If you're precious about Doyle's works, I probably wouldn't recommend this. It does tend to lean more towards the speculative than the detective side. Then again it's a little strange in my opinion to be a staunch defender of the Holmesian canon when the author himself said to another writer "You may marry [Holmes], or murder or do what you like with him."
And these authors do. If you allow yourself more than your usual helping of willing suspension of disbelieve you will encounter terror, hilarity, shock, excitement and suspense. You will also discover (and this is an official spoiler alert) dinosaurs, pirates, Siamese twins, mummy's curses, Jack the Ripper, alien abductions, Lovecraftian horrors (a lot of these actually), alternate dimensions, ghost, ghouls, strange contraptions and some brilliant interpretations of the world's greatest consulting detective. We also get a slew of cameos from Doyle's work as well as the appearance of actual historical figures (including Doyle himself. Twice.)
I tended to dislike Anne Flosnik narrations but that could be because they pale in comparison to Simon Vance's renditions. His are genius.
The quality varies from author to author as you would expect, but there has to be at least one tale here that tickles your fancy. For all the ones I hated there were two I adored. I highly recommend this collection.
When I say "literally" I mean literally. This book will one day be part of the canon of western literature, and I will fight bare fisted for thirty rounds anyone who dares argue with me on this. This is one of my all time favourite books. I have become an insane drug-pusher in regards to it, thrusting Clarke's masterpiece at all who will hear and yelling "READ IT! READ IT NOW!" It is charming and warm and chilling and thrilling and makes you yell at the characters and hold your breath and stop listening because you can't take anymore and listen to over and over again because it is so splendid.
I am normally more measured with my reviews. But right now I can't be, because it's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and it is nothing but glorious, Pick this book. You won't regret it.
I know what the word "abridged" means. I know that there are many times where a story is slimmed down in order to make the listening easier for the audience and so the reader doesn't run out of steam (it was a delight, by the way, to hear the tale from the writer's won lips). But how come we audible listeners don't have the non-abridged option available to us? Is it a copyright thing? Unlikely seeing as you have Thomas Harris himself reading for you. Is it because so parts of the book were too graphic to be voiced? I don't think so. I don't think it gets much worse than, what I will call to prevent spoilers, "The Wheelchair Scene". Is it because it just makes it snappier? Maybe, but if I wanted a snappy version I could have just rented the films Manhunter or Red Dragon. When I listen to a story I want the extra details and characters that I may have missed by only seeing the film. I want the world fleshed out for me. And while I can't fault the story or the narration, I feel a little cheated that I didn't get more.
I bought this because I have recently watched Hannibal on NBC, and just in case there are others like me who want to expand their knowlege of the original, let me just put in this warning. There is Jack. There is Freddy. I don't know how reduced their parts are, but they're there at least. But there is only one mention of Alan Bloom and Beverly Katz just barely makes a cameo with no lines. I think Hobbs was entirely cut out. If you want more details for your dollar, more bang for your buck, you may be better off reading, Red Dragon the old fashioned way.
In the end it's a good listen. I'm just not sure whether it's enough.
Talking about Detective Fiction is a neat, simple, and thoroughly enjoyable look at the Detective Genre, with P.D James (one of the modern greats) as your guide. This book is clear enough for the casual fan, detailed enough for the die-hard sleuth-enthusiasts and full of enough humour, facts and interesting musings to keep it from being dry of academic. All the best known characters (and their authors of course) are mentioned – Holmes, Poirot, Marpole, Marlowe, and Whimsey – as well as a few of the more obscure ones, who you may be curious enough to look up afterwards.
Some of the parts I most enjoyed (without being to spoileriffic) were these:
• The genesis of the Detective Genre, and how it caught the public consciousness.
• The questions about Holmes life. Who did live in 221C?
• The absolute Brittish-ness of The Golden Age.
• P.D’s own musings on her own work and her own characters. What she would do if she was
starting out today.
• The lists of the Do’s and Do Not’s of Golden Age Detective Fiction. For example: Never ever have identical twins in your mystery story. Or a Chinese man.
• The overview of the Ladies of Mystery – the women who have contributed to the genre.
• Crime fiction vs. Real Crime.
• P.D’s defence of the genre and where she thinks it’s heading.
It’s not a long listen but then again it means it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Diana Bishop gives a solid reading and allows some of P.D’s dry humour slip into her performance. James said that she never intended this to be the definitive work on the genre, but it doesn’t need to be. This is a great overview of all the basics, and P.D does an amazing job in show-casing just why Detective Fiction is one of the most beloved genres today.
Those of who frequent Audible, know full well the importance of a good reader. A clunky performance can ruin a terrific book, while a great one can bring a whole cast of characters to life. I know that I myself have selected books solely based on who the narrator was (Simon Vance, look him up). So it’s obvious why writers aren’t often selected to read their own work. Because they write! They’re not performers, and most aren’t expected to be. If you put so much effort into writing an enthralling story, you don’t want to have the whole thing ruined simply because you didn’t take elocution lessons as a child.
Thus my raised eyebrow at the fact Mr. Gaiman chose to tell his own tale. Was it a marketing gimmick? Was it a writers’ ego getting in the way of his good sense?
The truth is simply this. Neil Gaiman is a storyteller.
It is such a treat to hear a writer read the story in the way that it obviously plays out in his own dark and brilliant mind. To hear the voices of the characters they way he wants you to hear them. Gaiman’s pacing is great and his tone is deep, eerie and strangely comforting. If fact it suits the story perfectly.
I have never read the Jungle Book, so I don’t know how much of Bod’s journey mimics Mowgli’s or how much Gaiman channels Kipling. But I can tell you it is an amazing story in its own right, the sort of mysterious and scary story that I wanted to have when I was a child.
This is a rare opportunity audiobook fans; to hear a tale from the creators own lips and actually enjoy it.
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