Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!
Nothing makes me happier than discovering a vintage mystery series I didn't know about, unless it is also discovering that it turns out to be a great read! I gather that this book, starring Miss Withers and Inspector Piper was made into a movie at the time, and I hope to find it.
Miss Withers, a teacher who has brought her young class to the aquarium, is there when a murder occurs at the penguin pool. She demonstrates very quickly that she has a good, grounded sort of common sense, and is able to point out things to the inspector to keep him on track during the inspection. She tends to be immediately accepted by the inspector, who realizes that as she offers good ideas and takes conversations down in shorthand, she is indispensable to solving the crime. Even though she is not officially part of the case, one quickly realizes that the author intends her to be the brains behind the process of solving it.
This book is written with a bit of comedic touch, but I doubt the author could have possibly anticipated how much more enjoyable it would become 80 years later to a completely different audience. In these days, we have authors who create female sleuths, trying to insert them into this same time period (just around the timeout of the stock market crash), and they are are fun to read. But this is the "Real McCoy," a woman who was developed into a clever and observant detective (of sorts), even though she is not really acknowledged that way around 1930 or so.
I love this book, and cannot wait for the next ones. The narrator does a very good job, getting the accents just right! This has been a total treat! Thanks, Audible, for bringing this one on board!
This book was a wonderful surprise. As I am listening my way through all the Agatha Christie books that I read 35-40 years ago, they have so far all been narrated by the great Hugh Fraser. I mean no disloyalty to him when I say that just having listened to "Black Coffee," narrated by the late John Moffatt (one of the actors who played Hercules Poirot over the years) all I can say is, "Wow"!
Agatha Christie originally wrote this as a play, rather than a novel, somewhat of a departure from her usual style, and Charles Osborne has put it into book form. Many years ago I actually saw the play. (Can you tell I have been a life-long Christie devotee?) As well as I recall it, I think this book is quite faithful to the play--I believe it has kept the same plot/characters/development. This is a "classic Poirot" where he actually does line all the family members up at the end to do his wonderful thing of announcing how the murder was committed, and by whom. Very pleasing to old mystery readers like myself.
The premise of the book is that Sir Claud Amory, a scientist who has been working on a secret formula for something that has the potential to become a more powerful weapon than any currently available, has reason to believe that someone in his own household wants to steal it. So he hires Poirot to come to the house and help detect who that is. Unfortunately he arrives just in time for Amory's murder.
This book lays out the plot well, has very good character development, neatly suggests (or leaves the reader guessing) the various possible reasons any person could have killed Sir Claud, and it all flows as well (if not better than) any Christie herself could have written. I think he was largely faithful to Christie's own language and style. My only regret is that I believe he made Poirot a *tiny* bit more pompous and narcissistic than Christie portrayed him, and left me feeling sad with the way Poirot made fun of poor Hastings. I know there was a slight suggestion of that in Christie, but I don't recall it being as strong as Osborne has made it.
But if you listen to this book for no other reason--I would recommend that you do so just to hear the extraordinarily talented John Moffatt read the whole book, but especially the role of Poirot. It was just stupendous! There were opportunities throughout the book to speak English (mostly), French and Italian. And as far as I could tell, he spoke all three with perfection. But mostly he was able to capture the nuances of tone that left no doubt that is was, indeed, Poirot who was the main feature of the book. I'm not planning to abandon listening to Fraser, for whom I have great fondness, but I certainly am planning to listen to more of the Christies read by Moffatt. His narration was the true gem of this book.
This is a book I hesitated to get, because I thought it could be so much about the history of trains, I might find it boring. I could not have been more wrong! Edward Marston has done a superb job of weaving some information about early trains--but that is more of a backdrop for what proves to be an interesting victorian-style mystery. Robert Colbeck and his sidekick, Victor Leeming, come from the early and still forming Scotland yard. This means that they don't yet have the respect of everybody--though they find clever ways to get people to open up to them. There is a light love interest--who is also sometimes Robert's secret assistant in getting to the heart of the mystery. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how compelling it was to listen to this book.
Even better, the narration is by the incomparable Sam Dastor. He does various voices with seeming ease--and there is no problem recognizing "who" is speaking.
The mystery is good (though slightly predictable), the character development is excellent, the background scene was set to perfection without overpowering the story, and it held my interest from beginning to end. I was happiest to discover that there are a few more in this same series of books about Robt Colbeck--and I look forward to listening to them very soon!
My only puzzlement is, Audible.com: where is book #1? It did not detract to begin with book #2 (as I feared it might--since some authors tend to replay all that occurred in a previous book, thus ruining any motivation to go back and read it.) Happily, that was not the case here. I felt no loss beginning with this volume, nor any reluctance to find the first one and read it later.
lover of books, puzzles, and yarn
The narration of this book brings it to the top of the list.
A different type of Watson makes it a not-Sherlock but Sherlock-like. And very enjoyable.
I'm not sure that I would experience the story differently if I read it -- Telfer's narration is terrific in the way any good actor brings life to good writing.