There are 2 styles of Oscar Wilde stories here - the satirical scenes of British society that most people know from his famous plays, and fairy tales that were purportedly written for children. The children's fairy tales seem more heavily moralized that the fairy tales written by Hans Christian Anderson or Grimm, but that might just be my memory because these are fresher in my mind. In fact, both types of stories carry the same types of satirical messages of society, but one is dressed up in fantasy characters.
I remain a huge Wilde fan, but his fairy tales are not among my favourite of his works.
I'm a little torn reviewing this book, because I really like Kenzie and Gennaro and have enjoyed many other of Lehane's novels featuring them......however the actual plot and the other characters are not that great in this installment. I did like the Scientology-like "counselling" institute, but much of the rest of the story was pretty predictable, and the secondary characters and villains were rather flat and predictable. Lehane's style is still good and I enjoyed the narration, so in that way this is a compelling -- but ultimately lightweight -- audiobook. Not up to the level of many of Lehane's other novels, like Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and A Drink Before the War.
I've seen the wonderful movie adaptation of this play (1957), and that helped bring this audio dramatization to life - I'm not sure it's quite as powerful without having a true feeling of the setting and behaviours. Plays are written to be performed, and without exposition (describing the setting, movements, expressions, etc) there is something always missing from only hearing the dialogue, unless you're already aware of those elements (or unless you're reading the set direction, etc.)
However, if you've seen this play on stage or in one of the film versions, this is a wonderfully performed version that will take shape in your mind quite easily.
As a disclosure, the actual performance is about 20 minutes shorter than the production time of this audiobook, which includes at the end an interview with the playwright's widow about the play.
Wow, this is a good story, with a slow, Southern drawl. Had it not taken place in small town Georgia (from the early 20s to early 60s), it would have seemed too dragged out, but the pace (and the pace of the narration) fit the time and place of the book. Apparently few people ever left Delano if they started there, but I'm not sure if that speaks to the towns goodness or if it's like quicksand that grabs ahold and doesn't let go.
It starts when a failed cotton farmer is hired as the first sheriff of small-town Delano, based on his general standing and respect in the town - and it follows his life and career until he is killed in the line of duty almost a decade later. But it's not just about him -- it's about all the townspeople, from the powerful and respected president of the local bank and the quirky excentric who wanted to be sheriff and failed, to the servants from the farm who had to move to town for new lives when the farmer turned to law enforcement.
After the first sheriff dies, the book jumps forward 20 years to the town now welcoming their returning veterans from the war, both black and white, and we get to see some of the original characters and their sons who are now young men. The book pays very little attention to any women, which actuall turns out to be a good thing for the audiobook (since the narrator did not handle women's voices very well), and is proobably appropriate for the time frame. This middle part of the book includes more politics......the son of the first sheriff is now a lawyer running for political office; the current sheriff is a racist hothead who likes violence, the quirky excentric is still living alone in his log cabin up the mountain, and the black community is starting to assert itself in small ways, as returning veterans bring home new skills and new attitudes - and new conflicts.
That sheriff also gets himself killed in the line of duty (though with less respect), and the book jumps forward another 20 years. Delano hires their first black sheriff, there is a lot more political action, and a lot more racial conflict as the town (and county's) reaction to the first black sheriff begins to boil.
Through all 60 years is the underlying mystery of missing young men - it began when the first sheriff was faced with the puzzle of a naked teen who apparently fell off a bluff with signs of restraint and torture, and continued as subsequent sheriffs started noticing a pattern of missing young met who were last seen traveling near or through the town. That mystery is finally finished with violence and horror 60 years after it started, putting a nice bow on the decades-long arc of this community.
Though at times the narrator is excellent with a slow and relaxed pace, he loses several points for doing poorly with female voices (especially his horrid vocalizing of the Anglo-Irish wife of a character, met in Londong during the war), and for not having enough differentiation between the characters, making some conversations hard to keep track of.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel, but I was glad I took the chance and listened to it. I've been trying to find the author's next book, with the same characters, but haven't found it locally or on Audible, but I'd like to try it.
The main character is a British housewife who takes a job with the local small-town newspaper - against her husband's wishes - as a chance to get out and about and do more than tend to her house, husband, and almost-grown son. While covering a rather boring local conference on substance abuse, she stumbles upon a dead body, apparently dead by hanging but who actually died from a heroin overdose. It's the biggest news to hit their little town in a long time, so she teams up with a more seasoned reporter from the paper and sets out to uncover the mystery.
What follows is a kind of convoluted story of murder, fraud, kick-backs, drugs, and adultery, but made into a fun and amusing story by the first-person narrative of the main character. And excellently narrated by Jacquiline King. I sort of thought of it as a British housewife version of the New Jersey bounty-hunter stories by Janet Evanovich. In fact, both authors won the Crime Writers' Association award for best first novel (Roome for this book in 1986, Evanovich for One For The Money in 1995).
The parts of the book I enjoyed the most were unexpected, probably because of how those parts differed from the movie that I've seen several times (though not recently). The James Bond presented here was more human and "rough", hardly the polished playboy of the Sean Connery-portrayed Bond of the movies, and I liked that better. More like the Daniel Craig Bond than the Connery Bond. Sadly, he's more chauvanistic than the character even in the 1964 movie, but I can write that off as a product of the author's time and place.
Nevertheless, it's still an enjoyable secret agent romp with a good villain, good Bond, and a typical happy ending. The narration was very good, and definitely helped keep the story moving.
I read this book many years ago, and I don't remember it being as interesting and evocative as the audiobook - the narration really added to the atmosphere of the noir story. Good characters, good story, good narration.......definitely worth listening to.
Actually, in this installment, Walt Longmire is ON the reservation - and out of his jurisdiction - as he helps the tribal Police Chief with the case of a woman he witnessed fall to her death. Not only is he out of his jurisdiction professionally, he's a little out of his depth personally as his daughter's wedding approaches and he gets emotionally torn between his past and his present, and her present and her future.
This continues to be a series of books I love listening too - good stories that are terrifically read. I actually have to make myself slow down and not listent to all of them back-to-back.....I want to savour them and make the series last.
Actually, it's a good story terrifically read - Katherine Kellgren (who I've enjoyed performing the Royal Spyness novels) has done an amazing job bringing the characters and their situations (fun, fear, nerves, panic, sadness, irony) to life. I do believe that this is better listened to than read, and I don't think I would have gotten past the first dozen pages if I had been reading the print version.
I have no shame in calling this a swashbuckling tale of life on the high seas - though a cliche, it does fit this situation, and the book (almost) never seems like a cliche. One can clearly tell it's written for tweens, but it's good fun nonetheless and never seems juvenile, neither in story nor in language choice. It starts with 11 or 12 year old orphan Mary on the streets of London, who puts on a dead friends clothes to appear as a boy and manages (by virtue of being able to read) to get herself hired on as a "ship's boy" on a vessel of His Majesty's Navy. It ends, about 3 years later with her set off the ship in Boston, ready for installment 2 of the series. In between there are sailors and pirates, ships' chores and liberty in port, battles and Sunday's spent dancing jigs and learning to play the tinwhistle. Oh, and some parasailing and being marooned on an island. Just about the most you can stuff into 3 years of a young girl's life.
I've never had the opportunity to see a stage production of Julius Caesar, but I'm glad I listened to one rather than read the play -- there's so much more in the context of a production that brings a situation to life. This story of political allegiances and personal friendships is a classic one played out not just on the battlefields of the past but in the homes, schools, and workplaces of today, though on a much less fatal scale.....and that's what makes this play a true classic. Add to that is the benefit some of the rather poetic language that has also become a classic ("Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war", "The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones", The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves").
This is pretty much a German version of a classic British genre -- murder and mystery in a small village where everyone knows everyone else and they're all hiding each other's secrets. That's good; I like that type of story, and this one doesn't disappoint - mostly. If anything, it's a little too convoluted, with new revelation after new revelation. Still, I liked the mystery, the main characters, and the narration, and I enjoyed the glimpse into German life and lifestyle a little (this is the first German novel I've "read").
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