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.
Although a little grisly in places for my taste, this is the kind of historical fiction that transports the listener to the world of the story. The writing is much above average for the genre,and the packed historical detail is fascinating without getting in the way of the story. The narration is excellent, too - both author and narrator seem to have made the wise choice that, since neither the prose nor the delivery is REALLY going to imitate 1845 New York, then make both sound modern and let the story, character, setting and appropriately chosen period vocabulary paint the images of the story world. I wade though a large amount of historical fiction flotsam to catch a few like this that really work - a good dense story, likeable characters, and, as a bonus, a social conscience without being hamfisted preachy.