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Lust, Money And Murder, Books 1-3 (2000)

by Mike Wells(Favorite Author)
4.29 of 5 Votes: 3
review 1: Elaine Brogan was born in a poor Pittsburgh suburb to a doting working class construction worker father. As a child, he regaled her with tales of fictitious royal ancestors and he provided her with everything she could want or need, even if he had to beg, borrow or steal (mostly steal) to provide it. As a young woman, her aspirations were to enter the modeling profession to stake her fortune. She was content, comfortable and proud of the life she and her father had staked out for themselves. That all changed, however, when a seedy scam artist running a modeling school con set her father up to take the fall on a counterfeiting dodge.Unable to face life behind bars, Elaine’s father, Patrick Brogan, commits suicide, and Elaine sets out to avenge his death. Men continue taki... moreng advantage of Elaine’s naivety and trusting nature through college and into her career in both the Secret Service and the US Treasury Department. Elaine makes a name for herself due to her uncanny ability to spot the flaws in counterfeit US currency, and this attracts the attention of various unsavory types.Lust, Money & Murder by Mike Wells is a story in three parts. The narrative follows Elaine’s life through a trio of novelettes combined into one story, detouring only briefly toward the middle of the third novella to tell us the story of a Mafioso Elaine becomes entangled with. There’s sex, car chases, cons, moral ambiguity, and descriptions of scenes of both beauty and of utter destitution. The story follows a well-worn path making it sometimes predictable, but it does it all in a way that feels fresh and unique. The writing is informative and inventive. The plots, especially one concerning a smuggling operation, are so believably inventive that one wonders how much of the story is based on true criminal events the author was somehow privy to.The omnibus is available as an eBook, but I was lucky enough to receive the audio version of the book, recently made available on Audible, Amazon USA, and iTunes. Competently narrated by professional voiceover artist Sue Sharp, the recorded version avoids all of the trappings I tend to dislike in an audio-book. Often, producers feel the need to create a sort of radio-play experience, adding such superfluous Foley-fluff as music, sound effects, and multiple voice actors. Personally, I don’t need those things. An audiobook, in my opinion, should be as much like a reading experience as possible. When I sit down with a coffee and a tablet, I don’t generate the sound of footsteps to set a mood. I don’t bring in women to read the female parts or children to read the kids’ roles. Just give me the story, and let my imagination do the heavy lifting.To that end, the choice of Ms Sharp was fairly spot-on. With a few exceptions, she kept me inside the story the entire time. Considering that the tale was penned by a man, it actually helped make the feminine voice of the narration more palatable having an actual female voice read the words. Ms Sharp expertly assigned nuanced inflection changes in her voice to represent different characters, both male and female, and her southern drawl and Russian accents were – to my ear – accurate. Unfortunately her Italian accent and her Irish brogue seemed to have been learned watching Mel Blanc or Cid Caesar at work, but that can be forgiven.I listened to the story over several days while commuting to and from work. The fact that by the second day I found myself actually looking forward to the drive should tell you all you need to know about whether the experience was a good one. I thoroughly enjoyed Lust, Money & Murder. It had a Patterson/DeMille/Baldacci vibe I like, and a female protagonist that I found compelling and sympathetic enough to put me in a mind of Evanovich/Larsson/Paretsky.
review 2: This was my first attempt at an audio book and I haven't read the original book yet, so the story was completely new to me. I was a bit nervous thinking about this review, but here we go! I will attempt to not include any spoilers - it is tough when you are writing about 3 books though. Mike Wells really does write 'unputdownable' novels! At first I thought 'how long is it going to take me to get through 10 hours of an audio book.' Well the answer was less than a week. I listened while getting ready for work in the morning, while driving to work - instead of the radio and any moments in between! It was completely addictive. Narrator 5/5 : I thought the narrator was awesome. She changes her voice and accent as the characters change and really gives a good performance. Sue is easy to follow and listen to. Her pace is perfect.Characters: 5/5The characters are well rounded, interesting and lovable. You love the good ones and you love to hate the 'bad' ones.Elaine BroganBook 1 : I easily connected with Elaine. She is lovable, soft, caring and smart, but also has the strength to always do what is right. I quickly found myself rooting for her. Elaine works for what she wants. I took to her story quickly and definitely enjoyed her growth and learning curves. One of the things that bugged me and which made me feel quite sad for her was that she had such a bleak view on sleeping with someone and finding someone special. I almost threw a party when she met Nick! But we will get to Nick a bit later on. I really enjoyed her time in Bulgaria and felt that this was a turning point for her. Her feelings for Nick were a bit torturous in the beginning and bitter sweet when the romance finally happened. I really wanted to shake some sense into her when she did what she did at the end and for not trusting her instincts more. Book 2: In this book I felt for her and just wanted her back with Nick! As a secret service agent sometimes I wished she could be a bit more kick-ass - but I did appreciate that she could think her way out of a situation. This was a tough period for Elaine and I wished she had connected some of the dots sooner. None-the-less this book was fast paced and full of twists. Book 3: this is the book where Elaine's lines blur, and she learns who she really is as a person. She does get seduced a little bit by the wealth, the power and the corruption. I was a bit angry at Elaine when she lost her will after the Nick incident and that she let Caterreti do what he did to her, even though I could understand why. Once the real Elaine was back and thinking clearly, I was so relieved. I wanted to climb in there and help her. Elaine's story tugs at your heart strings and draws you in. The ending of Elaine's story was perfect - I was almost in tears. Patrick - her dad. I liked him. He focuses on his daughter and loves her so much. He sacrifices much for her. Nick Le Grange Book 1: I immediately liked Nick. He is true, honest, street smart, witty and your good/bad boy who doesn't follow the rules. What u see is what u get. Nick is my favourite character in this series and I would love to read it from his POV to hear his story. Although some of Nick's actions come across as shady, he is so much more than he appears. I was so happy when he finally admitted his feelings for Elaine and took the chance with her! #TeamNickBook 2: Nick is not really featured in Book 2, but I believe he is a good guy and he truly loves Elaine. I missed Nick's presence in book 2 and was so annoyed that Lassiter kept Nick and Elaine apart unnecessarily and so easily. The whole way through this book I was hoping Nick would show up. Book 3: When Nick finally arrived I was jumping for joy and was then in utter shock! Nick didn't feature much until nearly the end, which was a really long wait from book 1! When the Nick incident happened, I was in utter disbelief. I was secretly hoping it wasn't what it seemed to be. I am really looking forward to reading/listening to more of Nick's story in Volume 2. Jean LassiterBook 1: Jean plays a very minor role in book 1. He is introduced while Elaine is being trained at the secret service as one of her lecturers. Near the end Lassiter appears again and changes the whole story, setting the scene for book 2. Book 2: I could tell Jean had ulterior motives. I wanted to knock him out for keeping Nick & Elaine apart. I really didn't like him much. He works Elaine to the bone on his secret project and then sets her up. He is a twisted old man that many underestimate. Book 3: In this book, all of Jean's true colours show. In the end I actually felt sorry for him and when the twist came about Gypsy..! I was busy doing my mascara getting ready for work and my jaw literally dropped and I almost made a complete mess of my make-up! After the jaw dropping shock I burst into fits of giggles. Georgio CaterettiBook 2: We first meet Georgio after he 'rescues' Elaine. In the beginning he is so charming and he draws Elaine in and seduces her with wealth, power and designer clothes. I'm sure he has cracked even the most committed women - the life of corruption comes across as a life of pure luxury. Book 3: Georgio is an intriguing and extremely interesting character. He is such a likable criminal and charming gentleman with a wicked temper. In this book we get a clear glimpse of his past and how he became the way he is now. When his darker side did show, I literally loathed him. No pity here. In the end though, Mike created a really memorable and great character. Plot, Pace, Writing style: 5/5The pace of all 3 books is great. The plot is captivating and kept my attention - I just wanted to keep on listening. It is tough to judge Mike's writing style through audio, but Mike kept me interested and definitely kept me wanting more. Book 1 ~ Lust: Has great pace, lays a great foundation for the series and ends with a huge twist.Book 2 ~ Money: picks up exactly where book 1 finished. The end of book 2 was sort of blasé. No huge ending but definitely a meaty middle book. I really missed Nick but really enjoyed Georgio Cateretti's character. Book 3 ~ Murder: has a bit more kick, everybody's true colours come out, and the lies are unravelled. Just when you think you know how it's going to end, Mike throws in another twist. If the book didn't end the way it ended I was going to have some real issues to chat to Mike about! The ending of this book and this series was perfect. Cover talk 2/5: I am not overly fond of the cover. It's ok. My Final thoughts:This is a fantastic story about love, friendship, betrayal, revenge and truth. Elaine's life and journey is easily relatable, filled with good times and tough or dangerous situations. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and suspense type book with a touch of romance. Favourite QuotesThere were quite a lot of quotes I would have loved to catch but being an audio book, I didn't really get them. My most memorable and favourite quote was:'Let's synchronize our dops' less
Reviews (see all)
This is a fast, interesting read and the author leaves the strong desire to get the next book.
A fast paced thriller that will take you around the world. Poured through it in one sitting.
Very good read, full of excitement from beginning to end.
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