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The Fireman (Audio Book) - Stephen Leather

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1 Review

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Stephen Leather / Edition: Unabridged / Audio CD / Book is published 2011-07-01 by ISIS Audio Books

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      06.09.2011 17:30
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      Give this a miss and read Nightfall by Stephen Leather instead which is much better.

      The Fireman by Stephen Leather

      == Plot ==
      This is the second book in the Bangkok Bob series. The plot revolves around an unnamed and cynical crime journalist. He is an alcoholic who is trying to stop but finding it difficult and who is past his prime. He narrates the story from his point of view.
      At the start of the novel, he finds out his sister Sally, has committed suicide by jumping out of the 15th floor of a sky rise. He doesn't think his sister would commit suicide and he travels over to Hong Kong to find out the truth and to seek revenge.
      This is written before 1997, when Hong Kong was in British hands. I'd say this was set in 1989 or there's about.

      == Review ==
      Leather has worked as a journalist in Hong Kong and you can tell that from the way he describes the city. I felt I could picture it in my mind.
      However, I believe this is one of his earlier books and it shows. It is not as good as most of his other books. He's trying to create a detective story with a wise cracking hero. The only thing he changes is to put in a journalist as the main person instead of a PI. The journalist himself is quite a cynical / jaded person and the story is told as if he were narrating the story. If I were to meet him in real life, I would say he was a bit of a pr*ck.
      He does make some funny observations about life and people in general throughout the book which did make me smile. Though, there wasn't much in the way of a plot.
      There was one shocking secret to do with the brother and his sister mentioned half way through the book, which ruined any enjoyment I may have had. The author just mentions it and then skips over it never mentioning it again. It kept bugging me right through to the end of the book. I don't consider it a plot spoiler as it is never mentioned again. It felt like it'd been put in by mistake - There was some mention of incest out of nowhere. The only thing this made me do was to dislike the main character. Up till then, I was thinking he may be an ok guy.
      I felt most of the book was spent wasting time with the character wandering about Hong Kong randomly. He doesn't find the bad guys himself; it is with the help of someone else in Hong Kong. The story picks up about three quarters of the way through. I worked out who the bad guy was as soon as he mentioned them. There aren't that many characters in the book which doesn't make it very hard to guess.

      == Audio narration ==
      I listened to the audio book version and it was narrated by Paul Thornley. He did a good job voicing the different characters, and changing his tone of voice when saying something witty / funny. I didn't find him annoying which is the main thing. He managed to do the different accents for the Chinese, American and British characters allowing me to tell who was who while listening to the book.
      The approximate runtime for this audio book is 9 Hours 45 Mins. It felt much longer than that to me.
      The cheapest place I could find this was at Audable (http://www.audible.co.uk/)

      == Summary and recommendation ==
      I can't recommend this. The plot is standard fair - like a standard 80's revenge action movie without the action. You know there's going to be some killing but you don't really care by the end.
      The author has used aspects of this book in another up to date series of novels in which the main guy (Jack Nightingale), is a private detective but it also has a bit of the occult. The first story in the series is called Nightfall, and in that there you have someone jumping off a high building. I would recommend you pick that up and give this a miss.


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