I am skeptical of the entire werething-vampire-ghost-zombie-spiritofwhatever craze. After the past decade or so wizards have become ho-hum; too many insincere imitations going around. But I loved this book! Peter Grant is a great central character. He has some unusual talents, but is no superhero. He has plenty of failings and foibles and uncertainties. The supernatural certainly plays a huge part in this book, but it is treated with a combination of irreverence, comedy, and rationality that is refreshing. The history and mythology of London are integrated into the plot and give rise to some fascinating characters. The re-imagination of spirits general and particular is well-done and often quite funny. I will definitely listen to more books by this author. The narration was excellent and enhanced the story.
In some respects this book reminds me of the Bryant and May series; if you like Bryant and May, you might well enjoy this series too.
I got this book because I very much enjoyed the first Maggie Hope mystery. As far as I can tell, this story is similarly good, but the narrator's intonations make it difficult to lose oneself in the story. The timbre of the voice is fine. However, every. single. sentence. is spoken with the same intonation: a rising inflection near the end, leaving the listener with the feeling the phrase is unfinished. There is some variation in tones when the characters are speaking, but other than that the inflections are regrettably unvaried. Unfortunately I already purchased the third Maggie Hope mystery read by this narrator, but I will be avoiding her in the future.
In concept, Amelia Peabody is wonderful. Situated just far enough in the past to be glamourous and romantic, but modern enough to be educated, to travel, and to vociferously declare her support of women's rights, she is a perfect character around which to build Victorian suspense. Unfortunately, she is not as interesting as she should be. Her style of speech, meant presumably to mimic the style of a victorian lady's private journal, is at times stilted; at other times, so obviously arrogant and blind one must wonder if the writer is joking. The plot in general is goofy, but plenty of mystery plots are; it wouldn't matter if the writing were better. Amelia tends to be repetitive. This tendency is not enhanced by the reader's delivery. The first time she coyly alludes to her husband's fond embraces, one might be charmed to imagine the conjugal life of this unique pair; by the 20th time, one is tired of the coyness and of the allusions. This is a fine listen if you want some sounds while you cook dinner, walk the dog, whatever; but if you are hoping for a truly engaging plot and well-drawn characters, look elsewhere.
This book should be required reading for everyone living in a developed country in the 21st century. Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, Diamond raises valuable questions in his comparison of current societies to those of the past. This book should help listeners view present-day cultures as situated in history, something citizens of the USA are all too likely to loose sight of. It is a powerful reminder that "infallibility" is an illusion, and that power is fickle. Diamond can be criticized by specialists for a few incorrect archaeological details. However, in my opinion these mistakes do not detract from the powerful, synthetic message he conveys. The book is long and reads (in text) somewhat unevenly; if you won't actually have the time to sit down and get all the way through it with the printed page, this abridged version has all the essentials and is just as thought-provoking.
I think Ngaio Marsh has written better books--this one is not my favorite by any means. The preamble is lengthy and the murder comes relatively late in the book, so there is less of Alleyn than devotees might hope. Still, it is Marsh, a classic and a very enjoyable listen. I prefer the readings by Nadia May, but this reader also did a good job.
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