PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... a wild ride with a lot of potholes, but it’s always entertaining ... Burke has always written terrific dialogue, and he maintains his reputation here. He also writes lyrical description and deep-rooted character analysis. Those are here, too, but sometimes, he seems to use them as vamps while he figures out where the story is going next. While a substantial amount of time passes during the tale, we’re never certain how much, and because the multiple themes and plot lines intertwine so heavily, the cause-effect relationship is hard to follow ... The book’s denouement is as over-the-top as the helicopter sequence in Apocalypse Now or the destruction of the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s like sitting in the front row of a concert by The Who. Once your hearing is gone, who cares how much longer the band plays? Burke makes it all work for those willing to go along for the ride, but that may be easier for readers of his earlier works than it would be for newcomers ... Burke’s frequent classical allusions work perfectly here with his otherworldly hitman and monstrously evil gangsters, and the story achieves a satisfying resolution, moral or divine justice where everyone gets what he or she deserves, whether or not the earthbound courts would agree.
PanNew York Journal of BooksBaldacci’s legions of fans will probably love this book, but new readers will find it lacking in too many of the requisite storytelling skills. Baldacci’s plot, pacing, style, and dialogue all wreak havoc on a potentially gripping thriller with disappointing results ... There isn’t a single aspect of this work that could not be improved. The characters are never more than types, and the dialogue is painfully heavy handed. Baldacci has apparently never heard of pronoun reference or antecedents, and his prose ranges from perfunctory to pedestrian ... The serial killing plot, which appears about 60 pages into the book, is resolved by people suddenly deciding to spill their guts in arias that would make Puccini jealous, and the motivation is ridiculous and unconvincing ... The pace picks up in the last half when Baldacci adds the sniper and a bomb (another unbelievable scene) as though he’s remembered Raymond Chandler’s famous dictum. Unfortunately, the tactic screams of Dan Brown cliffhanger syndrome ... Thumbs down.
James Lee Burke
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"[Burke\'s] latest exploration of good and evil offers a cast of southern grotesque characters worthy of Flannery O’Connor ... Burke is an old hand at this game, and he juggles deeply flawed characters, several subplots, and dark humor with the vivid prose that draws comparisons to William Faulkner ... None of it feels out of place, and everything propels the complex plots to a jarring collision at the end. It’s a long strange trip, but worth every second. Nobody else can tell a story like James Lee Burke. Fortunately, most writers know better than to try.\