Bethesda, MD, United States | Member Since 2005
Well, I'm getting better at understanding English, as opposed to American. But...there are a number of "pop" references that I had to think about or check on. Maybe I'm getting too old, but it was worth it.
The narrator's ability to use different voices remains a virtual wonder, particularly as more characters are introduced into the arc of the story.
After reading this, 2nd in the series, I can't emphasize enough the advise that you read the series, beginning with the first book.
I do have one, sort of, gripe with the narrator. There are 1/2 dozen characters with Russian accents. The problem is that in the narration, there is very little distinction between the characters. Since it probably would have been nearly impossible to provide enough differentiation between the various voices to make each individual. I think that the only answer would have been to use different narrators.
As to the story, I enjoyed it immensely. Of course, I'm relatively familiar with Israeli, Middle East, and Jewish history and the variety of belief systems within the spectrum of Judaism. As to the politics and alliances within Israel, I don't completely understand them, but then I'm confident that even the journalists that comment on these sectors, to say nothing of the various governmental analysts (no matter which country) have no true handle on what goes on. In other words, it could easily be amazingly confusing for many readers.
I actually enjoyed the book. It was classic Connolly, with maybe even a bit of Dave Robicheaux's South Louisiana tossed in, for good measure. Not great literature, but a much better than average detective novel.
The real problem was with the narrator. Yes, I know that he made no real attempt to add a serious Louisiana accent, and I can deal with that, since some accents are very tough to get right. Or, in the case of a Scottish accent, if you get it right, the narration is totally unintelligible. The problem is that there were 1/2 dozen words that he completely mispronounced. Since some of them were place names and not just N'Awleans, but when he mispronounces Metarie, Ponchartrain, etc. and they are words/place names that come up repeatedly, it's like fingernails on a chalk board. It should have been basic research to check on those names.
Todd writes the tale of a detective, back from the First World War and struggling with his own demons. As a "Who Dun It", this book stands on its own. Without throwing out unnecessary Red Herrings, Todd keeps the question of the perpetrator (if there really is one) up in the air until very close to the end.
Even better, he paints a, presumably, accurate picture of rural English life between the wars. I've spent much time studying that period, but only as a historian. I, more or less, understand the economic forces that drove events. The personalities that dominated the country are part of my every day vocabulary. To read about the lives and attitudes of those who lived there and then, how they looked at those returning from the war, how they lived with a changing world and where they would look for leadership.
Disclaimer: I'm a major Hugh Laurie fan. I enjoyed Fry & Laurie, found his portrayal of House good and better than the series, to say nothing of his fabulous album.
This is a wonderful listen. A good tale, with quite a bit of humor. What is interesting is that Laurie has, so far, resisted the temptation to write "the next chapter".
Again, if you enjoy a fun read, that will drive you to the turn the next page, this is a pick for you.
I have to wonder if it might have been even better, if Laurie had done the narration.
I was a history major in college, with an emphasis on other than US history. I spent serious time studying medieval and post-medieval history, did major papers on the development of the British navy. Of course, most of what I studied was the actions and lives of "those who mattered". Remembering that this is not a nonfiction book, it is a good window into that time and place.
What it does is provide a fun read, with a number of not too predictable twists and even better, a picture of part of what life was like in an area away from the action, at a time when the world was in more turmoil than even today.
This is certainly worth a listen, on a number of levels.
First, a disclaimer. When I watch British Mysteries on TV, I often need to turn on the closed captioning, to understand what is being said. Truth is, I speak American. This book is definitely in English.
The story is a fun combination of Police Procedural and Fantasy (I think that is the proper term). If you enjoy both, you need to read this book.
The reader does a fine job of delineating the various characters, primarily using various regional accents. He also does a good job of presenting women's voices without using falsetto.
This is the first of a series, which is tied, not just a series of individual books, so it's better to read them in order. I've read the first three and enjoyed each.
Sorry, but I really had trouble fighting my way through the whole thing. The timeline was weird and didn't make much sense, in that often too much happened in too little time to be realistic.
There was a horrible error made about 1/3 of the way through the book. It was so stupid and so unforgivable that it simply kept preying on my mind.
Somewhere about 2/3 of the way through the book, it dawned on me that much of the driving essence for many characters was right out of "The Girl Who..." (Steig Larrsen). That did me in.
BTW, the performer was OK, not great. Her "Southern" accent varied from Tennessee, to Southern Virginia, to Texas. Didn't make much sense.
I've enjoyed other of the series, but, that probably killed it, for me.
The narration is right on and the story, like most of Burke's builds and builds on a number of different levels. There are new twists and, maybe, I'd have liked a different final direction, but that is Burke's call. I want to say more, but it would be a spoiler.
Let's just say: "If you like James Lee Burke, if you like mysteries, if you like New Orleans, if you like creative and descriptive writing, you need to get this book".
If you like classic British mysteries (Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, etc.), you'll like this. It's a tad longer than most of the older titles, but that is OK. It would also help if you have read at least some of the previous books in this series, as the "back story" is important to the character development.
Very simply, it's very good, but not great. Do enjoy.
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