Ms. Chesney paints a very insightful portrait of human nature in this episode of the perils of Hamish Macbeth. Even Hamish is colored with the flaws of selfishness as he seeks to unravel the mystery of why a retired army officer is murdered and stuffed up a chimney. In fact, just about every character in this landscape of life in the isolated villages of northern Scotland is colored with some shade of flawed nature, ranging from fearfulness to an egotistical and insane pride that destroys the lives of at least twelve people and deeply affects the rest of those pictured. And what is the focus of all this trouble; stolen money and the deceitful promise of power and wealth. In the end it tells with a smell that can't be covered. If you're a student of human nature you will find in this painting a depth worth viewing.
JW's books about the life and times of Maisie Dobbs are both insightful and entertaining. I have especially enjoyed the character development throughout the series, not only of Maisie but of those with whom she works, loves and investigates. One example of this is found in Maisie's efforts to help her friend Pricilla discover what happened to her brother, MIA in WWI, which leads to the discovery of a niece that Pricilla didn't know existed. The emotional insight given to this event is very moving and indicative of JW's ability to draw the reader into the to the story.
In this tenth book about Maisie it seems that the mystery isn't as important as the movement going on in Maisie's life. In one sense this book is about closure. As Maisie turns a corner in her life what happens to those characters with whom we readers have become so involved? What's going on in her life that so deeply motivates her to take the actions she is apparently taking? Is Maisie going to return or is her sailing off to India also her sailing out of everything we have come to love and expect from the life and times of Maisie Dobbs? She is certainly leaving one wondering.
In my opinion Orlaugh Cassidy is the perfect narrator for this series. That may be because it is easy for the mind to picture the character's in this series and add to the subtle changes of voice that Orlaugh is so good at presenting in the dialogue.
I suspect that it is best to start this series in the order it is written. That being said I would add that this tenth addition to the series can be seen as a teaser for all that has gone before since it harkens back to some of the major events that have defined who Maisie has become in her journey from a motherless child put in service to the force of character she has become.
Arthur Upfield's books feathering Boney, the half cast police inspector with the Little Corporal's moniker are always intriguing mysteries and "Wings above the Diamantina" is no exception. The mystery begins with the discovery of what seems to be an abandoned aircraft in perfect condition sitting on a dry lake bed. But soon the mystery deepens with the discovery of a paralyzed and anonymous occupant who couldn't have flown the stolen craft and no visible indication that anyone else had been involved in landing it. Boney, the Aussie answer to S. Holmes, finds himself pressed to quickly solve this mystery before the paralyzed victim succumbs to death. Though Upfield could have shortened this tale, his description of life and land in the Australian outback is colorful and inviting. Peter Hosking is a perfect narrator for this series. If you like a mystery that will keep you involved to the very end you will enjoy "Wings above the Diamantina".
John Cruless does an excellent job bringing the characters of this gripping slice of the Sackett saga to life. This episode has it all, slavery, pirates, romance, fighting and nail biting adventure right up to the end of the book. You will not be disappointed with this epoch of the Sackett's story.
David Strathaim does a great job narrating this sixth book in the continuing story of the Sacketts. I have found all of the books about the Sacketts well worth listening to a second and sometimes a third time. They are great drama and griping episodes. If you like L' amour you will not be disappointed with "The Daybreakers".
If you love L'Amour's Sacketts, you will find this episode from a girls view point. The girl in this case is Echo Sackett a pretty mountain woman of 16 years who's talents with a rifle have gained her a reputation even among the distant relatives of the clan. L'Amour doesn't fail to give us a gripping tale that sweeps the reader along wondering what is around the next bend in this story. Jamie Rose does a good job of adding depth to Echo character with the voice inflections of a Tennessee mountain woman. The tale is short and left me wondering if L'Amour might have been a bit uncomfortable with the female character. That being said I found it an enjoyable read and myself a bit hungry for more.
Having cut my teeth on the "Golden Age of Radio" in America I have always loved this genre and have come to especially enjoy the BBC's production of the Paul Temple series. Though I feel Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury make a better sounding Paul and Steve, Crowford Logan and Gerda Stevenson do a very fine job in this episode. In my opinion the BBC production of this series far out ranks anything done on this side of the pond. The sound effects are excellent and the dialogue is fast and crisp.
On the reality side of things Francis Durbridge seems to have had one basic receipt for his stories and each episode is not that different from another. There is also the matter that realistically the "Yard" hardly needs a writer to solve all the major crimes in Britain. That being said, if you're able to shift your mind back into a simpler time and just want to relax with a very fine production of old time radio entertainment, then this series will not disappoint.
"Elegy for Eddy" gives us a look at a different side of the Maisie character and seems to challenge her readers to think about the world around us. In this installment Maisie is drawn back to her roots by the suspicious death of Eddie. Her investigation reveals that Eddie's death is linked to his half brother, a rather hateful character. Eddie's character is happy in his struggle to make the most of his lot in life while his half brother is miserable, trying to grab all he can get as he bullies others including Eddie who he seems to resent.
Then there is Maisie who finds herself conflicted by her roots and her success. Hard work and sacrifice have brought her success and blessings. She remembers that "to whom much is given, much is expected". She received help to succeed; shouldn't she help others? The trouble is that her efforts to help others is turning around to bite her. Her friends caution her that you can be too helpful and in doing so cause more harm than good.
It makes one consider the different political positions in our country today. One speaks of a hand up while the other offers a hand out. The difference might well be seen in Eddie's character verses his half brothers character. One finds happiness and character in the struggle while the other feels life is unfair and is miserable even with the things he is given.
Winspear adds a third element to the mix, the media. There is a covert effort to influence the thinking of the populous, something not so covert in today's world. This take on "Elegy for Eddie" make me wonder if J.W. is using Maisie to speak wisdom to her followers; a wisdom some may find elusive.
From my own perspective this issue of the Maisie Dobbs series begins one of the most enjoyable historical mysteries series that I have come across. The story of Maisie Dobbs is set in the traumatic period of WW 1 and develops as this young daughter of a costermonger is put into service after the death of her mother. As the story develops you begin to get a view of what life was like during that period of change in Britain for both the rich and poor. Maisie's journey from becoming a servant girl at age 12 to a young lady detective who has overcome her station in life gives the reader an intriguing foundation for what is to follow. Her desire to grow and succeed takes the reader through the trials of gaining a college education, service as a nurse in WW 1, the loss of a potential mate and the challenge of striking out on her own. Though this is a fictional history Ms. Winspear's background and research gives one confidence in seeing British life during that period. Having read all of the series to date I do highly recommend starting with this issue and following the order of progression to get the full impact of Maisie's journey. Some readers feel that this issue seems a slow start. I personally prefer Orlagh Cassidy as a narrator over Rita Barrington. Ms. Cassidy gives a zestful life to the character that seems lacking in this first book. That being said it is still a great read and the place to start this wonderful series.
What a delight to spend time with a lady who though challenged with life's tests has learned to share with grace and humor life's lessons and blessings. Her ability to encourage us to see the humor in everyday situations gives hope and drawn us to see a brighter vision of reality. It is said that every dark cloud has a silver lining and Carol has the gift to focus our attention toward that light. I personally liked her ability to look outside herself and see a greater power working in and through her life to bless others. Her personal stories not only give one insight into her life but also help to understand how in encouraging others we find encouragement for ourselves. In the final analysis I feel she shows how greatness comes through humility, service and showing the healing that comes in being able to laugh at one's self.
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