I bought this book as a mystery, not as a romance, so I was happy to have the story pretty light on the romance side -- more a tantalizingly slow build up of romantic tension. The period detail was good, and the plot was interesting, although the author did sometimes telegraph what was going to happen next. I liked the characters, minor ones as well as major. I had a little trouble getting into it at the beginning, but I think that was because it started out sounding a lot like many a Victorian or Regency romance. Thank god it never developed into the bodice-ripper I was dreading. All in all, it turned out to be a satisfying story with an interesting ending.
My problem with this book was the narrator. At first, the voice itself bothered me because of a rather saccharine tone, but I got used to that and it fitted the story fairly well. This narrator did a fairly good job with different voices, but different accents did not come out well. One of the servants was supposed to be Scottish, but the accent used sounded so artificial, with words really stretched out of shape, that it was hard to listen to. Another character, said to be Italian, sounded more like a Scotsman. Also, in the course of delivering lines of dialogue being spoken by the upperclass British characters, every once in a while something slipped and a word or two came out not in the right accent because the pronunciation of the vowels had shifted.
But finally, the part of the performance that drove me wild and greatly detracted from my enjoyment of the story was the mispronunciations. It seems obvious to me that when a reader prepares to record an audio book, one of the obligations on that reader is to make sure that he or she knows how to pronounce every word in the text. This reader does not seem to have done that at all. I will grant you that I am not British, but I have listened to and watched a large number of performances of British books, movies and plays, and I believe that I have an ear for the pronunciation of most words, even when spoken by the English. For instance, I know that they do not pronounce "Viscount" as "Viss-count". And I suspect they do not pronounce "bibelot" as "bible-ott." There were many other similar examples in the recording of this book. The fact that the reader did not know how to pronounce the words was her failing. And the fact that the editor, assuming there was one, did not catch the mispronunciations was the failing of the company producing the book.
I would listen to another Lady Julia book, but not if it is read by the same narrator.
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.
I read mysteries and thrillers almost exclusively. However, every now and then, I need a change of pace -- something different to "clear the palate". A Georgette Heyer Regency romance is the perfect thing to direct my mind away from all the crime and violence I've been reading about. Heyer's books are light, lively and full of wit.
"The Unknown Ajax" is one of the best of Heyer's stories, with all the usual elements : aristocratic characters, a fortune or lost fortune, an unmarried daughter, a handsome young man, another plot bedsides the romantic one, Heyer's excellent writing, lively, witty dialog and always a happy ending.. But in addition to those things, in this case, cantankerous Lord Darracott is obliged to recognize as his heir a grandson by the Lord's second son, who becomes the heir upon the deaths of the oldest Darracott son, along with his son. I'm not sure how this results -- I suspect it has to do with the indecipherable rules of primogeniture or other laws of succession in England.
In any case, the new heir has never been met by any of the Darracotts, and only Lord D even knows of his existence. When Lord D's second son married the daughter of a "weaver," they became estranged and ceased all communication. When the new heir, Hugo, arrives at Darracott Place, he sees that the family are expecting him to be a bumpkin with little or no education or manners, and no intelligence to speak of. So he acts like the man they are expecting. From there on there follows much lively discussion, and a run-in with the customs men regarding a bit of smuggling. And of course all is well at the end.
I enjoyed this book enormously.
In her seventh adventure, Phryne attends a stage performance of G&S's *Ruddigore,* and sees an actor drop dead on stage in Act 1 and another actor pass out in Act 2. The manager of the theatre company is an old friend from Phryne's London days, so naturally she is involved in the case from the beginning. Current events seem to be all mixed up with the suicide (murder?) some 20 years earlier of a beautiful star in the Savoy Theatre company. As the investigation proceeds, we learn about the background and past of each of the actors, hands and technical workers in the theatre.
While she is involved in the investigation, Phryne also experiences a significant occurrence in her life. When she intervenes to foil an attack by several men upon one man and an elderly woman, Phryne meets, and is very much taken with, Lin Chung, a beautiful young Chinese man. Mr. Lin will appear frequently in future books of this series.
*Ruddy Gore* has all the elements that readers love in this series. Phryne is as beautiful, care free, confident, capable and smart as always. Inspector Jack Robinson is as stolid, upright, and determined as usual. Dot, the Butlers, Jane and Ruth, and Bert and Cec all behave as expected and provide assistance to Phryne when needed. And Stephanie Daniel once again does her usual marvelous job of bringing Phryne and all the other characters to life, and even does a credible job of singing snatches of Gilbert and Sullivan tunes when called for.
All in all, another wonderful adventure. I highly recommend it.
This is among my favorite Eve Dallas books. I particularly enjoyed the opening of the story, in which Eve and Roarke are attending the premier performance of "Witness for the Prosecution" in the New Globe Theater, constructed and owned by Roarke. The description of Eve's reactions to the play are quite wonderful. She has never seen the play or the movie, so her evaluations and reactions are based entirely on her experience as a police officer: she is sure from the beginning that Leonard Vole is guilty, that his wife is lying to save him, and that he's not worth the sacrifice she is making.
In the last scene, when Vole's wife stabs him, a real knife has been substituted for the stage prop so that the actor is really stabbed and dies on stage. Eve immediately takes charge of the situation, and the real murder investigation begins. From then on, Eve spends time trying to understand actors and their motivations, which provides a great deal of frustation for her and amusement for Roarke.
When the investigation gets into full swing, we get the full team at work together, which is one of the best parts of every In Death book. Peabody, earnest and ironic; McNab, jumpy and enthusiastic; Feeney, chewing his sugared almonds; Nadine, always searching for an exclusive interview; and all the other wonderful characters created by Robb. Throughout the story line, Eve is also gaining new insights into the ways that people interact and how to relate to them.
J.D. Robb writes such wonderful characters, and then does such a good job of developing the characters from one book to another, that the reader really becomes involved with the characters and cares about them and their welfare. I find it remarkable that she is able to produce two full-length In Death books each year, with an occasional short novel in-between, maintaining the quality of the writing and characterization throughout.
I am hopelessly hooked on this series. May J.D. Robb live long and write much more.
It's always nice to find a good "new" old mystery series that's been around for decades but is completely unknown to me. That's one of the things I love about Audible. Reading other listeners' reviews sometimes gives me great leads to excellent books I've never heard of before. That's how I came across the Hidlegarde Withers series. So far, I've only read the first book, "The Penguin Pool Mystery," and I would classify it as good but not yet excellent. I expect that there will be improvement in future books, and I enjoyed this first one enough to want to read more.
Copyrighted in 1931, Penguin Pool introduces us to Miss Hildegarde Withers, 39-year-old "spinster" school teacher, who has brought her third grade class to the NYC Aquarium on a field trip, and has the misfortune to spot a dead body in the penguin tank. We also meet Inspector Piper, Inspector of Detectives in the NYPD, who is in charge of the investigation of the death. Not surprisingly, Miss Withers has many observations to contribute to the investigation, and after one of her suggestions helps to avoid a mistake in the investigation, Piper begins to welcome her participation. The story is ingeniously plotted, and the setting of early-depression New York City is well done.
I would have given a higer rating if the narrator had been able to make the 30's-era dialog more believable. This was distracting and reduced the overall enjoyment of the book. Still, it was enjoyable, and I will be listening to more of this series.
"Some Buried Caesar" is the sixth Nero Wolfe book, published in 1939, and is one of the best of the series. For one thing, it is amusing to see Wolfe far from his NYC brownstone, having to put up with the inconvenience and discomfort of having to sleep in a strange bed, sit in chairs which are not big enough to hold his girth, and, worst of all, eating food not prepared by his private chef.
The only thing that could entice Wolfe out of the city is an opportunity to display his hybrid orchids in an exhibition contest. This is what has drawn Wolfe, and consequently his assistant Archie, to the countryside of upstate New York. After their car fetches up against a tree as a result of a blowout, Wolfe and Archie encounter Caesar, a prize Guernsey bull, when they are crossing Caesar's pasture. Archie manages to outrun the bull to the fence and safety, but Wolfe is stranded atop a large boulder in the pasture and has to be rescued.
Thereafter there is a great to-do about the bull, his value and the present owner's plans for the animal, and amidst the arguments and fights first one, and then another, dead body shows up. Of course Wolfe knows immediately that the first man was murdered, and who did it, and the rest of the story involves evidence which keeps disappearing, interspersed with the judging of the orchids.
This is classic Nero Wolfe, with Wolfe at his imperious best, and Archie has plenty of chances to exercise his charm over beautiful young women when he is not discovering bodies or detecting, or irritating the police with his smart remarks. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels have been called by many critics the best American mysteries of all time. I find them well-written and always amusing. The price of the audible versions seems high for the fairly short length, but I find them well worth the price.
I am always delighted to discover a series that is new to me, which is entertaining, clever and well-written. So I am very pleased to have found the Dalziel and Pascoe series, which begins with "A Clubbable Woman."
First published in 1970, this book establishes the characters of Inspector Dalziel (pronounced Dee-ELL) and Sergeant Pascoe, members of the police in a medium sized town in Yorkshire. They are a fairly new mismatched pair -- the Inspector is a grizzled veteran who is large, messy, ill-mannered and loud, and who scratches a lot. The Sergeant is younger, a University graduate, nice looking and very well-mannered. A fairly large part of the story involves the partners' adjusting to each other. This requires Pascoe to attempt to understand Dalziel - not an easy thing.
The mystery involves the murder of the wife of an old star Rugby player, and the investigation centers around the local Rugby club, the social center for all of the current and former players. The plot is quite involved and the solution was not given away until quite near the end.
The book was quite enjoyable and was made even more so by the excellent narration of Brian Glover. The majority of characters spoke with Yorkshire accents, which Glover handled very well, at least to these American ears. The addition of Irish, Welsh, and Scots characters, as well as University and aristocratic accents were equally well done.
I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys well drafted plots, colorful characters, and very little graphic violence and sex.
In Taken in Death, J.D. Robb has created an engrossing story that keeps you engaged and rooting for the good guys right to the end. And all the good guys are back in this story -- besides Dallas and Roark, the investigation includes Peabody, Macnab, and all the members of Dallas's team. The plot depends on an old, often used plot device which I can't name without being a spoiler, and Robb has given the old device new novelty and shine. The mission in this book involves locating and rescuing two young kidnapped children, and the key to finding them turns out to be a child's toy.
The author manages to pour a lot of tension and suspense into a book that is only a bit over 3 hours long. Susan Ericksen's narration is excellent as usual, and the whole experience is well worth your time and token. Highly recommended.
Overcome by boredom, Phryne allows herself to be convinced by some circus friends to join a travelling circus in order to discover who is behind a string of "accidents" which threaten to shut the circus down. She gets hired as a rider in the trained horse act by learning and then demonstrating her ability to stand and stay standing on a cantering horse.
This balancing act is explained in terms that allow me to understand how it can possibly be done. That's one of the side benefits that I enjoy about reading Phryne Fisher books -- Kerry Greenwood always gives the reader some tidbit of knowledge, whether it is some bit of Australian geography or history, cultural history, or how to balance on a moving horse.
This is the first tale of Phryne working independently, with none of her ordinary backup team. Thus she is in more danger and less sure of herself. That makes this 6th Phryne Book a bit more serious than the others. And it also involves a sexual liaison which is more serious than in other books. But, of course, Phryne discovers and exposes the villain with her usual style and grace.
This book was very enjoyable for me, even though it is not as lighthearted as previous books in the series. As usual, Stephanie Daniel does a top notch job of narration. I especially enjoyed the conversation at the end between author and narrator, including the author's story of learning how to stand on a moving horse when she was a child.
Well worth you time.
Okay, so I am being converted from a "won't touch paranormal books " to a moderate urban fantasy/paranormal fan. It all began, I suppose, with Harry Potter when I really enjoyed the inventiveness and wit of the writing. But at that time I still maintained that Harry Potter was an anomaly: it wasn't the genre that attracted me, it was simply those characters and that writer that I liked.
Then I happened onto the Peter Grant trilogy by Ben Aaronovitch in Audible. I absolutely loved those books -- they were well-written, wildly inventive and very funny. The adventures of a young constable in London who ends up being assigned to the division of the Met which handles anything which is "not normal" kept me entertained and laughing.
I discovered the "Dresden Files" existence from references contained in reviews of the Peter Grant books, making comparisons between the two. "Storm Front" is the first of the Dresden Files, and now I am forced to admit that I am a fan of the genre. Harry Dresden is an engaging character, the only wizard listed in the Chicago yellow pages. His adventures are entertaining and laced with humor, and the mystery aspect was well handled. Comparing "Storm Front " to the Peter Grant books, I would say that Storm Front is darker, a bit more violent and somewhat less funny than Peter Grant. I also think that the paranormal creatures in Storm Front are not as developed as those in the other series, and more often appear as one-dimensional figures. These factors cause me to prefer the Peter Grant books, but I will be reading the rest of the Dresden Files, too!
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