I found myself taking unnecessary detours while driving, just in order to be able to listen a bit more of this book.
Portrait of a Spy is not only very well written, with evident ample backgound research, but also with a seamless, entrapping prose that flows constantly. It is like being taken along whitewater rapids, constantly feeling the adrenalin, waiting for the next rock to watch out for while enjoying the icy dip in the turbulent water.
I am sure I would not have enjoyed this book as much in print, because Simon Vance does not narrate, he truly acts the whole novel, with outstanding ability to impersonate both male and female characters of very different upringings and nationalities, taking you right into the story.
The story itself is great, written by a connoisseur of Asian history. Its characters are very real, the numerous plots and side-plots evolve and intertwine in a continuum of intrigues. The narration by John Lee, whom I have enjoyed in other books, is absolutely incredible, with multiple extraordinarily rendered British, Chinese, American, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese (am I missing any?) impersonations. It enhances the whole story to a different experience. Only reading the book cannot give you a fraction of the pleasure.
Congratulations and thank you to both, James Clavell and John Lee.
A biography, doubtless very accurate, full with endless and absolutely uninteresting details about meetings with just about everybody in Tesla's life, their conversations, opinions, gossip, maneouvers, commings and goings. This book is surely a good Master's or Doctoral work, but I would suggest a shorter version for a literary work.
The story, while well researched, is too detailed regarding all the battles and commings and goings of the different characters. With an abundance of references, in the printed form the reader can choose whether to skip the references or to consult all, some, or a particular one at a given point, but in the audio presentation I found it annoying having to listen to all those meaningless numbers read out every so often, interrupting the line of thought. I would suggest a new recording, with either none or only the most outstanding references read out.
Having previously listened to later Wallander novels, "Faceless Killers" comes in as a bit dull. The performance is awful, with few differences in tone and intonation between some characters, and apparent voice disguising tricks (like placing a handkerchef over the microphone) that are too obvious and unrefined.
I have enjoyed many laughs with the Marx Brothers, and I am more than happy to accomodate for old technology in the name of originality. This is, however, too much. It was an ordeal listening to this pitiful recording, which is nearly absolutely impossible to understand because it is apparently taken from the "raw" original radio broadcast. Expect a near 100% loss of clarity. It would have helped to use some modern audio technology to enhance the sound quality. I'd rate it a -5 if negative stars were available.
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