I don't think anyone new to the characters (Russell along with King's casting of M & S Holmes) would find this a 5 star listen, but King fans may. There's not much new to the characters, but after a slow start, there is enough atmosphere and winding plot to completely absorb the listener.
You need not have read part 1 - "The Language of Bees" because that plot is nicely summarized in bits distributed through the first quarter of the present work; however, I think to appreciate this listen you need to have gotten to know Mary Russell and the aging Holmes through at least a couple of the previous instalments. Also, you must like Sterlin's narration style because more characters wind their way into the tale than usual.
I think this the strongest in the series next to the first book, "The Beekeeper's Apprentice."
I thought Hardcastle might be a binge series for me, but I couldn't become engaged with this instalment. I like the early WWI English setting, I like the attempt at slice-of-working-class-life, and even the central mystery was OK - - but the recipe didn't cook for me. The author repeatedly tries to interpret FOR the reader very simple dialogue and actions--- without these interruptions and some extraneous and drawn out details of weeks spent travelling from Hardcastle's home station to the scene of crime area(s) and back, I might have found this a quietly satisfying whodunnit, albeit with thin characterization. I chose this instalment because it is the first in chronological order (rather than order written), and I'd expect the author to know his craft better. It's a series I want to like, but unless there are some good reader reviews for other novels, I won't be downloading more. The WWI setting earned it a third star from me.
The first half of #8 in this series felt very deja vu and second rate for a McDermid, but second half contained her usual engrossing storyline. However, for me, enduring the usual Mcdermid graphic, domestic-inspired violence wasn’t worth the second-half story. If you’re not planning on listening to all of the Tony Hill-Carol Jordan series, skip this one -- On the other hand, if you’re going to read only one in the series and don’t mind the graphic descriptions of brutally abused women, this might be THE one, as it could stand alone (despite its ties to The Retribution, #7). Also this one involves Paula MacIntyre more than most others, so it might be of interest to those who like her character. I winced at the violence, but I learned from McDermid's observations on human nature.
The usual ending that sees Tony and Carol's relationship heading around a new bend is marred by the omission of the "You have been listening to..." statement before the inclusion of a clever short story by McDermid - to me this is a three star novel with an extra star for the short story (once I figured out it wasn't the next chapter of the novel!). Narrator Doyle is excellent as usual.
If you like to relax or treat a head cold with a Heyer-like escape, you know how rare such reads are. I've given up trying authors who are supposed to Heyer-like; however, I really needed a break from reality when I saw this among Audible's new releases. This is the best-of-its-classification I've come across in many listens: "sweet" without being saccharine or too silly, well-written, and well-narrated. Although it has an expected plot and Regency-a-la-Heyer world - like Heyer, it's just very diverting and witty.
I was always uneasy with the undertones of family violence/threat of violence in many Heyers and Heyer-homages (Heroes who feel like "boxing ears" or "shaking" women); this novel is refreshingly free from such patterns. And the author manages to avoid remixing Heyer's overused cliches while including mixing reader favourites (and nods to Austen). I hope Smith has more like these! I am tempted to rate as five starts, just because it can't be easy to strike the right balance in these novels, and attempts at old fashioned Regencies are getting rarer, even with the explosion of contemporary stories cloaked in Regency clothes (often losing even the clothes).
I’ve never read Ian Fleming so I know Bond only as the film icon; however, I like Boyd and wanted to see what kind of Bond he would create for late 60s Britain.
This is a very uneven novel --- I enjoyed moving through world of the novel with this very ordinary (almost pedestrian) Bond ---when it involved a London neighbourhood or especially West Africa. Other parts, particularly Bond’s romantic encounters, are written in a "workman-like", second rate manner. I wonder if that was intentional, so much does it depart from the fine detail of other sections.
Bond is a man of his times in many ways, but a mainstream 60s hero wouldn’t adopt his positions. Would any Bond enjoy the feeling of being in a woman station head's "capable hands"? or "His powerless made him want to weep" or "Bond began to feel a debilitating sense of impotence"? Perhaps this is a triumph -- The novel (outside of bedroom snapshots) didn't conjure up any movie Bond but a distinct character.
Battles (army battles) and fights abound -- not gory however. No gizmos are involved. Neither is there explicit sex – the encounters are what 007 film goers wold expect, and rather corny. The setting suggests of Nigeria--Biafra in late 60s - early 70s, but those elements were not developed as much as I would have liked (though this is almost a post-colonial bond).
I felt that the novel didn't gel for me and suspect that Boyd enjoyed writing a Bond but perhaps was restrained by external parameters and didn't put his human heart in all of the writing. I liked the parts that were Boyd---William Boyd, so I will stick to William Boyd novels.
Well narrated in a restrained style.
You can find similar material from Zinn in pieces on the Internet; you can get more detail in better sound quality in his other more recent publications; but for an accessible overview at a peanut price, this is a good bargain.
It is a workshop, however, conducted primarily for the attendees and happened to be recorded rather than scripted for audiobook purposes. You can hear rustling and other crowd sounds. You can hear Zinn breathing during yoga and he may have a cold. For me the sound quality was acceptable but not up to that of, say, a Sounds True current production.
This is a 1.5-hour intro to mindfulness talk with exercises (like raisin eating) and Q+A, lots of Q+A. Zinn handles the questions skillfully. This is followed by sitting (following breath with alternating periods of silence and guidance/commentary, including the mountain meditation included in Zinn’s “series 2” audio). There is about an hour of mindful yoga, similar to his “series 1” audio first yoga session - then more sitting, brief walking meditation and yet more Q+A. The program is more useful if listening with an app that permits bookmarks – and if you’re not planning on meditating with the audio, a fast forward function.
As usual, Zinn presents mindfulness in a secular/nonsectarian way and cuts through the dualistic thinking that divides secular/sacred. Because Zinn refers to his “tapes”, I assume this is an older workshop, but it stands the test of time. He refers to the “Open Centre” in New York but the exercises take place in a in a hotel space not really suitable for the work being done, and that sometimes gets in the way of the content. I felt annoyed by the context at the outset, but ended by enjoying the listen (and it’s almost worth the download just to hear Zinn say "just f*'ing do it!" to a live group).
This would be most useful to those interested in this inclusive flavour of mindfulness who maybe do not want to invest more time or money in other programs. For me, it's probably the closet I'll ever come to hearing Zinn in person, so it was worth the listening time, warts and all.
I admit that I bumped up this in my listening cue only after the author was revealed, but I'm glad I did. What Rowling did with the traditional Brit novel of manners in Casual Vacancy, she now does for the traditional Brit detective formula, but with a detective in almost stereotyped US classic noir circumstance (although a leg wound from Afghanistan is a nice nod to the Brit tradition and situation). There is a sort-of-dark male lead character with hints of a mysterious past who has a prickly relationship with a new, younger perkier female sidekick. Rowling enlivens both the formula characters and genre conventions. The dialogue is good - livelier than most UK crime fiction but not "screenplay" like some North American.
The world of celebrity doesn't interest me but the fictional world of London crime, created by generations of crime authors, does. This is not a masterpiece but highly enjoyable, and isn't "enjoyable" the gift that Rowling brings to adult fiction?
If you enjoyed Casual Vacancy and traditional Brit detectives, you'll love this. Like most Brit detectives, this is PG listening -- but I'd still not give it to the kids -- content is similar in tone to Casual Vacancy. I felt cheated that I did not have Harry Potter when growing up, so perhaps Rowling will now create a detective series for my generation.
This is a satisfyingly slow-paced bloodless backyard listen written in the 1990s before technology necessarily started to dominate murder mysteries. The protagonist is a middle aged widow and mother, a political scientist, back room provincial politico - nothing glamorous, just smart. The setting is very Canadian prairie, but the Manitoba political system is explained well enough and doesn't get in the way. The plot doesn't turn on coincidence, and though you'll know "whodunnit" before the protagonist, it unrolls like some classic detectives in that the author wants you to be one self-satisfying step ahead of the sleuth (but not 100% sure!)
Amateur sleuth mysteries often fail because an author can't establish a valid reason why the protagonist gets involved -- so it seems like meddling. This protagonist involves herself in the murder mystery because, in her grief, she needed "to prove that life was a coherent narrative with a beginning, middle and an end." And isn't that why we read detective novels? So we enter the puzzle with her naturally. I doubt that this series can keep its grounded feel (one murder can happen in anyone 's life but how can an amateur sleuth find a dozen?) However, I hope Audible stocks many more in the series so I can find out.
I find it useful when reviewers compare a series unknown to me to a better known one . I think this is like Laura Lippman's Tess, with a similar strong sense of place but less action. It's well narrated too, in a similar style.
PS The cover art is poorly chosen - I delayed listening because I suspected yet another abusive clergy story line due to the rosary. Religion is a minor cultural element, one of the minor "appearances" to be kept up by some characters and adds local colour, but is not central.
but I prefer to get her in print, where I can skim/skip the violent detail. I don't think Wire in the Blood is anywhere close to as gritty as Mermaids Singing (and that goes for the three subsequent in the series that I "read" with text-to speech or Kindle as well) - but I'm still too squeamish to hear a good narrator get into the minds and hands of her killers. I think, however, the violence is not gratuitous: She's speaks to the violence done unto the vulnerable in our world, and how, as Alice Miller would say "All evil is reactive." I prefer that served up in a Soc text. but along the way she weaves such good stories, and her Tony Hill and Carol Jordan characters are anything but cookie-cutter cops. During each novel, I thought I'd read no more from her, but I found myself going back to the series for the story and characters. I'm getting adept with the fast-forward function, as much as skipping pieces of a book go against the grain for me.
Although this is didactic Le Carre -- a cautionary tale of war and intelligence gone corporate -- it’s also a very exciting listen. Le Carre's plot, prose, character, and dialogue are superior to any other espionage novelist I've encountered, and he’s at his best when creating ethical dilemmas (though any including defense contractors and lobbyist-types are less morally ambiguous than in some of his classic novels!)
I loved loved loved being read to by Le Carre! The narration is actually excellent once your ear tunes into him, except for one questionable production choice, an incident of which pops up in the audio sample provided: A "handler" when on a telephone echoes like bad long distance circa cold war landlines. This is not characteristic of the listen as a whole, however.
As a novel this may not stand among Le Carre’s finest, but as a contemporary espionage yarn it can’t be beat. There are some now standard le Carre characters and political stances, but what delightful dialogue, character observation and sharp turns-of-phrases. Graham Greene would have loved this entertainment.
This novel reminds me of why I love reading. Having the author tell me the story and "turn his own phrase" and "bite" his own dialogue is icing.
Other reviewers said this, but I didn't listen, so I add my 2 cents:
This seems to be above average crime fiction, but I deleted it after hour 2 because of the graphic violence. Smart cozies are my preference for distraction reading -- I can stretch to Ian Rankin or even Stuart Neville for good storytelling -- but I can't handle this novel in audio.
I think it is because McDermid is such a good writer more than the content itself - there is something particularly chilling about the dispassionate way she portrays the killer's mind. And the novel (as far as I got) is not so formulaic that you can have your finger on the speed control. Roberts' narration adds extra chill to killer's inner dialogue. The novel is erased from my iPhone, but sticks in my mind. If you can handle that kind of realism in a crime fiction, this is probably excellent. I need a good dose of Charlotte MacLeod or Ruth Dudley Edwards as an antidote. I may need to visit Rabbi Small or Father Brown.
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