This was not a bad book, but not a great book either. It tells the story of a fascinating murder case and of the era of yellow journalism wars. That part of the book was quite interesting although I do feel that there was miscarriage of justice as Augusta Nack should have been executed also.
The most interesting bits of the story are the search for the identify of the victim once various body parts come to the surface and then the trial. The running back and forth and the dirty tricks of the various reporters and the papers were fascinating, but in part went on too long and too much was made of a lot of events.
The incompetence of the prosecutor was astonishing. He went on to prosecute someone where if he had revealed all the evidence he would have lost. Also it shows the sloppy forensic work of the time and how little forensics actually played in the case, although if a full discussion of the wounds on the body had come out in court, Mrs. Nack would have been found guilty. The fact that the prosecutor cut a deal with her so he could get at least one conviction shows the low quality of courts at the time especially in a major case.
The narrator was rather a monotone, although in the part of the trial the narrator was excellent in portraying the defense attorny Howe, who was the leading defense attorney of the time. I found it hard to believe that he lost the case. However, Victorian sensibilities played a role here -- and it is noteworthy that women were excluded from the court after a discussion of how the identification was made, despite the lack of a head.
However, large sections of the books simply go on too long. The whole ending of book was dragged out to the point I stopped listening to it. The writing was on the whole a bit too wordy and an editor should have cut it down in length. There was a lot of unnecessary detail which was dragged out beyond their merit.
This is an outstanding book. I have read or listened to all of Charles Todd's books and I found this one the best plotted of all. It kept me guessing right to the end. Even when I though I knew who the murderer was, Todd pulled one out of the hat with a big surprise at the end when you found out who the murderer was.
One thing I did notice was that Hamish was not such a big presence as he has been in the earlier book - whether Inspector Rutledge is getting over the events or Hamish didn't really fit in - but in any case he wasn't as ubiquitous as in the earlier books. In a way I am rather glad to see less of Hamish.
As in all his books you get to see another part of England – this time the Fen country, as it was in 1920, and the small villages there. In post World War I getting around in the Fens was dangerous. Dense fogs would roll in, the roads were not well marked and often little better than dirt road. Inspector Rutledge begins his investigation by getting lost and almost having a motor accident.
As always Charles Todd paints a picture of 1920 England: with farms, small villages, market day and places where everyone knows everyone else. He has the gift to take the listener back in time to a long-ago England.
What brings Rutledge to the Fen Country is two murders a week apart of two very important figures -- one a distinguished War veteran, and the other a local man standing for parliament. One is killed at Ely Cathedral, the other nearby while preparing to give a campaign speech. They seem unrelated but it is only at the end we see how they are tied together.
Much of the books is spend in actual detecting -- Rutledge going to different places and talking to many people to try and find out what connects the two murders. The only clue he picks up early on it that the murders were committed by an excellent shot, most probably a sniper. Many people are interviewed by Rutledge and local constables but nothing seems to fit. The roots of the crime go back to before the war and it is only when Rutledge gets as off-hand request from a local doctor, the he finally gets on track.
He only finally fits the pieces together when he travels back to London to interview the sister of one of the victims -- between London and Ely and trip to Mausoleum do all the pieces finally fit into place. This book keeps you guessing up to the very end.
Having Simon Prebble read this book, makes it all that much better. Simon is one of the most outstanding narrators in the business and I know I will enjoy the book that much more when he is the narrator. He is the perfect narrator for the series!!
If you like stories about the supernatural you will love this book, if you think you are getting a mystery story set in 19th Century with Jack the Ripper thrown in - you will be very disappointed. The book focuses on another set of real murders of the same period: The Thames Torso Murders, also called the Embankment murders. These murders, however, were overshadowed by Jack the Ripper and have never really entered into stories about the period as Jack the Ripper did, like those of Jack the Ripper they were never solved.
The Author uses real people from the period, chiefly Dr. Thomas Bond, who was the police surgeon at the time. He is the main character in the book. While Dr. Bond does give some description of the Ripper Murders and the Ripper victims, his real focus is on the Torso Murders.
The Torso murders took place between 1887-1889. Torsos of young women were washing up along the Thames embankment. The bodies were headless and their limbs were hacked off. The limbs were found separately packaged, also washing up along the Thames. These murders were never solved, and since the heads were missing, the victims were never identified.
This sounds like the start of a really good book - but alas it is not, at least for me. Yes it is very atmospheric in describing the London of the period. But I am not a fan of the supernatural and the author attributes the Torso murders to a man who has been "taken over" by a supernatural being. So a lot of the book is consumed not with the mystery, but of finding the individual who was taken over by this supernatural being and when did it happen.
The writing style does not lend itself to a smooth, flowing story. The author uses several different characters to tell the story, although Thomas Bond is the main figure. The chapters in the book alternate between the point of view of different characters -- some written in the first person, other in the third person, and chapters which are newspapers accounts of the crimes. Also the book does not flow chronologically - but tends to skip around between 1887 and 1889, depending on the POV of the character in the chapter. The listener will need to pay close attention to the chapter titles in order to follow this book, as the date is always given as part of the chapter heading.
The Narration is excellent and helps carry the reader along through the story. However, the narrator cannot overcome the long periods of boredom as we explore a character’s thoughts and internal musings. Again if you like supernatural/fantasy mysteries you will love this book. I did not.
This has to be one of the most boring and tedious espionage books I have listened to. Only the narrator saves it. The plot sounds fairly exciting. The main character, Leon, acts as a part time courier for am official, Tommy, at the British Embassy. The opening scene is exciting. Leon is at the docks awaiting a boat which is brining a Romanian defector with USSR/KGB secrets for the Americans. Gun fire erupts and Leon kills his assailant only to discover that he has killed the Brit from whom he has worked as an occasional courier. Obviously Tommy was a double agent.
The balance of the books deals with Leon trying to discover who Tommy really worked for, and trying to see that the Romanian is delivered to the American. Unfortunately this exciting sounding plot is revealed not by action, but by long and often boring conversation with a large number of people Leon meets at parties, at the Embassy, etc.
Combined with this story are the flashbacks about Leon’s life and marriage in pre-war Berlin to Anna, who as the result of traumatic accident now lies in a coma in a nursing home. Leon faithfully goes to see here and hold long conversations with here about what he is doing and what his plans are.
For a little spice, he has an affair with Kay Bishop, an embassy wife, whose husband is murdered. Suspicion falls on Leon. Again most of this is revealed through long conversation. I skipped a lot of the part about his relationship with Kay – he spent one night with here in a hotel room and the conversations they had goes on for several hours on the audio book. I skipped it. There is just too much tedious conversation like that to make the book an entertaining read.
Although it has an exciting plot on paper, the author’s method of development may have a limited appeal. The author know Turkey and Istanbul very well, but even when he goes to a location we get a description of the location not in a word picture, bur rather with a long drawn-out conversation or worse monologues with flash backs about going to the location with Anna.
If you can tolerate a book whose plot development is done mostly with long conversations with a variety of characters and very little action, you may like this book.. But the author is no Eric Ambler or Alan Furst.
This is probably the worst Gordianus mystery I have read. It takes place during the civil war between Pompey and Caesar and deals with the flight of Pompey from Brundisium.
I found it quite boring in places. First of all this is not really a mystery. The murder which starts the book is immediately solvable and thus the murder is unimportant. The real mystery, which we don't learn much about until the end of the book, is whether Meto is in a plot to assassinate Caesar.
What consumes the bulk of the book is the tale of Gordianus traveling to Brundisium and getting inside Pompey’s camp. Along the way he has Tiro, Cicero's Scribe, as a travelling companion and he stops at Cicero's villa to talk to him. There is the obligatory attack on the Appian Way by bandits and the capture of the travelers by Mark Antony.
Gordianus is most concerned of finding his son Meto in Caesar's camp but he gets no chance to talk to him. He must get to Pompey's camp to save his son-in-law Davus, and then escape from Pompey's clutches and return to Rome. Pompey’s escape from Brundisium is probably the most interesting part of the whole book.
Personally I have always been lukewarm about Gordianus as a detective. I always thought the best book was "Murder on the Appian Way". Gordianus is a little too much of a goody two shoes to fit into the Roman world. He pales by comparison with Caecilius Metellus in SPQR. However, if you like Gordianus you will probably like this book.
The narrator is not too bad but certainly better than Scott Brick in the earlier books. However, he is not in the class win Simon Vance or other notable narrators.
I have reviewed many in this series and I personally like the whole series. To me this is another fascinating mystery set in wartime France.
Our pair detectives have been sent by Admiral Doenitz to prove that a popular Submarine Captain is NOT guilty of murder of French merchant.
The Captain has a bizarre hobby - he makes dolls. And he goes on hikes into the countryside to find the right clay for the heads. A broken doll found at the murder scene implicates the captain although he insists that the clay was too cheap for one of his dolls.
Also he and crew have invested a lot of money in the Captain's doll making enterprise. But someone has stolen the money.
Soon our detectives get involved with émigré Pianist turned archaeologist, and his family who have a large doll collection.
In fact dolls are everywhere in this story and it is discovering the story behind the different kind of dolls that solves the mystery and eventually leads to the murderer and thief of the money.
As always the narrator is excellent although some may find his French accent hard to understand. After a little of listening you will find that it adds a lot to the narration.
Paul Doherty has taken Chaucer's Canterbury tales and retold them as horror stories. It is an interesting concept and if you like horror stories with a Medieval Twist you will enjoy these. Like all of Doherty's books this one is based on facts -- for this tale it is John Puddlicott's great robbery of the English Crown Jewel in 1303. The monks of Westminister Abbey were seduced into aiding Pudlicott.
Since this has been turned into a horror story we find Brother Anslem exorcising Demons and solving the murders of whores -- many over the years has disappeared in the night to satisfy satanic rituals and blood drinkers.
If you like horror stories you will enjoy this and Andress Wincott is an outstanding narrator.
Now you are probably asking why I rated the story so low. Well I frankly have never liked Doherty's version of the Canterbury tales. Although I like this author very much, this series does not appeal to me, although many readers love it and find it his best work. I guess I am not into horror stories. But if you like horror stories you will enjoy this book.
This is another hilarious mystery for Decius. Now he an aedile who is responsible for the upkeep of the drains, the Cloaca Maxima, and the building code. Like all aedile he is expected to stage games for the public -- and these cannot be done on the cheap. You need gladiators, wild beasts, plays and mimes.
It starts off with the collapse of an Insula (tenement) in which our aedile discovers violations of the building code when he inspects the collapse. Also it also seems that some killed in the collapse were actually murdered. While trying to sort out the murder, Decius is also busy preparing for his "games" -- and he goes to see a rehearsal of a play to be staged at the games. The theater seems a little wobbly and might collapse.
To add to this it is a season of heavy rain and the drains, which have not been cleaned out in years, overflow flooding the city. The wobbly theater collapses as Decius and his sidekick Hermes have a narrow escape during the collapse which by chance also kills the murderer.
The book is great fun and should not be missed. I am so glad Audible is bringing this series to audio books. John Lee is an excellent narrator
I really love this series and this book was another good one. I think the narrator with his French accent adds so much to the series.
This is really about the Black Market in France during WW II. It starts out very simply with a man found murdered on a Carousel and a woman murdered in an apartment. At first there seems little to connect the two crimes but as the investigation moves forward we find out that the two are very much connected.
The plot takes amazing twist and turns as more characters get added to the story. There is no doubt that this is more complex in plot development than most standard mysteries. There are a whole host of characters each of whom plays a different but vital roll in the plot. But the murders are all related to a black market ring operating out of Paris and it is all tied up in a neat package at the end when everyone gathers at the Carousel for exposing of the murderer.
I have read all the books in the series and this is definately not one of the best. I found it dragging in spots. I have really come to dislike Tilla. The story centers about the Centurion Geminus and the death of many native recruits to the 20th Legion.
I think the problem for me in this series is that Tilla is becoming more, and more implausible as a character. I just find her activities in assisting Russo in the murder investigations not really true to the times. Yes Roman soldiers did occasionally marry a "native" woman during their time in Britain but this woman would never have been allowed the freedom to wander around the Fort and snoop the way the Tilla does. Actually at times I find Tilla quite annoying.
The mystery of the deaths of the young recruits is quite a good one, and I suspect not an unusual occurrence. But the laxity of some of the commanders I found difficult to believe. The Roman Legion, even in Britain, was still a pretty well-organized and disciplined machine. But one never sees this in the book. Instead we are given a picture of sloppy, slovenly bunch of recruits and commanders.
This is not really a mystery story but rather a novel about the Nika Riots in 532AD in Constantinople which centered around the Blues and Greens chariot racing factions.. The author puts in a "tiny" mystery about the murder of two men associated with the factions, but that is really a very minor story compared to the story about the riots.The mystery is actually not "solved" until the end of the book, after the riots are put down.
I enjoyed the book for its fictional account of these riots -- and although fictional the story adheres to the historical causes and events of the famous Nika Riots. While it contains fictional characters, the main historical figures are in the book and for me this novel about these riots makes this book a good read. But be warned it is not really a mystery story in the traditional sense of the meaning.
Simon Prebble does an excellent job a narrator.
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