The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop is the second of some 66 Mrs. Bradley books written by Gladys Mitchell, beginning in 1929. Mrs. Bradley is elderly, but that is the only way in which she resembles Miss Marple or Miss Silver. She is a widow, enjoying the wealth which her husband left to her, and there is nothing sweet or unassuming about her -- she screeches with laughter about unexpected things and tends to order people around.
This book involves the murder of a man who has inherited a sizeable estate, including the country house and grounds where he is killed.You have many of the requisite characters for a country house murder mystery -- the Vicar, his daughter, the Doctor, his daughter, the local Constable and Sergeant of Police, and the victim's aunts, cousins, and other assorted rleatives. Mitchell constructed an interesting puzzle in this tale, and I enjoyed the book. Although I must say that I had some problems keeping the large cast of characters straight.
Patience Tomlinson does an excellent job of narrating.
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!
A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax provides another delightful adventure for that most unlikely of spies, Mrs. Emily Pollifax. In her fourth mission for Carstairs of the CIA, the middle-aged widow from suburban New Jersey goes to a Swiss luxury clinic/resort in search of stolen plutonium believed to be in the area. At the spa, she encounters a large cast of widely varied characters, some good and some bad.
Not surprisingly in a Mrs. Pollifax story, a number of things go wrong with Mrs. P's mission. She must overcome adversity with the help of several of her new acquaintances in order to complete the mission and she triumphs in the end. While the skeleton of the plot may seem to be rather bland and dull, Dorothy Gilman peoples her books with such wonderful characters that the stories are interesting and charming.
As usual, Barbara Rosenblat gives an excellent performance as narrator.
"Midnight at Marble Arch" continues the improvement to the Pitt/Charlotte series which began in "Dorchester Terrace," in which the stories involving Pitt's career with Special Branch finally matched the quality of the novels concerning Pitt as a policeman. I think what made this book so enjoyable for me was the fact that Pitt's involvement in a series of crimes was not primarily in his role as Commander of Special Branch. Instead, he participated in the investigation clandestinely, outside of Special Branch. And the best thing about this book, for me, was that the crime was solved by the team of Pitt, Charlotte, Pitt's former boss Narraway (now Lord Narraway), and my favorite Perry character, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould.
Perry once again offers an intricate plot, involving several quite vicious rapes which may or may not be connected. The investigating characters spend a great deal of time and effort trying to figure out who, how, when and why, with the answers coming at the eleventh hour. But, as with most Perry novels, the ending is a just one even if not the happiest one. And I must say that the ending of the crime story involves one of Perry's best scenes of violent suspense.
My favorite characteristic of the Pitt/Charlotte books is the very well-researched and presented depiction of the place of upper-class women in the Victorian culture of England, and the restrictions and responsibilities placed upon them. In Midnight at Marble Arch, it is made quite clear that being raped may be the end of a Victorian woman's reputation and marriage prospects in life, so that even more than today women (or their fathers or husbands, who had all the power) refused to report such crimes and those women then had to try to live a normal life while hiding the terrific trauma of rape. They often could not live with it and committed suicide.
The final lovely development in the book is that Lady Vespasia and Lord Narraway are beginning to be quite fond of each other, and a loving relationship seems to be in offing.
Published in 2008, Death of a Cozy Writer is the first in a series featuring Detective Chief Inspector St. Just. All of the elements of a classic golden age mystery are present: a large country mansion, a gathering of all the members of a wealthy family, servants with varying degrees of loyalty to their employers, seething rancor and hatred among family members, a patriarch who is cruel and hatedul to all, and finally, murder. DCI St. Just and his Constable arrive toi nvestigate.
This is a well -written mystery, with well developed characters, an intriguing twist or two in the plot, and the atmosphere of a golden age detective story spiced by a few 21st century devices. In St. Just, Malliet has created a likeable and capable investigator with a sense of humor as well as common sense. All in all, a very enjoyable read, although I must say that I prefer Malliet's other series, the Max Tudor mysteries.
The Retribution is the 7th book in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series, and to my mind is one of the best. Other reviewers have lamented the "rehashed plot," bringing back Jacko Vance, a truly diabolical killer from "Wire in the Blood," the second book in the series. If you have not yet read "Wire In the Blood," I suggest you do so before reading this book. It's not that you can't follow the plot or enjoy The Retribution without knowing Wire In the Blood. It's just that you will more fully experience the horror, tension and suspense if you have already read the first book with Jacko Vance as villain.
As can be expected, Jacko's revenge on the people "responsible" for ruining his life by putting him in jail or for other perceived wrongs is cruel and often indirect, inflicted on the people closest to the people at whom his revenge is aimed. As a result of that indirect revenge, and the means used to accomplish it, I found this book to be intense, full of suspense, often frightening, and very emotional.
The vengeance wreaked by Vance creates situations which damage the Hill/Jordan relationship even further than before, and other suffer needlessly. Some people have found the ending quite sad. However, given the fact that another book in this series is scheduled to come out this fall, I believe that the ending is not nearly as permanent as it seems.
I look forward to reading more of this series.
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