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Kitchener, ON, Canada

  • 4 reviews
  • 4 ratings
  • 89 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014

  • The Bughouse Affair: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Bill Pronzini, Marcia Muller
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan, Meredith Mitchell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In The Bughouse Affair, this first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco, former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake what initially appear to be two unrelated investigations. Sabina's case involves the hunt for a ruthless lady "dip" who uses fiendish means to relieve her victims of their valuables at Chutes Amusement Park and other crowded places. Quincannon, meanwhile, is after a slippery housebreaker who targets the homes of wealthy residents.

    Patrick says: "Terrific, engaging detective story!"
    "Terrific, engaging detective story!"
    Would you listen to The Bughouse Affair again? Why?

    Yes, I would. It's a terrific book with excellent characters and is also a very good detective story. It proposes an interesting "impossible" crime -- the kind of crime where it seems nobody could have done it -- and while I was busy looking to the left, the book sneaks its solution from the right, only to surprise me when I turned my head around. While not the most ingenious locked-room problem I've ever read -- for that, we'd need to turn to John Dickson Carr -- it's excellent as is.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sabina Carpenter was a terrific character. I really liked how she keeps coming across women who have been abandoned by society -- widows, the elderly, mothers, etc. left to fend for themselves. A free spirit by nature, Sabina sympathizes with these women and tries everything in her power to help them, giving them the kindness and support that they desperately need.

    Which character – as performed by Nick Sullivan and Meredith Mitchell – was your favorite?

    I preferred Nick Sullivan's narration, because the Sherlock Holmes impression is uncanny. It sounds like he's channeling Basil Rathbone from those old radio shows, and it's a blast to listen to. Meredith Mitchell does a terrific job with the female characters, but when she reads the "bughouse Sherlock"'s lines, the English accent was unconvincing.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Well, I loved it -- does that count as extreme? It combines an interesting time period and a great detective duo with a tricky plot. The clues are all there and the reader is on equal footing with the detective. There’s a good locked room mystery. The historical colour is terrific. Sherlock Holmes sort-of shows up as a crazy Limey who calls himself Sherlock Holmes, but it couldn't possibly be Holmes because he fell over the Reichenbach Falls, right? (It's a very fun little parody.)

    Any additional comments?

    It’s a delicious book and a promising start to the series’ incarnation as novels -- Bill Pronzini previously wrote some short stories with these characters, but this is the first novel and the first collaboration with his wife Marcia Muller. It was a very enjoyable, entertaining book. Here’s hoping they continue!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Tangled Skein

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By David Stuart Davies
    • Narrated By David Ian Davies

    In The Tangled Skein, author David Stuart Davies accomplishes a creative coup by arranging the fateful meeting of two of literature's most resilient characters: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker's Count Dracula.

    Jim says: "Hmmm?!"
    "Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula"

    The book itself is fine. The story is perfectly decent. There are some problems, but nothing too terrible, and if you're open to the idea you'll probably enjoy it.

    ... Just stay away from this audiobook. This one officially wins the award for the worst audiobook I've *ever* heard. And I'm not exaggerating here. We're talking Ed Wood levels of incompetence. Not one thing went right.

    Technically, it's pretty bad. You can oftentimes clearly hear jazz/swing music in the background. (Is it from the other side of a cassette tape??? If so, why is there jazz on the other side???) It's incompetently slapped together-- you can tell exactly where the sound engineers made a cut and threw in a new audio clip. At completely random moments, a character's dialogue will be enhanced with an echo, and I never saw any rhyme or reason to this choice. Is it only done in an echo-ey room? Nope, because while we stay in that room of the house the conversation suddenly becomes normal again. It can even happen in the middle of a conversation that has been entirely normal until now! It's basically a moment where the sound crew gets to go "Surprise!" before resuming business as usual.

    And the narrator? My goodness, he does not get one single inflection right. Not one single word made me believe any of this was going on. His voices for the various characters are barely differentiable, and he has the same laugh for *everyone*! Whether surprised, pleased, or diabolical, it's the same cackle and it gets irritating. Not only that, he ploughs through his words so quickly that you barely get the time to process his information.

    In short, it was a fascinatingly terrible audiobook. I listened spellbound before turning it off and reading the book for myself. If you want to read this book, please conserve your sanity and stay away from this audio production.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Salvation of a Saint

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Keigo Higashino, Alexander O. Smith (translator)
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Yoshitaka, who was about to leave his marriage and his wife, is poisoned by arsenic-laced coffee and dies. His wife, Ayane, is the logical suspect - except that she was hundreds of miles away when he was murdered. The lead detective, Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi, is immediately smitten with her and refuses to believe that she could have had anything to do with the crime. His assistant, Kaoru Utsumi, however, is convinced Ayane is guilty. While Utsumi’s instincts tell her one thing, the facts of the case are another matter.

    Patricia says: "Appealing but not Compelling"
    "Excellent New Translation of Japanese Mystery"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Salvation of a Saint to be better than the print version?

    I have no idea; I didn't buy the print version. I just bought the audiobook edition. But the performance is absolutely wonderful and really brings the various characters to life. So if you have a job that gives you plenty of room for audiobooks, like I do, this is a great option.

    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Not in the same way as, say, an action movie, but yes it did. It was an engaging battle of wits where you know who the killer is but not how it was done.

    What about David Pittu’s performance did you like?

    It was an all-round excellent job, with the characters really coming to life.

    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes, there were several such moments, but there we wander into spoiler territory.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Patricia Highsmith
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot, Cassandra Campbell

    The remarkable renaissance of Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories, featuring two groundbreaking novels as well as a trove of penetrating short stories. With a critical introduction by Joan Schenkar, situating Highsmith’s classic works within her own tumultuous life, this book provides a useful guide to some of her most dazzlingly seductive writing.

    Linda J. Westerschulte says: "Strangers on a Train"
    "Excellent Performance of Terrible Story"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The only people who will enjoy this kind of book are the people who will be fascinated by Patricia Highsmith the author and her creation of "Highsmith Country". But for my tastes, it's a needlessly nasty world and I have no intention of ever returning to it.

    What was most disappointing about Patricia Highsmith’s story?

    Guy Haines is, to use a childish term, a sissy. Here the moron gets letters from Bruno—handwritten, presumably signed letters, which probably have fingerprints all over the place!!!—which map out a proposed murder, tell Guy what to do, give tips on how to escape the murder scene, etc. Bruno even sends him a gun!!! And what does our hero do, ladies and gentlemen? Surely he would call the police, for presumably, coercion into murder was illegal in the 1950s, even if there were no laws against stalkers? Heck, no! He does the only reasonable thing: destroy the evidence!No question of it: Guy Haines wins the Darwin Award for 1950. The entire novel is a situation of Guy’s own making. You can make the argument that it makes for a compelling character study, an allegorical novel of good and evil within each man. I make the argument that Guy is a moron. Here he is with physical proof that Bruno has killed his wife and is trying to get him to commit a murder—he’s in the position of strength! Instead, he destroys the evidence and then whines about how his guilt haunts him. In the Hitchcock film, Guy had a reason for being frightened of Bruno, who was capable of framing Guy by planting false evidence and threatened to do so, leaving nothing behind for Guy to use against him. The movie Guy is a likeable hero, caught in a perilous situation. The book Guy? I say he can go straight to that not-so-great-place-opposite-of-heaven.In the Hitchcock film, Bruno at first seems to be a charming fellow, and his proposed murder scheme sounds like a joke. That’s how Guy and the audience choose to take it at first, and that makes the murder shocking. But in the novel, Bruno is an obvious psychopath—you can spot his insanity at twenty paces. He’s never charming—he’s an annoying little brat. You have no idea why Guy would have a conversation with him in the first place. Not even Guy understands it, although he’s the one who follows Bruno to his compartment in the train and they have dinner together. When Bruno demands that Guy commit his murder, it isn’t the demand of a dangerous murderer but the petulant tantrum of a spoiled child. I had a hard time finding the suspense that is supposed to permeate this novel.And the book, incidentally, drags on and on AND ON!!! The pace is snail-like and gets extremely boring. After the two murders are committed, you simply have no idea why Guy and Bruno would keep seeing each other. No wait—if they didn’t see each other you couldn’t have any obvious SYMBOLISM!!! The entire novel feels like the author is trying to write Literature with a capital L, but she doesn’t succeed.Strangers on a Train became a nasty story about nasty characters being nasty to each other for no reason other than “the plot says so”. Oh, and Bruno? Not only is he an obsessive homosexual with clear mental issues, he’s also in love with his mother. (How does that work???)I didn’t like either of the two male leads, and nobody else is worth talking about. Patricia Highsmith was not a happy person, and it shows in this book. But instead of making me interested in her characters, this aspect made me want to get them all in a secluded alleyway and open fire on them with a tommy gun.

    Have you listened to any of Bronson Pinchot and Cassandra Campbell ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't, so I will only comment on the narration of this book alone. I did not bother continuing past STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, narrated by Bronson Pinchot. His performance is excellent but unfortunately the material itself is terrible. The narration manages to make the novel bearable, however, but I simply couldn't proceed any further with the stories. It's no fault of the narrator's.

    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Anger certainly, at the author and her insipid characters. Perhaps some disappointment because I was hoping to enjoy the book. But apart from that, once all is said and done... I was left indifferent.

    Any additional comments?

    Perhaps the other stories and novels in this collection are worthwhile, but I couldn't get past the first. Patricia Highsmith is an "acquired taste"-- meaning one that some people will never acquire!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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