop and the criminal, who are easy to tell apart. Given these constraints, I've started listening to Mission to Paris by Alan Furst and am really liking it. (While not a mystery, it is a traditionally organized spy thriller.) That reader, Daniel Gerroll, is also excellent. And because I ripped the CDs into my iTunes I can hang on to this until I finish listening, so there's that.

*It was one of those downloadable audiobooks you get from the library and I listened using the Overdrive app on my smartphone. I highly recommend the Overdrive app, though my library's implementation of the Overdrive platform is pretty bad. Audiobook/library technology is still fairly rudimentary and there still aren't a lot of good titles available for checkout, either.

(Book 22, 2013)


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