Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: Hell's Corner by David Baldacci

I was half-way through David Baldacci's "Split Second" when I noticed that Audible (and Amazon) had released a new Baldacci novel - part five of the Camel Club series. To finish Split Second or to spend a few hours with Oliver Stone, Ruben, Annabel and the gang...no decision really, I downloaded Hell's Corner and headed back to DC with the Camel Club - split second can wait for another day.

Oliver Stone (John Carr) is back from his time in Divine, VA - leaving Abigal behind - Abigal not wanting to leave Divine - and Oliver unable to stay in Podunk USA. Back in DC the feds find Oliver and pick him up - he thinks to atone for his crimes - but as it turns out the Feds want him back.

All of the familiar camel club haunts are back - Mount Zion Cemetary, Lafayette Park, Blair House, The White House, etc. The novel starts with a terrorist attack in Oliver's Lafayette park - for which Oliver is a witness  - actually watching the plot unfold...

A couple of new characters round out the plot-line. Stone's partner in this novel is Mary Chapman - a Brit - borrowed from MI6 - who proves to be just as lethal as Oliver Stone. Funniest quote of the entire book: "She handled him like he was a pole and she was a dancer." GASP - luckily the writing got better after that!

I don't think Hell's Corner is Baldacci's best work - but if you liked the previous Camel Club novels (which I gave two thumbs up) - you'll like Hell's Corner for all the same reasons: conspiracy, double agents, secret forces, likable characters - plus the inevitable death and destruction that follows Oliver.

Narration of Hell's Corner is by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy. I've found Ron McLarty to be an expert narrator - he doesn't detract from the story - and he blends into the background behind the story. Efficient and neat narration. Orlagh Cassidy's narration left a bit to be desired - I initially thought the female characters were computer generated - but, nope - actual narration. Ms. Cassidy voices all of the female voices - some with ridiculous accents - all of them sounded forced. Even worse were the transitions between Ron and Orlagh that were awkward at best and at worst they took away from the overall impression of the novel. I'm not sure who produced this audiobook - but I expect more from Hachette Audio.

My bottom-line on Hell's Corner: Buy the book for the story, skip the audiobook because of the hatchet (get it) job on the narration. If you MUST choose the audiobook version be prepared for the awkward transitions...

Hell's Corner was written by David Baldacci and published in audio format by Hachette Audio with a release date of November 9th, 2010. Hell's Corner has a run-time of 14 hours 31 minutes and is narrated by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy.

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