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connie

Narrative makes the world go round.

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

ratings
1510
REVIEWS
402
FOLLOWING
143
FOLLOWERS
1553
HELPFUL VOTES
3899

  • Not My Blood: A Joe Sandilands Investigation, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Barbara Cleverly
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands is caught off guard one night in 1933 by a phone call from a distressed boy named Jackie Drummond, who just might be the illegitimate son Joe never knew he had....

    connie says: "a leap ahead in time and quality"
    "a leap ahead in time and quality"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much has changed in Sandilands. We find a career promoted Joe in 1933, with both Cleverly's prose and her packaging of the historical fiction detective formula much better than early entries in the series.

    As in other similar series, character is built up over novels - so perhaps the characterization would not be as pleasing if you jump into the series here, in book 10. Other than that, it could be a stand-alone listen.

    Cleverly's early novels all contained what seemed like one or two obligatory romantic scenes - - in these the dialogue would be weaker and the scene just, well, clumsy. This is a little better on that account.

    If you're a fan of crime fiction featuring screenplay-like action, adventure and violence, this won't please. It's mostly the quieter type of mystery often found in British and Brit set crime fiction, with a bit of bravado at the end. Sandilands' protege (spelled Dorcus?) returns and becomes a bit of a Maise Dobbs type.

    Are there "preposterous circumstances" as another listener suggests? Well, it is crime FICTION, but the theme of this mystery is not so far fetched, then or now. Compared to most in the genre (and even in this series) it was topical - although the 21st century version of these crimes is better disguised and conducted in regions other than the western world. Even LeCarre has used the theme. You do need to put up with "By God, this is England, and we won't stand for it!" - but that sounds OK by that part of the story.

    Narrator Prebble is much easier on my ears than Terry Wale (Sorry, fans of Terry Wale; I know he's talented, but his narration grates on me.) Prebble can make the lapse into "by God, this is England" dialogue palatable.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Hide and Seek: Inspector Rebus, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Ian Rankin
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (87)

    In a shadowy, crumbling Edinburgh housing development, a junkie lies dead of an overdose, his body surrounded by signs of Satanic worship. Inspector John Rebus could call it an accident. But won’t. Now he’s got to search the city, from the tunnels of its dark underbelly to the private sanctum of the upper crust, to find the perfect hiding place for a killer.

    connie says: "for Rebus diehards only"
    "for Rebus diehards only"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I recently re-listened to the Rebus series in order since they are all available to me now. Most stood up - or played even better taken chronologically. In this one, however, Rebus is still an Adam Dalgliesh wanna-be, drinking Chablis, reading and listening to the classics, friendship-hugging vulnerable women. And Rankin is still learning how to write. That said, it's still a decent mystery, just not what we'd expect from Rebus or Rankin a little later in their careers. The biggest value was seeing Holmes and Rebus at the start of their relationship.

    I really dislike Page as a Rebus narrator - but that's a more personal choice.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Kings of London

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By William Shaw
    • Narrated By Cameron Stewart
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    November 1968. Judy Garland is performing drunk at the Palladium and the city of London is about to catch fire - literally. Summonded to a gas explosion, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen unearths a shocking discovery beneath the rubble: Mind-bending paintings by Bridget Riley and Peter Blake... and the garroted body of Jacob Pugh, a playboy god in the art world. With Detective Helen Tozer, Breen must infiltrate the artistic demimonde of a volatile and increasingly murderous city.

    connie says: "Not cutesy-cozy, but not hard-boiled; a delight"
    "Not cutesy-cozy, but not hard-boiled; a delight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This second in a series is an excellent mystery, with storylines that hold up for all 13 hours, quirky and well drawn characters, great period setting, some humour. Main character – Breen – gets slightly darker through his experiences in novels 1 and 2: If the series continues for many instalments, he could became a Rebus!

    To the squeamish (me): One corpse description near the beginning and one near the end are a little grisly (and as in the first novel, a small passage in the middle could bother sensitive animal lovers). Apart from that, no graphic violence but some good suspense. I work with technology all day, so I welcome older mysteries or period pieces that don’t hang on digital devices. And my inner social history geek loves Shaw’s ‘68-69 London. Of course the plot is good but secondary to the other elements and is as much about petty office politics and corruption as the BIG corruption described in the blurb -- more about how mundane compromises come in shades of grey.

    Stewart's narration continues to be excellent EXCEPT that some of his women’s voices are too shrill, almost Pythonoesque. As in the first novel, I found this jarring for the first few chapters but then either my ear adjusted or he found a rhythm.

    I so wish there were a dozen in this series rather than two. I stumbled across the first as a Whispersync bargain – and thought I’d found more in Kindle, but it appears that the novel is published under different titles in the UK perhaps –so shop carefully.

    I don't usually rate a detective novel 5 stars - but this deserves it as solid, smart entertainment that provokes a little though but no angst.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Black Book: An Inspector Rebus Novel, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Ian Rankin
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (65)

    Five years ago, a mysterious fire burned Edinburgh’s seedy Central Hotel to ashes. Long-forgotten and unsolved, the case reappears when a charred body - with a bullet in its head - is found among the ruins. Inspector John Rebus knows that his superiors would prefer he leave things alone. He knows that part of the answer lies somewhere in a cryptic black notebook. And he knows that to solve the case, he’ll have to peel back layer after layer of unspeakable secrets in order to arrive at the truth.

    connie says: "Rebus really gels here"
    "Rebus really gels here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you are interested in Rebus but not attracted to the whole series, this might be your entry point.

    I am rereading/listening to Rebus, in order this time since the unabridged audio of all is now available in my region. This seems to be the novel where Rebus becomes that character some of us love so much, fascist though he can be. Though I usually prefer lighter crime novels with justice for all, Rankin created my favourite detective of all time here.

    Michael Page is NOT a favourite narrator of mine so I delayed listening to a couple of his Rankin novel narrations, but he's OK for Rebus - more restrained than in other novels, but he still goes too gruff to distinguish some male characters (less shrill for women than he can be). However, James MacPherson became the voice of Rebus to me, so I feel something missing with Page and others - if MacPherson versions are available to you, get them if you can understand a delightful Scots accent. But skip the abridgements, even with that narrator --they make little sense because too much plot and character is skipped (not to mention setting, a real star of the series' later novels).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • She's Leaving Home

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs)
    • By William Shaw
    • Narrated By Cameron Stewart
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    London, 1968: The body of a teenage girl is found just steps away from the Beatles' Abbey Road recording studio. The police are called to a residential street in St John's Wood where an unidentified young woman has been strangled. Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen believes she may be one of the many Beatles fans who regularly camp outside Abbey Road Studios. With his reputation tarnished by an inexplicable act of cowardice, this is Breen's last chance to prove he's up to the job.

    connie says: "refreshing period Brit police procedural"
    "refreshing period Brit police procedural"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not saccharine-cozy, certainly not hard-boiled, this includes a decent mystery with humour and nice late 60s period touch. What the author gets refreshingly right is that overused "younger eager investigator --- older senior officer" relationship. The Beatles background is just a small part of the period setting; more prominent are the changing gender roles, sexual mores (nothing explicit though), and race/ethnic group relations. And it was better written than most of its kind. The Whispersync price was a great bargain when I purchased. I hope there are more "Tozer and Breen" books on the way - I could have tried a series binge, based on this one.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Christmas Eve, 1914

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 13 mins)
    • By Charles Olivier
    • Narrated By Cameron Daddo, Xander Berkeley, Cody Fern, and others
    Overall
    (526)
    Performance
    (465)
    Story
    (465)

    In 1914, the war which was to have been wrapped up by Christmas had - in reality - only just begun, as all sides entrenched themselves deeper into the Great War. Christmas Eve, 1914 follows one company of British officers as they rotate forward to spend their Christmas on the front lines, a mere 80 yards from the German guns. Upper- and working-class men and boys are thrown together into one trench and struggle to survive.

    Bonnie says: "I was just reading about this in my news paper"
    ""maybe war takes a holiday today""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't too sentimental (nor too gruesome) and convincingly recreates the possible development of one possible truce situation in the 1914 trenches. It doesn't directly address any BIG questions, other than the very powerful one posed by the truces themselves. I liked that it highlighted the conditions in the trenches, again without being too gruesome for family listening. I'm so happy to see commemoration of the centenary of the Truce since so many battles are so well remembered.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Breach of Security

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 28 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (103)

    When a bunch of neo-fascist thugs named The Bulldogs attack a Gay pride march in the sleepy country town of Lafferton, detective Simon Serrailler moves quickly to find the assailants. He’s already got his hands full making security arrangements for a memorial service to honour soldiers returning from Afghanistan. When anonymous threats come in, Serrailler wonders if the Bulldogs are behind these too - and worries that they know the Prince of Wales will be in attendance.

    connie says: "So glad I found this free story!"
    "So glad I found this free story!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I"ve had Hill's Serailler series in my wish list for years, but hesitated to hit "buy." This short is just OK; however, the listen tells me enough to know that I will enjoy a full length Hill listen-- a well-written modern take on a village cozy with police procedural added, somewhere between the depth of PD James and the lightness of Deborah Crombie. The excellent narration lives up to the positive reviews of Pacey as the voice of this series.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Day the Music Died

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Ed Gorman
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    In 1950s Iowa, a murder-suicide forces a lawyer to put aside his rock-and-roll grief.

    Sam McCain loves Buddy Holly, because he's the only rock-and-roll star who still seems like a dweeb, and Sam knows how that feels. With the unrequited love of his life at his side, Sam drives more than three hours through the snow to watch his idol play the Surf Ballroom. That night, Buddy Holly dies in the most famous plane crash in music history, but Sam has no time to grieve....

    connie says: "Comfortable, well-crafted cozy"
    "Comfortable, well-crafted cozy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    American detective fiction tries to be too action packed or grisly for me, cozies tend to be too cute, and I usually skip anything containing the PI acronym-- but I’m very glad I took a chance on this. The Sam McCain series seems to be the same “weight” of a Charlotte MacLeod, with similar gentle humour, humanism and craftsmanship. McCain is a young small town PI/lawyer who sleeps with his cats since his romantic ideal eludes him; He confers with his Mom and Dad and gets sick if he drinks alcohol (but still it doesn’t get too cute).

    Gorman is I think an older author, and there is thread of respect for elders and veterans running throughout the three in the series that I’ve enjoyed so far. This is more “nostalgic” rather than historical fiction written with modern sensibility, but that made it a better comfort read, the kind of mystery that soothes a head cold and relieves tension from listening to too much about current affairs. I get the feeling that Gorman is capable of much heavier fiction, but he gifted the world with some needed diversion instead.

    Pinchot's narration was perfect. I bought the book as a Kindle edition first, thinking it would be better as a speed read, but it was written and narrated so well that I recommend the audio (check whisper sync price).

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Peace, Love, and Petrol Bombs

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By D.D. Johnston
    • Narrated By Roger Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    A coming of age story set in a Scottish fast food restaurant: take a group of full time burger flippers and cash starved students, add a likeable geek with a love of political theory, and a passionately angry French anarchist, and you have a recipe for rebellion. Rife with dry British humor and working-class sensibilities.

    connie says: "coming of rage Dickens burger flippers unite"
    "coming of rage Dickens burger flippers unite"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The “coming of age” descriptor put me off, but once I started this novel, my ears ate it up – It’s like a young Scottish Colin Bateman all fired up. Not today’s youth but those becoming political aware circa millennium are chronicled in this comedy of manners. It reminded me of why elder writers like William Boyd ought not try to re-create Bertie Wooster but instead let young writers write about fresher experience for Wodesonian humour. If you’ve ever marched against the Man (be it Vietnam, Cruise, Iraq or a 1% Logo) OR if you’ve ever wanted to understand those that have— try this.

    warning: lovely working class Scots English narration (*listen to sample!) and MUCH chronological anarchy in the history this weaves

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Northanger Abbey

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Val McDermid
    • Narrated By Jane Collingwood
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    A modern re-imagining of the Gothic Classic Northanger Abbey by the bestselling crime author Val McDermid. The second book in The Austen Project. Seventeen-year-old Catherine ‘Cat' Morland has led a sheltered existence in rural Dorset, a life entirely bereft of the romance and excitement for which she yearns. So when Cat's wealthy neighbours, the Allens, invite her to Edinburgh Festival, she is sure adventure beckons.

    connie says: "well-executed, but why?"
    "well-executed, but why?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is very faithful to the original, and well recast in 21st century teen talk--- however, take the period out of Austen, and you have a light chic lit tale, too often told. I thought McDermid might bring out the darker satire of Northanger – my biggest concern before downloading was how would I react to McDermid’s usual graphic violence in an Austen classic – no worry! This re-telling will not alarm the most squeamish. I kept waiting for some kind of twist, so I kept listening (well, there’s one tiny cute twist, coming from McDermid). My time would have been better spent re-listening to Juliet Stephenson reading the original. Like an Oxford School paraphrasing of a Shakespeare play – why bother if you want more than the bare story, and if you just want the bare story, why go on (and on) about tweeting Twilight and other modern teen concerns? If the intent was to make the novel more accessible to younger audiences, I think that’s a miss, too: the beauty of Austen is that she draws readers into more complex prose and period. Perhaps if the market weren’t flooded with Austen spin-offs, this might have been a novelty at least.


    P.S. The blurbs in the publisher’s summary MUST be about other McDermid novels!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hardcastle's Actress: Hardcastle Series

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Graham Ison
    • Narrated By David Thorpe
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    The new Detective Inspector Hardcastle mystery - When the body of actress Victoria Hart is found in the early hours of Christmas Day, Hardcastle and Marriotts investigations lead them to the Beaux Belles revue, where a scantily clad Victoria persuaded young men to enlist with the promise of a kiss. It seems the alluring actress had many admirers, and when the recruiting sergeant is found dead, a link to the army can no longer be ignored...

    connie says: "good setting idea but novel didn't gel"
    "good setting idea but novel didn't gel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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