Narrative makes the world go round.
I started Rendell with her later Wexford mysteries, but hesitated to spend a credit on this one because it was both older and shorter. I'm glad I finally tired it since it proved a well-wriiten and absorbing mystery made more enjoyable by Rendell's knack for capturing the setting and Wexford's dry wit. The narrator (not favorites Bailey or Anthony) delivers a different but apt voice for Wexford.
Why can't more "gentle" contemporary detective novels like this series be created? I usually avoid U.S. contemporaries because of the
*poor quality of prose
*even more over-the-top action heroes and Barbie heroines who can run in designer shoes
*even campier formulaic gratuitous sex and violence scenes and
*overall dumbness factor
This series avoids the above and has the strength of quirky characters (but not TOO quirky) and a strong city setting. Lippman almost does for Baltimore what Rankin does for Edinburgh. Tess usually takes on a social issue (secondary to the plot), which may put off some readers. Except for #2 in the series (Charm City), I think Lippman grows stronger in her craft in each.
As for the narrator, Barabara Rosenblatt, who is much criticized in reviews of this series - I am among the minority who don't like her as the voice of Amelia Peabody, but I love her as Tess Monaghan I don't get the criticisms voicied here--- She doesn't slobber over the vowels -- I think her delivery is part of her fresh take on impulsive Tess. She reads as if speaking, so - yes - there are some human sounds. She is not Microsoft Anna!
So - if you seek a listen to relax, to be engrossed (and not grossed out or blood pressure raised), try this.
*fresh writing (Cotterill is master of the grusome but original simile)
*setting details make Laos come alive
*mystery is engaging (though secondary to quirky characters)
*humorous without belittling the situation of 1970s Laos
I plan on listening to the entire series