Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I am a great fan of the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. "The Beautiful Mystery" is, I think, a not-all-together-successful attempt to move the story along while touching on a different aspect of the French Canadian culture that has been so well presented in the books.
The setting and premise of the basic mystery here are quite intriguing. Murder takes Gamache and his associate to a secluded monastery on a remote island in Quebec. It's a place never visited by outsiders, and the residents have a tradition of silence except for the "beautiful mystery" of their simple yet glorious plainsong chant.
So far, so good. The basic story of this murder is intriguing and interesting, but the problem comes with pulling in the ongoing mystery in Gamache's past. This has been a part of the series' storyline that has always seemed weakest to me -- the conspiracy theory/police corruption incident that has made Gamache something of a saint and a martyr. Penny's attempt to intertwine these two story lines is sometimes quite contrived.
I missed the plots and characters of Three Pines, and hope Penny's next book will go back there! Meanwhile, I think all real fans of the series will want to read "The Beautiful Mystery." But don't start the series here -- it assumes a good bit of knowledge about Inspector Gamache's backstory.
One more picky little thing for those of you who, like me, ask for attention to detail. The music which opens and closes this recording may be nice religious music, but it is not the all-male Gregorian-style chant described in the book.
I was confused when I went to my library to review this -- mine says Nadia May is the narrator. Well, turns out Wanda McCaddon is Nadia May! So, another mystery solved!
I read Ngaio Marsh's books years ago, so was happy to revisit on Audible. "Tied Up in Tinsel" turns out to be one of the best I have listened to so far! That is largely due to May/McCaddon's wonderful performance of the eccentric characters in this English Manor mystery. I especially love her treatment of Uncle Flea, a funny, lovable, irascible old Colonel in the classic Empire mode.
The story is also in the classic style of English mysteries. A twist is that the manor's servants are all ex-cons with murder in their pasts. Marsh throws in a lot of red herrings, a gorgeous Christmas tree, and a good deal of humor.
This is strictly for fans of the old-fashioned British upper-class mystery. If you're in the mood for that, this one is tops!
First off, let me say this is just about the best narration, ever! Heather O'Neill doesn't just read this book, she performs it brilliantly. Can't say enough about the importance of a superior narrator in enjoying an Audio version - and this one proves the rule.
As in her first book, Tana French has a fantastic story idea. Though the "everyone has a double somewhere" coincidence is on the improbable side, French's excellent writing skills deserve suspension of disbelief. The story unveils well, there's a lot of psychological complexity in the characters, and modern Ireland comes alive in "The Likeness."
I just wish this author had a little more of the editor in her, or that an editor insisted on a bit of tightening of the story. It's just too long for a really effective mystery. Although I actually found myself skipping through bits (and not missing anything plot-wise), I do recommend "The Likeness" as a very good listen, especially with this narrator.
Once again Alexander McCall Smith chronicles the happenings at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and at Speedy Motors with his usual wit and wisdom, and not one extra word. McCall Smith has the singular gift of writing with awareness, consciousness, acceptance and insight into the human condition without even the merest suggestion of psychobabble. I like the psychobabble books too, no question about that, but this author seems to accomplish the same result with his fictional crew and their life stories.
And many bows to the narrator, who continues to bring this now familiar Botswanan cast of characters to life!