Very Bad Deaths Audio Cassette – Jan 1 2005
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|Audio Cassette, Jan 1 2005||
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About the Author
Award-winning author Spider Robinson is renowned for his "Callahan's Place" series of bestselling novels, the latest being Callahan's Con (Tor). With his wife, Jeanne, he has written the Hugo- and Nebula-winning "Stardance" series (Baen). He has been a favorite with readers from his earliest stories, which won him the John Campbell Award for best new writer. Since then he has garnered many other awards for his amusing, Heinlein-inspired SF, with the current total at three Hugos and a Nebula Award. He is frequently a guest at SF conventions across the US and Canada. His last book for Baen was the novel Lady Slings the Booze, an offshoot of the Callahan series. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
Best described as Stephen King on acid, this flashback-laden thriller has a paisley sense of humor and a grow-your-own sensibility. Our hero is an aging freelance journalist (played realistically by author Robinson) who is saved from the brink of suicide when an old college roommate suddenly bursts into his life. Quicker than you can fire one up, we are embroiled in a stream-of-consciousness battle between a highly sensitive psychic (the roommate) and a serial killer, clumsily assisted by the narrator. An inside-out crime tale with a warm and friendly aura provided by its author, VERY BAD DEATHS is humanistic entertainment. D.J.B. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This extends the trend once again pitting a Spider-like hero against forces beyond his ability to understand much less conquer.
It's a gripping tale, held me tight, and I read it in one setting. I only wish that the antagonist now did not live in the back of my head. I've avoided reading Hannible Lecter, or the tales of Ted Bundy, but now, Spiders take on evil is going to have residence in my head for quite a while.
It was worth it. Five starts with an asterisk. Don't leave this one lying down where your precosious ten year old will come acrossed it late at night.
It all starts when an old college roommate knocks on Russell Walker's door in the middle of the night. Poor Russell is a recent widower and columnist for a Toronto newspaper and not feeling too good about the world at the moment. This knock on the door in the middle of the night and the request for help by his old college roommate, Zandor Zudenigo, aka Smelly, jumpstarts Russell, reluctantly, back to action. Now Zandor is a very, very strange character and happens to know that a man named Allen plans to kidnap and kill an innocent family in a very painful and horrible manner. Allen is the worst kind of sadist imaginable and Russell feels he has no choice to help stop this monster. The problem is - Zandor can't go to the police himself, for reasons you'll find in the book. So Russell must do it for him. Fortuitously and by happenstance Russell runs into Constable Nika Mandic (both literally and figuratively), a Vancouver cop whose career is stalled. I don't want to give away too much of the plot - but Russell has a lot of work to do to convince Nika that his request is legitimate and he's not some nut, another fun part of the story. But eventually the chase is on as this odd troika sets off to find Allen and put an end to his heinous plans.
This is a very quirky and entertaining novel and is as much about the characters and their personal plights as it is an adventure story. It's a real page turner from beginning to end and is hard to put down. Definitely a thumbs up.
Very Bad Deaths is like velcro stripper pants. A ripoff. I'm sorry, Spider, but you plagiarized your own work. It is literally the timestopping watch story from Lady Slings the Booze, with different characters. He just replaces Christian with a nerdy Marquis de Sade lookalike, removes the watch and throws in a telepath instead. Allen (the sadist) even uses Christian's lines about not going in for fancy torture stuff when the contents of a kitchen drawer are just as good. Russell is just Jake Stonebender with a different "my intensely painful memory" story. (Which is to say, he's really Spider writing himself into the story...only this time, you feel like he's just indulging his ego.)
And dear gods...you'll be right in the middle of plot development, and Spider'll veer off onto a ten-page recount of a memory of the main character's, and often they're only slightly related to the plot. I know, Callahan's was full of that stuff, but in those books it was done *artfully*. There's no suspense at all, and every plot advancement occurs due to so many deus ex machinas they're practically a treus ex machina.
I'm sorry, Spider, nothing but love for you, man...but this book just should not have happened.
Russell's college acquaintance Zandor "Smelly" Zudenigo arrives needing help. In 1967, Russell met Smelly, an Einstein clone, who could read minds. Zandor needs Russell, the only mind that the genius can tolerate for more than a nanosecond as reading minds devastates the gifted; this skill turned him into a hermit. A low flying plane over his deserted island enabled Zudie to read the brain of a serial killer planning his next murder. He needs Russell to serve as his intermediary with the cops. Russell is blown away by the police categorizing him as a nut; only police officer Hilda Mandic helps, but though they close in on the killer, he is ready to become their predator.
This fantastic paranormal serial killer tale contains four key characters, who seem genuine whether they are depressed, can read and influence minds, have doubts but take a chance, or just sadistically brutal. Russell tells the tale so the audience gains greater insight into him than the others as he somewhat filters how the remaining trio appears. Joyfully, Spider Robinson not so subtly hints this team will return.
The story is ultimately a story of weak, nearly powerless people risking not just their own painful deaths but the pain of knowing they might well fail in sparing someone else's painful death in order to stop a very evil thing from happening. Is the villian or hero believable? Maybe, maybe not. (You should meet some of my friends!) But the SPIRITS of the heroes are true to the core of humanity Spider values so much in his species, and the villian is very much the antithesis of that same spirit. And that makes Very Bad Deaths a Very Good Book.