Narrative makes the world go round.
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.
This second in a series is an excellent mystery, with storylines that hold up for all 13 hours, quirky and well drawn characters, great period setting, some humour. Main character – Breen – gets slightly darker through his experiences in novels 1 and 2: If the series continues for many instalments, he could became a Rebus!
To the squeamish (me): One corpse description near the beginning and one near the end are a little grisly (and as in the first novel, a small passage in the middle could bother sensitive animal lovers). Apart from that, no graphic violence but some good suspense. I work with technology all day, so I welcome older mysteries or period pieces that don’t hang on digital devices. And my inner social history geek loves Shaw’s ‘68-69 London. Of course the plot is good but secondary to the other elements and is as much about petty office politics and corruption as the BIG corruption described in the blurb -- more about how mundane compromises come in shades of grey.
Stewart's narration continues to be excellent EXCEPT that some of his women’s voices are too shrill, almost Pythonoesque. As in the first novel, I found this jarring for the first few chapters but then either my ear adjusted or he found a rhythm.
I so wish there were a dozen in this series rather than two. I stumbled across the first as a Whispersync bargain – and thought I’d found more in Kindle, but it appears that the novel is published under different titles in the UK perhaps –so shop carefully.
I don't usually rate a detective novel 5 stars - but this deserves it as solid, smart entertainment that provokes a little though but no angst.