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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2005
This is the most poorly written professionally printed book I have ever encountered: no character development, dismal plot, completely disconnected subplot, poorly researched.....and hands down the worst dialogue in the history of mankind. To call this book sophomoric is to insult every barely literate, socially promoted high school sophomore in our country. I read Robert Crais, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Tony Hillerman, James Lee Burke, Lee Child.....so I am not some literary snob. I even read cereal boxes if there is nothing else. The fact that I finished this book makes me ashamed and leaves me wondering if I need a mystery-thriller 12 step program. Sort of like the alcoholic who finally drinks the bottle of Elvis wine over the mantle in the playroom. This is the bottom.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 21, 2004
ELEVENTH HOUR by Catherine Coulter was the subject of the third review that I wrote for Amazon (8/28/02), and while my five star rating might be a little generous by my current standards I enjoyed the book immensely. Despite mixed reviews, its bestseller status indicated that many other readers shared my opinion. It made me want to learn more about the adventures of (Dillon) Savich and (Lacey) Sherlock, the husband and wife team who are the two main characters in Coulter?s ?FBI Thriller Series?. I was especially intrigued by the ?two for one? aspect of the story; there were two mysteries to be solved that were cleverly woven together as an integral element of the plot. Therefore, I eagerly awaited the next entry in the series, BLINDSIDE (review 7/28/03); unfortunately, while it bore superficial resemblance to the earlier book, the storytelling and the editing were very disappointing and the second mystery was seemingly included as an afterthought. Much to my disappointment, BLOW OUT, the latest installment in the series is even more poorly written and edited. It appears that the author and her publisher have decided that Sherlock and Savich have such a loyal fan club that a peremptory effort at telling a story and the continuation of the two-for-one mystery format will be sufficient inducement for her loyal readers. Well, I am officially going on strike with regard to the purchase of future books in this series until I read some glowing reviews by reviewers whose judgment I trust. I will instead content myself by reading some of Coulter?s much more highly praised earlier stories.

As my review title indicates, my greatest disappointment with regard to this story is that with a little additional effort and a lot better job of editing this could have been a first rate book. For some reason, perhaps to grab the reader?s interest, the book opens with a riveting action sequence which turns out to part of an interesting but totally peripheral plot. Savich encounters an apparition and gets involved in an unsolved murder that occurred thirty years ago. It almost seems that perhaps this story began as the author?s primary interest but she wasn?t sure that she could turn it into a believable full length novel so threw it in as a twofer that provides some interesting asides and gives us readers more for our money. Suddenly, the action switches to DC, where the brutal murder of a Supreme Court Justice inexplicably occurs within the library of the Court itself despite the incredibly tight security that prevails. When additional murders occur, it appears that a very bold and fiendishly clever murderer has an agenda to fulfill. Additional characters are introduced including Ben Raven, the liaison from the DC Metro Police, and Callie Markham, the stepdaughter of the murdered Justice, who in a totally unbelievable fashion is teamed with Ben in order to utilize her unique insights into the case and her analytical skills honed as an investigative reporter for THE WASHINGTON POST. And for fans of the series, MAX, Dillon?s computer sidekick, provides invaluable help before the chase is over. Unfortunately, much of the dialog is totally inappropriate and becomes almost laughable at times. Furthermore, the paragraph breaks often make it unintelligible who is actually speaking. There are on occasion paragraph breaks in the middle of comments by the same speaker; at times, the narrative perspective seems to suddenly change. Finally, the romantic subplot is so predictable it lacks any interest at all.

In summary, a potentially interesting villain and a plot with great potential have been sacrificed to the apparent desire to keep to a publishing schedule of a book each summer. I only generously rounded my rating up because there are two aspects of the book which certain readers will enjoy. First, there is some minimal further character development for the truly devoted fans of Savich and Sherlock; the true series addicts will probably enjoy this element. Second, the plot?s potential is interesting although unrealized. Very surprisingly, the distribution of the ratings of this book by the seventeen previous reviewers exhibits a wide dispersion of opinion. The average of three stars to date derives from an entirely level distribution ? three readers each rated it one, three or five stars, four readers each rated it two or four stars. I believe that this difference of opinion reflects how different types of readers relate to the various factors that I mention in this review. Someone who is perhaps a speed reader and primarily interested in a plot (or two) with some interesting twists might easily overlook many of the features that I consider to be very significant flaws. Much of my interest in reading derives from the subtleties of character development, the intricate details which clever writers weave into the fabric of their stories, and the careful construction of the narrative and a wonderful use of language. By definition, any subjective rating system incorporates how an individual reader balances all these diverse factors when deciding which books provide a pleasurable and worthwhile experience. The strengths of this book no where near compensated me for the severe weaknesses with regard to any of those factors.

Tucker Andersen
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The title of the novel refers to the strange experience familiar character Dillon Savich has on a lonely, snowy road one dark night. Alas, it is hardly developed at all in the book until the last 40 pages or so, and I really can't see, hard as the author tried, how it is linked up with the supposed hero and heroine of this book, Ben Raven and the daughter of a murdered supreme court justice. The motive for the murders as the body pile mounts up is absolutely absurd, and the twist at the end totally falls flat. I felt really cheated by this book. It was nice to see Sherlock and Dillon and their little boy, but the whole relationship between Ben and his lady love is a wet squib and the macho posturing in the living room of Savich's home is just absurd. A real let down. Neither romantic, nor suspenseful.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2005
Ok, I read Catherine Coulter, and I cannot put the books down once I start, but I am ALWAYS left with the "HUH?" look on my face. This was no exception. The subplot involving the ghost could have easily been another rushed book by Coulter. It has NO bearing on the story whatsoever. NONE! I was stupidly thinking that MAYBE it had something to do with the murder of the Justice, but huh uh. Nope....

Who the murderer is and why he did it is BEYOND STUPID! It took like a paragraph for him to explain why. It was so unbelievable.

At the beginning of her books, Coulter always says something coy like: "Let me know how many times you checked your heart monitor during the story." Well, everyone, at the end of the book I flatlined. Doctors had to rush in, there was a lot of yelling "CLEAR", but at the ELEVENTH HOUR ,thankfully I survived.
(sorry couldn't resist.)

I know some people will say "Carrie?" and I'll say "Yeah?", and they'll say: "Shame on you for this review, why don't you write a book?" and I'd say "If I am going to shell out $7.99 for this drivel, I have every right to say what I think." By the way, that's how the characters spoke in this book, too. AAHHHHHH
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2004
Let's see, my stepfather was just murdered and, within less than twenty four hours, I am wildly flirting with the police officer. The only way that any fact can be explained to the reader is through stilted dialogue -- "I am going to see so-and-so." "Oh, isn't she your sister?" "Yes, she is my sister." It's a murder mystery, actually two murders, completely unrelated to each other, both of them "solved" at the last minute through long-winded confessions in the bad old James Bond style, "now that I've got you, the good guy, pinned down and could kill you just by pulling the trigger, let me explain to you in long-winded fashion why I've done this." And spiced with right-wing fantasy throughout (the liberal Supreme Court Justice is a horrible person, the Black law clerk is labelled an affirmative action whiner for no discernible reason, the "good" beer is Coors, and so on). Worst. Book. Ever.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2004
I have read many of Catherine Couleter's FBI books and enjoyed them thoroughly along with the characters of Savich and Sherlock. But this book had a silly unrealistic plot. The main premise what that a Supreme Court Justice could be murdered by someone clubbing a Federal Guard, changing clothes with him, and gee, going back into the building to commit the murder. I guess the building was just open to anyone. The characters were one dementional and even in very stressful times the dialogue was "very cute" and supposedly witty. The final resolution was as unrealistic as the plot and character development. Honestly, I would have to say that this book was written by someone else who just took the name of Catherine Coulter. I regret the money I paid for the book and it was so poorly written than anything in excess of five minutes a page would have been too much. Instead of finding an old friend who gave me a few hours of wonderful reading, I found an imposter. I don't believe the Catherine Coulter I have read previously would have even sent this out as a first draft for review.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 24, 2004
As a long time reader of Coulter's books, I expected a lot more than what this book delivered. First off, the dialogue was really strange--almost like Coulter herself didn't write it. In her past books she has been pretty good at characterization, but in this book, the characters were stilted, wooden and totally unbelievable as was the plot and the twists. The ending of the story line made absolutely no sense to the rest of the book. The characters--Ben and Callie had so little chemistry between them that it was almost painful when they finally hooked up! My advice to anyone contemplating a purchase of Blow Out - is don't blow your money on buying the book--look at how uniformly bad these reviews are and then either skip reading it all together, or go to the library and check it out! This is not a book you will want to keep in your personal library. It is really , really bad!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2005
Where to start? This book is a mess. A total mess. I can't decide what was more disappointing, the poorly conceived plot and subplot, the random events that can't pass as "plot twists" the underdeveloped characters, or the stilted dialogue. There was no flow or cohesiveness to the story, the writing itself was disjointed, and the characters make incredible leaps in logic that are unexplained and unbelievable.

The Story & Characters: By the end, there are too many loose ends still dangling about, which is inexcusable in a 356 page novel. I liked the chemistry between Ben Raven, one of the minor characters who should have been a major character, and Callie, but their romance was rushed and left me sad that the author didn't take the time to bring them to the forefront and develop their relationship. They were the only reason I kept reading. Sherlock and Savich were there, the super crime fighters, and again we see them without flaws or human characteristics that might make them more accessible as characters. They have the best equipment, super computer programs he invents, and after meeting people she can just know them as if she was reading their minds. It's incredibly difficult to read and care about characters who can do anything and everything. We cannot even see thought processes or how they come to the incredible conclusions they do. Their leaps are logic could span the Grand Canyon. And the subplot with the ghost? Completely out of place, unnecessary, and ridiculous.

The Writing: I think the last time I read writing this sophomoric, I was a sophomore in high school. Besides switching points of view whenever the mood strikes, I was surprised the author's use of:

He said "Blah"

She said "Blah blah"

The other guy said "No Way."

Don't believe me? Page 290, 291. It's all he said he said she said. Hard to read, annoying to follow, and fails to hold this reader's interest. The dialogue is wooden throughout the story, and every character has the same speaking voice, which makes it difficult to differentiate between them. After awhile, I stopped caring what he said, what he said, and what he said.

This is only the second FBI book I have read and it's clear they are missing the flair she has for Regencies. After this waste of time, ink, and paper I am done with Ms Coulter's contemporary works.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2005
I have read all the other Sherlock and Savich books and have noticed that they get worse and worse. The first one was great, but this last one "Blow Out", was a total let down. The plot was so unbelievable and the ending was anti-climatic. When I finished it I was like, That's it? That was supposed to be a suspensful book? Don't waste your time with this one.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2004
A terrible read. A computer determined who the killer was, from out of the blue, with no explanation to the reader. Likewise I was waiting for a tie-in between the supernatural portion of the story which appeared at the beginning of the book but there was no relationship between the ghost of the woman Samantha Barrister, her family, and the rest of the story. Very juvenile, not at all thought out in a logical manner. It was a page turner, keeping me in suspense as I waited for some coherence, which, unfortunately, never came.
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