When I first discovered the Phryne Fisher Mysteries, I loved the carefree and lighthearted atmosphere created by the author, Kerry Greenwood, and the narrator, Stephanie Daniel.
Death at Victoria Dock opens with Phryne's windshield shattering from gunfire, and her discovery of a wounded young man who dies in her arms. This beginning signals a Phryne Fisher adventure which is not so lighthearted as the rest.
In trying to solve the murder of the young man, Phryne becomes involved with Latvian anarchists (who apparently really were active in 1920's Australia), some of whom kidnap her secretary Dot. She takes an anarchist known as Peter Smith for her lover, and opposes the actions of the other anarchists, leading a plan which thwarts a planned bank robbery by the Latvians.
In the meantime, Phryne has taken on an investigation into the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl who is assumed by her father to have run away. The girl is in school with Phryne's adopted daughters, so they help with the investigation, which uncovers some unsavory goings-on within the girl's family. Needless to say, Phryne solves the mystery and recovers the girl.
All this is accomplished by Phryne with her usual aplomb, but not quite with the same elan as usual. I think this is probably because of the more serious crimes being dealt with. Even at a slightly less lighthearted level, this tale is fun and enjoyable, and even teaches a bit about Australian history. Stephanie Daniel does her customary extraordinary job of narration, giving life to Phryne, Dot, the girls, Bert and Cec, and all the other characters.
In addition, like the other Phryne Fisher audible books, there is the added bonus of a conversation between the author and the narrator, usually talking about where Greenwood got her ideas for the plot of that particular book, and the historical basis for those ideas.
Once again, I highly recommend the Phryne Fisher books to those who like a mystery which is lighthearted, not too violent, and not too graphic in the lovemaiking department.
Somehow, I missed the release of Broken Homes, and just happened to see it when browsing a few days ago. I instantly snapped it up and began listening immediately. As you will see from my previous reviews, I love the Peter Grant series, and I think Ben Aaronovitch is the most creative, imaginative and entertaining writer I have run into in a long time.
I see from the current reviews of this book that there is some difference of opinion about the story of Broken Homes. I am one of those who think this book is as good as the first in the series, and that's saying a lot. This story is different from the previous books, which had pretty linear stories. In Broken Homes, there are numerous story lines going on at the same time, and the reader can't be certain which of those stories (if any) have anything to do with what emerges as the main storyline. So, you are taken along on several roller coasters at once, having to trust that things will come together in the end (at least some things).
Ordinarily, books like that drive me crazy, but in this case each separate storyline is so amusing and so much fun that I forget to worry about the end. Many characters from previous books in the series appear in Broken Homes, both friend and foe, and not many new characters are presented for you to keep track of. The members of the Folly seem to be getting more settled and together, and are actually able to work together without having huge fights. Arch-villain The Faceless Man remains the primary evil opponent, and is suitably vile both in person and through representatives.
Then, near the end, there is a huge twist in the plot which puts everything you think you know about this story at a new angle, and I, for one, was left in shock, mouth hanging open.
As with the previous books, I will say: READ THIS BOOK! But only after you have read the previous books in the Peter Grant series. That is really necessary to get the real flavor of the characters and their relationships.
This Phryne Fisher adventure is a bit different from earlier Greenwood books. In "Urn Burial," the author has decided to play a game as many earlier mystery writers did in the 1920s and 1930s, sometimes including Agatha Christie. The game involved following the Rules of Murder which had developed over the early years of the genre, and which were "codified" by mystery writer Ronald Knox in 1929.
Knox set forth 10 rules, which he followed in his books (several of those books are available on Audible), including things such as there must be a large party at a country house, no magic or similar gimmicks can be used to solve the crime, there may be no Chinamen introduced into the story, and other matters. (You can find Knox's Rules set forth in the Wikipedia article on The Golden Age of Detection Fiction.) In addition to following those rules, Greenwood also pays homage to Agatha Christie in several details, including naming one of her characters Miss Mary Mead.
I found the story quite engaging, although in a different manner than the previous Phryne adventures. Despite the different structure, however, Phryne is still Phryne, stylish, passionate, self confident, and very much her own woman. As is usual with Phryne books on Audible, there is at the end an interview between the author and Stephanie Daniel, the voice of Phryne, and in these conversations you always pick up a little information about Australia in the 1920s or about Australian history or grography.
I have yet to find a Phryne book on Audible which wasn't fascinating, entertaining, and great fun. They all give you hours of lighthearted adventure, and I love them!
After a few disappointments, I had become wary of trying new (to me) authors and series. However, when I saw "A Serpent's Tooth" on sale as the daily deal, I decided to give it a try and see if I agreed with all those wonderful reviews of Walt Longmire I had seen on Audible. I do agree with those reviews -- from the very beginning of the first chapter, I was intrigued by the characters, both major and minor, contained in the story. From County Sheriff Walt Longmire and his under-Sheriff Vic(toria) Moretti, his friend Henry Standing Bear (also known as "the Cherokee Nation") to a sweet little old lady who says angels come to her house and make needed home repairs and another woman who runs the general mercantile in Short Drop, WY, Craig Johnson's characters are three dimensional and very human, with quirks and wit galore.
In addition to wonderful characters, the plot is great. Starting with the appearance of a "lost boy" from a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon sect that has set up a compound (make that a fortress) on 12,000 acres of land in Walt's county, and developing into the murder of one of Walt's Deputies and attempted murder of another, the story line carries you along right to the final battle without ever letting your interest flag.
George Guidall's narration puts the finishing touch on a perfect package. His voice, with a natually deep timbre, brings Walt to brilliant life as a native Westerner, and then softens just enough to provide truly believable female voices. And his delivery of quirky or witty pronouncements is perfect.
All in all, this book was a wonderful experience. Now I will go back and begin the series with Book 1 so that I can experience this series with all the backstory from one book to the next. Highly recommended.
Tales of the City, published as a book in 1976, started out as separate, short articles in a San Francisco newspaper serial. As a result, this book is a true depiction of the City in the 1970's. Many references to items of the 70's come along in the descriptions and the dialog of this story. The book contains several story lines, all centered on the denizens of 28 Barbary Lane, an old house that now consists of several rental apartments, occupied by young renters, all under the benelovent eye of the landlady, Mrs. Anna Madrigal.
The characters are brilliantly drawn by Maupin, and you end up liking almost everyone, even the not very nice ones. All the characters are 3 dimensional, each with his or her own failings, strong points, and flukes. And they nearly all have heart. It's all too complicated to go into detail in a review, but the reader really ends up caring about these people and what happens to them. The separate story lines all sort of intersect with each other from time to time, and I was left feeling joyous, and sad, and happy for having gotten to know each of the main characters. Mrs. Madrigal is my favorite, as I think she is for most readers.
The writing is so well done, and so wittty and funny, that it was a joy to listen to, especially with the superb narration by Frances McDormand. I am so glad that there are 8 more Tales of the City books for me to read/listen to and savor! One caveat: this book is set in 1970's San Francisco, as the hippie era was ending and the LGBT community was becoming more vocal. If free love, drugs and gays make you nervous, you probably should skip this one.
Otherwise, read/listen to this book!
Like most of the reviewers of this audiobook, I had seen The Godfather 1 and 2 movies a few times, but I thought I would like to see how the book compared to the movies. I was blown away by the book! We all know that when a book is made into a movie or movies, some scenes or story lines have to be left out in the interest of time. So, listening to the book filled in some blanks for me and expanded certain storylines.
The book actually covers most of Godfather 1 and some of Godfather 2. For me, the best part about the book was that it explained a lot of things. It gave more complete information on the pasts of the characters (like Luca Brazzi, Don Corleone, Clemenza and others), and more important, it explained the reasoning behind the decisions made by The Godfather and then by Michael Corleone, the finer points of a bargaining process, and the ways to deal with people so that they will love you and be grateful rather than resentful. In the movies there was no time for that, so the viewer had to try to figure it out. I think that failing left the Corleone's looking more villainous and heavy-handed in the movie. In the book you were able to see the Godfather through the Family's eyes and realize that he was, in his own way, an honorable man given the rules of his culture that he lived by.
Joe Mantegna was the perfect narrator for this book, and did an absolutely superb job!
"Soulless" is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series, featuring Alexia Tarrabotti, a spinster of good family and ample means living in Victorian London. Alexia's England is peopled by normal humans, vampires, werewolves and ghosts, all of whom coexist under terms of an agreement entered into between the supernaturals and Queen Victoria. It turns out that Alexia is a preternatural -- normal in all ways except for the fact that she has no soul. This soulless state makes her able to neutralize vampires and werewolves merely by touching them. Supernaturals are told about preternaturals and warned to avoid them, but most humans have no idea that such people exist.
Alexia is an opinionated, impatient and educated woman, which explains her spinster situation, since few Victorian men are interested in an alliance with such an independent and free-thinking woman. Her attitude and manner of speech result in the book seeming a bit like a cross between Amelia Peabody and Urban Fantasy stories (not a bad mixture). In the opening scene of this story, Alexia actually kills a werewolf by accident while fending off his attacks upon her in a house where she is attending a ball. As a result of this occurence, Lord McConn, Earl of Woolsey, comes to the site of the killing to investigate. Lord McConn is a werewolf in charge of the London werewolf pack and of the Bureau charged with policing interactions among human and supernatural beings.
There are number of entertaining characters of all types, a good love story, and some very entertaining scenes in the story. Carriger has written a well-plotted story that kept my interest throughout. Emily Gray's narration was very well done and added to both the humor and the plot of this book.
A very enjoyable listen!
To my mind, Paula Poundstone is the funniest comedian I have ever run across. I have not seen her perform in person, but I watch any and all of her televised appearances, and I listen to NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" just to hear her sublimely funny ad libs. In televised live appearances, she usually ends up talking with individual members of the aiudience, and she is incredibly quick with really funny come-backs.
This book is Paula's telling of the events of the several years before the book was written. In other words, she tells us about her run in with the law over driving under the influence while her children were in the car with her. She was found guilty (or pled guilty) of child endangerment and abuse, among other things. In her telling, she does not deny anything or try to make excuses. She tells it honestly, while at the same time finding humor in the situation and in her alcoholism and rehab experience, and making it clear that she is crazy about her 3 adopted kids.
This book made me laugh and almost cry at the same time. I am so glad that she narrated the book herself -- her delivery is part of what makes her so funny. If you have ever enjoyed seeing or hearing Paula Poundstone, you will enjoy this book. Read it!
METAtropolis is a collection of stories, written by five different authors in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. As the initial narrator explains, the authors met before writing the stories in order to construct an overall vision of the world in the mid-21st century, and then wrote their stories separately, without consulting each other, all of which take place in the world they had envisioned. That world is composed of city states, each pretty much on its own, with very little left of the U.S. state and federal governments or the governments of other countries. As a result, outlaws and "greenies" and similar factions of the population control the areas not within the boundaries of the cities. Within the cities, order is maintained by contract security services (a bit like Blackwater) which pretty much make their own rules and collect a bounty for each arrest made.
Within that framework, the five authors have created 5 very different stories, each standing independent of the others but all sharing the envisioned world of the group. The stories were great, and the performances of the narrators (a different one for each separate story) were really excellent!
Although contemporary fantasy is not my usual fare, I found METAtropolis really intriguing and enjoyable. I now plan to read the other two METAtropolis books. Hope the authors can keep their stories up to the quality of the ones in this first book.
Give this one a try.
Most of us who love mystery and suspense stories have seen at least one dramatization of "The Fifteen Steps", whether on stage, in movies, or in a television performance. The productions I have seen have made substantial changes from the original book.
For instance, those productions all left me with the impression that the story was set in the period immediately before World War Two. In fact, this story was published in 1915 and involves the period leading up to the FIRST World War. And the most radical change from the book is the addition in many versions of a lovely young woman who accompanies the hero in his frantic dash across England in an attempt to foil the plans of a band of conspirators who want to begin a war by assassinating a foreign official.
This original version of the story was a great listening experience, with excellent narration by David Thorn, who handled various regional dialects and foreign accents with great skill. At the price (only $1.95 for members), you will get more than your money's worth.
I'm not sure how it happened, but I have ended up reading/listening to Slaughter's Will Trent series entirely out of order. I don't usually do that with a series. However, in this case each book has enough background built into it that you can follow things with enough knowledge of the past.
In "Broken," Sara Linton has returned to Heartsdale, a small Georgia town and her hometown, to spend Thanksgiving with her family. It's the first time she has come back since she left 3 1/2 years ago, and she's not sure she should be going there at all, since Lena Adams is still in town. Lena is the woman who Sara believes is responsible for Sara's husband's death, and as a consequence Sara hates her.
The day she returns to town, the body of a college student is found in the lake. Lena, a detective, and Interim Chief Frank Wallace arrest a local mentally handicapped young man, who is convinced to sign a confession and then kills himself in his cell. Sara calls in the state police, and Will Trent is sent to investigate the prisoner's death. Once he gets there, he is of necessity involved in the murder investigation. Sara and Frank try to cover up details of both investigations, and Will must try to work around them. Then another college student is killed in the same way as the first, and the cases get more and more confused.
Slaughter writes an excellent thriller, with lots of suspense and tension as Will and Sara (and the reader) try to figure out what happened, who is hiding what, and whodunnit. The denouement reveals a killer about whom you have been given a few clues, but I only figured it out about 30 seconds before the reveal.
Natalie Ross does an excellent job of narration: good Georgia accents, and very good men's voices. As I listened, I totally forgot that one woman was doing all those voices.
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