I REALLY did NOT want or expect to like this book. First, there was the salacious title; and that and the summary sounded like so many "romance" novels masquerading as mysteries or thrillers with the romance and hot steamy scenes far outweighing the thin and predictable "mystery".
When I first heard the drawling stereotypical Delta characters, I just knew I had made a big mistake getting this book. Boy, was I in for a surprise. This is one of those books that could not possibly be enjoyed in book form as much as in the hands of such a talented narrator. This narrator absolutely nailed the southern dialect! And he perfectly distinguished the women from the men--there was never any question. No one was made a ridiculous stereotype by the author or narrator. Of course, the author wrote the words, but unless they were drawled just right--it wouldn't have hit its mark. I have friends who have such an unusual (to me) accent and way of expressing themselves, and find it is almost like a different language--quite lovely when you stop to really listen. That and the manners and mannerisms that are peculiar to that region were flawlessly characterized.
It seemed like a generic boiler-plate plot at first--cultured city girl moves to the boonies where she is culture-shocked and infuriated by the locals, particularly the outspoken handsome landowner. Naturally, you know they will get together; but that is only a minor part of this long 3-part story. The culture clash is significant, and the love scenes steamy, but not dominant. The mystery just keeps evolving. Then, when you think it is formulaically a foregone conclusion, it isn't. It just keeps disorienting the listener so that you are never really sure who is "good" and who is "bad". Or, more to the point, it is not predictable.
Having grown up on Agatha Christie, I got pretty good at predicting the culprit early on in modern mysteries, and always felt cheated when I did. They were just rehashing old and overused plot lines rather than thinking outside the box.
I have not read much that I can remember by this author before, as many female mystery writers never seem to live up to Dame Agatha. But Nora Roberts did an extraordinary job of fleshing out full characterizations for all her characters, injected humor and clever repartee into the dialogues, and didn't "cheat" by pulling the villain out of a hat with no foundation, as would a magician with a rabbit. The clues really are there, but I missed them!
This is an excellent listen, and is essentially irresistible. I look forward to finding more masterpieces from Ms. Roberts.
I'm a Francophile who spends at least a month in Paris each year. I try to read all books which humanize French history. It's great to be able to better appreciate where I happen to be at any given time and know just what went on there.
However, this book would be much better followed if read in written form. I listen to audiobooks so that I can multitask. But that doesn't mean I don't pay attention--I just can't take notes or memorize sequences. This book whips back and forth throughout history, chapters, characters, and quotes without the benefit of written punctuation. The narrator (one of my favorites, by the way) does an excellent job of injecting dry Brit wit into the writer's comments on much of the historical revelations. However, it is difficult to distinguish between a poem and the narration of any of the dozens of characterizations, and the "2.5.1" etc., (presumably chapters and sub chapters, and sub-sub chapters?) makes my ears stop listening. It can be very difficult to follow, as it is a collection of many separate scenarios, largely unlinked except for the city. The scores of character names are numbing, although the historical research is often entertaining, and certainly revealing.
It's just that, it is almost like a history text book, and really should be seen and read. Reciting chapter numbers and sub-chapters is meaningless and distracting. And, you never know what era the narrator will begin after taking an all-too-short pause. Sometimes if I am just slightly distracted, I'll have no idea what era or happening is being recited by the narrator. By the time I catch up, I have hopelessly lost my place and vow to get the printed book.
All in all, it is impressive research, and very entertaining and enlightening factoids about Paris and Parisians. It is just a bit oblique for a casual listener. And I really don't want to have to listen in a vacuum, as with a lecture.
Although a Francophile, I don't remember hearing about the Paris apartment that had been closed up for 70 years. When I now research that finding, I see that many stories got it wrong. It was not the original owner, Marthe de Florian, who fled the Nazis for southern France around the time of the 2nd World War, but her granddaughter, which is a mystery in itself. This appears to be the best and tidiest accounting of the apartment and the lineage of owners. It also probably speculates as to why the final owner never returned for 70 years prior to her death, but kept paying the rent for all that time. The speculations are quite interesting, and it makes for an engrossing story--especially as it is heavily based on actual events. It seems to have been painstakingly researched to be able to have woven the intricate series of events that lead up to this fabulous find. Almost my only negative comment would be of the very excellent narrator. Especially when narrating the voice of a multi-degreed antiques expert, PLEASE pronounce "jewElry" correctly! (not jew-le-ry).
This was one of Silva's more detailed, and in my opinion, more interesting and educational narratives, giving in-depth histories of some of the world's greatest painters. It has a more or less typical Gabriel Allon story line, but for some reason, Kiara and Shamron do not play as big a roll as in the past. Another benefit for Francophiles is the detailed descriptions of his paths in Paris. Clearly, Silva has been there recently. The book is fast-paced and mesmerizing until the end, which is somewhat disappointing. It is as though it quickly tied up lose ends and just stopped any in-depth narrative. Still very worth the listen, as are all of Silva's books.
I stumbled on the Richard Jury books and found they had very entertaining if odd characters. Each character that continues from book to book seems to get deeper, funnier and better developed with each. This is the most entertaining of all the Jury books I've listened to, and I will likely go for the entire series. The narrator does a lively and excellent job of injecting humor and nuance into a vast variety of voices.
(spoiler alert?) Emily becomes a children's author, and writes books about just what this book is about. It is predictable, allegorical life lessons, as though written for children. Children would be better at suspending belief with a dog angel. The pure of heart triumph, and the impure are shamed.
I don't know if it was just my recording, but it is the only book that I have heard that repeats phrases and sentences occasionally. Bad job of editing?
I can't imagine how TWO narrators, male and female, can both be so misguidedly awful! For some reason, they eggageratedly enunciate as though English was their second--or third--language. And I don't mean when they are characterizing a foreigner--everyone sounds stilted with way too many consonants pronounced in a heavy handed manner. I liked the author from the other novel, but this is a disaster. I would never listen to these narrators again, particularly the male.
Trying hard to show that Nazis are alive and well in the very countries that they brutalized decades ago, the terrible narrator literally speed-reads this. I thought that my iPhone must have accidentally switched to double speed; but no, just awful narration.
The premise is valid, the scare warranted, but the book is not literature. From this sample, I would never consider this author or narrator again, and it was a waste of even the token amount spent on this book. It is not a "story", it is a warning.
A huge fan of the "armchair mystery" genre of Agatha Christie (intelligent plots and puzzles requiring thought sans gratuitous violence), I thoroughly enjoyed Jury's crime solving methodology. While not as much of a fan of the narrator's scope of characterization (why did the sergeant's voice have to be created with the narrator seemingly holding his nose closed?), the clues were all there (fair play a la Christie), and it was just a race to see whether the reader could put the puzzle together before Jury. Jury was a little biased in favor of his personal emotional instincts (Poirot would never do that), but nonetheless, it was a good puzzle and very satisfying mystery. I look forward to reading more of Grimes, and hope there are just as many interwoven literary references, as it makes it all the more enjoyable!
This was a pretty good attempt at a sympathetic, fumbling, self-effacing character, but just missed the mark. The distractions of the constant "no way!" "Way!", "no way!", "way!", and the interjections of "I said", "she said", "he said" were distracting. The book tried to create a Sophie Kinsella type of character, but didn't quite have the same result. Waverly was not as likable or sympathetic. A fun read, but a predictable ending, and annoying rinkydink dialogue.
I didn't expect much from this, with the time travel element added to the fantasy, but it wasn't bad. Kind of a combination of Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and The Wizard of Oz--even down to the ruby red shoes. It gets into a bit of trouble with the ending resolution (do babies en vitro time travel too?), but somewhat entertaining if you get it inexpensively.
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