I have now finished all four of Ruth Downie's series. The stories and characters grew better with each volume and I can't wait for the next one. Simon Vance is a great narrator. I love the continuing characters that run throughout the four books. I recently listened to the first book in Maddox's SPQR series and was disapointed, having enjoyed the Medicus and his adventures so much.
Over 1/3 of the time is an explanation of how the Pimsleur method works. You won't learn much.
I enjoyed the characters in Murder Is Easy, though Christie again adds one of those love at first sight subplots that I find hard to accept. The plot twists keep you guessing until the end. This is sometimes billed as a Superintendent Battle story but be warned, he only shows up in the last chapter or two and is really an afterthought. Any Superintendent would have done the job.
An odd transition between the last two chapters had me check out the book version. Turns out the first 1/2 of the last chapter, which ties up the story lines of two important characters, is missing. Makes me wonder if other material has been left out as well.
I enjoyed the first half of the book and the various storylines, but by the second half the book loses steam. The ending was unsatisfying and convoluted. I can't say I understand the motivation of the murderer or the how it relates to the rest of the book.
Sebastian Becker is not a well developed character. His lack of emotion at the death of someone close to him is jarring. He seems to walk through the story without having any reactions to what is going on around him. The only emotion in the story comes through the great narration by Michael Page.
This is not the first book in the series but the only one on Audible. I doubt I will look for more of them to become available. Apparently, the first book is set in the US before he returns to England. I was not surprised to discover that the author is a screenwriter. The story feels very much like a treatment for a miniseries
I watched, and loved, the British series Granchester on PBS. I can't wait for more. I had great hopes for the book but they weren't met. BBC has taken a mediocre book and created a wonderful TV show. This book is actually a set of short stories with continuity of the main characters and themes. Sidney Chambers is so different from the James Norton TV character, and I couldn't warm up to him. He is flat and unengaged. In his late 30s, Sidney is naive and a bit of an air head. In the final story of the book, he treats being arrested in East Germany like a couple days at camp.
In the book, Sidney is very involved with a college in Cambridge, which is more of the focus than the village of Granchester. Because the dons are involved, several of the stories relate to college politics and involve chemistry and physics. One story goes so much into detail about how cricket is played that the mystery gets lost in the game. As someone who is not familiar with the game of cricket, I had no idea what was going on for most of the story.
The narrator did a good job except for one of the female voices. Amanda's voice is grating and annoying.
Even though I was intrigued by the setting and the period detail in this book, this story would have moved much faster if details and facts were not constantly repeated. I was so tired of hearing about Sister Fedelma's bright green eyes that I was ready to poke them out. I also tired of, and was annoyed by, the constant sexual undertones of the religious characters. While during this period there were mixed religious houses where both men and women lived, from what else I have read it seems men and women did not regularly "cohabitate" as described by the author but lived in separate quarters. When first introduced to Sister Fedelma, both female Abbessess in the story comment on her figure and her looks. I didn't realize that medieval nuns wore such form fitting habits that their figures were so easily judged. The main characters spend more time thinking about sex and the opposite sex than to about religion or praying. In fact, I don't recall Sister Fidelma ever praying or contemplating religion. It seemed off. The author needs to work on revealing his feminine side in his female characters. The killer was easy to spot early on. In addition, it bothered me that so many things were referred to by their latin names over and over; then again, without the narrator, I would never have guess how some of the names and titles were pronounced.
Sweet Danger is a campy sort of mystery, though the mystery really isn't much of a mystery. Campion is drool and amusing as he and a group of friends try to find the true heir to a piece of strategic property in a far off Balkan country. We get to meet the eccentric Finton family, in particular young Lady Amanda Finton, who scrape by running a mill. The Finton's hold the keys to the mystery. Lady Amanda likes to tinker with electricity, batteries, and radio. The bad guy and his cronies are obvious from the start.
Francis Matthews is a wonderful narrator. I prefer him to David Thorpe, whose Campion I find grating..
I enjoyed the mystery but was left wanting more from the book. For me, it didn't merit being called "Regency." Except for a mention of the war with France and the Princess Charlotte's wedding and people riding around in carriages, there were few other details to bring the Regency to mind. Captain Lacey was also an odd character. His self recriminations often seemed more feminine than masculine in tone. For an army man, I thought it odd he never cursed. What little sex there is is implied rather than seen, which is a nice change of pace. I was amazed to see a reviewer on Amazon say she was going to delete the book because of its overt sexuality. I'm not sure we were reading the same book. The narrator is fine but I gave him only three stars because of Lacey's over the top, screechy dialogue.
This book kept me up all night listening. While seemingly a story of gratuitous murder, River of Darkness also explores the theme of how a person's psyche long after a war is over. War, in fact, is never over for some. Airth skillfully weaves together a police investigation, a love story, and a killer's narrative. I highly recommend this book. The narrator was excellent and his regional accents sounded authentic, at least to my untrained ear.
Raven Black is a moody, atmospheric story with twists and turns throughout. I was actually surprised when the killer was revealed. Cleeves is excellent at pulling the reader/listener into the story and her descriptions of the island culture hook you. Lt. Jimmy Perez is a character with substance, as in Fran Hunter. I understand this book was made into a British TV show called Shetland. I will be on the lookout for it.
I concur with the other reviewers. More of Ann Cleeves please.
This set of charming and witty tales, as told by the Dragon's Bard, is fun and amusing. I even laughed out loud a few times. If you are looking for evil dragons and vengeful fantasy, this isn't the book for you. If you like drunk pixies, sensitive dwarfs, and broken wishing wells, you will find them in Eventide. Good for the whole family.
Simon Vance is at his best.
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