After reading the summary I thought this was going to be a historical mystery but this is not so. The start was promising, lots of humor, imaginative chapter headings and the narrator is excellent but after a while the angsty romance takes over and is nauseating! A romance is expected in a historical mystery but there was very little history and NO MYSTERY - the spy intrigue took only a tiny portion of the story and merely consisted of several suspects and thats it.
This book is a YA mystery and I would normally go near YA books (I don't know why I was expecting otherwise considering the protagonist is a teenage girl but for some reason I did) but glad I made that mistake. I felt for the characters, it was a great depiction of the period, the narrator was a perfect choice for the character and the mystery kept you guessing.
There are some definite YA characteristics however such as the main characters tendency to make assumptions and leap to hasty conclusions, some high school drama etc - in other words she acts like a typical teenager so no surprises there, but I still managed to like her.
Recommend to anyone who likes cosy mystery series or period mysteries.
Before buying this book I saw a review describing this book as a "coffee table book" and I cannot think of a better way of describing it. It is no historical thesis; it jumps from topic to topic in time and place - but as long as that's what your expecting it is enjoyable. It is filled with interesting historical and anthropological facts and is an excellent commuters companion.
I am a fan of the genre but hesitated to pick up this book because of the bad reviews on goodreads - and they were unfortunately correct.
Each small piece of the puzzle was revealed to the audience long before the main character slowly and agonizingly groped his way to the truth. The characters lacked any kind of chemistry, in fact the romance was so forced it was nearly unbearable, making it all the more perplexing since it was completely unnecessary to the story unless it was a failed attempt by the author to raise the stakes. The depiction of the period was nonexistent, where it not for the occasional reference to a tricorn hat I would have forgotten where and when the book was set.
The narrator was good overall except for some instances where the main female character actually showed some backbone - "spoken through her teeth" somehow translated to annoying whine.
This book is number 8 in the Dr Steven Dunbar series, this is absolutely not an archeological mystery (as I had thought when buying this book) nor does the book focus on history at all.
Despite being mislead by the premise I did end up liking the series which is about a specialist detective who investigates science-related crimes usually involving a conspiracy or two.
A good book for anyone intrigued by Livingstone and his travels, it gives in-depth account of Livingstone's last journey which uses sources from the period including Livingstone and Stanley's journal entries. However the book does have some significant negatives.
The main negative for me was the spasmodic layout of the narrative - the story jumps jumps back and forth unnecessarily in the timeline and characters appear abruptly, are flooded with backstory and then drop out of the narrative only to reappear at random.
The narrator was good overall but manages to over-annunciate every single word which eventually drove me slightly insane.
Nice little story if you are familiar with the characters but would not be a good introduction for anyone hoping to get a taste before delving into the series.
An excellent narrator, compelling plot, a interesting depiction of the period, a good mystery - but for all that the story still falls short. Firstly one piece of advice I wish I had known before reading is not to get too distracted by the political backdrop - you will absorb the important points as the plot unfolds.
As to the story itself; the author would have done better to allow the main character (who is supposedly retelling this story many years after the events) a bit of introspection and analysis given that he has the benefit of being far removed from the action. Instead this is more of a straight up re-telling of events which is a pity as the plot lends itself to humor, if only the character had a sense of humor. It also posed many moral questions, but never addressed them - in fact the character merely blunders through the story never questioning his actions or growing in any meaningful way.
It was an interesting plot but a bland retelling. I don't think I'll bother with the rest of the series unless boredom moves me to give it a second chance.
I have been waiting for this series to become available on audible for a long time and it was worth the wait. A light hearted mystery series with typically modern female protagonist in a historical setting.
The story keeps you guessing until the end and if you are a fan of the historical mystery genre this is definitely a must and I'll be waiting again for the next in the series to be released by audible (Uneasy Spirits - available now only in print).
I would have given this 4 stars if it wasn't for the tired formula of a mystery with a Darcy/Elizabeth romance - he wants to protect her and she is torn between her love for him and her yearning for independence - (Lady Julia, Lady Emily, The Parasol Protectorate - to name a few) a tired blueprint but I can't fault the author considering it works every time.
The narrator was good overall but not great or consistent with accents and probably wasn't given enough time to develop the main characters voice, was a bit breathy and off-pitch to be endearing - I really do think these faults are due to a lack of direction though, rather than talent.
I have read a few books in the Sano Ichiro series and I would definitely recommend. This series is accessible to absolutely anyone who loves a good mystery novel despite its exotic (to me) setting. The narrator was excellent and to my ear (although I am no expert) the pronounciation seemed true enough.
However this instalment in the series was a little overly-theatrical, in particular the finale. I would usually never suggest changing up the characters (I'm usually more of a "if it ain't broke don't, don't fix it" kind of reader) but some aspects *cough* Yanagisawa and the Shogun *cough* grow rather tiresome after a few readings - if you aren't going to add any extra dimensions to the character (especially villains/adversaries) they become clichés! Also I don't like the idea of throwing too many roadblocks in the main characters way, after a while you stop admiring them as underdogs and start wondering when he/she is going to be revealed as a superhuman being.
But despite these qualms it was an interesting mystery, albeit a little overplayed.
I took a gamble on this book but it did not pay off, the narrators voice was so dreary I kept having to go back and replay sections because I could not maintain my concentration. This has never happened to me before with an audiobook. I became so fed up I didn't even get to the end, I just didn't care anymore.
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