This audiobook was, without a doubt, one of the best listening experiences I have had to date. It is the rare combination of excellent writing and excellent narration. I was captivated, start to finish. I know that some customers have expressed concern about the amount of untranslated Spanish in the novel; there is no need to worry about that--even if you do not know the exact translation of the Spanish phrases, the context in which they are used leaves no doubt as to their meaning.
If you liked Keith from London Fields, you'll love Lionel. More to the point, you will love the Lionel presented in the voice of the astonishing Alex Jennings. I am sure that I had simply read this book, I would gave hated it. The story is classic Martin Amis, equal parts silly and mean-spirited, but Jennings's voice put it on a different plane. What was facile became cinematic; I could almost picture Ray Winstone, thick fingers wrapped around a can of Cobra, radiating menace as he explained the facts of life to his young protege . . .
This book was terrible. The plot was derivative, predictable and, greatest sin of all, boring. The characters were caricatures, with laughably preposterous backstories. The ONLY thing going for this book was the narrator. Oh, Ari, Ari, Ari, I sure hope you got paid big bucks for managing to record this drivel without snorting with laughter.
Okay, I admit it, I am a sucker for books about the weird stuff people choose to believe in, and the origins of those beliefs, so I was definitely in the target audience for this book. I was fascinated by the details of LRH's biography (both the real and invented) and by the details of the Church's workings. But I have to admit, my favorite thing about the book was that, after every claim that might remotely raise an eyebrow, the author would drop a footnote: "[insert celebrity's name here]'s lawyers deny that [celebrity] ever __________." The narration was good, if occasionally monotonous (after all, how many times CAN you say "_____ denies ever doing ____"
The key to a good audiobook is not only must the story be good, but the narrator must make you want to keep listening. A bad narrator can destroy a good book, and a good narrator can do wonders for a mediocre book. In this case, we have the rare combination of a pretty good book and an incredibly good narrator. I probably would have liked the book okay if I read it, but not as much as I enjoyed having Ari F. read it to me. The plot of the book was relatively intriguing, and the characters interesting, but it really was the narration that brought it to life. All in all, this was one of the best audiobooks I've listened to so far this year (and I listen to a lot).
I found this book to be extremely interesting and entertaining - and a terrific accompaniment to "The Irregulars," by Jennent Connant, another history of British spy-dom. My only quibble is that the narrator's attempts to do Spanish and German accents all ended up sounding like bad Bela Lugosi/Dracula imitations. I kept expecting one of the German spymasters to say "I vant to suck your blooood."
I just finished listening to this audiobook and loved it. Yes, there were some times in which the reader flubbed a line and started over that could or should have been edited out, especially toward the end (perhaps he was tiring after all those cliffhangers), but on the whole it was a very pleasant listening experience. I've listened to just about all the Dickens books available on audio, and Gerald Dickens's ability to create consistent aural personae for all the characters is top notch.
After reading all the rave reviews, I decided to give this book a try. I found it trite and predictable. The narrator's choice of a Thames Estuary accent for the title character was off-putting, but not nearly so off-putting as the gratuitous violence against women and rampant product placement.
I don't know what annoyed me most about listening to this audiobook - the extreme repetitiveness and heavy-handed foreshadowing of the text, or Scott Brick's over-the-top breathless narration. I was constantly being distracted from the very interesting information that the author was imparting by the very annoying way in which that information was being imparted. It's really too bad, because the topic is interesting and parts of the story well-told (when Barry (and Brick) were not waxing hyperbolic ). One significant problem I noted with an audio version of this book is that in many parts Barry will be quoting from a series of primary sources, each of which says much the same thing -his purpose is to show what the various media were reporting, or scientists saying, but without being able to see on the page that it is a series of quotes, and without introductory passages for each quote, it comes across as if the "repeat" button got stuck.
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