trying to see the world with my ears
I'm very glad to see this first book of the Inspector Monk series on Audible. Every time I finish an Anne Perry mystery I wish she had edited the thing just once more to tighten dialogue or tidy plot points, but I keep downloading them. They are engaging, with good setting details of Victoian England and fairly interesting characters. She is not a mistress of atmosphere like P D James, but Perry does consistently create better than average atmospheric light historical mysteries without graphic sex or violence and without too much of the dark side.
Even if you're not enough of a Perry fan to contemplate listening to the entire series, this first instalment has added interest due to the brain injury of the protagonist and a slightly earlier setting than Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. By the way, whoever wrote the publisher's summary in the product description obviously did not read the book--Monk's antagonist is his brain injury irself-- that's what most makes this book worth reading.
I think this listen would please both Holmes traditionalists (because it honours Conan Doyle's style, characterization and voice) as well as those of us who prefer contemporary re-imaginings of the Holmes' character (her prose is more snappy; she inserts more contemporary psychology, but not in an anachronistic fashion). Like Conan Doyle, the author paints the streets of London so vividly that they almost become a character.
The dialogue is brisk and often humourous; Watson is an intelligent friend, not a buffoon. I had avoided the listen because novels using the Ripper murders can be grisly, but this, while "anatomically correct," avoids sensationalism. The story turns a bit Hollywood towards the end, however, so to me it falls short of 5 star historical detective ficiton.
I am biased because I LOVED the Canadian setting -- but that could make this series of interest to other fans of the rapidly-multiplying Victorian-set mystery genre: the Toronto setting helps the listen keep some of the genre cliches at bay. The strength of the novel is its depiction of the daily grind of the poor - The author goes beyond trite description and into the chamber pots and privies. It's also the kind of police procedural that describes more scenes of tea drinking conversations than Hollywood-hopeful action.
Parts of the listen make it identifiably a first novel, but I really look forward to the rest of the series for summer listening. I am undecided about the narrator - it sounds like a site-read job, but he seems to handle some of the regional accents well and with imagination.
I am an avid eclectic reader
I have almost finished the Patrick O'Brian series of Capt Aubrey and was looking for something similar in the Audible library when I came across C.S. Forester. I remember the movies about Hornblower but realised I had never read the books. This was most enjoyable story, Hornblower is captured by the French and is on way to Paris to be executed when he escapes. Lots of suspense and information on the French and English navies. Christian Rodska does a good job narrating the story. Looking forward to reading all of this series.