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Echo (An Alex Benedict Novel) Hardcover – November 2, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of antiquities dealer Alex Benedict will find their expectations fully met by his fifth outing (after 2008's The Devil's Eye). Benedict innocently arranges the purchase of a curious but not obviously significant stone tablet with an unreadable inscription. When the slab proves inexplicably difficult to collect, Benedict and his partner, Chase Kolpath, investigate its connections to explorer Sunset Tuttle's abrupt abandonment of his quest to find another intelligent race. Death hounds Benedict and Chase as they inch closer to an old shame someone will kill to protect. McDevitt's characters may live 9,600 years in the future, but their values are entirely 21st century, which will endear them to some SF fans and turn off others. There are hints of the existential malaise that permeates McDevitt's Priscilla Hutchins novels, but despite the book's terrible events, the series retains its essential optimism about redemption and progress. (Nov.) (c)
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Review

"Fans of antiquities dealer Alex Benedict will find their expectations fully met by his fifth outing." ---Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: An Alex Benedict Novel (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; First Edition edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780441019243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441019243
  • ASIN: 0441019242
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #625,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Just two months ago, I had never heard of Jack McDevitt. I was browsing in a bookstore and came across a title which caught my eye -- "A Talent For War", the first of the Alex Benedict novels. It was both a science fiction and a detective novel, and the basic premise really intrigued me.

I picked up all four of the Benedict books and plowed through them, and then read the six Priscilla Hutchins novels for good measure. I am thoroughly hooked on the works of this author. A couple of his standalone works are also top notch.

Alex Benedict is an antiquity dealer who, along with his assistant Chase Kolpath, lives some eight thousand years in the future on a planet called Rimway. With faster-than-light travel a routine matter, and a wealth of planets (including Earth) harboring the ruins of countless ancient human civilizations, there is no shortage of artifacts and memorabilia to buy and sell.

Every now and again, Alex comes across something mysterious which really captures his imagination, and he focuses an intense amount of his, and Chase's, time and energy into pursuing it. It's not about the money, it's more the thrill of the chase, the thirst for knowledge. The pair begin to receive death threats and even become the targets of diabolically clever assassination attempts. While Chase has reservations about the sanity of continuing the quest, Alex is undeterred. After all, if someone is willing to kill to keep a secret, it must be really, really big. The kind of stuff that can rewrite history books or even save huge numbers of lives.

Since all but the first book are narrated in first person by Chase, we can assume that she's going to survive to write about it, but we never know about Alex.
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Format: Hardcover
In Echo, an antiques dealer, Chase and his girl Friday, Alex, try to determine whether a mysteriously inscribed tablet represents the first evidence ever of an alien race after nine thousand years of space exploration by mankind.

The novel is really more of a detective story than a sci-fi story - a poorly written detective story. The tablet belongs to a thirty year dead space explorer named Tuttle. Before Chase and Alex can get their hands on it the table disappears.

In hard cover this is a three hundred and seventy page book. For three hundred of those pages McDeivitt delights us with encounter after encounter of people who may know where the tablet is or what it means, but they never do. The great majority of these people do nothing to move the plot along, are about as deep as "Hardy Boys" characters and serve mainly as filler to get the book up to novel length. More witty remarks about this below.

Oddly, even though the novel takes place nine thousand years hence, except for flying cars, AI's and interstellar travel, nothing has changed. People still eat "pot roast sandwiches" and live in condo's and cabins. It is as if McDevitt makes no attempt to create a future world. "It's the year 11,351 so pull up a chair, have a beer and watch the game."

My mother use to make meatloaf a lot when we were kids. We didn't have a lot of money so the meatloaf was usually more bread than meat. This book is a lot like that meatloaf. But unlike this book, my mother's meatloaf, God rest her soul, was good. Jack McDevitt's Echo, not so much. There is not enough real material in this book to make a short novella. Shame on you Ace Books for publishing this.
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Format: Hardcover
Echo has a very intriguing opening and kept the momentum going till around 2/3 of the way. I was hooked for quite a while with curiosity building up intensely as the fantastic sci-fi/detective storyline evolved.

But toward the end when you start to see the end of the tunnel, you begin to realize that the author pretty much gave up on being epic scifi and focused solely on a mediocre detective path - with several rigidly placed events and astoundingly dimwitted decisions by many characters.

And for a minor annoyance, I have to agree with the other reviews on the author's way of introducing minor or major characters by starting with "He/she looks good", or how their hair/skin/eyes/smile looked nice, or that they are old but they still look good. They are all the exact wording, which give you the same kind of feeling as when you are playing a video game whose characters look exactly the same with a handful of outfit to switch around to give you the illusion of diversity.

Despite the complaints I still liked most of the book and although the ending was in a hurry but it's acceptable nonetheless. Maybe the next Benedict series will elaborate more on the ending.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read and enjoyed several other Alex Benedict novels by Jack McDevitt. Echo, however, was a big disappointment. It starts out slow, wanders about aimlessly, gets lost for a while in the middle and, when the climax finally draws near, still takes a number of side trips and diversions. In short, the plot is a mess. The stage is littered with almost purposeless ancillary characters and the bad guy puts in a number of cameo appearances but never develops an effective air of menace or threat. The last 20 pages had me thinking "come on, let's get this over with." What must have been meant as character development was simply boring. If I had not read other works in the same series both of the main protagonists would have come across as uninteresting and unsympathetic.The post climax wrap-up is particularly unfulfilling. McDevitt is usually much, much better than this. I can only think that he owed his publisher a new book and was just going through the motions. Try one of the earlier Alex Benedict novels, when the author was actually engaged in the story.
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