This detective story is about 35 years old, and the dated language from the late 70s waters down a good mystery with good characters, making it almost seem like a cliche. Sadly, while it might have made it a better novel when it was published, it means that it doesn't stand up as well over time. The winning piece in the package is the performance, a narrator who brings a really believable voice to Chief Edward X. Delaney - but it's not enough to bring the audiobook above a 3 out of 5.
I'll start with the narration, which was my biggest problem with this audiobook. There are two narrators - one is fine, but not especially good, but the other is horrible. Bland intonation and slightly elongated pauses - Stuart McLean uses a similar pacing for comedy, but they just don't work for narrating a murder thriller. I thought the book was kind of painful to listen to, but my sister urged me to go on because of the quality of the story.
The main story line is a good one, involving brothers after the death of their father. One is a political cartoonist, the other is a schizophrenic with obvious autistic spectrum signs who spend his days and night obsessively memorizing street maps from around the world from the computer website. When he sees what he thinks is a murder taking place, it reveals a past and starts a string of future events. That's great......but what isn't great is the myriad of back-stories and subplots that do nothing to help the characterization or clarity and simply add bulk and uninteresting information. A really strong editor would have been an asset.
I really enjoy this series - it's a lot of fun. It can be tough for an author to write humorous murder mysteries (many have tried, few succeed), and Grabenstein seems to have hit the mark well. Add the excellent narration by Jeff Woodman, and it's a winner.
I'd had this book on my wish list for a long time, and I'm glad I finally chose to listen to it because it is a fascinating look at the myriad of ways that parts of people are bought, sold, and traded across the world. Some are voluntary, some are financially motivated, some are criminally stolen. Buying blood, hair donations, organ sales, hired surrogates, kidnapped children adopted out internationally........the stories are both interesting and depressing. Because of the internet and the ease of world travel, local laws are not much of a restriction when laws of other countries allow one to obtain internationally what is not available locally. And sometimes even what one obtains locally could have been sourced internationally - with ethical problems attached - without one knowing. It's a complicated and ethically fraught web of problems.
I did find the author a little overly preachy about some issues, but it didn't detract much from the overall effect of the book. I can't quite say I enjoyed it, but it was very interesting and a worthwhile "read".
This isn't a whodunnit, because the murder is clear in the first part of the book - we know where, when, why, and (yes) who did it. The only question that remains is if, when, and how will the aftermath play out.
The novel is ultimately focused on whether it it more difficult to create an unsolvable problem, or to solve that problem. And if you can understand and ponder the philosophy in that, then you can get to the heart of this story, where the main characters are a mathematician, and physics professor, and a police detective - all alumni of the same university in the same year, and all brought together by the murder of a greedy and abusive man by his frightened ex-wife.
It's also about friendship, unrequited love, devotion (to people and philosophies), and morality. Sadly, though it has thoughtfulness and intelligence, I thought it lacked in character development and emotion. That was not helped by the narrator, who didn't provide sufficiently different voices for the characters, in my opinion, further adding to the lack of characterization and emotion in their voices. It all sounded a bit wooden to me, though that might also have been the fault of the translator - without being able to read (or listen to it) in Japanese, I can't decide which is at fault there.
I chose this because I wanted to try a Japanese murder mystery and it was well reviewed and awarded, but it didn't wow me and I'm not sure I'll try another.
Even though this was a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone written by Rod Serling, it doesn't feel really dated (other than the pre X Files concept of aliens). Very enjoyable story and presentation.
This story is the audio version of a 1963 Twilight Zone episode; it's very dated in characterizations and setting, but it's a kind of creepy story nonetheless.
Good performances, good sound effects, a nice little radio drama about man's determination and love of competition.
I find some of Agatha Christie's novels are more about the mystery and the sleuth (often her regulars, Miss Marple or Poirot), but this one is as much about the characters and the setting, as it is about the mystery. It's a funny look at the characters of the snowed in country village, who love to gossip and know everything about everyone -- except for the mother and daughter pair who've rented the manor estate, a very odd happening for the middle of a Dartmoor winter. And when a resident turns up murdered at the same time as forecast by the spirits during a "table turning" seance, everyone starts wondering what could have happened. In comes a police inspector, a newspaper reporter, and the fiancee of the nephew (and heir) of the murdered man, all trying to find out whodunnit.
I do like the Tana French novels I've listened to, and I particularly like her character development -- each one of the Dublin Murder Squad books (so far) seems to take a murder detective and use a case to delved deep into the character and the effect of the case on that character. This one is no exception, however I found that the main character here is more deeply flawed than most and balancing carefully on the edge of breaking apart. I was hoping that would become more of the focus and progression of the story, but that never seemed to happen. It left me feeling dissatisfied with the ending, even though i enjoyed the trip along the way. As in the others, the plot plays second fiddle to the characters, but that can still make for a good book. Too many authors put all their effort into a fabulous plot, but have cardboard characters with stilted dialogue, but I prefer a balance tilted more towards characterization.
There are so many pieces of this audiobook that don't seem to work, but by the end of it all they did all work together -- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Many of the accents seemed a little wrong, but I understood and that was OK. Some of the plot seemed wrong, but in minor ways that didn't detract from the flow. Somehow, it all worked together to create an enjoyable audiobook when all was said and done.
Although - as many have said - Sherlock doesn't appear in this book (taking place immediately after the Reichenbach Falls event), I don't agree that he doesn't isn't a part of this book.....His personality and notoriety are a strong factor in this book, playing a part in the actions of all the major characters. Still, I enjoyed it for what it is, not for being a part of the "Sherlock Holmes" world. The writing was good, the plot made sense without being too obvious, and the characters were interesting. I picked this title based on my enjoyment of House of Silk and not because I am a Holmes-ophile, and I was not disappointed.
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