This is a series that I haven't read in order so I've gone back to read the ones I've missed.
This entry has two simultaneous but unrelated storylines. In one, Kearney is trying to
find out who killed a small-town cop, and in the other he's working to solve the theft of
priceless art works from the governor's office. It took me half the book to keep straight
which characters belonged to which storyline but that was more "operator error" than
a problem with the writing.
The writing is actually quite good in this debut. I'm not a fan of murder mysteries that spend an inordinate amount of time in serial killers heads but I could have forgiven that. What I can't forgive is advancing the plot by having the detective make "intuitive leaps" based on nothing. If I hadn't been listening to this on my iPod, I would have thrown it against the wall.
If this had been written as an historical novel I would have rated it four stars. The history, the anthropology were great. But it was sadly lacking in mystery. Still, I enjoy the writing enough to go on to book three in the series.
Three years ago two 15 year old girls vanished. There is a police investigation but they are thought to have run away to London. Until the body of one of the girls is found after a blizzard, barefoot and sexually mutilated. Joe O'Loughlin is asked to review the original investigation in light of the girls obviously not having run away. Told by both Joe, and Piper Hadley, the surviving teen, Robotham writes yet another perfect suspense-filled mystery.
And, as always, Sean Barrett is the perfect narrator.
I don't care for legal mysteries but this will make my top ten reads of the year. More than half the book is about Guido Guerrieri, the Advocato in the criminal courts. The case he is defending is one of a Senegalese peddler who is accused of kidnapping and strangling a small Italian boy whom he was friends with. The case hangs, not on proving someone else did it, nor even proving the accused did not do it. Instead, in a brilliant piece of writing, Guido offers in his closing argument a monologue on the multiple natures of "truth".
Special kudos to Patrick Creagh, the translator. So perfect is his translation that the reader would never guess the book had been written in Italian.
Other than this being a very long book, I don't understand the reasoning behind splitting the narration between two readers. Even less do I understand why everyone wouldn't sit down beforehand and agree on the pronunciation of all the proper names. Kate Reading makes no attempt to differentiate the voices of the various characters (as does Michael Kramer), which makes her alternate pronunciations all the more jarring. I gave the book three starts simply because I read it in a paper version and enjoyed it. I cannot recommend the audio version at all.
Ellen's husband, Harry, goes for a sail in his yacht and never returns, presumed lost at sea. When the boat and body are recovered, more questions are raised than answered. You, as the reader, know Ellen is lying. But about what? What is already a great story is only enhanced by the superb reading of Frances Tomelty.
It's funny that those stories that are predictable are the most unrealistic. You find you know what the characters are going to do, not because you would do the same in their place, but because you know what this type of character does in this type of situation. Denise Mina has written a good story with a believable twist AND her characters act like real people. The husband goes back and forth between I trust her/I don't trust her, she did it/she couldn't have done it. The reader is superb with no jarringly false voices. I look forward to more books from Ms. Mina.
I have this book in hardcover and tried to read it but had trouble getting into it. I thought listening to it might be easier. It wasn't. I might have given it three stars even though the story is rather boring (and Robinson's writing seems like he is getting bored with the series as well) but I had to drop my rating to two stars because of the reader. I can't quite put my finger on what I found annoying overall about his reading, but can say that the over-the-top phoney voice he uses for Banks was jarring and irritating.
It is what it is, and an English cozy will never be literature. But it is an enjoyable story with characters you come to care about. The best thing about it, though, is having Simon Brett doing the reading. In my opinion, he is up there with Donada Peters as one of the best readers in the business.
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