This fun historical mystery novel comes alive with Simon Vance's narration. Ruth Downie's writing puts a sometimes amusing face on life in the Roman Empire despite its darker aspects. Downie created engaging characters with distinct personalities and a decent mystery plot. Honestly though, I enjoyed the characters and their dryly humorous interactions well highlighted by the stellar narration so much that the plot felt more like a side show. A very pleasant listen.
Great, practical advise if you're a writer, real nuts and bolts. The author narrates though, and her narration is monotonous and irritating. Sound quality is also poor. I'm less than 25% of the way through and heartily wish I had bought it in print. Listen to the sample before purchasing to help determine if the content more than makes up for the bad narration.
The author draws out this dark story so much that I kept losing interest. Long, detailed, repetitious descriptions of the characters, their environments, and frequent sex scenes dulled the plot movement. The somber and monochromatic tone provided no relief. For the small number of major characters in the book, there was a lot of sex, and unbelievably, it became boring. No joy, no hope, not a spot of brightness for anyone. Once I happened across a review containing a spoiler on another site and realized more of the same lay ahead to the very end, I stopped listening. If it had been a short story or novella with less repetition, I may have finished it.
Also disappointing, the narrator never varied his tone from serious and sneering, nor did he make much attempt to give different characters their own unique voices.
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