I listen to A LOT of audio books. Long ones. Like "War & Peace"..."Moby Dick"..."Bleak House". But, this one I couldn't finish, despite several tries. The reader lacks emotional nuance. And the simple pacing of words, which could bring a scene vividly to life, is dull and listless. He's got great pronunciation of words. But, still...I'm going to look for a different version and give it another try.
This book was a first in detective fiction. I've heard an entire lecture in a college course devoted to it. Even now, it's a bit of a surprise. Because the murderer turns out to be....
Nowadays, we've all come to love Suchet's interpretation of Poirot. Personally, I like it best, too. But, this reader takes a different view. And he's actually quite good. He has all the voices...just the right pacing...the deeper understanding. And...he doesn't give it away.
Try this: imagine that Ackroyd was the ONLY Poirot novel Christie ever wrote. Get rid of all assumptions. Consider every possibility. Allow it emerge. Let yourself be completely deceived. Rest in the little grey cells. It's all there. It's handed to you on a platter. Be the fool.
I've read this book, you see, something like eight or ten times...if not more. It's a classic. And this reading really does do it justice.
John Carter minimally appears in this 5th Mars novel by ERB. #4 featured his son. This one features his daughter. The story is what it is, typical ERB. Fun stuff. Pulp drama. The narrator is...well...what can I say? He's okay? His pacing is bland. His female voices are all faltsetto. He mispronounces a number of words. And his Southern accent for John Carter...well, I'll leave that for others to judge, as I'm not from Virginia. The story carries it through, though. As Burroughs always does, if you love this sort of stuff.
When I started this audio book, I really wondered if the reader was up to it. And, you know what? He is. It's a classic of old science fiction. I remember it from when I was young. And it still holds up. So often, with science fiction, even the big authors of today, the characters seem shallow, even whiney. I'm sorry to say that. But, that's not the case here. Van Vogt was writing much more than just a fiction of ideas. He had something he was trying to say. This was his first novel. And what a grand debut! Some reviewers, elsewhere, complain of how this novel slows down in places, of how it's not all about sustained action. In truth, that is precisely why this novel is as great as it is. It's an odd story. Slightly structured on formula, with serialized climaxes. But, van Vogt truly believed in intuition. Not just pure reason. And these things clash in this novel. Wonderfully so. So, if you like the older stuff, this is definitely one of the better ones. And the audio version carries it well. Recommended.
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