Bethesda, MD, United States | Member Since 2005
As with Kitchen Confidential, I enjoyed Tony's writing. It is much more effective with his narration, and I'd like to see this with other authors, but my experience says that, in many cases, that would be a bad idea.
About the only gripe (and I'm not complaining about the language) is his concentration on New York City. I've been to New York, and the top end dining establishments are not the be all and end all.
I know that Mr. Bourdain knows much more about the eating and cooking scene all over this country and in other parts of the world. I'd love to have heard much more about other places. Maybe that is the job of No Reservations.,
It is very difficult to write a review of a book, like this. I almost don't know who to credit more, the author or the narrator. Frankly, if it were allowed, I'd give many more than 5 stars.
Trying not to provide a spoiler (very difficult), in what should be a pretty straightforward procedural, I suddenly find myself looking at this more as a character study, or a series of such that comes to a not unexpected and logical conclusion...just not the one I was expecting.
Ms. Jenkins provides the absolute right voice for a young heroine trying to find herself and her voice in a situation for which she was not brought up or, for that matter, educated.
At this point, I can only hope that this is the start of a series. It is certainly valid as a stand-alone, but I want to know more about our detective, who has the potential to out Morse Morse.
I almost cannot express how much I enjoyed the story. Between the cops relating the daily grind of working the streets, finding "solutions" to crimes/events and having lives to live, without fabulous looking babes with DD bras, 22" waists, and faces that belong in a fashion magazine, but realistic personal demons it really provides a view of what it must be like to be a cop in Chicago (or any big city).
On the other hand, the narration was somewhere between irksome and awful. The narrator's voice is fine, but the mispronunciations are totally inexcusable. I understand the difficulty of pronouncing seldom used words/phrases like "Alte Kakker" ( see: Michael Wex to better understand). On the other hand, words like "Kippah" (Hebrew, not Yiddish) is pronounced "Key-pah" not "Kehpa". That should have been caught. What is worse, if you've ever lived in Chicago, is Devon Avenue. The county in England is pronounced "Devvon", as did the narrator. The street in Chicago is pronounced D'von. There are many other examples of this sort of seriously bothersome mistake.
Of all of the audio books I've listened to, this is the worst, by far, example of this sort of problem. I don't know if the problem is purely the narrator or that no one from Audiobooks or the publisher is not double checking, but it was bad and frequent enough to spoil the listening experience.
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.
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.
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.
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