I'll admit I did tune out at times when the author went on for a while about minor historical points along the course of the river. However, the narrator does an outstanding job, personalizing the story so vividly that I still can't believe Graves didn't read it himself.
I really fell for the antics of his traveling companion ("The Passenger").
He does a good job with presenting new (to me) points of view regarding well-trodden ground. Wasn't a great fan of his style of dramatic reading though.
So-So Victorian period piece, but no thriller. Author was trying for "Turn of the Screw" but ended up with something closer to a Movie of the Week script instead.
Narrator did the best she could with the material, so no knock on her performance here.
Where to begin after saying that ... I spent a few decades in the Garden State (ages 2 - 35), though have only been Down the Shore a few times for day trips; still, I've heard enough stories to know that instead of laying things on thick here, the author's portrayal was actually understated, if anything.
I'll start with the plot, where the only "fault" I really found was in believing that municipal cops would end up having any say in investigating such a high-profile crime. Once the state (and, in this case, FBI, as well) became involved, their presence would be distinctly unwelcome. Grabenstein manages to introduce a red herring, which I fell for along with Danny, which really shifted the tone considerably. All in all, the plot worked fine for me.
So, let's talk about Ceepak. He really did turn out almost Holmes-like in his attention to detail. Yes, he is a bit Dudley-Do-Right, but rather than seeming goody-goody, it's just who he is. His Springsteen obsession made him appear a bit Asperger-ish, although analyzing the personality of a fictional character only goes so far. Sufficed to say, he turns out to be a "totally awesome" character. The final scene would be incredibly corny in any other situation, but because it's Ceepak, I found myself making a thumbs up gesture.
Perhaps Grabenstein decided that Watson-describing-Holmes worked so well that he'ddo that, too. Or. maybe he tried writing a Ceepak point-of-view story, realizing that was just too ... awkward (difficult). In any event, this is really Danny's story. He grows from a "kid" with a summer job (he seemed a bit younger than 24 to me), taking a seasonal job involving parking tickets, and other minor offenses, to someone who goes through a lot (it is a murder case after all), and learns more about where he'd like to go (no spoiler really that he's actually a pretty good potential cop himself). In other words, the draw of this as a series is seeing Danny's point-of-view as he gains experience.
And, part of the draw is Jeff Woodman's narration. He's one of the three best narrator-material fits I've run across in eons of audio listening. (For the record, the others are George Guidall reading Hillerman's Jim Chee series and the late Frank Mueller reading the novel Motherless Brooklyn).
Now, someone stop me before I rant again!
I've seen reviews that state this one can be read as a stand-alone, which is probably true, but I'd still read the others first. Phil Gigante is a great fit as narrator for the series.
As for the story here, frankly I found the first third or so rather boring, with Apelu moping around on a remote island alone, grieving for his young daughter who'd died on cancer; he blames himself for not having insisted she be treated earlier. The wife and kids are in Western Samoa with her family, except for the older boy, Senele, who comes to live with Apelu later in the story. Anyway ... once one of the pahlonghi (white American) associated with the construction crew is murdered, the action picks up, or at least we have something to go on from there. The ending is quite rushed, almost tacked on, so I didn't really get why the victims were killed specifically?
The book filled time, but if I had to describe it in a single word: grim. Between Apelu's morbid moping, and the nasty characters, it was tough to actually like reading this one. I will give Enright credit for the way he so thoroughly coveys a sense of place and culture. On to the next installment, which just came out ... though probably not right away.
Yes, the author does get carried away with his own schtick at times; however, he's usually informative and funny enough to easily carry what could be dry subject matter if handled differently.
Seems my ancient degree in International Relations really paid off here! Those without a very strong interest in foreign relations would find this one rather a slog I'm afraid, beyond the travel narrative aspects. Audio narration is well done.
Good that this was a short book (non-fiction "novella" as it were), as I never got used to the author's rather verbose, corny style. I suppose it may well be the way Victorian sea captains spoke, and I assumed that the narrator faithfully reproduced that effect, but the result just wasn't for me; had this been a full-length work, I doubt I'd have finished it. The final hour (25%) consists of a second-hand tale from the South Seas written by Slocum, based on reports he says he "translated" with the aid of a Polynesian Bible as his Rosetta Stone; I gave that part a pass.
I had my doubts about "Sailing Alone Around the World", which now goes into the Highly Unlikely category.
and liked it, so thought I'd try the audio edition this time. Carole Boyd was a perfect fit as narrator, truly enhancing my enjoyment of the story!
I suppose this one might qualify as chick-lit, although I could easily see a similar story featuring three brothers with the same family dynamics. At first, I didn't really care for the youngest sister, Retta, much at all; she seemed as though she did get far in using her looks. Barb, the oldest, came off as a tad cold, although she had her moments. As the book went on, I did feel for the middle sister, Faye, having to play "double agent" with both Barb (in terms of keeping Retta from officially joining the agency), as well as Retta (maintaining friendly contact in spite of that). By the end, I was left with the feeling that Barb and Retta are just so different that they can't really identify with each other much, rather than any sort of actual clear animosity. As a bit of a spoiler, there's a clue that Retta's involvements will be "tolerated" on an unofficial basis, even if her sisters aren't ready to have her join the agency as a partner; Retta seenms as though she'd be okay with that, so I would be as well.
Three stars instead of four owing to the plot itself, which like many series set-up books isn't the strongest. I lost track a few times of who was where doing what with the rotating narration, feeling that it wasn't worth the time to keep going back.
If possible, I'd strongly recommend listening to the audio edition, where having three narrators with very distinct voices helps the reader get into character. That's not to say that when each has to voice the others as part of dialogue it didn't work. Barb's reader came across successfully as an older, never married attorney; I can relate to her surprise, and slow acceptance, when one of the characters shows an unexpected interest in her. Faye sounded a bit ... flat to me at first, but I came to realize that her life had been much ... quieter (shall we say) than her attorney sister, or more aggressively flamboyant one. Interestingly, she's the only one given a pronounced Michigan accent. Retta's voice came across as the closest to one I might expect for a cozy mystery audio - a bit snarky, though not obnoxious; her persona keeps the book from just plodding along with the more serious voices of her sisters.
I'm quite interested to see how a second adventure would turn out.
over the author's previous book - night and day! I was able to sustain interest in this one fairly effortlessly, and it was just about the right length as by the time he reached Italy I was ready for things to start wrapping up. Hiring a professional narrator made all the difference, even if the fellow bungled a New York accent (though that voice only lasted a few minutes); his pompous, sneering Spanish fellow was a hoot.
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