I have become addicted to the dramatized Poirot stories in the past year or so. After listening to about 20 of them, I have noticed a few things. Some seem to follow a rather set pattern while others go along in a seemingly nonsensical way until -bam!- the solution appears.
This book is unique in that where it has many elements of other Agatha Christie tales (ex: a murder on a train, a romance that may or may not be a good idea, Poirot's ambiguity on certain moral issues) it stands apart in how the story plays out. As usual, there are suspects a-plenty, but every time you think you have the killer pegged, that's about the time a new prime suspect crops up. It should keep you engaged all the way through without the annoying "Oh, it's obvious that guy did it and now I have to listen to 2 more hours of an unnecessary story" syndrome.
There was one main difference in this dramatization from the majority (or even all) of the others available: Hercule Poirot is voiced by a different actor. I was really used to John Moffat in the role and as such, hearing Maurice Denham exercising his "little grey cells" was a little hard for me. It was a little like switching Darrens (or Beckys, depending on your generation) and that took me out of the story. But after listening to it 3 or 4 times (yes, it's good enough to do that), he grew on me. I still prefer John Moffat, but not to the point where I can't listen.
As for the rest of the main cast, I don't know all the names, but the voices for Mr Van Alden, Major Knighton, Katherine Grey and Derek Kettering seemed spot on. The voice for Mirelle was really shrill and grating, but that fit the character perfectly. Ruth Kettering sounded like she was the same actress as Louise from "Murder in Mesopotamia" and for some reason, I can't see her as either of those characters. Her voice has a slight lisp to it that doesn't fit with the image of a glamorous femme fatale, but that's my take. The voice of Ada Mason just drove me batty, but again, maybe that was the point for the character.
All in all, this is one of my favorite Poirot stories. I really recommend it if you enjoy Agatha Christie at all.
I have been reading the Belgariad/Mallorean series for almost 20 years, and after finding the audio versions, I was thrilled. I began with Belgarath the Sorcerer and thought it was rather well read. Some of his pronunciations ("Kenedra"? Really?) and voices (the female characters sounded odd, but what can you do?) had me cringing a bit, but overall I was quite pleased with what I heard.
After "Belgarath, I moved on to "Polgara the Sorceress" and I was blown away. I do not know why so many people have taken issue with Ms Perlman's narration, since to me, she read the voice of Polgara as close to prefectly as it could be done. The tones, the emotions, it was just, well, Polly! I know it's been said that pronunciation was an issue, and I do agree that her choices on a few nouns like "Ctuchik" and "Vo Mimbre" did make my ears jangle, but when I heard the voice, I saw a lovely woman with lavender eyes and raven hair with one white lock speaking her story.
I know some people also think the narrator's voice makes Polgara come across harshly. I did not hear her as high-handed or mean or snippy or anything like that. She was a 3000-something lady who had lived through the supposed abandonment of her mother and death of her sister, dealt with a reprobate father, ruled a duchy for centuries, had her first love die defending her home and spent over 1000 years protecting children who were not her own. She had a bit on her plate; a touch of attitude is allowed to come creeping into the narrative at times and I think Ms Perlman captures that wonderfully.
All in all, "Polgara" is absolutely my favorite of the audio versions of the Belgariad universe. I tried listening to "Pawn of Prophecy" and couldn't bring myself to opt for book 2; the reader just couldn't bring me back to the wonder I'd had for so many years. But at the end of "Polgara, I just wanted to start listening again and immerse myself in the world that Eddings built.
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