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Dead Wake by Erik Larson

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Dead Wake by Erik Larson Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Narrator: Scott Brick
Published by Random House Audio on March 10, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: History, Non-fiction
Length: 13 hrs 4 mins
Format: Audiobook
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On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship--the fastest then in service--could outrun any threat.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small--hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more--all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don't, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster that helped place America on the road to war.

Dead Wake is not a book I would usually pick up. I don’t tend to read much non-fiction and I actively avoid war books, but I’ve enjoyed Larson’s books in the past and his “narrative non-fiction” style works for me. He tells the story with a personal touch, not just a recitation of facts. This one is pretty fascinating, the boat itself, the people on board, and all the events in the outer world that conspired against them.

I listened to this one on audio and Brick did a good job. He kept me interested, made it exciting and tension-filled. There were a lot of people, but it’s non-fiction, so there wasn’t really any dialogue to worry about. The individuals were heard through their journals and letter, which doesn’t require any distinction voices.

There are a lot of people involved in the story of the Lusitania, from the captain, crew and passengers, government officials on both sides of the Atlantic,  to the German U-boat commander. Larson makes each of them feel real.

I was surprised by how much could have been done to avoid the tragedy. It felt like Britain wanted it, or something similar, to happen, to get the US into the war. I didn’t really get attached to any of the characters, but the stories are touching, sad, inspiring. Honestly, I think my big take away is how effective the U-boats could be.

I don’t know why I tend to veer away from history books. I enjoy them when I read them. Granted some can be boring, but so can some fiction.

Any non-fiction books you would recommend I read?

The Shell Game by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

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The Shell Game by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg The Shell Game by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg
Narrator: Scott Brick
Series: Fox and O'Hare #0.25
Published by Random House Audio on October 7, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Crime Fiction, Short Story
Length: 48 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Con man Nick Fox is after Garson Klepper’s golden Peruvian relics. For Fox, convincing Klepper to hire him as security for the relocation of the relics to the Getty museum in L.A. was easy. Problem is, Fox wasn’t planning on Klepper also enlisting the help of the FBI. Fox also wasn’t planning on being paired up with rookie special agent Kate O’Hare. She’s smart, she’s tenacious, and when she’s conned, she holds a grudge. Life for Fox and O’Hare will never be the same again.

Short stories are always tough to talk about – I want people to know why I did/didn’t enjoy it, but I don’t want to give away too much. It’s even tougher when it’s a prequel to a series that I’ve read all the rest of, like this one.

The Shell Game details Nick Fox and Kate O’Hare’s first meeting. Nick’s a con-man/thief and Kate’s FBI. HE’s charming, she’s dedicated. They’re both intelligent and good-looking, although I’m not sure you get a feel for how attracted they are to each other in this mini-episode. Nick gets to show off his cleverness, Kate gets to show off her ability to see through him, but I missed their interactions with each other that are so much of the fun in the series.

Scott Brick does a good job as always as the narrator. His tone of voice fits the story, not melodramatic, but not straight either. Does that make sense. He knows the type of story it is, how over the top the characters can be, and just goes with it.

Over all it’s a good introduction, but I’m glad I read the full length stories first. I’m not sure this one would have made me immediately pick up the others and it’s a series I really enjoy- fun and light, adventure and sexual tension.

About Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

About Lee Goldberg

New York Times Bestselling author Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee whose many TV writing and/or producing credits “Spenser: For Hire,” “Monk,” and “The Glades.” He’s also the author of the Fox & O’Hare series with Janet Evanovich, “The Walk,” “Watch Me Die,” “King City,” the “Dead Man” series, as well as the “Diagnosis Murder” and “Monk” series of original mystery novels.

Pros & Cons by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

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Pros & Cons by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg Pros & Cons by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg
Narrator: Scott Brick
Series: Fox and O'Hare #0.5
Published by Random House Audio on May 1, 2013
Source: Library
Genres: Crime Fiction
Length: 54 Mins
Format: Audiobook
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FBI special agent Kate O’Hare has made it her mission to nail international con artist Nicolas Fox. When she discovers his plot to plunder a venture capitalist’s twentieth-story Chicago penthouse of all its cash and treasures while the self-proclaimed “King of Hostile Takeovers” is getting married, Kate is 85 percent—okay maybe 92 percent—sure that she’s finally going to bag Nick Fox.

Problem is, first Kate has to convince her boss, building security, and maybe even herself, that wedding planner Merrill Stubing is actually Nicolas Fox. Second, she has to figure out how to corner and capture him without disrupting the event of the year. And third, what’s going to happen once O’Hare finally gets her hands on Fox? It’s going take a pro to catch a con before the fireworks over Lake Michigan go off.

I picked up this short prequel to the Fox and O’Hare series just because I wanted something to listen to. It’s a quick early meeting between Kate and Nick. Nick has an audacious plan, and Kate right behind him. It’s a good introduction to the two if you haven’t met them before. If you read the series, as I have, it’s still fun. It’s a similar formula to the books but Kate is still quite clearly on the opposite side as Fox. Or maybe it’s Fox who’s clearly on the opposite side. You get a feel for her determinedness and intelligence. You get to see his style and imagination. And of course you get to see a bit of the attraction between them. It’s a good short read.

Scott Brick is the narrator and as always he makes it a light-hearted adventure. The characters are over the top and he somehow straddles the line between telling the story with a straight face but not taking it too seriously.

It’s too short to tell much without giving the whole thing away, but it’s a fun little treat of a story. I enjoyed it.

About Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

About Lee Goldberg

New York Times Bestselling author Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee whose many TV writing and/or producing credits “Spenser: For Hire,” “Monk,” and “The Glades.” He’s also the author of the Fox & O’Hare series with Janet Evanovich, “The Walk,” “Watch Me Die,” “King City,” the “Dead Man” series, as well as the “Diagnosis Murder” and “Monk” series of original mystery novels.

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