David Gillham's moving and true words, in the hands of Suzanne Bertish's uncanny voicing of these flawed and damaged characters, left me in a continual state of anticipation, wonder, and concern for the characters. One cannot help being amazed at the depth of research necessary to convey the sense of realism that had me peering over my shoulder for signs of trouble from time to time in "the German glance."
Like all good fiction, Gillham's story never betrays the reader's sense of trust in the trueness of the story and characterizations in a moving portrayal of how ordinary people react bravely or cowardly in the face of government evil. I found City of Women a completely surprising and thrilling performance. Bravo!
I was expecting an historical account of the founding and first years of the new state of Israel, but Shavit delivered instead repetitive and mostly fictional stories reimagined from historical documents, with an extremely over-dramatic reading by Paul Boehmer (great with the Hebraic words) that left me mostly uneducated about Israel's start. What little analysis Shavit posits is confusing. For example, he considers the West Bank settlements a defining mistake, but offers no suggestions for change. I recommend listening only to the Introduction and last chapter, at most.
In none of his 9 preceding mysteries has Inspector Kurt Wallander been less discerning or quick-witted. We are tempted at several points to shout hints to him about clues he has seemingly missed until hours later and just kick him on the ankles to get him moving out of his constant funk. The story is a good one, both well suited to our political fears in these days of slipping back into Cold War jitters, and also befitting Mankell's considerable skills. The telling, however, is marred (for me, ruined) by Wallander's fixation on how old he's become (he's 60, for gosh sake's, not 90!). OK, Mankell needs to be sure we don't expect an 11th Wallander mystery, but surely he did not have to immerse the real mystery of The Troubled Man (not a reference to Wallander, by the way, although it might as well be) into this back story. On the plus side, a wonderful reading by Robin Sachs, who is responsible for 1-1/2 of my stars. Reach for an earlier Wallander book.
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