tarpon springs, FL, United States | Member Since 2010
Could not stop listening to this and almost stayed up all night. I've been a dedicated fan of Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series from the beginning. About three books back, I sensed that perhaps Robinson (and Banks) were losing their way a bit. I am glad to see that in this book Robinson returns to tight plotting, great detective work and perserverence separately by Banks and Annie, interesting secondary characters, fascinating locations, contemporary and believable crimes, nasty as well as conflicted villains, and wonderful, chilling location vignettes. Add to this the always superb Simon Prebble as narrator and it's hard not to overdo the superlatives.
Surprise! This book is a history of the Normans who headed south - FAR south, into the Mediterranean region. I found it difficult to decide after listening whether they were bad news or good news in the long run for the countries and peoples they conquered and ruled. They appear to have implemented semi benevolent policies for their victims/subjects. However, they shared a fatal disposition to fight amongst themselves which caused great misery for everyone in their orbits. I purchased the book thinking it was about William the Conqueror's forefathers and foremothers. While I was startled to find little about that subject, I was entertained and enlightened by learning about something I had not intended to, and about which I knew nothing. I gave the "story" only three stars because I found patches of the narrative confusing and disjointed.
So disappointed. I've liked the previous books in this series. This one, however, is full of extraneous characters, overdramatic writing, and an obvious plot. To make things worse, the narrator does a good job of speaking the first person voice of the book. However, he makes every other character sound strident, shrill, and/or fraught with hidden meaning that isn't there.
Funny, touching, exciting even. A not so shaggy dog satire (albeit a fond satire) of the British spy genre. Superb narration by Simon Prebble whose voice conveys just the right humorous note when called for. Prebble is a master with accents as well, a much needed skill to carry off this brilliantly written work.
Bryson fans and strangers to Bryson alike may be misled as I was by the advertised description of these pieces as recent. Depends on how you define recent! Do not expect pithy observations on this century's catastrophes, elections, current TSA procedures, celebrity culture, and/or texting, tweeting, FBing. For instance, he writes with wonder of such artifacts as microwave pancakes. Brilliant and au courant not. Microwave pancakes are hardly a new invention. Having been to England myself this century I know High Street food shops and the big chains there sell them and have for years. A quibble? No. As it turns out, these pieces were written some time ago - decades ago? However, Bryson still amuses and William Roberts captures the quirky tone of Bill Bryson's ambling style well. Old Bryson is better than no Bryson.
The first time I listened to this book, the plot gripped me, I thought the narrator created compelling voices, and I liked everything about the book except the way Lynley and his new (female, temporary) boss interacted. Since their evolving acquaintance provides much of the non-criminal tension, that seemed a major distraction. However, on second listen several months later, I saw both characters in a different light, while the plot seemed even more masterfully spun and resolved. For listeners new to the Lynley series, there is just enough detail provided about the continuing characters so that you probably won't feel lost. In other words, don’t let the fact that this is the most recent of a long series stand in your way of a great listen. And for those of us who have had to face and accept the sometimes tragic changes recently in the characters and their relationships, I think some of the jarring elements of the last three books are starting to wear off. In sum, this is a rich and gripping mystery narrative peopled by a huge range of lively, although not all likeable, characters. George also evokes England during a recent blistering summer with great realism and sensuousness, giving the greed and the stark and brutal failures of love and compassion that drive the crimes a hot depth unusual in any novels set in Britain.
Poignant, funny, human and sardonic, a spellbinding evocation by Ruth Rendell of a time - 2007 - and a place - the Portobello neighborhood of London - both distinct and universal. Rendell's rich and sensuous narrative draws us into the complicated and vivid lives of upper middle class, lower middle class, criminal, and slacker Londoners as if met on a stroll through Portobello. Each wants something elusive - security, sanity, love, food, or simply human contact - and we feel their longings as we wonder what will happen next in the convoluted, Dickensian plot driven by conflicting desires and obsessions. Tim Curry's narration splendidly summons the beauty and ugliness of the characters and their deeds.
Fans of Brett and his tart and savvy Fethering heroines of a certain age, Carolyn and Jude, will savor this well plotted mystery. As an added bonus, vetern actor Brett reads his own tale with high style. The voices come alive and vividly capture the personalities of a wildly diverse cast.
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