Everywhere, USA | Member Since 2012
I always have difficulty sorting out a horde of new characters and the various voices help do that for me.
Any time one of the Igor clan is in a Discworld book I expect to see the world in a new way; and with an Igor's help that could be literal!
As with all audiobooks you get an added dimension by hearing the story rather than reading it. Steven Briggs brings exquisite pacing and depth to the characters he becomes. I think he really understands what is being said, why it is important to the people in the scene and he loves (or hates) the characters as much as I do. I can see Sergeant Jackram, big as a bull and twice as loud; a John Madden-type in a different uniform.
Briggs doesn't just read the book, he gives it color - octarine to be precise.
Monstrous Regiment is satire, so generally you either love it or hate it. It picks at war, which I think Americans of our generation have not experienced in the same way that Europeans of the same age have, so each will see the book in a different light. There were hardships on all sides, we all lost people, but in the US we didn't lose our homes or our food supply on top of it all. The story is darkly humorous.
It also picks at fundamental religions of the type where people follow "the word" blindly and draws a clever little parallel to the Fourth Estate.
My favorite piece of the book, and the first place I laughed right out loud is paraphrased as follows:Having dismissed the newspaper reporter (i.e., war correspondent) who is reluctant to end the interview, Lt. Blouse, in full uniform with his sword across his knee says, "It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword", and while the reporter is acknowledging the statement the Lt. continues, "Would you care to test it?"
I could just imagine the two men sitting out there in the woods, one with his hand resting casually on his sword and the other sitting up straight gripping his pen with white knuckles, both understanding how quickly the power had shifted and how unlikely it was to tilt back.
I laughed for 2 miles!
It would be good if you could read or listen to some of the earlier books in the series, but it isn't necessary, although it does mean you have a few spoilers if you later listen to the earlier parts. This was my first Discworld Novel back in about 2007 and I have listened to almost all of the rest and this one several times over since that time.
Anybody else have a good scubbo recipe they want to share?
..this book offended me. In this day and age that is a real trick. And it isn't any of the things you would expect. It isn't the gay couple or the lesbian couple, the witch, the rich people, the heroin addicts or the nun, the alcoholics or the fat woman with the sexy boyfriend, I almost for got the murders and the thieves. Alternate lifestyles aren't so alternate anymore and the time is over when they can be used to raise an eyebrow or titillate in a story. It is called "Mainstream" and "Normal" and even in some cases, overkill.
The thing that offended me is that the author, an Australian, chose to be disrespectful to my President- twice. It is offensive to me when Americans are disrespectful to the person in the Office, but even more so when non-Americans are. Why non-Americans feel entitled to be this way about something that they hear about in the media-as opposed to actually living- is beyond me. It is like going into a stranger's home and telling them that their furniture is crappy: it's easy to take pot-shots at low hanging fruit. You don't have to agree with everything the man stands for, but he is standing. The little pseudo-political rant was rude, didn't add anything to the story and left a sour taste in my mouth.
Do you hear me Kerry? Remember the Dixie Chicks.
The review title is paraphrased from the reading. On my second time through listening it struck me as the perfect description for the entire series to date. I have only listened to the first three in the Inspector Gamache series, and this is my favorite. I don't like scary or gory novels, but suspense is another thing when done well and this book kept me antsy from the first chapter. Tension was added to the comfortable oeuvre that is Three Pines by the insertion of a professional psychic who holds a seance to cleanse the old Hadley house of its evil spirits. Some of our favorite neighbors believe, some don't, but all are shaken from their complaisance when one of their number dies during the attempt.
The narrator, Ralph Cosham, also adds to the tension. Some previous reviews have mentioned that it would be helpful if there had been more space between scene changes or if the reading was faster. I think that most of the complaints were really about being caught off guard in the story, increasing personal discomfort. The scenes shift quickly, not allowing the listener to get their bearings. The narrator is clear and precise in his statements, not dragging, not speeding up, a juggernaut that keeps moving forward into the unknown and unexpected.
Each of the first three novels has personal betrayal at the root of the mystery. The theme is expanded in The Cruelest Month and we see treachery between lovers, family members, friends and colleagues. And the extent of disloyalty ranges from a trivial gesture to sew doubt toa standoff with pistols drawn in the final conflict.
A facet from which that unexpected depth has shone is Louise Penny's ability to talk about spiritual concepts without making them religious claptrap. Very simply, each person has their own belief system and respects each other, no matter what they think of the person's viewpoint. They civilly agree to disagree and listen anyway. I very much liked the use of the New Testament verse, Matthew 10:36, to drive home the depth of the treason. This section is where The Christ tells his disciples to go out and spread the word, but know that there will be trouble. "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." A foreshadowing of the actions of Judas perhaps and bringing us full circle to the Easter celebration? This casual interjection of the New Testament plays perfect counterpoint to the pagan symbols of spring and the foreboding of the changes yet to come for Gamache and his friends in Three Pines. Who would have thought that a couple of baby birds (robins and ducks) and a handful of eggs (chocolate, wood and real) could create such suspense, portend such calamity and make Ruth be nice all in the same story!
...but that doesn't mean it is a happy story.
This is the fourth book in the series, but the first one I've listened to, and I'm not sure what it was in the description that led me to start here. I am normally very rigid about starting with the first book, even in a series with tens of books, even if a book in the middle is on sale.
The story revolves around a senior detective, Mick Kennedy, and the rookie detective he is training, Richie Curran. For both men this is a first, the first murder case ever for Richie and the first time off the desk for Mick after a case that went south. I didn't get what the whole problem was, but I assumed it was covered in one of the previous 3 novels and involved a betrayal of trust. The case they are working is the murder of a man and his two children and the attempted murder of the victim's wife.
The things I either enjoyed or was intrigued by involved cultural similarities and differences.
I am American and I read a lot of British Mysteries and Police Procedural novels, but this one was IRISH and was very interesting in several ways.
The group of friends with which the adult victims grew up were described like classic 1950's American Teenagers, like in "Happy Days" that grew into 1980's Yuppies like in "thirtysomething" but were twice as arrogant and neurotic. But the book is set today so the sliding of my mental timeline was a unique view for me. Things were more cautious financially and otherwise by the time I was "grown up" enough to get married and have a house.
The slang made me have to listen that much more closely so I could get the context. I never really figured out what "gaff" meant unless it is another variation of "shite", and I get the intention of "property ladder" but the whole concept is seriously outdated, which is why the recession accelerated in the US. The housing industry boom and bust is very similar on both sides of the Atlantic. One of the characters says something to the effect that he saw it coming and and the government knew about it in advance. The same sentiment prevails over here, but most people were too busy buying big and buying fast to not get run over by it.
The use of the internet, messaging and e-boards is talked about like it is a normal everyday activity instead of the narrator sounding like he put quotes around a foreign language phrase every time he mentions them. Finally!
And I enjoyed this narrator, Stephen Hogan, especially in the way he portrayed the differences between the two detectives. The author makes it plain from the beginning that Curran can pass for a street tough and is only a few steps from really being one. Maybe it is in deference to the non-Irish in the audience, but the personification of the lad was able to be understood. I didn't have to fight with a guttural accent to remind me of the rookie's social standing. And Kennedy is just tired of everything. Steady and decent, but so tired of always having to be the responsible one.
I really like the way the story is told. It is in the first person, with the narrator being Kennedy, who keeps us informed with not just the activities but why they is important to him, or what he is watching for or how he feels about it. It reminded me of one of my favorite television shows from the 1980's, "Magnum PI", which also would keep us informed with the rules and how the clues were fitting together through the musing of the main character.
I knew who the murderer was about the time the two detectives argued over who did it, but I didn't know why, and every thought I had from that point on in the book was wrong. I thought I knew who set it up - wrong. I thought I knew where the drugs came from - really wrong. I was absolutely sure what Kennedy would find during his last visit to the crime scene - wrong again, in fact, was I even reading the same book? I kept looking for the Bradburian Irony. That's the kind that makes you chuckle at the end of the tale because everything finally makes sense.
The irony is heavy in this book but it isn't the kind that makes you chuckle. I think I really do understand the phrase "no better than they should be" now and maybe even have a little more respect for the Mrs. Gogan's of the world. THAT should be the definition of irony!
The first time I listened to this book I was simply delighted with it all. The author is creative, entertaining, clever and knowledgeable about a wide diversity of history, cultures and technologies, AND that is all before you get to the wizards. The narrator stands firmly on his own skills. He demonstrates an expressive repertoire that includes men and women from across the British Isles and and parts of Africa, and I really can't imagine anybody else doing this book and its sequels any level of justice. Ben Aaronovitch may have created this world but Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the genii locorum.
The second time I listened to this story (after listening to the next two volumes in the series) it became apparent to my essentially Midwestern American existence that this audio book is more than a London-based story read by a man with a fascinating and wide-ranging accent. Some books are just universal stories that adjust the words - "flat" instead of "apartment", "nick" instead of "steal", a cuppa, a rollup, the Tube. (I had to look up "skittles" because it was obvious we weren't discussing candy.) But this book goes much deeper.
This story is fundamentally English but not in the way I usually think of Agatha Christie or James Bond. It is based on the layout of the London Rivers and the timeline of the growth of London. It explores the layers of culture on several points of that line, and the people who inhabit those ephemeral intersections. In the modern time the of New Scotland Yard there is a traditional Traveler's camp, attending the Royal Opera House, a precariat Anglo-African homecoming, The answer to the mystery is related to the British Theater and I think that most Americans won't get it before we are led to the path in the middle of the narrative. I was helped in the who-dun-it category because I had recently listened to Christopher Fowler's "Bryant and May and the Memory of Blood" (also very British and interesting). So I knew as soon as they found the baby in the yard which direction this tragedy was headed. It was not a spoiler. The story was at the same time familiar and exotic, mesmerizing to listen to and happily surprising. It was so easy to co-mingle the archaic concepts of "thief takers" and the ritual formality of traditional education with jokes about a "secret branch of the Met", "The Ministry of Magic" and "cunning plans" because of the combined talents of the author and the narrator.
Two things I didn't like:
1) Leslie's voice was whiny. She is supposed to be the hardcore WPC and the interpretation of her voice was not suited to her role, however, due to circumstances in Leslie's life it changes in the upcoming books. The whine was perfect for Beverly!
2) The UK title for this book is "The Rivers of London" and there is a very nice cartoon on the front of the book depicting a map of a river (probably the Thames) rolling through London. It looks like a river of blood, but only when I thought about it a while. The US title is "Midnight Riot" and there is a picture/photo of a dark, brutish figure holding a gun and producing a werelight. The first time I saw the US cover, before I read the book, I thought the light was a flashlight (torch) and decided that the book with the gun-toting big scary guy shining a light in my eyes was too threatening and was going to be violent and not my type. I skipped it for several months but it kept coming up in my Audible recommendations so I finally read the description and reviews. I hate that Americans are stereotyped as gangsters, violent and coarse and that somebody thought that the book would sell better in the US with a gun on the cover. Metropolitan policemen, especially probationary constables, don't even carry guns unless they are in a special unit.The later books US books have the same unfortunate cover design although the titles do not change.
I recommend this book to:
-anybody who enjoys fantasy in a modern setting
-anybody who enjoys books with historical aspects
-anybody who enjoys police procedurals
-anybody who listens to an audio book for the operatic experience (that is what I call listening to the audio book just to hear the sounds, like listening to music)
I hope you enjoy this series as much as I have!
I chose this book first because I was intrigued by the narrator's voice, second because I liked the description of it being a classic cozy. That means there is no graphic sex or gory violence; just a little murder over there where nobody describes it to you to kick off the reason to tell a story about people. I also hoped that the setting would give a little different spin on the stereotypical Aunt Jane or Mrs. Fletcher finding out who-dun-it.
The bonus is that I really enjoyed the story. It takes place in a journalistic setting with reporters, librarians, editors and all the people who make up a newspaper staff. The death being investigated by a rookie crime beat reporter, Aubrey McGintey, is that of a famous televangelist who was poisoned on camera in the middle of his sermon while the cameras were rolling. The new kid doesn't think the right person is in prison and seeks to secure the release of the confessed killer. To do this she solicits the aid of the paper's librarian, Dolly Madison Sprowls, who is mostly known as Maddy to her friends, but nicknamed Morgue Momma by co-workers behind her back because of her job in the paper's morgue storage of old stories and her sour disposition,
While I don't think that I have to guess the end of the story to enjoy a book, I don't like it to totally surprise me either. I debated with myself over whether there was enough information throughout the story to be able to figure out the ending before the twist totally floored me. I don't think there is, but maybe I was just so caught up in the people and their stories that I missed the evidence that was being collected.
I'll pay more attention when I listen to it again.
When I started reading grown-up mysteries as opposed to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, books by Ngaio Marsh, Victoria Holt and Ellery Queen were all readily available in our home. It has been a wonderful re-introduction to old friends and the nuances that I didn't understand back then to listen to these classics recorded by modern narrators.
I very specifically chose this book to listen to Benedict Cumberbatch. Having read reviews concerning his extensive narration skills I chose to listen to an old favorite in a new voice. I was not disappointed except in the fact that I had not paid enough attention when I chose the book and did not realize it is an abridgment. I normally don't waste a credit or $$ on half a book.
That being said, the earlier reviews were correct. Mr. Cumberbatch's various voices are individuals and paint a personal picture of each character. Most of the characters are gruff and brusk men going about the business of investigation These differ significantly from each other and from the ladies and the tender scene that concludes the work.
This book was exactly what I needed precisely when I needed it-serious subject but a campy and bullet-proof approach. Total melodrama!
I am new to this series, having picked up #11 at a discount store because I needed ANY book for a long car ride about 6 months earlier. At the time I thought Phryne was too much: too perfect, too calm, too rich, too clever, too modern, too lucky, too too much to be a early 20th century woman in Society; and that I would never be able to tolerate that much orchestrated perfection in a character.
However, having read a very sad and serious book and feeling on the blue side myself I thought about the adventurous detective named for a courtesan and how her exploits with the fairy lady had made me smile. I sought out the first in the series and learned how she came to Australia and became involved with her circle of friends and fiends.
Phryne reminds me of Albert Campion with a bob!
She returns to Australia to inquire about a young lady's health to sooth worried parents. She has shown herself clever, solving the theft of a expensive necklace during a dinner party, and the parents feel that because the two girls are of a similar age and social status that Phryne can befriend their daughter and get at the root of her health issues. They worry that the husband is at fault. Phryne is able to accomplish her mission, as well as prevent a suicide, stop a backstreet abortionist who kills as many mothers as babies, and find an elusive cocaine kingpin. All of this discovery doesn't slow down her social life as her company is requested at dinner parties and she is romanced by a very attractive Russian dancer with motives deeper than Miss Fischer's silky skin.
The narration is part of the whole. I don't believe these books could be as enjoyable for me without the matter-of-fact approach to everything that is so well voiced by Stephanie Daniel. The tone would be the same whether passing the sugar at tea or the revolver to a confederate in church, and makes me almost swallow it whole.
Taken for what they are, clever stories about an enigmatic young lady with a penchant for mysteries and collecting people, you will be most heartily cheered and completely entertained.
Absolutely. Already have. The whole series!
My husband grew up outside of Billings, MT. and most of our long-distance (Idaho to Montana) courtship took place in, or around, Yellowstone Park. The first place he wanted to share with me was Red Lodge. While reading these stories you can tell that Mr. Johnson isn't a fake cowboy. He's been there with us on the Plain.
I had traveled more than my husband and the first out-of-country place that I was excited to take him was New York City. (Yes NYC is in the USA-Country, but not in the country where the skyscrapers are called mountains). I think the book caught the right nuance for how everything is different, but everything is really just the same. I know that Walt and Henry have traveled in their lives, and I'm glad that they weren't turned into gaping mo-rons in the confines of the concrete and asphalt canyons.
Vic out of uniform. It made me very sad. I think there are many better moments but unfortunately I will remember this one because it broke my heart.
The cruiser taking Walt home gets a call and so he goes for a ride-along. He listens to the cop-talk and thinking WWtCD? (What Would the Cheyenne Do?) gives the guys a plan so they can successfully raid a crack house.
The entire book is moving-I still can't believe the various types of emotion that can overflow with so few words.
I thought that it couldn't get any more emotional than when Henry Standing Bear cried. It really worked me over. In fact I cried when I typed the phrase, and then again when I read it.
But it also tore at me when Walt started to notice there were no pictures of him anywhere in Cady's life. The whole father-daughter relationship exploration was like touching broken glass-in a good way.
The tension between Vic and her family, particularly her mother, also struck a personal chord, but I outgrew this type of thing when I lived through the "terrible teens". Vic and her mother need to grow up. The mother's goodbye kiss was particularly cold; sweet as applesauce to Walt and Henry, twist the knife in Vic, No wonder Vic lives in Wyoming as far from the insecure jealous shape-shifter as possible.
So we have tough, grown men crying, father-daughter devotion, mother-daughter spite, How much more vulnerable can you get?
You'll find out, and if you've ever had to do it, you'll hear the screaming too. There is a reference to the it in the epilogue and I had to shut off the audio until I finished weeping.
Damn. I've started again.
Reading some of the other reviews for this book I wish to make a few statements in rebuttal:
First, there are not too many characters and saying there are too many is as silly as when the King told Mozart, "There are too many notes." Which one would you leave out? Most of the bad guys are background or you only meet them when they are dying so they don't clutter your brain or the story. Maybe you could have left out the old ladies (I can't remember their names) in the box at the ball game, maybe one of Vic's cop brother's was superfluous, but they didn't have an impact on the story. They are scenery, not characters. I thought there were too few people. There should have been a blur of people at the hospital. Not in her room, but in the waiting room. Where were all her friends in this? I know, there were mass quantities of cards and gifts, but where were the partners at the law firm? I had a scheduled surgery-not emergency or trauma- and one of the upper managers at my company stopped to talk to my family. Just saying. There could have been even more people in a real situation.
Second, Walt and Henry are not fish out of water in Philadelphia. They fit in very well. Henry has a date within the first few minutes of arriving, Walt is a careful and competent man who finds the wrong woman-again. Why not travel with his friend across country when a side benefit is being able to spend time with the best legal mind of our time? (Yes, Johnson understands irony). Having them in another setting that is known for its violence and drug problems makes their actions natural. It also helps alleviate "Cabot Cove Syndrome". Really, how many dead bodies can you find in a little town before you either kill everybody off or the locals get spooked and run away? While I'm perfectly happy with a helping of "The Usual", sometimes I just need that side of scrapple to be satisfied.
Hands down it was the combination of the lyrical prose and the narrator's delivery. It is wonderful to have a beautifully written story or an immersed narrator, the combination is rare and to be treasured.
I thought of two different sheriff's while reading about Walt and his town. The first is Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone, the second is Frederick Ramsay's Ike Schwartz, two series that I enjoy and follow. I thought about them in the same way that a new friend might remind you of an old one, fondly and with a smile. The stories are not alike but are familiar, as each man has to be the one who has to do the tough job, be strong and swim against the tide or comfort the broken when needed, because when it comes down to it, who else will be the doer of deeds?
From another angle I can compare this book to any of the Lord Peter Wimsey (Dorthy L. Sayers) or Albert Campion (Margery Allingham) novels. Both authors had a particular style that that was for what was considered the better educated and more-informed portion of society. They regularly included what we would consider pop culture references for the time, quoted the classics, waxed poetic, used foreign languages (primarily French & German) , explored home and social issues especially disenfranchised minorities, poverty, war veterans and women's issues, were deeply involved in the romantic hijinks of the main characters, and the close relationship between the men and those they had been through the war with, e.g. Major Wimsey and Sgt. Bunter being shelled during WWI in France, Campion and "Elsie" in the British Intelligence Service. There are more,examples t and most of the same elements are found in The Cold Dish.
My two favorite books by the Queens of Mystery are Sayer's "Busman's Holiday" and Allingham's "Tiger in the Smoke". In Busman's we celebrate Peter and Harriet's honeymoon and I could see in the actions of the man and hear in his words how terrified he was of the tenderness that was overwhelming him, how the emotion choked his eyes and throat and made him tremble. I could see the same thing and was deeply taken over by it while Walt was examining Vonnie's toes the first evening the spent together. In Tiger the main character is not Campion but Canon Avril, and near the end of the story, the priest has a interchange with the killer concerning religious philosophy, explaining to Havoc that his "Science of Luck and Never Go Soft" philosophy has another name: "The Pursuit of Death". In the setting of the thriller I shivered at the cold truth in the dark church. This scene was brought to mind when a highly agitated Walt takes off his jacket in a blizzard to cover his injured friend and tells him to, "... cut out the mystical horsesh*t!", to which his friend replies that it is the mystical horsesh*t that is going to keep him alive until Walt gets back! It may have been the blizzard, it may have been the harshness of the language, it may have been the cold truth, but what ever it was, I shivered!
Something else that was interesting was how I pictured Walt. I know what all the "real" people look like. I've seen the author, the narrator and the actor in the A&E Series. But every time I pictured Walt clearly in my mind I saw the actor Ralph Waite (primarily known for playing John Boy's father in the TV series The Walton's). All old friends, all coming to visit by way of Wyoming.
Personality. Rhythm. Credibility.
In the second book, Death Without Company, Walt refers to some "delusional episodes" during the first big blizzard of the year, which takes place in The Cold Dish. Mr. Guidall makes the scene real. Whether you choose to believe that it was a hypothermia-induced hallucination or that the Old Cheyenne protected Walt and his friend and gave them both beyond-human endurance and stamina, it can be accepted either way. And granted, the proper words have to be there to be played, but they could have been presented in a manner that made the experience silly instead of invigorating.
"The Gift of the Song" section reminded me of my favorite chapter of the Silmarillion by J. R.R. Tolkien, The Music of the Ainur. I've listened to Martin Shaw read that part over and over again for 20-odd years, and some of the evens too! I really want to say sing it, because Shaw makes Eru's gift of a mighty theme to the Ainur soar just a George Guidall does for Johnson's Gift to us.
You'd have to have a rock for a heart not to be affected by the denouement.
This single statement has made me a Craig Johnson fan for life. It is representative of the depth of the work and the kind of book I want to read. The sociopolitical implications behind this quotation are a lesson I will remember for the rest of my life:
"On the afternoon of June 25th, 1876, as the heat waves rolled from the buffalo grass, giving the impression of a breeze that did not exist, Colonel George Armstrong Custer and five companies of the Seventh Cavalry rode into the valley of the Little Big Horn. Also that afternoon, Davey Force, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, went six for six against Chicago, who scored four runs in the ninth to pull out a 14 to 13 victory."
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