Audiobook Review: Runner by Patrick Lee

3 03 2014

Runner by Patrick Lee (Sam Dryden, Bk. 1)

Read by Raul Esparza

Macmillan Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 39 Min

Genre: Thriller

Grade: A

I am a real sucker for tales that don’t let themselves be defined by easy genre labels and this is one of the biggest reasons I have become such a big fan of Patrick Lee. His first series, The Breach/Travis Chase Trilogy is a favorite of mine, and I waited with grand anticipation for Runner, the first book in his new series staring Sam Dryden. Well, the anticipation was far from the greatest pleasure of this experience. Runner is super sonic thriller with a science fiction edge that is sure to please fans of multiple genres. Sam Dryden is a complicated but likeable character. In fact, he starts of almost as a cliché, the broken hero, yet builds up into something so much more. He finds his redemption in a strange little girl who is being chased my merciless killers for reasons she doesn’t fully understand. If the book starts off a bit rote, that roteness is redeemed with a series of well choreographed reveals that have you reexamining any assumptions made early on. Runner examines complex issues as diverse as childhood development, the true nature of evil, governmental influence and the potential for science to disrupt society, yet these exploration take a back street to the relationship at the heart of this tale. One of my biggest pet peeves in fiction is how much could be simply resolves if characters fully communicate with each other, and Lee manages to laugh at this notion, creating secrets between characters who have no secrets. Lee is no slouch in the action department either. How Lee manages to fully develop these character amidst big screen style elaborate chase sequences amazes me. If you are like me and are becoming a bit hesitant when every new book is part of a series, don’t worry here. Runner can absolutely serve as a standalone, with a fully resolved plot line, yet with enough underlining mythology to increase your desire to have the next Sam Dryden novel in your hands or ears as soon as possible.

Raul Esparza gives a strong performance in his reading of Runner. While his characterizations often lean to the subtle side, they are affective and memorable. He gives an offbeat delivery to the narrative, often emphasizing sentences in places you wouldn’t expect, and altering the tradition cadence with a well times pause. It keeps the listener on their toes, examining each word and where it fits into the narrative. In fast paced action thrillers, it’s easy to become lost in the action, but Esparza never let’s you get comfortable, causing you to hanging on every word, breathlessly waiting for the next twist in the road. Runner is a treat for both fans of thrillers and Science Fiction, or those like me, who like them swirled.

Audiobook Review: Deep Sky by Patrick Lee

5 01 2012

Deep Sky by Patrick Lee (Travis Chase, Book 3)3

Read by Jeff Gurner

Harper Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 30 Min

Genre: Science Fiction Action Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Deep Sky reads like 24 meets The 4400 with plenty of vast conspiracies, world saving action scenes and thought provoking science fiction themes, seamlessly merging them all into something that is truly unique. I will definitely miss these characters and the world Lee has created for them to play in.

Grade A-

Special Note: As always, I try to offer the most Spoiler Free review possible. Being that Deep Sky is the final novel in a trilogy, it was impossible to write this review without major spoilers for the first novel of the series, The Breach. You may want to avoid reading this review, if you have yet to read The Breach.

I really like when a book throws me for a loop. Not, so much with a big twist within a thriller or mystery book, since, well those types of books often go for big twists. You look for them, almost expect them. I like when a book turns out to be something quite different from what I expected. When books that you thought you had a grasp on based on its labeling and synopsis, then out of left field comes something that is a total game changer. The Wells brothers both seem to be able to pull this off well, with Dan Wells I Am Not a Serial Killer and Robison Wells Variant both having transformational moments at some point in the book. Yet for some reason, many readers don’t like this. They cry foul. The scream, "I thought I had this book pigeonholed, and I was wrong and I blame you Mr. or Mrs. Author Person." Another book that did this extremely well was Patrick Lee’s The Breach, the first of his Travis Chase novels. I went into it expecting a typical thriller, and come out with something more, and in my personal opinion, better. Yet, listening to the third novel, Deep Sky, I started to get an inkling of a feeling of disappointment that I confirmed with a bit of research. When I started, I believed his Travis Chase novels where a series without a set ending, even with the underlying mystery of The Breach. Yet, I discovered that the series was a trilogy and this would be perhaps my final adventure with Travis Chase and the often unlucky people of Tangent.

Deep Sky starts off with a literal bang. A missile from a secret site within the US hits the Whitehouse killing the president. The only information left behind leads to a highly secret Tangent investigation from well before Travis Chase, and Tangent leader Paige Campbell’s time. Paige and Travis must uncover the secrets of the investigation, while facing off with some of the countries most powerful and dangerous men. While Deep Sky’s lightning quick nearly real time pace is flawlessly executed and the characters are surprisingly well developed for a book which is basically non-stop action, it’s the uses of Breach technology, Gadgets sent from the far future through a sort of portal, which is the organization Tangents job to control, that makes this novel excel, Lee has thought up an extremely clever devise that is used wonderfully to drive the pace and save the book from being bogged down is exposition like many thrillers can be. Being the end of the trilogy, Lee does an excellent job answering the many underline questions, and tying up many loose ends, yet, leaving just enough wiggle room where a return to this world is quite possible. Deep Sky reads like 24 meets the 4400 with plenty of vast conspiracies, world saving action scenes and thought provoking science fiction themes, seamlessly merging them all into something that is truly unique. I will definitely miss these characters and the world Lee has created for them to play in.

Jeff Gurner continues his narration of this series, and does it well, especially considering the blistering pace of the novel does not offer him many chances to breathe. He voices Travis Chase is a crisp, clear no nonsense manner, and allows the action to build on its own, never needing to push it. Gurner seems to have a strong grasp on these types of thriller, and does a good job presenting the action is an understandable way. With the end of this series, I am quite interested to know what Patrick Lee has planned for us next. He has definitely created a fan in me.

Audiobook Review: Ghost Country by Patrick Lee

6 02 2011

Ghost Country by Patrick Lee

Read by Jeff Gurner

Harper Audio

Genre: Science Fiction Thriller

Quick Thought: A fast paced, action packed science fiction thriller, with a touch of Apocalyptic tone and excellent narration makes for another winner for Patrick Lee.

Grade: B+


Last year, when Patrick Lee’s The Breach came out, I was expecting an action adventure, “lone man takes on bad guys” Jack Reacher type novel.   I guess I had misread the Publisher summary or something, because what I got was something more. The Breach had its kick ass hero, in ex-cop, ex-con Travis Chase, but instead of just a fast paced action story, we also got a complex science fiction tale. The Breach was a surprise of a novel, and Travis Chase and excellent new character. It was sort of like someone in entertainment heaven decided to mix together two things that Bob really likes, to make a Reese’s Peanut butter Cup of the literary world.

In Ghost Country, the sequel to The Breach, someone found a few more ingredients to add to the pot. Ghost Country reads like a science fiction version of 24, and Travis Chase Jack Bauer’s his way through two realities, taking out scores of badies, and getting out of seemingly impossible predicaments. To add to the fun, Ghost Country has a highly inventive apocalyptic scenario, which is well thought out and developed at just the right pace to fit into the action. The bad guys are the best kind, those who think they are doing the right thing for the world, and not just a bunch of psychos and self obsessed freaks. Mix this all together and Patrick Lee has concocted one hell of a great stew.

Jeff Gurner, who handled the narration for The Breach, and the excellent Freedom™, once again is outstanding in Ghost Country. He reads at a break neck pace, which is totally appropriate to the novel. If anything, the action comes so fast, and so hard, it’s hard to multitask while listening. All in all, this is another winner for Patrick Lee and Harper Audio.