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City of the Sun Hardcover – 17 Jun 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (17 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059305931X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593059319
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,392,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

...really hard to break away to deal with the rest of the day...a rare thriller where the outcome is genuinely in doubt'
-- New York Daily News

A writer who takes dead, calculated aim at our deepest fears -- Entertainment Weekly

Hard, mean, beautiful, touching -- a dazzling novel... David Levien has placed himself among the best writers in the field. -- ROBERT CRAIS

One of the toughest, most gut-wrenching, and most believable suspense novels I've ever encountered. If David Levien pulled any punches, I was too dazed to notice. -- LINCOLN CHILD

Relentless suspense that will not let you out of its grasp...you'll forget you're reading fiction. -- HARLAN COBEN

Book Description

The dazzling first crime novel from one of Hollywood's top screenwriters, introducing the unforgettable Frank Behr . . .

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
City of the Sun tells the story of a kidnapping of a young boy Jamies, and the effect it has on the devastated parents, Carol and Paul, and the private detective, Frank Behr, who they hire.

It took me a couple of tries to get into this book. The first 25 pages are off-putting for two reasons: firstly, the self consciously stylised short sentences and present tense that Levien uses, and secondly, the horrible language used by Jamie's two kidnappers. However on page 25 the present tense magically disappears (with no explanation!), the writing improves and we hear much less from the two kidnappers, who only reappear occasionally throughout the book with their unpleasant thoughts and swear words making up just a very small part of the narrative.

So what is the book like once it gets going? Simply put, it is excellent. Gripping and absorbing, so that I didn't want to put it down. The plot is pretty standard: grieving parents find the police to be useless so hire a gritty, no nonsense PI who has issues of his own relating to losing a son himself. But there's a reason plots like this are so often used, and that is that they can be brilliant when done right. And here, it's done right.

Paul and Carol's characters are beautifully written: their grief, anger and confusion are portrayed very well alongside their painfully broken marriage. A scene where Carol breaks down in a yoga class had me crying. And Behr is perhaps the character that we get to know best, and he is excellent: strong, silent, dedicated - everything you'd want in a PI if your son had gone missing. Even the smaller characters, like the kidnappers and those they work for, are written brilliantly, and jump off the page.
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By S. Diment VINE VOICE on 2 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you're a fan of US crime thrillers, this is probably worth a try. David Levien is a screenwriter, so the pace is fast, and it's hard to put this book down. His writing, as you would expect, is a model of clarity, and you can see each scene so clearly in your head you could actually be watching a movie.

There are some flaws. The characters are a bit stereotypical - they could have come straight out of a Hollywood movie. Having said that, they aren't badly depicted, just not particularly original. Occasionally I felt the descriptions of the scene were a bit clunky - a chunk of description at the beginning (like you would get with a film script) rather than sliding the relevant details into the text gradually. But it's a minor flaw, because the plot keeps going, so I doubt most readers will even be aware of it.

I also felt the book lost it's way a little at the end. The best action scene of the book, involving the main bad guy, takes place a bit before the end. The scenes that followed it lacked a bit of the edge of the earlier ones. The final page also seemed a bit weak - I can't say too much without giving the plot away, but I felt it was a bit flat, and lacked a bit of appeal to the emotions of the readers, given that this was a book about a child abduction.

I should stress though, that whilst these flaws detract from the story, they do so in a minor way. This book is still a real page-turner, and I will definitely be buying the next one by this author.
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By Sam Tyler on 1 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having had a paper round for many years `City of the Sun' impacted me immediately as my Mum always worried about my safety at 6.30 AM. One day the worst happens for Paul and Carol when their son goes missing from his round and for over a year nothing is heard from him. The police assume that it is a case of the boy running away, but his parents just can not believe this. Therefore, they have one more go at hiring a PI and this time hit on disgruntled Frank Behr, a man who lost his own son some years earlier. Behr investigation will uncover a dark world of child smuggling that may never lead him to child who he has to presume is long dead. Follow the family, the PI and the criminals through a dark case of kidnapping.

`City of the Sun' was a very good, if dark, crime novel. What separated it from the usual crime fiction were the sections that followed the bad guys as they see their lives begin to unravel. These are evil men whose motives differ depending on their mental state. Some are opportunists, some are stone cold killers, whilst possibly the worst are those that feel they are doing no wrong. The insight into the criminal mind is stronger than the other insights in the book as we do learn about PI Behr and Paul, but only in snippets. The mother, Carol, is almost entirely ignored which is a shame as her grief must be worse than anyone else.

The writing style is typical crime thriller with plenty of chapters. However, the structure does make it a slightly darker and more intelligent read than many similar books and it is this sense of melancholy that made it stand out for me. Harlan Cohen is quoted on the front and he is a good example of an author similar in style. For a debut novel it was strong and with some more books under his belt David Levien should be able to improve his narration and make for a top crime author.
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By mr_ska TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The book starts pretty well, punchy and tightly written, with the main characters effectively introduced and outlined in bold sharp strokes. But then you meet the first thing that will jar you. A bearlike private detective who just happens to be called, you guessed it, 'Behr'.

Okay, we can forgive David Levien that one, and as you move into the middle of the book you will be drawn in and sped along fairly well since despite being a 'novice' novelist (but a well established screenwriter) Levien certainly does have a good handle on the technical side of writing.

And then the end. It's here that the book is at its weakest, and most strongly gives off a very strong scent of having probably originated as one of Levien's screenplays that he's converted to novel form. To be blunt it comes across a bit like an episode of something like The A-Team. That's not to say the ending is bad, just that it is a bit too convenient and slightly hurried. Oh, and there's a line near the end that totally deflates the sense of tension. That particular line was so out of place it had me nearly rolling around the floor in fits of laughter.

Regardless of the faults it is still an enjoyable read overall, so it's worth picking up if you have some spare time and can take the fairly unpleasant 'child kidnap and abuse' theme.
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