trying to see the world with my ears
Much has changed in Sandilands. We find a career promoted Joe in 1933, with both Cleverly's prose and her packaging of the historical fiction detective formula much better than early entries in the series.
As in other similar series, character is built up over novels - so perhaps the characterization would not be as pleasing if you jump into the series here, in book 10. Other than that, it could be a stand-alone listen.
Cleverly's early novels all contained what seemed like one or two obligatory romantic scenes - - in these the dialogue would be weaker and the scene just, well, clumsy. This is a little better on that account.
If you're a fan of crime fiction featuring screenplay-like action, adventure and violence, this won't please. It's mostly the quieter type of mystery often found in British and Brit set crime fiction, with a bit of bravado at the end. Sandilands' protege (spelled Dorcus?) returns and becomes a bit of a Maise Dobbs type.
Are there "preposterous circumstances" as another listener suggests? Well, it is crime FICTION, but the theme of this mystery is not so far fetched, then or now. Compared to most in the genre (and even in this series) it was topical - although the 21st century version of these crimes is better disguised and conducted in regions other than the western world. Even LeCarre has used the theme. You do need to put up with "By God, this is England, and we won't stand for it!" - but that sounds OK by that part of the story.
Narrator Prebble is much easier on my ears than Terry Wale (Sorry, fans of Terry Wale; I know he's talented, but his narration grates on me.) Prebble can make the lapse into "by God, this is England" dialogue palatable.
but I prefer to get her in print, where I can skim/skip the violent detail. I don't think Wire in the Blood is anywhere close to as gritty as Mermaids Singing (and that goes for the three subsequent in the series that I "read" with text-to speech or Kindle as well) - but I'm still too squeamish to hear a good narrator get into the minds and hands of her killers. I think, however, the violence is not gratuitous: She's speaks to the violence done unto the vulnerable in our world, and how, as Alice Miller would say "All evil is reactive." I prefer that served up in a Soc text. but along the way she weaves such good stories, and her Tony Hill and Carol Jordan characters are anything but cookie-cutter cops. During each novel, I thought I'd read no more from her, but I found myself going back to the series for the story and characters. I'm getting adept with the fast-forward function, as much as skipping pieces of a book go against the grain for me.
At times this was the sterotypical contemporary detective story with corny novel/audiobook devices like Italian accented English (to make us believe we are following "authentic" Venetians in the storyline) and Italian phrases and cuisine thrown in to make us further feel an "exotic" setting -- BUT, overall, it was superior to most in that genre. Superior, that is, if you are looking for a mystery/ detective listen with a reasonable storyline and no graphic sex or violence, as I do. What raises this to a four star listen is 1. the excellent narration and 2. the presentation of a social justice issue (conflict diamonds), well addressed in the guise of fiction without being pedantic.
These are a novel and author I would never have downloaded had it not been for the free first chapter to capture my interest. I will download more of Leon now, especially since a couple of her well-rated listens are so well-priced.
Enjoyed the story and the way it's told from different characters point of view - including the dog. Only complaint it wrapped up too quickly. I was stilll ready for more story but the book was done. Focusing on different guard dogs might make a very interesting series.