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Ravens Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

3.3 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The Boatwrights are struggling to get by when they win $318 million in the Georgia State lottery. But the family's joy is short-lived when drifter Shaw McBride shows up at their door with a gun, takes the family hostage and demands half of the winnings. If they refuse or try to contact help, Shaw's partner in crime, Romeo Zderko, will kill everyone close to the Boatwrights. Robert Petkoff renders Shaw and Romeo with a perfect blend of menace and panic, while Maggi-Meg Reed's theatrical Southern drawl captures the community perfectly. This is a top-notch presentation with performances that will keep listeners enthralled and entertained from beginning to end. A Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, May 11). (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Shaw and Romeo, friends from grade school to their present-day labors in dead-end tech-support jobs, are headed for a Florida vacation. In a Georgia convenience store, Shaw learns from a clerk that a local family purchased a lottery ticket worth $318 million, and he hatches a plan to get half of it. His plan is simple: Shaw takes the family “hostage” by telling them that Romeo is driving around their small city, ready to murder their loved ones if they don’t support the ruse that Shaw is due half the winnings. As news of the family’s big win spreads, crowds throng around the house, and the terror inside it grows. Green, the author of the acclaimed The Caveman’s Valentine (2000), is skilled at psychological suspense. More than half a dozen major characters are fully developed, and their evolving reactions to their situations and to other characters are sure to engage readers who like to feel the narrative screws tightening. --Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; Unabridged edition (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600246257
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600246258
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,287,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Ravens" offers a stark cover, an ominous title, and an interesting premise--all of this bolstered by sterling words from Publishers Weekly and respected authors. I'd never read a book by this writer before, but I was drawn in quickly by the moody prose that is reminiscent of Joe Hill's "Heart Shaped Box," both in tone and characterization.

Shaw and Romeo are two drifters, friends from way back, who happen upon a chance of a lifetime when they get the inside scoop on a family who's recently won a monster lottery jackpot. They swoop in, raven-like, to claim half by coercing the unsuspecting family through threats against their immediate loved ones. I settled in for psychological suspense and tense pacing, only to find myself slipping into disbelief. How could these bumbling criminals pull this off? How could this family fail to make any intelligent efforts to free themselves? Yes, there's a whole messiah-like complex that begins to evolve around Shaw, but even that is built on a stereotype of Bible Belt religious wackos that tries to be Jim Jones like in one scene and devil-may-care in the next.

The characters are deftly drawn, the dialogue superlative, and the settings rich in detail. However, the endorsers' warnings of "cold shudders" and a "devastating" conclusion all failed to pan out, and in the end I wondered who was supposed to get the payoff here? How could an editor fail to help such a talented author turn these puzzle pieces into a truly thrilling, truly moving story. I, for one, was left feeling cheated.
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Format: Hardcover
RAVENS is George Dawes Green's first novel in fourteen years, and it qualifies a moderate disappointment. While the book has some strong points, it contains some severe flaws that hampered my enjoyment of it.

The storyline of RAVENS is pretty simple. A working class Southern family hits the lottery, and a pair of would-be criminals demand half their winnings. If the family doesn't meet their demands, the criminals threaten to kill them and others close to them.

Not a bad idea for a suspense thriller, but Green doesn't spend enough time fleshing out his plotline. Events occur in a forced manner without much build-up or explanation. The result is a rather sketchy tale that I ultimately found unbelievable and half-baked.

On the plus side, RAVENS does contain two very well developed characters, most notably the reluctant criminal Romeo Zderko and the lovelorn cop Burris. The scenes involving these two men are very enjoyable to read -- they are both fully defined characters whom I found quite compelling.

But there are about ten other key characters in this novel who are not nearly as well fleshed out. Many of them are portrayed as little more than white trash stereotypes -- unlikable and borderline stupid. Unfortunately, these characters dominate a big part of RAVENS, which make large sections of the novel quite expasperating to read.

Ultimately I think you can do better than this book. If you want to read a gritty crime novel about greed and hoplessness in a small town setting, my advice is to instead read A SIMPLE PLAN by Scott Smith or THE ICE HARVEST by Scott Phillips. They are far better plotted and have better fleshed out characters than what I found in RAVENS.
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Format: Hardcover
"Romeo was driving down from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the baffling twilight, going too fast, when a raccoon or possum ran in front of the car. The impact was disturbingly gentle. No thud -- just a soft unzipping, beneath the chassis. ..."

So begins RAVENS, the premise of which I knew going in: Romeo and Shaw, en route to Florida from their tech-support jobs in Ohio, stop in Georgia and decide to co-opt half of a huge lottery prize from the winners. But what *surprised* me was that the opening paragraph concludes by painting the villains as likeable ("...Still, it tore at Romeo's heart. He braked and pulled over") and, further down the page, as smart and playful. And what *hooked* me were the next few pages, where I developed an intriguing dislike for the "good guys" -- the lottery-winning Boatwright family.

The novel's strength is its ability to hold me in that incongruence. It also held me in a state of suspended disbelief -- after all, who'd believe that the winners of $318 million would acquiesce when a couple strangers announce they're taking half? Yet every time I wondered about the believability of characters' actions, George Dawes Green showed me their motivations and brought me back in. It's a fun, comic novel (not all of it dark comedy), populated by an entertaining ensemble of small-town characters; subplots and twists that are well earned; and suspense that is more compelling (inquisitive; page-turning) than scary. Recommended!
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Format: Paperback
In a nutshell, this is one of the best novels that I've read recently, and I read 100-plus books each year. It's not a perfect book; there are more than a few flaws, and I disliked the ending, but it has enough strong points to make it rise about the usual fiction fare. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this is a flawed but brilliant and utterly engaging story.

As other reviewers have noted, the characters are very well developed, not only the two so-called "bad guys", Romeo and Shaw, but also Burris the cop, Tara the teenager, the missionary turned stripped, nd several others, most memorably Claude in the trailer. In my mind, the Claude segments are some of the most moving in this novel. The blurb on the back cover called this novel "as epic and thrilling as a classic film" and you can certainly imagine this story being turned into a movie. The characters burst to life from these pages.

Yeah, elements of the plot sometimes don't feel right, and there are the shifts between narrators that takes some getting used to, but it's never confusing enough to distract from the plot or the flow of the story. In fact, the author does a masterful job of pacing the story and keeping those pages turning. I also love the setting for the story --- in Brunswick, Georgia --- and how the author used the religious faith of some members of the community to become so crucial to the plot. I grew up not far from that area and his depiction of the people and their faith is incredibly accurate. Reading so many parts of this book brought both smiles and grimaces to my face, because I've encountered people like this many, many times.

Despite all the memorable scenes and characters, and some very funny dialogue, I really thought the ended was a cop-out of sorts. Both predictable and unbelievable, it was too much of a literary cliché for a book that otherwise bucked such trends and was so delightful.
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