Carol O'Connell has crafted yet another wonderful story with Mallory, Charles, Riker, et al, and has spiced the mix with the addition of a small lost child found in Central Park. Despite herself, Mallory becomes involved with the little girl, although she certainly never would admit it. But some feelings are there. Barbara Rosenblat's narration is superb! She gives each character exactly the voice I had heard in my head while reading the earlier books, with great expression of emotions and of New York attitude. Wish I hadn't already read all the earlier Mallory books, so I could listen to Barbara Rosenblat read them.
I've already said this series is addictive. Each time I finish one of the books, I tell myself to let it rest a while, make the whole experience last longer. But I can't resist -- I HAVE TO buy that next book in the series, and listen to it right away.
Numbrer 4 in the series, Rapture In Death, begins during Dallas and Roarke's honeymoon, on an off-planet resort being built by one of Roarke's companies. Taking up right where Number 3 left off, there is a death, apparent suicide, of one of Roarke's contractors in the almost completed resort. Apparent suicide, except that the guy was smiling when he died.
Back on earth, more suicides happen, each one with a smile.
While investigating the suspicious suicides, Dallas begins to have some insights into what it means to love and be loved. She's still not real sure about how to express herself, to Roarke or herself. Mavis gets tangentially involved in connection with a big break in her singing career. Mavis and Leonardo grow more in love. Dallas tags Peobody to become a detective and her aide. So all around, slowly, Dallas is picking up little clues about how people relate on a non-cop level. It's interesting to watch.
I love the inventiveness with which J.D. Robb describes the world of New York in 2058. Very ingenious. And I'll keep coming back for more to see those relationships grow, deepen, and flourish.
Jo Walton's Small Change Trilogy is an absorbing drama which started with a mystery in Book 1, and carries on with a thriller in Ha'Penny, Book 2. In this alternate history, it is 1948/9 in London, Britain has been "at peace" since 1941 when the Farthing Set negotiated a peace with Hitler which involved Hitler staying across the Channel and Britain imposing some suppression on "undesirables," meaning Jews, gays and dissidents. By 1948, Hitler is the leader of continental Europe, the war between Germany and Russia continues, and Lindhberg is President of the USA. As a result of the events which take place in Farthing, Book 1, the power elite now control through the Prime Minister, and are gradually taking the country more and more toward Facism.
The only really continuing character in the trilogy is Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard, who has been coerced into doing the bidding of the authorities, even when it is against the law and his principles, in order to avoid their publicising the fact that he is gay, thereby ruining his career and possibly putting him in jail. The action in Ha'Penny involves a conspiracy to kill Hitler and the Prime Minister at a performance of Hamlet in London during a state visit of Hitler. The other main character is Viola Lark, who is starring in Hamlet, and is one of a group of six sisters, all named after Shakespeare characters. Among the sisters is a Communist (Cressida, known as Siddie), a Nazi married to Himmler (Celia, known as Pip), and Viola the actress -- very reminiscent of the Mitford sisters. Viola, who is not political, ends up being forced to participate in the plot to kill Hitler with a bomb in the theatre.
The story builds up a great deal of tension and is very engrossing. Jo Walton manages to make her alternate world very believable and horrifying, and the picture she draws of an England where "undesirables" are shipped off to the continent to the concentration camps is chilling.
As with Book 1, this book is narrated by two people, which works very nicely because the book is written with alternate chapters told from the viewpoint of Viola and Carmichael. John Keating is again excellent as Carmichael, and Heather O'Neill is outstanding as Viola.
I highly recommend this Trilogy.
I wasn't sure about this book, not being a real fantasy fan, but it did have a mystery in it, and it was on sale. So I bought it, and am I glad I did! Jo Walton has crafted a mystery set in England in an alternate history, where a group called the "Farthing Set" deposed Churchill and negotiated a "peace with honor" with Hitler in 1941, in which Hitler stayed on the other side of the Channel and England remained "independent" by agreeing to measures which amount to a milder form of suppression of Jews and homosexuals than that in place in continental Europe.
The action takes place in 1948, when a vote of no confidence is scheduled in Parliament. At a house party at Farthing, the estate of some members of the Farthing Set, the man who is likely to be elected the next Prime Minister is murdered. Lucy, the daughter of Farthing's owners, and her husband David Kahn, a Jew, have come to the party at the insistence of Lucy's mother. It's not clear why they are invited until it becomes obvious that they were wanted there in order to pin the murder on David, the JEW.
The mystery story is quite good, but the real point of the book is the picture of an England which is sliding slowly and inexorably into Facsism through the machinations of the power elite (the Farthing Set) and the willingness of the public to believe the lies of the ruling politicians. Through the course of this book and the second book in this series, the suppression of Jews and homosexuals becomes more extreme, and many have been forced to flee or hide. And people in positions like police detectives are coerced into blaming the crimes of the powerful on the people with no power. Meanwhile, of course, Hitler is still Fuhrer of all of Europe, undesirables are still sent to work camps, and the war is still raging between Germany and Russia.
The story is greatly enhanced by the two narrators, John Keating and Bianca Amato. The book is written in chapters which alternate between the narration of Lucy Kahn and the third party narration of the investigation conducted by Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard, making the alternating narrators particularly appropriate. Both do a sterling job.
This is really a gripping tale, very complex and disquieting but definitely worth the money and the time to listen to it. Excellent!
In this her 16th adventure, Phryne attends the party named above. All 15 of the previous Phryne Fisher books take place earlier in 1928, and the Party is being held for six days from Dec. 26th to New Year's Day 1929. Most of the action takes place at the party with hundreds of guest staying in the Manor House or in fancy tents on the grounds. The Party serves to show the absolute excesses of the rich immediately before the Crash of 1929.
Phryne's attendance is partially for fun, but primarily to investigate death threats against the party's host, who with his twin sister inherited a fabulous fortune and they have for years been going about spending it. Over the years they have gathered a group of followers from around the globe. Now they are throwing an extravaganza with incredible food, live jazz and other music, a polo match, and a number of opportunities to engage in tantric sex and other behaviors that many in that day might deem degenerate or perverted. All with great panache, of course!
Phryne attends the party and solves the mystery of the threats in her usual light -hearted manner, displaying supreme confidence and style. Meanwhile, at her house on Christmas Day, we meet Phryne' s sister, Eliza, and Eliza's lover Lady Alice, and Jane and Ruthie have their first wonderful Christmas ever. All great fun.
As usual, Stephanie Daniel's performance was excellent.
I read this book out of order. Ordinarily I try to read books in a series in chronological order in order to keep evolving characters and relationships straight. But I bought this one on sale and just dived in. Even without the continuity, I enjoyed it a great deal. It might not, however, be the best one of the Phryne Fisher books for a newcomer to read first.
Because I have already read all of the In Death series that has been published, and read each new one as it comes out, I already knew it was addictive. So I pretty much had no choice but to get the Audible version of the 1st Eve Dallas book, then the 2nd, and now the 3rd! And I am already resigned to the fact that I will continue until I've listened to them all.
What makes them addictive? For me it's not the violence, or the sex scenes. It's not even really the romance. The mystery/police procedural aspect of the stories is part of what keeps me coming back for more. But the main draws in this series are 1) the characters and their evolving relationships, and 2) the imaginative details of the futuristic world which J.D. Robb has invented.
The author draws her characters so well, and gives them such human characteristics, that you end up really loving these folks and wanting to see them succeed, whether at personal relationships or at work, or at catching another despicable felon. And the development of relationships is the reason that you need to read them in the order they were published.
In Immortal in Death, Leonardo the fashion designer shows up, designs Eve's wedding dress, and becomes Mavis's main squeeze. Peabody loosens up a bit and has a short-lived entanglement with another cop. And at the end Eve and Roark get married in a glorious ceremony.
Of course, the most interesting character development is that of Eve Dallas, a woman who pretty much had to turn off all feeling just to survive to adulthood, who never felt love and doesn't know what to do with it, who as a child never saw an example of someone simply being kind and never had a friend. And now, at full adulthood, she starts to recognize that one really should try to at least be polite if not nice, because it makes people feel good, and makes things easier for her. She starts to recognize it, but she doesn't really know how to do it. Over the course of the books she slowly begins to catch on a little, and that's part of the fun of these books.
I'll keep coming back for my fix as long as this series continues.
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.
Once again, Mrs P sets off on what seems a fairly simple mission, only to be drawn into a very dangerous situation. In this case, she goes on a safari in Zambia with instructions to take photos of all her fellow tourists, which will be used to identify a hired assassin. She ends up being kidnapped by "freedom fighters " and then rescued by a band of loyalist guerrillas. (You must remember that the book was written in 1977, so that apartheid played a large role in the politics of that part of Africa at that time.)
And along the way through the wilds of jungle and plain, Mrs. Pollifax finds time to fall in love with a lovely, gentle man named Cyrus.
This book is the fifth in the Mrs. P series. The plot is as entertaining as ever, but is slightly more serious. While there are still lovely amusing moments, the situations depicted are less fanciful and more plausible than in the previous books.
As with the previous books, I cannot adequately describe the magnificence of Barbara Rosenblat's performance as narrator. If you know her from the Amelia Peabody books, you know that she is masterful with accents and voices. But I am amazed that she provides Mrs. Pollifax with a voice that is totally unlike any of the voices I have heard from her before: the perfect voice for a 60-ish widow lady from New Brunswick, NJ. She must be able to produce hundreds of distinct voices. I am in awe.
A totally wonderful experience.
Elizabeth Peters can always be depended on to write an entertaining tongue in cheek adventure, containing mysteries, at least one murder, danger and wry commentary on the social mores of the day. In this 9th book in the Amelia Peabody series, she delivers one of her best!
The year is 1903. In the 3 years since the previous book, the Emersons' son, Ramses, and their adopted daughter, Nefret, have aged and grown. Ramses is 16 and is 6 feet tall, Nefret is 19 and has begun to take classes at a London medical school for women. Ramses and his friend David Todros have spent the summer with a sheik and his tribe and are consequently much more mature than the previous year.
The plot involves a search for the alleged murderer of a woman, led by the actual murderer; discovery of a tomb below the floor of the Valley of the Kings; a collapse of the tomb roof trapping Amelia; the saving of Amelia by Ramses; freeing an old friend from powerful delusions about an Egyptian princess; and Vandergelt's infatuation with and engagement to an Englishwoman involved in the princess delusions matter. Much of the last half of the tale creates a good deal of suspense and laughter.
I continue to be amazed by the astounding talents of narrator Barbara Rosenblat. She is, without doubt, the most versatile narrator I have encountered on Audible. The Amelia Peabody stories require not only a wide range of accents in both male and female voices. They require, and Rosenblat delivers superbly, the voice of one character, Ramses, aging from 4 and 5 to 8, 10, 13, and now 16, while remaining clearly recognizable as the same character. A real tour-de-force!
One of the best of this series.
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.
In this second In Death story, Eve's relationship with Roark deepens, both personally and professionally. Two prominent women have had their throats cut, and they both have ties to Roark, which creates friction in the personal relationship. Needless to say that problem gets solved, and Eve successfully corners the killer, a man who harbors hatred for women with power and fame. There's a great suspense ending involving a knife fight in the dark. Since this is a series, you know that Dallas and Roark will always come out top, but J.D. Robb makes each adventure different enough, and exciting enough, to keep the reader interested.
As other have suggested, it is a good idea to read at least the first several books in the order of publication, in order to follow the progression of Eve and Roark's relationship, and to follow the appearance of new continuing characters in the series and their gradual progression through the ranks. For instance, this book marks the first appearance of Delia Peabody, Eve's future partner in the Homicide Detective Division, as a uniformed officer at one of the crime scenes.
I like Robb's invented future and the history behind it. And I especially like Susan Ericksen's narration. Excellent!
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