Simon Prebble is terrific narrating this tale of a Scotland Yard policeman as he tries to solve several murders and bury the ghost of his WWI PTSD. The best chapter? Ian Rutledge (the detective) contemplates suicide in a former battlefield that's now a cemetery for fallen soldiers.
This was an unexpected treat. Vibrant characters, a plot that has plenty of hooks, and a lighthearted tone. As good as anything by Elmore Leonard. Penned in a style that says Westlake (who also wrote as Richard Stark) had fun at the typewriter. Makes for an entertaining and breezy drive. Can't miss.
I have rated the "story" of Tristram Shandy with five stars, but of course, "The Life and Opinions…" has no story at all. This is as brilliant a quilt of blarney as ever was written, as if an astrophysicist, a monk who spoke only Nepalese, a snookers player, and a mother of 15 hamsters all decided it would be great to share a cup of tea—each bloviating about his or her own hobby horse. So much is said, to no effect, in the most brilliant way. Icing on the cake: Anton Lesser's performance is pitch perfect.
In this misguided, overly intellectual classic, CS Lewis points out all of humanity's flaws--demonstrating more than a trace of misanthropy--in the hope of illuminating mankind's devilish failings. A total bore. A starched shirt writing love letters to himself.
I wondered as I listened if these many tales of love and transmigration of souls might not be the historical link between Hinduism and Buddhism--through Pythagorus--to OVID--then Christianity. Step 1: Kama sutra + reincarnation; Step 2: Pythagorean metempsychosis; Step 3: Ovid's lover's souls born again -- transfigured by capricious gods into new shapes; Step 4: The soul is born again, not in many forms, but only into Heavenly spirits or Satan's slaves depending on one's worship and love for the Christ. Ok, I admit it. It's a stretch.
Few readers are better suited to their characters than Stacy Keach to Mike Hammer. His leathery growl brings Hammer, a private eye who's a relentless psychopath to life--making him almost sympathetic. Best exchange in the book? Something like this:
Hammer: "Honey, fix your skirt. I'm only human."
Easy listening. Fun, too.
Listening to this I tried to figure who left more dead bodies in his wake: Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns, Shakespeare in Titus Andronicus, or Hammett in Red Harvest. Hobson's choice. After a while I lost track of the characters. They came, they bled, they dropped and they were forgotten. Repeat. And repeat. Competently recited by Richard Ferrone.
Some books keep me awake at night. This old war horse with its mechanical, grade school narration had the reverse effect. It is the cure for insomnia.
Edward Hermann does a wonderful job reading this pseudoscientific yarn of things that go bump in the Antarctic night, about an expedition so shudderingly terrifying to the cool scientists who undertake it, that it must never be repeated. Never! Somewhere in the abyss, deep in the shadows, half glimpsed and indistinctly understood, lives a horrible ancient secret that looks and sounds like a nightmarish... [I won't spoil it] ... derailed. Pustular, foul-smelling, impenetrably dark and evil. Heads rolls and ichor oozes. Fly from the station! Fly you fools, fly!
This cleverly written science-fiction about alien possession in a rural hamlet is a worthwhile listen if you have a four-hour drive. It has that wonderful British blend of proper diction, understated elegance, subdued horror, good pacing, and just enough biological theory to keep you engaged. The aliens are strange, beautiful, and deadly competitors for an overmatched human race. The conclusion--how we deal with them--will bring to mind contemporary terrorist tactics. Recommended.
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