I'm a fan of the series, but this book was a disappointment.
It's too long.
It's poorly edited. A central character's army rank wobbles throughout between 2nd lieutenant (correct) and sublieutenant (wrong).
The charm of the series is the tension of the relationship between Russell and Holmes, and on this case they spend little time together.
The plot is weak. Russell achieves her two breakthroughs by having the author hand them to her on a plate (chance personal encounters, stumbling over evidence in a chest) instead of working them out.
Worse still, a crucial plot point hangs on a factual inaccuracy, which I can't reveal without spoiling the story.
The narrator does her best with the longueurs. Other reviews say she isn't much help, but it's hard to see what else she could have done.
Anyone who has read David Weber's Honor Harrington series will know what to expect: from military hardware so well imagined you can almost reach out and touch it, on the one hand, to a fully worked-out exposition of von Clausewitz's aphorism that war is a continuation of diplomacy by other means (or was it the other way around?)
This book does not disappoint: it is (with a few expository longueurs) a rattling good yarn, that continually presses the reader's "What happens next?" button.
My only gripe is that I took this book on holiday, and to find out what happens next, I needed Book 2, because Book 1 stopped in midparagraph, which would not have been bad, except that in my Sicilian hotel a big download was unfeasible. Readers not connectivity-challenged may regard that as a good point rather than a bad point.
The performance is excellent, which is no mean feat with a Weber novel. A cast of dozens of speaking characters will tax the ingenuity and imagination of any reader.
It's not surprising that the author could not find a reader for this book, and so had read it himself. It's a text that would tax the talents of any reader, no matter how skilled.
The many footnotes are out of place in an audio book. They hold up the flow.
Much of the text is about anatomy. For that you need illustrations. Audio books have to do without.
So, to be suitable for audio format, the book needs to be totally recast. As it stands the footnotes hobble the exposition, and the lack of illustrations turns the anatomical discussion into a parade of technical terms that baffle more than they explain.
There's not much wrong with the advice in the book. I consider myself a skilled and experienced lover, but there were still a few useful bits of advice in it that I didn't know.
But it is overlong and repetitive. The author knows what he considers good writing to be. He sets himself "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White as a model. In printed form, the book may very well come up to that worthy standard.
In the book, E. B. White says "Work from a suitable design." And there lies the problem. The design of the text just isn't suitable for audio format.
I didn't know that a frankly erotic book could have a proper plot, and be funny and satirical, until I listened to this one.
The central character is appealing and outrageously libidinous; she has plenty of sex both real and imagined, and displays modest but real character development.
I loved the gentle fun poked at the save-the-planet brigade, so earnest in their political correctness that they even censor their own sexual fantasies.
And the hilarious comic twist at the end had me chuckling at odd moments for days.
I thought it was very well read, too. The peripheral characters are pretty stock: twee Scotswoman, uncompromising activist speaking broad Estuarine, ageing Cambridge don, City millionaire; but so convincingly delivered you almost don't notice how two-dimensional the author has made them. Some American listeners may find the accents take getting used to.
I went back to Audible looking for another book by the same author but drew a blank. Who knows? maybe soon.
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