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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Audiobook Review All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen

This is a thrilling mystery with complex philosophical arguments woven in.
by Leonard Rosen
read by Grover Gardner
Book ID(6345) - 10.5 hrs (est.), Published - 09/01/1

Genre:  Mystery and Suspense
My Rating:  4.75 of 5.0
Book Description
Series: Henri Poincare | Publication Date: September 1, 2011
[This is the MP3CD audiobook format.]

All Cry Chaos, a debut thriller by the immensely gifted Leonard Rosen, is a masterful and gripping tale that literally reaches for the heavens.

The action begins when mathematician James Fenster is assassinated on the eve of a long-scheduled speech at a World Trade Organization meeting. The hit is as elegant as it is bizarre. Fenster's Amsterdam hotel room is incinerated, yet the rest of the building remains intact. The murder trail leads veteran Interpol agent Henri Poincare on a high-stakes, world-crossing quest for answers.

Together with his chain-smoking, bon vivant colleague, Serge Laurent, Poincare pursues a long list of suspects: the Peruvian leader of the Indigenous Liberation Front, Rapture-crazed militants, a hedge fund director, Fenster's elusive ex-fiancee, and a graduate student in mathematics. Poincare begins to make progress in America, but there is a prodigious hatred trained on him--some unfinished business from a terrifying former genocide case--and he is called back to Europe to face the unfathomable. Stripped down and in despair, tested like Job, he realizes the two cases might be connected--and he might be the link.

This first installment in the Henri Poincare series marries sharp, smart mystery to deep religious themes that will keep both agnostics and believers turning pages until the shattering revelatory end. Anyone who enjoys the work of John le Carre, Scott Turow, Dan Brown, and Stieg Larsson will relish Rosen's storytelling and his resourceful, haunted protagonist. Others will appreciate his dazzling prose. Still others, the way he bends the thriller form in unconventional ways toward a higher cause, in the vein of Henning Mankell in The Man from Beijing. In short, All Cry Chaos promises to become a critical success that garners a broad readership throughout the nation and across the globe.
Henri Poincare is an Interpol agent using police protocol and years of observational investigative expertise to get the criminals. Although he is dedicated to his work he also has a warm relationship with his eccentric, artist wife, his brilliant son and his adorable grandchildren who love their “Popi.”

Poincare’s great-grandfather was Jules Henri Poincare, a noted 19th-century French mathematician and philosopher.  Oddly, Poincare’s newest case involves the assassination of another renowned mathematician, James Fenster.  The murder involved unique rocket fuel accelerate so there are leads to follow even though there is little of the body left to work with.

Fenster was a brilliant man whose work was supported by a wealthy financier.  He was scheduled to speak at a World Trade Organization Conference although it wasn’t quite clear how he was going to mix mathematics with the economy of globalization.

Meanwhile there are terrorist and suicide bombings being committed by a radical group of Christian believers. These fanatics think causing chaos will bring the rapture quicker and they are counting down the days.

A war criminal whom Poincare put into jail threatens Poincare’s own family.  Poincare is torn between his desire to protect his family and his need to track down leads after letting an important witness slip.  Tragedy strikes and it isn’t clear if Poincare can recover or if he himself might sink to acts of violent vengeance.

Poincare travels through Europe and America picking up clues and racing against time. The murder investigation crosses with the radical attacks and he faces those preaching God’s messages in earnest with a deadline in sight.  Other witnesses present mathematical modeling and theories of structure and pattern that defy chaos even as humankind seems to create and dwell in chaos.

I enjoyed the Biblical references and the philosophical arguments. Poincare is a classic, detail oriented investigator with a younger more impulsive, partner as his sounding board and protector.  Poincare has to search out the “who and why” of the crimes while coping with personal tragedy and  broader questions of why things happen and what life is about.

The writing is crisp and well suited to the twists in the mystery where suspects are not as expected. There is a subtle wit that helps the flow especially since the mathematics, philosophy and tragedy add complexity.

I listened to this on MP3 Audio and found it a great performance by Grover Gardner.  I recognized Gardner’s easy flow and grasp of wit from other audiobooks. However after the first hour or so Gardner was able to capture Poincare’s own character so that I forgot about prior narrations. Gardner does a great job delivering the suspense, misery, weariness, complexity and action of the story.

If you are a mystery fan of twisted clues, and willing to puzzle some mathematical and religious arguments, I highly recommend this. I hope there will be more Poincare stories to come in the future.

Some brief quotes that I liked and jotted while listening:
Two levels below street grade ... turned out to be a graveyard for cellular signals.
Failure woke him up to himself.
Audiobook Jukebox
Thank you to Audiobooks Jukebox and Blackstone Audio for the opportunity to review this fine mystery.

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