From Publishers Weekly
Cole, one of the U.K.'s top-selling authors, brings her gritty brand of crime fiction across the Atlantic, and veteran British actress Nicola Duffett takes on the considerable task of juggling the large cast of characters. Duffett especially shines as Lily, the matriarch of the Brody clan, a crime family whose capacity for violence on the streets seems tame compared to their sordid domestic dramas. Duffett also manages to nail the characterizations of sons Patrick and Lance and their complicated brotherly relationship, yet the other siblings and various underworld associates blur in the dizzying pace. The abridgment makes the listening experience grow increasingly choppy as the story progresses. Transitions between decades lack discernable cues, and the span of time is more episodic than epic. The raw creative talent in both the writing and narration remain evident, and dedicated fans of the gangster-on-the-couch concept of The Sopranos
will appreciate the motif. But the finished product feels like a 10-CD title forcefully squeezed into five disks. A Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, May 5).(July)
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Best-sellers don’t always translate from one country to another, even when they’re written in the same language. Cole has 14 chart-topping novels in the UK and yet remains largely unknown in the U.S. Her publisher hopes to change that by making Close (first published in 2006) her American debut. A committed marketing effort may well generate interest in Cole, but the question remains whether Americans will stick with her book. It seems unlikely. This sprawling family saga of London gangsters is sometimes violent yet curiously bloodless, marred by repetition and cliché, and—although Cole clearly knows her turf—devoid of the specifics that might make it come alive for readers unfamiliar with the milieu. Worse, she tends to cut away from scenes just as they get interesting, instead lingering endlessly on her characters’ thoughts. This impressionistic approach leaves readers looking for solid anchors of plot, time line, and telling detail. It’s a brick-size book that could have been cut by half without serious loss, and though things improve somewhat after the 100-page mark, the question is whether readers not on assignment will get that far. Bad books sometimes do become best-sellers, usually because they tap into our psyche in a particular way; this one obviously has strong appeal at home but, despite the strength of the pound versus the dollar, doesn’t seem likely to travel. --Keir Graff