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Kathi

Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

Member Since 2010

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  • 248 reviews
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  • Death on Deadline: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Robert Goldsborough
    • Narrated By L J Ganser
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    To save his favorite newspaper, Wolfe steps into the crossfire of a tabloid war. Scottish newspaper magnate Ian MacLaren plans to gut the paper and turn it into a sex-filled conservative rag. Standing in his way is the company’s chief shareholder, Gazette heir Harriet Haverhill. But when the aged Ms. Haverhill dies in an apparent suicide, no one remains to resist the Scot’s advances except Wolfe. MacLaren may be fierce, but when the cause is just, Nero Wolfe knows how to play dirty, too.

    Kathi says: "Superb job! Nero and Archie are back!"
    "Superb job! Nero and Archie are back!"
    Overall
    Performance
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    What did you love best about Death on Deadline?

    Robert Goldsborough has done something very difficult: picked up characters and continued a series after the death of the original author. Not the first to do so, but by far one of the best I've ever read so far! I have read all of the original Nero Wolfe mysteries (multiple times) and I am here to say, that it was very hard to tell "who" had done the writing during most of this book.

    I should think that of all the series to have taken on, Nero Wolfe might have been a huge challenge because of all the very distinctive kinds of vocabulary, mannerisms, stylistic elements and so on that were the trademarks of the original series. Being off by just a little would have been very noticeable.

    He has taken on the unimaginable task of re-creating the characters from the long Nero Wolfe mystery series--with all the same wonderful people (Nero, Archie, Fritz, Cramer and the rest...) and managed somehow to keep the same energy, atmosphere, subtle sense of humor, and framework in which the mystery is laid out--it's all there, and pitch perfect!

    In this story, Archie and Nero work to solve the mystery of the suicide (which of course, only Nero recognizes as a murder) of a wealthy female newspaper owner. They go through almost the exactly predictable sort of interviewing of everyone in Wolfe's office (he will never leave his house)--with the same kind of grumbling, resistance--yet ultimately somehow cooperation--of everyone toward unmasking the murderer in the classic NW style ending. Wolfe spends lots of time with his orchids, Fritz cooks wonderful meals and Archie does all the footwork toward the resolution of the crime.

    If I had the smallest thing to comment on that was sort of a negative for me, it would be that Goldsborough had understandably (I suppose) updated this book to a more recent time than the original Archie and Nero series. Hearing (only a few) references to a computer, "turning off the phones" and the like (I think it was written in the 80's--but sounded as though it might have been intended to have been late 70"s?--just my guess) was a little bit of a turn off, since the original series was (largely--but not entirely) written during the 40's, 50's and some still into the 60's.

    Because of that, Goldsborough couldn't quite capture the feel of the original era in which these were (mostly) written. Nor did he try--since he constructed it as a book that would have been placed in the logical order of next in the series, coming after all that RS wrote. I don't know whether it would even have made sense to have tried to write this as something in the middle of the long stretch of time during which Rex Stout wrote all his books anyway. So that is really the most minor of things. And did not detract from the book--simply made me occasionally aware that this is "new," not one of the old, classic RS mysteries.

    L. J. Ganser was a wonderful narrator. He so captured the essence of how (I think) Nero Wolfe should sound that it was just delightful to listen to him. He had the crisp-sounding, distinct clarity and intonation of his voice, one could almost hear the punctuation marks in his speech (just the way I think Wolfe would have sounded). I wish he might not have carried that crispness to other characters quite so much--since I believe that Archie and the others might have been a little more casual in their manner of speaking. However, as a listener--it was a bonus, because every word was clearly spoken.

    All in all, this book was just a delightful surprise. A future listener should not hesitate to try it with a worry that the differences in writers might be too obvious. Where there are *slightly* noticeable differences, they won't detract from the overall feeling of having magically been brought back to the old brownstone with Nero and the rest.

    I think that Goldsborough and Lanser have made a solid contribution to those who love the NW mysteries. Somewhere, I can't help thinking, Rex Stout is smiling and saying, "Satisfactory!"


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • 44 Scotland Street

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Robert Ian Mackenzie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (521)
    Performance
    (292)
    Story
    (292)

    The brilliant Alexander McCall Smith became an international sensation with his New York Times best-selling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels. His award-winning wit, made famous through that series, is fully on display in 44 Scotland Street.

    J. Rogers says: "Smith's answer to Maupin"
    "What a great story teller he is!"
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    Story

    After listening to many of the selections in Alexander Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, I wondered if he could possibly match that great series in this new one. I was delighted to listen to "44 Scotland Street," in which he again creates a memorable set of characters and a lovely, meandering and engaging story through which to let them reveal themselves. Brought alive by the wonderful narration of Robert Ian Mackenzie, Pat--who has rented a room with Bruce in Edinburgh, finds herself a job in an art gallery (feeling a bit embarrassed because she is on her 2nd "gap year."). Her neighbors are each fascinating (and often humorous), and the book tells their tales as it shifts back and forth between several stories.

    Smith slowly moves the reader/listener through various incidents in the days of the people who live in this house, which were increasingly interesting. Everyone is trying as best they can to get their needs met. Pat somewhat falls in love with Bruce, without realizing that his confidence is not all it appears. Her employer is part of a group who meet regularly at "Big Lou's"--and the reader gradually realizes that she not only dispenses food and drink--but also philosophical advice. The neurotic Irene--whose son is struggling to be a normal little boy despite her smothering attempts, and others. The thing that makes this book a gem is the reliance on good character development, description, and the underlying foundation of solid philosophical concepts that peek through at times.

    In the very beginning, I wasn't sure if anything was going to happen, wondering if it was going to be boring. Then I realized that its beauty is in the attention to detail that Smith gives it. And even though things "happen" it seems as though the point is more about who they are than what they do. I would like to also say that the narration gives this book a richness that makes it wonderful to listen to. This is different from his other series, but is equally compelling. I really enjoyed listening to it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Above the East China Sea: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Sarah Bird
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda, Ali Ahn, Tandy Cronyn, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Set on the island of Okinawa today and during World War II, this deeply moving and evocative novel tells the entwined stories of two teenage girls - an American and an Okinawan - whose lives are connected across 70 years by the shared experience of both profound loss and renewal. And as these two stories unfold and intertwine, we see how war and American occupation have shaped and reshaped the lives of Okinawans.

    Kathi says: "Poignant story of suffering and transformation"
    "Poignant story of suffering and transformation"
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    Sarah Bird has written a sometimes heartbreaking, yet very moving story of the parallel lives of two teenaged girls living in Okinawa--separated in time, yet connected in surprising ways. The narration is very good--in that several people contribute to this to bring us more authentically into the atmosphere of the novel.

    Tamiko is a young girl who has died of suicide at the height of the invasion by Americans during WWII, when Okinawa was surrendered. She tells her part of the story mostly from the perspective of what is happening at that time (leading to her death)--bringing the listener directly into strong family connections, the life on this island before the war, and contrasting it with the initial brave attempts to win the war--where even the youngest among them feels honored to be doing their part to help the Emperor. She is one of the Lily girls--recruited at first to be in school, but quickly shifted to horrifying experiences as these young girls are sent to be nurses to thewounded Japanese men. Now, her spirit is searching for someone to help her complete her journey to be with her beloved ancestors.

    Luz is an American girl, whose mother is the head of the Kadena Air Force base police, and whose sister has been recently killed in Afghanistan. She, too, is desperately searching for meaning, and closure, after something has turned her world upside down. She also is struggling in the beginning with wishes to die, to rejoin her sister in the only way she can think of. She is adrift in her efforts--feeling lack of closeness to her mother or anyone else. Newly moved to the base, she doesn't even initially have close friends to help her with this.

    Their two stories begin to combine in surprising ways (which it would be a spoiler to comment more on). The strength of this novel lies, I think, in two places. Bird is excellent at evoking the atmosphere, the sense of what people are feeling, reacting to--their levels of joy (at times) and desperation at others, and how connections with others brings courage to face what must be faced.

    The other thing she has done, is provide a wealth of information about how the Okinawans relied on their connection with the "kami" (or spirits of ancestors) to find strength, and the need to return to their ancestral place among them. The story provides a gripping sense of what it must have been like to helplessly face the disaster of your entire world about to come to a catastrophic end and yet continuing on, always treasuring Life. The book is beautifully written and filled with fascinating details about life on Okinawa (past and present).

    Much of this book addresses the suffering of the main characters, yet I didn't feel pulled down by it--actually the opposite, it was more inspiring and deeply engaging. I have not read Sarah Bird's previous books, but now I think I will seek them out.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being

    • ORIGINAL (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Ronald Siegel
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (12)

    Ever noticed that trying to calm down often produces more agitation? Or that real fulfillment can be elusive, despite living a successful life? Often, such difficulties stem from the human brain's hardwired tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Modern science demonstrates that this survival mechanism served the needs of our earliest ancestors, but is at the root of many problems that we face today, such as depression, compulsive and addictive behaviors, chronic pain, and stress and anxiety.

    Kathi says: "The unsuspected benefits of using mindfulness!"
    "The unsuspected benefits of using mindfulness!"
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    Ronald Siegel, PsyD is an inspiring teacher and psychotherapist, who offers a wealth of information about a practice that has been brought to the western world from the east: mindfulness and meditation. We live such busy, conflicted lives that we often do not even dream that slowing down and tuning in to ourselves is a more effective solution than multi-tasking, working harder, or getting caught up in ever more complicated ways to try to manage it all.

    I have been privileged to attend several conferences that Dr. Siegel has given, and I found this series of lectures to be fully as exciting and useful as hearing him in "real time." He is a wonderful speaker, and he does a good job of conveying what I think might be unfamiliar to some, but when put into practice, can bring significant change to our lives.

    I feel amazed at the sheer amount of information he is able to convey in such a (relatively) short period of time in these lectures. He gives a good introduction to what mindfulness is--it's origins in Buddhist thought, along with scientific studies that are proving how helpful these methods are proving to be in today's busy, often anxious world. He talks about it's uses in daily life, medical situations and even addictions. Now that there is more evidence than ever before that chronic stress is directly connected to many medical and pain conditions, mindfulness is finding it's place especially in the medical world, as it offers an additional way to address chronic conditions.

    I like listening to The Great Courses--in fact, I have been buying and listening to them since they were produced on cassette tapes! (Hint: that was a long time ago :-) Although I have never listened to any Course that I didn't like or appreciate, this one is a 5 star winner in my opinion. It is a well-balanced combination of information, interesting anecdotes, useful ways to employ what he is talking about and he maintains a consistent level of excellence in his talks. Speaking of which, Dr. Siegel "talks" a bit rapidly--you may have to listen hard at times to get it all, but he is clearly speaking fast because he has so much information to convey. If you like listening to something that will change your life in positive ways, this is the Course to use your credit on! I *SO* recommend this!



    42 of 48 people found this review helpful
  • The Mystery of Glengarron: Mick Malone Mysteries, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Sallee Peterson
    • Narrated By Patrick Peterson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Mick Malone is determined to thwart international cybercrime. He accepts an internship in Scotland for his last semester of college only to discover a good old-fashioned murder waiting for him. Hooking up with Chief Constable Jock McDuff, who is deeply entrenched in traditional Highlands Constabulary procedure, Mick learns the ins and outs of plain, feet-on-the-street detective work. But when the mystery threatens his own family, Mick has to take the lead to save the day.

    Kathi says: "Needs some work..."
    "Needs some work..."
    Overall
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    Story

    The good news: this book picks and improves somewhat about halfway through-so should you listen to it, have patience. The basic ingredients are all here--interesting young Mick Malone and Alyssa, a young woman who has been treated like a cousin in his family, go to Scotland, where he plans to do his internship for his college degree. They stay with his grandmother who apparently has purchased a small piece of a manor or castle, along with a title of some sort, in return for her influx of money, meant to help make improvements to the property. Some people pretend to be writing a book about walking paths, who are intent on something entirely different, quickly alter the atmosphere, because murder has intruded upon them. Mick, along with Jock Malone, are the Constabulary who have to manage all this. But many players will become part of the story. It is a fairly fast-moving story which is good.

    The less good news: I suppose this is not true, but I had the oddest feeling the author had never stepped foot in Scotland, and was maybe writing as a hobby or something. And the narrator was (at least in the beginning) kind of hard to listen to. I so don't want to criticize him--oddly, I had the sense that he was reading as best he could, and though it sounded a bit amateurish, I wanted to give him something for earnestness and effort.

    I don't regret buying or listening to this book, but I'm not champing at the bit to purchase another, either. I might. Just depends on how it might be presented in it's writeup. But I would prefer a different narrator.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Leaving Everything Most Loved: Maisie Dobbs, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Jacqueline Winspear
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (405)
    Performance
    (350)
    Story
    (346)

    The year is 1933. Maisie Dobbs is contacted by an Indian gentleman who has come to England in the hopes of finding out who killed his sister two months ago. Scotland Yard failed to make any arrest in the case, and there is reason to believe they failed to conduct a thorough investigation. The case becomes even more challenging when another Indian woman is murdered just hours before a scheduled interview. Meanwhile, unfinished business from a previous case becomes a distraction, as does a new development in Maisie's personal life.

    C. Telfair says: "Mixed Feelings about Maisie"
    "Really like it, with a caveat"
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    I basically enjoy the Maisie Dobbs series--and this book is no exception. It is one of several series which focus on the new ways women were able to establish themselves in the world in more meaningful ways just after WWI. I am really glad to see these book celebrating the exciting changes in women's lives and the newfound respect they were gaining.

    That said, despite that I have always enjoyed the mysteries (the plots) of this series, I've found it a bit of a leap to handle the rags-to-riches, Cinderella type story that Winspear has created for Maisie Dobbs' background. She's gone from being a housemaid in a wealthy household at age 13, to being noticed and selected by them to get a fabulous education at Cambridge (which would have been available to few women yet at that time) to inheriting a fortune from her mentor in psychology and detecting...to possibly now considering marrying the son of the wealthy household she began in. While I really like the complicated plots that come with every one of these books, I find it hard to juggle good stories that are about solving mysteries with fantasy romance.

    And so, this is still a good story. Maisie is approached by Scotland Yard--to her surprise, to take on a case they have not been able to solve. It seems that the brother of the murdered woman, Usha Pramal, has come from India to England to try to find out who killed his sister and why. Maisie is intrigued and takes the case. Before she scarcely gets into it, yet another woman is also murdered, and she is doubly determined to find the killer.

    This book invites the reader, in a very positive way I think--to consider issues of diversity and how people tend to regard those who seem different to them (for instance, it would seem that Scotland Yard didn't give this case as much attention as they might have, had the murdered woman been English instead of Indian). It is also good because it supplies a large number of potential suspects, and kept me guessing till the end who the killer had been. But it was complicated by Maisie's personal life--a number of changes she is making that leave the reader wondering where this series might be heading. Perhaps that is the skill of the author--to be able to move the series in different directions, but I was not terribly comfortable. I'm old. I like things to be as I expect them :-) However, like everyone else, I will wait with interest to see where Maisie finds herself in the next book--and I'm sure the story will be fun to read.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Lestrade and the Deadly Game

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By M. J. Trow
    • Narrated By M. J. Trow
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The papers call it suicide. The deceased’s father doesn’t. And when Superintendent Lestrade investigates the death by duelling pistol of Anstruther Fitzgibbon, his suspicions are immediately aroused. One of Britain’s leading athletes, Fitzgibbon is the first victim in a series of murders which threatens to extinguish the torch of the Olympic Games in London, in that glorious summer of 1908.

    Kathi says: "MJ Trow writes better than he reads"
    "MJ Trow writes better than he reads"
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    MJ Trow has created this series, based on Lestrade--the policeman who was never quite as smart as Sherlock Holmes (except in this series, he is). It is filled with interesting characters, and often a lot of humor. In this book, he is tasked to help to find who is murdering people while huge numbers of folks are flowing into London from around the world, for the Olympics. The premise of these books is good--and I enjoy the humor, the complexity of the plots and Trow's creativity in bringing this lesser known Sherlockian character into a greater role. And, as a positive--I suspect nobody but the author of a book could ever know exactly how he might want it to be read. But even though Mr. Trow has a soft and gentle voice--and gets all the jokes read just as they should be for getting a laugh, I find his voice to be a bit muffled--hard to achieve clarity. I strain and strain to listen, thus taking a good bit of the pleasure of the book away. I like these stories, and I like that Mr. Trow wants the public to know how he intends them to be read. Unfortunately, I just find that listening to his reading is quite challenging. I listen on my tablet. It's a good story--just bear that in mind, and worth the straining to hear. Perhaps an external speaker of excellent quality, where you can adjust various tonal qualities would deal nicely with this situation, but I just don't happen to have one.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Poisoned Ground: A Rachel Goddard Mystery, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Sandra Parshall
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    When a powerful development company sets its sights on Mason County, Virginia, as the location for a sprawling resort for the rich, the locals begin taking sides. Many residents see the resort as economic salvation for the small Blue Ridge Mountains community, while others fear the county will become financially dependent on a predatory company. Few oppose the development more vocally than veterinarian Rachel Goddard.

    Kathi says: "Lots of suspects, twists & turns--good story"
    "Lots of suspects, twists & turns--good story"
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    This series features Rachel Goddard, a young veterinarian who moved a great distance to get away from troubles in her earlier life. Unfortunately--even though she loves being where she is now in southern VA, troubles still seem to pop up in her life. In this episode, she is initially concerned about the shocking murder of an older couple. Even though it seems likely to be someone's deranged expression of anger arising from a fierce fight among rural neighbors who have been offered a lot of money by a company wishing to turn their land into a resort (some want to sell, others who do not), there might be other reasons (and possible murderers) as well. Apparently there are a lot of dirty little secrets that this interesting group of folks have been harboring--which get revealed little by little though the interesting story. Even at the very end--it is not at all clear who will be revealed as the murderer. Rachel is married to Tom Bridger--the local policeman, and they work well together at solving mysteries. This story has lots to keep one interested, twists and turns that kept me guessing who was the culprit.

    I have very much enjoyed this whole series--as it is good writing, but also because the theme of the little-known group called the Melungeons is familiar to me from when I also lived in southwest VA--and heard a great deal about their fascinating story then. However, I regret to say that Tavia Gilbert's narration is rather off-putting to me. Ironically, what she does well, she does too well. When she reads, she works so hard to have clear diction that it is terribly overdone. You can hear the last consonant of every word so distinctly that is it jarring (people simply do not speak that formally). I cringe through much of her reading, which dampens my enthusiasm for the whole book. However, this is only my listening preference, and others may actually find it a blessing. You won't miss one single word in your listening experience! I recommend the book, because I'm enjoying the series. But just a caution that the narration is a bit overdone. You can hear every "t" crossed and every "i" dotted :-)

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • A Fearsome Doubt

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Charles Todd
    • Narrated By Samuel Gillies
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (11)

    In 1912 Ian Rutledge watched as a man was condemned to hang for the murders of elderly women. Rutledge helped gather the evidence that sent Ben Shaw to the gallows. And when justice was done, Rutledge closed the door on the case. But Shaw was not easily forgotten. Now, seven years later, that grim trial returns in the form of Ben Shaw's widow Nell, bringing Rutledge evidence she is convinced will prove her husband's innocence. It's a belief fraught with peril, threatening both Rutledge's professional stature and his faith in his judgment. But there is a darker reason for Rutledge's reluctance.

    Kathi says: "Outstanding in every way!"
    "Outstanding in every way!"
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    I've read all the Ian Rutledge and the Bess Crawford series (by Charles Tood, mother/son team). Just finished a Bess Crawford book, so was pleased to find this Rutledge one just released.

    Rutledge is a Scotland Yard detective, struggling to rebuild his life after the Great War, from which he was sent home wounded in body and soul. It's important to understand that as a result of shell shock and events that have left him emotionally depleted as a result of the war, he carries with him an inner reminder of a moral dilemma he was forced to face. He had to issue the command to execute a soldier who refused (also on moral grounds) to lead his troops into certain death. Rutledge now hears the voice of Hamish MacBeth wherever he goes, as a constant reminder of the unthinkable choices and decisions he had been forced to make. The voice of Hamish can be wise or tormenting, but it is ever present.

    In this story, Rutledge is confronted with new evidence, strongly suggesting that a man he helped bring to the gallows some years ago might have been innocent. At the same time, he is sent away to investigate the murders of men who have returned from the war seriously wounded. He must discover who is doing this, even while trying to heal his own soul from the war, and come to terms with the possibility that he not only had to have a good and decent man executed in wartime, but might have contributed to the death of an innocent man through the judicial system before the war.

    There is lightweight entertainment, then there is writing that moves to deeper levels. All of this series, but especially the earlier episodes, force the reader to examine deeper moral issues, and especially this book. Yes, this is a good police procedural, and the writing is superb as they create this conflicted, lonely man who struggles with his war past while taking on his duties at Scotland Yard.

    But Chales Todd here pushes the reader (listener) to examine what it means to kill. There are the issues of criminals who murder for personal reasons. But this is contrasted with legal killing--the judicial system, where people might be wrongly executed, and war, where atrocities occur that exceed the mind's ability to handle.

    This book is a simple book at one level--Scotland Yard doing their job. At a different level, this writing brings us into the time just after WWI in England, providing descriptive details that evoke the atmosphere of a country that made enormous sacrifices and was almost brought to it's knees, as it tries to regain life and strength to go on. The book does an excellent job of bringing to the reader the moral dilemmas of killing, murder, legal execution or war, through Rutledge's eyes as he struggles to make sense of the two cases he has been presented with.

    This is a good book, and one where the writing flows well, and has very good narration by Samuel Gillies. I could never call this "light" reading, even though it is still remains a police procedural. The Bess Crawford series, while excellent and also always thought provoking, is lighter in presentation than the Rutledge series. I have read them all, and I find that they stay with me because these earlier books, especially, leave quite a lot to ponder. They are all among my very favorite series books. Highly recommend!



    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • An Unwilling Accomplice: Bess Crawford, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Charles Todd
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (31)

    Arriving in London on leave, Bess Crawford receives an unusual summons from the War Office. She's been requested to accompany a wounded soldier to Buckingham Palace, where he's to be decorated for gallantry. Though she is certain she's never met or nursed Sergeant Jason Wilkins, she cannot refuse the honor. Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, the soldier will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty.

    Linda Lou says: "JUST OK"
    "Another great Bess Crawford story!"
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    How exciting to have a new Charles Todd book! I'm a great fan of both the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford series (which wonderfully complement each other).

    In this eagerly-awaited new story, Bess, a WWI battlefield nursing sister, is sent to escort a heavily bandaged soldier to be decorated for his service at Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, the man disappears in the night, and is later believed to have committed a murder. The authorities consider Bess to have been responsible for his going missing, and as this hurts her reputation, she decides she will have to find the missing Sgt. Wilkins to clear her name and solve the murder. With the help of longtime family friend/protector Sgt. Major Simon Brandon, she sets out--without a clue-- to do just this.

    Bess is combination Florence Nightingale and Miss Marple as she journeys from town to town, briefly back in France, in search of Sgt. Wilkins, helping with improvised surgery here, birth of a baby there along the way... She and Simon patiently piece together all the slowly gathered bits of information to be able to make sense of their quest for the missing man.

    What's really good: this book continues the ongoing story of Bess, her parents (not so much this book), Simon Brandon and friends, all of whom are very interesting, often inspiring people. Charles Todd (a mother/son team) write very engaging stories, always with wonderful details that give a quite realistic feel for the atmosphere of WWI England and France. Each of their books develops the characters more, which keeps a good continuity in the series.

    The slightly less good: at times it seemed as though the story relied over-much on coincidence in finding the right places to search, or clues were revealed in ways that stretched credulity a bit. But not to worry. That is pretty much forgiven because being drawn back into the world of these familiar, beloved characters, combined with a good mystery and great writing, more than makes up for it! Rosylyn Landor's narration is very good, all the voices clear and distinct. Was like a reunion with old friends! Highly recommend!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Catherine Wheel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Patricia Wentworth
    • Narrated By Diana Bishop
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (27)

    There was a certain heavy air of intrigue and mystery emanating from the old inn high on the cliff top. The Catherine-Wheel had once been a home for pirates and smugglers, but now it looked like it was harbouring a murderer. It had begun with an advertisement in the paper requesting descendants of the late innkeeper, Jeremiah Taverner, to stay for a weekend at the inn. They had arrived, a mixed assortment, to the family reunion eager to discover the secrets of their ancestry. But one of them had been hideously murdered, bringing the inn's stormy past into frightening focus.

    Constance says: "Unlistenable Dud from Usually Wonderful Writer"
    "A bit tedious but good mystery"
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    Performance
    Story

    Patricia Wentworth's series (written around the same time as Agatha Christie and other classic crime-writers) stars the quiet, self-effacing Miss Maud Silver. Miss Silver has been a governess in her earlier years, and now in her retirement, she knits and solves mysteries (has her own modest little detective service). She often takes a place in the background of wherever she is--almost so people will scarcely notice her, but one always knows she is about to issue a profound thought by her prefacing polite little cough. I suppose it is easy to compare her to Christie's Miss Marple, and they do have some things in common, but they remain very separate individuals. Miss Marple is sent for because people just know she has an instinct for solving crimes, whereas Miss Silver is deliberately hired as the detective.

    In this book, Jacob Taverner, is sole inheritor of an estate that might have been divided among many siblings (Jeremiah, jr, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts and Mary and Joanna)--but wasn't. Subsequently the family has scattered, new generation born, and Jacob sends out an ad in the paper stating he is looking for long lost relatives. In reality, he is looking for specific ones, whom he asks to join him at Catherine's Wheel, a lodge long known for it's early (and perhaps current) smuggling connections with his own secret intentions. Jane Heron and Jeremy Taverner (two of the cousins) travel there together. Most of the others arrive in various stages, and Miss Silver is coincidentally sent there by the police at just the same time--to quietly observe the goings on, in search of possible smuggling.

    Of course murder happens--and all of the book is dedicated to solving that. But just a word about the style. To me, this one seemed a bit stiffly written. There were so very many people to keep up with (the original siblings in the Taverner family, followed by all the various descendents) which made quite a lot of people to sort out. At first I had the sense that it was like one of those logic puzzles where you have to fill in the blanks based on separate, sequential pieces of information (Jane is taller than Sam, but Sam lives in a red house next to Jane's best friend who is shorter than Sam...). It was very challenging to get all the family lines and relationships arranged (and finally, I resorted to pen and paper--which was why it felt like a puzzle :-)

    I think it was quite an ambitious story to have written. I believe a reader who could easily check back pages to keep up with it all might have had a far easier time of it. This is a good listen if you are good at remembering a lot of connections and relationships--but I found it to be easier to simply start out in the first 1/2 hour or so with pen and paper, writing names and relationships down. It really did help to keep people's stories separate, to be able to follow the detecting and solving of the crime. It's a good book--Miss Silver stories generally are, and I believe Diana Bishop did the best she could with a book that was heavy on trails to follow, and light on interludes that might have made it less of a straight-forward puzzle. I am only giving the story 3 stars because it is challenging to listen to (without having to write down names). I think to read it would have been much easier.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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