Chesapeake, OH, United States | Member Since 2004
I was disappointed in the previous Ruth Galloway mystery (The House at Sea's End). Three stars disappointed. I actually said that I wasn't looking forward to forensic anthropology with a toddler. However, the author made a decision to have a significant event in the relationship between Ruth and her baby's father happen between books that actually seems to help the story arc in my opinion.
The story opens with the death of a director of a small local museum. He is found lying dead beside the coffin of a medieval bishop that had been excavated from a site that had once been a church and then an industrial site. The window is open, a single shoe lies on the floor and a guide book whose pages riffle in the breeze. Ruth Galloway, forensic anthropologist, finds the body. Murder or natural causes? A drug habit might argue one, but menacing letters in his desk drawer might argue the other.
The museum also houses some Australian aborigine bones that a group calling itself the Elginists (Lord Elgin's marbles but I'm not sure why they named themselves after the guy who took the marbles from the Parthenon) want repatriated. These bones were collected by the ancestor of the founder of the museum, Lord Smith. Lord Smith is also a racing stable owner, married with three adult children, one of whom helps with the stable, one who is a successful QC and one who is a wastrel.
Meanwhile Harry Nelson's team is also dealing with the importation of high quality drugs from over seas that apparently no one in the criminal community knows about.
The disentangling all of the threads kept me interested through the entire story. There was one thing that niggled at me after I finished the book but I can't tell it without spoilers so I just have to say that it might bother others also.
I gave this book 4 stars because it was a better than average entertainment even with the occasional fault.
P.S. Jane McDowell does her usual good job with the narration.
Sometimes the star system of rating is frustrating. I really wanted to give both the book and the narrator above average marks but I don't think they are at a 4 star by my personal rating system.
David Kind, a television presenter and researcher into historic murders, is invited with his sister to a Halloween party in Ravenbank. Ravenbank has a history as the scene of a grisly murder before World War I where a pretty domestic was found with beaten to death and covered by a blanket-- the "shroud" of the title. Supposedly her faceless ghost would walk on the anniversary of her death.
Meanwhile DI Hannah Scarlett is going through her own troubles as her superior tries to gut the cold case unit in the name of economy and she tries to work out her own complicated emotional life.
I would have preferred less soap opera about the emotional lives of the investigators and more of a decent mystery. I thought the characters were one dimensional and pegged the murderer(s) pretty early. The ending felt rushed and unsatisfying although everything gets wrapped up.
Maybe part of my problem involved the fact that this was book 6 in the series although I had no problem picking up the strands of the story arc. It's just that I didn't find the emotional lives of the investigators all that interesting.
John Lee can do better so maybe he just wasn't inspired by Martin Edwards' story. Anyway, at times I wished for someone with more facility with regional British accents, or if he had the facility I wished he used it more. He did face one challenge and overcame it-- a British man doing a bad Bill Clinton imitation. That couldn't have been easy.
Just because I said that this book's contents-- "story" is three stars does not mean that I didn't enjoy listening to it. The reader was fairly good and I learned something that I've often wondered about-- are books from the US translated fro the UK market. The answer, at least for this one is yes.
This is a compendium of true crimes. Many of them do have bits of the bizarre about them. Others are fairly banal. Some are well known, others I had never heard of before and I thought I was fairly well versed in at least historic crime. It made for undemanding listening while I was cutting out some winter killed vines from the front flower beds and doing some other chores. The accounts seem to mainly have been retold from secondary sources. The one that really bore that out was the retelling of the events in Vince Bugliosi's Till Death Us Do Part. Bugliosi for whatever reason used fake names for both the victims and perpetrators in his book. The real names are now readily available on the internet and the facts are a matter of public record so repeating this doesn't
Now for my favorite bit on the perils of translation. The Thomas Capano/Fahey trial was a bit of an internet sensation in part due to the fact that Capano was a well connected lawyer and political figure in Delaware. He killed Fahey in his own residence and then with his brother's assistance transported her body in a large plastic cooler to his brother's boat and tossed the cooler overboard. What happened then definitely put it's in the category of bizarre as the cooler just wouldn't sink. However, it becomes even more surreal when the cooler is called a refrigerator. The mental image of two men hauling a refrigerator out of a car and onto a boat, throwing it overboard then shooting at it because it won't sink and having to haul it back aboard made me wonder a bit about the facts as laid out in some of the other accounts.
At over 19 hours this is a solid listen.
Format: Audible Download
This was very much the way vampire stories went before they became all attached to fairy tale endings. Jamie D. Beaverbrook is a British psychologist whose life is in a tailspin. He is going through a divorce, recently his wife and he had an infant die, and he spends his work time assessing people who have been picked up by the Los Angeles Police Department for various crimes. His main means of assessment is a computer program based on his own research. He is also having one of the most annoying early mid-life (35 years old) crises that I've run into in fiction. He obsesses on the various aging processes going on in his body.
Then one day he is called in to assess a young girl who had been found crouching over the body of a dead man in an alley, blood on her face.
It's competently written, for the most part. There's few clunkers. An LA detective referring to a lawyer as a "brief" jarred me. And the California divorce law was a bit off. The pacing at times was slow. Describing the gestures involved in sign language for the deaf just doesn't translate well to the written or audible page. While I can watch someone sign with great pleasure, having it described to me leads to skimming.
Also, I have seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show so the having the theatre crowd antics described is a bit over the top.
The plot unwound pretty much as I expected, so there wasn't a lot of surprises there. I didn't think the writing was strong enough to support the ending.
As for the narrator-- he was good with Beaverbrook's voice-- first person view point so this is important. He also managed all the other characters. However the girl's voice just didn't sound right, especially when first introduced.
I know Mr. Leather can do better, this was a minor effort.
This was my first run-in with Philip Bird, but I am really pleased with his work on this book. He manages to differentiate the characters very well-- which isn't easy when the speaking characters are mostly male. I thought this was as close to a five star performance as makes no difference.
As for the story. This is the last book published by Edmund Crispin (aka Robert Bruce Montgomery). His popular detective, Oxford Don Professor Gervase Fen, is house sitting for a couple of friends traveling in Canada while writing a book on the post WW II modern novel. About eight weeks before the beginning of the story, a murder had been perpetuated against a most deserving victim. However, it was the events that occurred after the murder that led to the arrest and incarceration in an insane asylum of Hagbert, a local eccentric with a mania for work.
As usual Crispin populates his story with a host of amusingly looney characters. There's also some jokes that don't quite come through in the narration. For instance one character is named Thouless who is composer of music for movies-- he is currently working on music for a horror movie title Unalive. Crispin under his real name, Bruce Montgomery, composed music for movies including the first six "Carry On" movies. There's also a tortoise named Ellis with an underbite who needs his pansy petals premasticated; an overly amorous tom cat named Stripey; the Major who despite his years of service in the Cavalry disliked horses, mainly because he had never been thrown; and assorted other local characters including Titty and Tatty (Titania and Tatiania) a pair of elderly sisters who had one deaf aid between them and a devotion to what they fondly imagined was a Botticelli painting of the Assumption of the Virgin.
So part of the time the book is a mystery and part of the time it is a farce. And I have to believe that the ridiculously drawn out denouement was intentional. There's also sly literary references everywhere.
Recommended highly for those who are willing to accept a satire of the mystery genre and delight in ferreting out Crispin's donnish humor (or humour, I guess I should say).
All is not well for Baker Corinna Chapman despite her successful business and the acquisitions of both a promising young apprentice and a handsome, sensual private eye/partner.
Jason, her young apprentice, had entered into a deal to produce "famine bread" for a group of monks who had established themselves in a property in Melbourne. Given that their only complaint had been that she had made the bread taste too good, it seems they were seriously into mortifying the flesh. And speaking of mortifying-- her unwashed, unpleasant and hysterical mother shows up at the bakery to demand Corinna's help in finding Corinna's father, who had taken off on a mid-life crisis to find "young flesh". Finally, it appears that her two young shop assistants hae fallen victim to a dangerous diet aid.
There's other mysteries that Corinna must solve which introduces the reader to some other venues (including one that is distinctly sad), as she searches for her father.
This one is also narrated by the inestimable Louise Siverson in her warm, kind tones.
I'm going to take a break in the series here, but I'm sure I will be back to finish the rest. The second book in the series was Heavenly Pleasures: A Corinna Chapman Mystery. The next is Trick or Treat: A Corinna Chapman Mystery.
Format: Audible Download/Kindle Whispersync for Voice
Heavenly Pleasures is the name of a Chocolate Shop run by a pair of sisters of Belgium extraction. They are located near Corinna Chapman's bakery and do very good business. Then Corinna finds out that they have been the focus of a series of unpleasant incidents involving their chocolates. Nothing dangerous, so far, so it is unlikely that they would be of interest to the police, and if the story becomes public knowledge then it might ruin their trade. They hire Corinna's partner (ex-Israeli soldier, current private eye) to try to find out who is trying to put then out of business.
This isn't the only mystery though around Insula, the Roman style building where Corinna has her bakery and apartment.
Corinna is intensely likeable with her whole-hearted enjoyment of the good things in life including bread, sex, chocolate and good company. The mystery is interesting enough; however, I really enjoy the cast of eccentrics who populate Corinna's world.
The narrator, Louise Siverson does an absolutely bang up job of reading this book. I couldn't imagine another voice as that of Corinna now.
I try not to read too many books in the same series in a row because I start to notice the authors little tics and twits. However, I got the first one (Earthly Delights) on a deal from Amazon/Audible and then had to buy the next two because I liked it so well. The following book (3rd) is Devil's Food.
Format: Audible Download/Kindle Whispersync
Although I also had this book on my Kindle, I ended up listening to most of this book for the sheer pleasure of the narrator's voice. Louise Siversin brings a warmth and enthusiasm to her reading of the first of the Corinna Chapman series that is positively infectious. It's in first person so Siversin's voice quickly became Corinna's in my mind.
Earthly Delights is the name of the bakery owned and run by Corinna Chapman. Named of course after the modern title given to the painting by Hieronymus Bosch, a copy of which hangs in her shop. And Corinna does indeed enjoy all of the earthly delights. Let me just say that she is not one of those heroines who will announce at some point that she is one of the lucky women who can eat what she wants and not gain an ounce. I particularly enjoyed the information about baking that is woven into the story.
Early one morning she opens the door to her bakery and discovers a junkie ODing on her grate. Thus begins an interesting and largely cheerful murder mystery involving Corinna, her co-tenants at Insula-- a Roman style apartment building with shops on the first floor and living spaces above, and bits of the Melbourne underworld.
It has some strong language, drug taking and sexual activity so if you are the type of person this would put off then this is not the book for you. It's not a cozy in that sense no matter what HK tried to tell you.
Oh, and who is Jade Forrester, the author whose books Corinna reads? I checked and she is a real author.
Fleming, are on their way to visit child hood friends of Helena's at their 18th century house built in the shape of a castle.
There's a lot of backstory in this case involving the death of Helena's parents some eight years before, the relationship between Helena and the now grown children of the Hickmans. This wasn't a problem. The author managed to include the information in a way that allowed me to catch up and understand what was going on there.
However,the emotional and professional connections between the detectives investigating the death of the man in the car and the subsequent deaths wasn't really all that interesting.In fact another reviewer described it as a soap opera and I concur. I began to wish that the police would spend a little less time lusting after one another and more time investigating. I also have to say that I think the author is uncomfortable when it comes to writing sex scenes.
At one point I was about ready to give up on this one. However, I stuck it out and it did improve enough that I stayed with it to the end. The professionals in this book, none of the professionals except Dr. Eisenmenger, behave very professionally. Luckily for the mystery some are competent.
Narratation is good. There was a couple of points where a sentence or so was repeated. I don't know if it was something the author did stylistically or an error in the editing, but it wasn't very annoying.
Without a doubt would listen to another book read by Sean Barret.
This is a new-to-me author and narrator. I had this on my Wish List for about six months before I decided to pull the trigger. The narrator was good enough with a competent style and nothing in her delivery that really annoyed me. The book, for at least the first two thirds was a solid four stars. Then it took a weird turn that left me scratching my head.
Fiona Griffith is a young Detective Constable. She has a degree in philosophy, a mystery in her past, and a family background which makes her choice of working for the police an interesting one.
One day as she is trying cope with the audit of a bent, embezzling copper's accounts that she is readying for the Crown Prosecution Service, she is handed a credit card that had been found at a horrific crime scene. The card belonged to a very rich man who had gone down in a plane wreck. However the crime scene where the card was found was a squalid squat where a sometime prostitute and her six year old daughter have been found dead in circumstances that the police find appalling.
Intrigued, Fiona wants to become involved with the investigation of the murders. Her obsessive interest in the murder victims is both interesting and a bit cringe inducing.
Fast paced and interesting, the vague hints about Fiona's past as well as the events of the story kept me intrigued up to the point that the martial arts expert showed up. Uh, what? It lost some steam about then and I ended up finishing it but not with the same pleasure that I had read the earlier part. This is supposed to be the first Fiona Griffiths book so I did wonder if he was sequel bait. I would be more likely a read a sequel if the author promised me the martial artist wasn't going to be part of the plot.
Anyway, after thinking about it I decided that this was for the majority of the book a 3.75 star read which I rounded up to 4. I'm not sorry I read it and I would more likely than not give the author and narrator another shot.
Danny Boyle, the first person narrator of Tilt-a-Whirl, is a part time summer beach cop in the New Jersey resort town of Sea Haven. His current position involves driving Officer John Ceepak around in a customized Ford Explorer, as they investigate crimes such as the theft of a tricycle. In fact, their current agenda involves looking into the theft of the aforesaid stolen tricycle, when a young girl covered in blood appears at the window of the Pancake Palace.
John Ceepak, former MP back from Iraq, former Eagle Scout, makes for an interesting character. Just when I start to think he couldn't get more cliched, the author would sneak in a bit of humanity. Just like Danny Boyle's view of Sea Haven seems to be just another broad satire on vacation resort towns-- you've read them all, right? Cutesy names, corrupt politicos, evil property developers. Then the story would take another sharp twist.
The young girl covered in blood is the daughter of real estate tycoon, Reginald Hart. The blood belongs to her father who was shot multiple times by someone the girl describes as a crazy man. She stated, they had been talking while seated on a Tilt-a-Whirl ride at a not yet open amusement park, when the killer had appeared.
Lots of twists and turns keeps the reader interested. Grabenstein writes books for middle grade readers which maybe why Danny seems a bit young, but the story gains maturity as it goes along.
Narrator Jeff Woodman is excellent. He does all the voices really well. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his interpretation of this mystery. I went ahead and downloaded the next two in the series.
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