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.
This is a little grittier than a Maisie Dobbs or Joe Sandilands mystery, but still retains more of the cozy formula than "thriller" in its WWII frame for a police procedural. Also, it's better written and plotted than most similar series (Bess Crawford, Billy Boyle, Anne Perry's WW1 series, etc.) and has wonderful, plentiful period detail that is well woven into the storyline - better than any of the other series I'm comparing.
If the publisher's detail about DI Tyler working closely with the interned German psychoanalyst interests you, know that it's only a minor element of the story, unfortunately.
The narrator seemed wonderful to me, but he does bestow regional British onto the characters, so listeners who prefer homogenized British accents might not like his performance.
I so hope this is a series and not a stand-alone from Jennings!
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 really enjoyed the listen. The writer is solid in his use of language, image and dialogue, but the reveal in the third act strains credulity past the breaking point and there is a more plausible, explanation for Anton's actions than was used. Plotting is strictly third year screenwriting level, but the world of the book makes up for these shortcomings and the protagonist is memorable.