Cave Creek, AZ USA | Member Since 2007
I can be a bit verbose with my reviews but I write what I want to see when I read the reviews of others. However the three-letter heading really sums it up! But, if you insist.....
While I know that forensics didn't begin recently, there has been a huge gap on books about criminal investigation in the decades between Victorian-era Sherlock Holmes and present day "CSI: Miami". And both of these accounts are largely science fiction - my long-time Sr. Crime Scene Investigator boyfriend doesn't drive a Hummer, conduct highly technical forensic and chemical tests, arrest perps, or interrogate suspects! He mainly "bags it 'n' tags it", i.e., collects evidence like bullet casings, weapons, blood, drugs, etc., dusts for fingerprints, and thoroughly documents the crime scene with schematics, photos, and video, assuring that everything is logged in which begins the critical chain of custody for trial.
This book gives credit to 2 brilliant dedicated scientists who created, formally organized, and set the current standard for catching murderers and/or exonerating innocent people of the most elusive and complicated manner of death - poisoning. Before there were mass chromatograph spectrometers, there was chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler, scientists who dedicated their time and, often, their own money to convince the corrupt NYC legal system that forensics had a much- needed place in criminal investigation. And they did it with glass tubes, petri dishes, and Bunsen burners in the 1920s! They could keep working in a blackout while today's forensic labs would have to close up until the computers had power!
My only complaint is the narrator. While she can spit out long hard-to-pronounce chemical names without batting an eye, for some strange reason she had Dr. Gettler sounding like Tony Soprano! Totally unnecessary and often distracting. This is not a book which requires gimmicky accents. The subject matter stands on its own. AMAZING!!
I thoroughly enjoyed "Call The Midwife". This second book.......not so much....... BUT.... I watched the BBC version on television in between listening to this one and the first. The television show had included many of these stories so they were a bit anti-climatic. Also, the writers of the TV series took the very best of Worth's memorable stories and expanded on the plots and gave the characters so much more depth.
This book is a just an average grade follow-up to the first but is made even more sub-standard and redundant if you've already watched it on BBC.
I've listened to 28 of the Georgette Heyer books written in the Georgian and Regency periods. Before reading my first Heyer work, I was not a fan of the Regency romance genre. However, I was hooked after listening to "Frederica" and promptly purchased more than 2 dozen more her audiobooks. But this book isn't nearly as good as Heyer's first work, "The Moth", written while in her teens. This story dragged out for hours with nothing of consequence going on. The characters are uninspiring and flat. The dialogue is boring. Halfway through the book, I still hadn't figured out what the whole thing was about. Maybe if I hadn't started with such great Heyer stories like "Behold", "Here's Poison", "Devil's Cub", "The Nonesuch", "Royal Escape", and "These Old Shades", I'd be more inclined to give "Why Shoot A Butler?" a higher rating. Something is missing here, i.e., the spark and genius that made the other Heyer books so enjoyable.
If you like war history - and I do - this overall story could have been very interesting. However, much of it is repetitive and narrator is not suited to this kind of book. It's about the Habsburg Empire so why use an American with a non-regional accent? Let me answer that for you......HE WROTE THE BOOK!!! I didn't notice that when I purchased this title or I would have passed on it because I have yet to listen to an audiobook that works when the author reads his own book. There were points where Wawro's tone was too cavałier for the subject matter. Often he stumbles over words and even sounds bored in places. This book should have been narrated by a British, German or Austrian person, of either sex. I don't but an Serbian using the term "Guys"! Someone like Simon Vanve, John Lee, Wanda McCaddon, Simon Prebble, or Nadia May could have delivered a more impactful performance.
OK......I know this book has received overwhelmingly positive response thus far, but I'm not at all impressed after waiting through a pre-order period to buy it. I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory and a devotée of the Tudors and Henry VIII. I've listened to all of "The Cousins' War" series and enjoyed them all. But 24 hours of Lady Margaret Salisbury, written in this manner, is just way too much! I'll just have to "take one for the team" and amass a collection of "Not Helpful" votes. Oh, well, I'm calling it like I see it.
This COULD have been a good book and a perfect ending to the "Cousins" series. But Gregory made Lady Margaret Pole incredibly unlikeable. In the hundreds of book that I've read about this era, I always felt sorry when elderly Margaret was executed. But, in THIS book, I wanted to execute her myself about 4 hours in! Pole is depicted as narcissistic, ungrateful, snobbish, ungracious, devious, duplicitous, haughty, evil, and hateful. I got so sick of her whining about the Plantagenets being undermined by the Tudor dynasty that it was a wonder that Henry The SEVENTH didn't behead her for treason!!! Did she forget that there WAS once a Plantagenet dynasty and that dynasties all eventually END?
Pole, an overt snob, claims to know what is in the minds of the common people during King Henry's crazed years. Gregory has her giving long discourses into the feelings and thoughts of the English commoners - all while looking down her long nose at anyone who doesn't have royal blood. I don't think she even allowed her tenants to enter her orbit, much less a tinker or tanner in the local pub. Her conceit is unparalleled! In first person singular, Pole tells us how good looking she is, how accomplished she is, what a great mother she is, what a fabulous estate manager she is - on and on and on - in ad nauseum!
I'm not one for abridged books, especially in fiction. However, this would have been a much better book if it was about 12 hours shorter. So much is repeated over and over in this story. Margaret whines and complains for hours about stuff she considers to injustices or depravation but to others would be blessings. When she is widowed, left virtually penniless (by HER standards), and is unable to feed her children, she begs Bishop John Fisher for help in finding a religious order to take in her family. But when he finds a perfect situation for her and her 2 youngest children, along with a place nearby for her other young son Reginald, at first she bitches about it all being way "beneath a Plantagenet"! Marge! You are broke! You can't house or feed yourself! Royal blood don't buy milk and bread, heifer!!!
Just about everyone who would find this book interesting already knows a little bit about King Henry, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Princess Anne, and Anne Boleyn. But Gregory has to give the "4-1-1" on every little thing of all of the key players like we didn't know a thing about the Tudors. To harp incessantly on the minutiae of those figures in a book which is supposed to be about the life and times of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury is unnecessary. Especially since this is the 6th in a series that many of us have already read. In addition, Pole seems to appear everywhere in this story like a Tudor-era "Forrest Gump"! When did she have time to be a wife, run several estates, making herbal potions and drugs, physically micro-managing the tenant farms, give birth to a half dozen children, be a "governess/companion/BFF" to Arthur, Katherine, Henry, and Mary, all while overseeing more political intrigue than MI-5?! On top of that, Gregory has everyone aging appreciably except Margaret, as if she was some kind of "Dorian Gray" character. As a grandmother, she admonishes her middle aged son, Lord Montagu, for his grey hair, claiming it made HER look old! As if he had access to "Grecian Formula"!
Another issue I had is with the narrator, Bianca Amato. She is usually a fantastic and capable artist. Here she makes a great Lady Margaret, although her voice soon becomes irritating reading this unusually long and mawkish story. She narrates like she's giving a funeral eulogy! But that's the fault of the author and the length of this audiobook. A funeral lasts a comparatively short time. And why didn't Amato give Queen Katherine a Spanish accent? Katherine's cultured clipped tones are what makes her such an enduring historical favorite. That accent is as critical to her persona as her stoic dignity and unwavering faith in God. One cannot imagine her without that voice after seeing "The Tudors" on cable television.
I made it a point at about 50% into this torture to just look up Pole in Wikipedia. In real life, she was a force to deal with, in and out of favor with King Henry, but seemed to do her best to keep her nose clean. Even then, with all of connections, one would think that she would have been a bit more cautious in her dealings with the King and his posse. Her biggest mistake was not remarrying a peer and keeping her family together. Abandoning young son Reginald to the church later caused the entire Pole family undue hardships. Although he became a scholar, a canon, a papal Legate and Archbishop of Canterbury and was an integral member of Henry's court, he later broke completely with the King, making any communication between him and his mother and brothers treasonable. Margaret and her entire family have a great story to tell on their own strength, but Gregory gave too much weight to ancillary characters and inserted improbable scenarios which stretched the credibility even allowed by the literary license of historical fiction. She also sets up Margaret up for a well-deserved march to the executioner's block by putting her in the middle of every scandal and act of treason possible.
Others may enjoy giving up 24 hours of their life to this tome. Personally I found this to be a disappointing end to an otherwise MOSTLY great series. OFF WITH HER HEAD - in 12 hours or less!!
This is a compelling little known event in American history. Who knew that molasses had killed people and destroyed property? The author does a great job but the listener/reader has to wade through over 4 hours of minutiae before the account of the flood begins. That's about 1/2 of the whole book! I listened as far as the part of Chapter 3, then skipped several hours and picked up at Chapter 9 - the early morning hours before the molasses tank exploded. After that, the story flowed well with a good description of the disaster and it's aftermath. The length made it impossible for me to give the BOOK a 5-star rating - which I would have if I hadn't paid for a 9+ hour work with only 4 hours worth of listening.
What's worse is that Stephen Puleo writes an epilogue and then an epilogue to the epilogue! The latter consists of letters from the ancestors of the victims who knew little or nothing about the tragedy until reading this book. They provide a personal insight into their relatives. Then Puleo takes time to analyze this added information. However, with the in depth research done by Puleo, these observations would be better served in a revised edition to this book, rounding out the true characters in this tragedy.
Once again, a book better served ABRIDGED!
As a "woman of a certain age", I remember when this crime was committed. All the media talked about was the apathy of Kitty Genovese's neighbors during the 1/2 hour it took for her to be savagely murdered. Author Catherine Pelonero gives a complete and unbiased account of this heinous crime. Instead of focusing on the more sensational headliner-grabbing fact of a white woman being killed by a black man, Pelonero tells the good and bad about everyone, including the 30+ witnesses who didn't help Kitty that night.
For the first time, I learned that Kitty was a lesbian - considered "deviate" for that era - and had a criminal record and worked in a bar. Not that her lifestyle made her at risk for this savage crime. However, the media of the time made no mention of any of this. Her killer, Winston Moseley, heretofore shown only in a booking photo, was a middle-class professional husband and father with no criminal record. He owned his own home and two cars. His wife was a registered nurse. Again, I don't remember these facts being told by the press. That said, Pelonero gives each of these two very disparate persons equal weight, choosing to focus on FACTS of the crime.
What no one knew was Moseley was a serial killer and rapist. He'd previously terrorized women of his own race so not much investigation was put into those crimes. In fact, Anna Mae Johnson, a black woman, had been murdered on her porch then dragged into her living room where Moseley raped her post-mortem, with her husband asleep upstairs. The medical examiner stated that the woman had been stabbed. It wasn't until Moseley confessed to that murder and saying he'd SHOT the victim, did an exhumation reveal bullets in the dead body. (While much has been written about Kitty Genovese, I've yet to find any books written about the life and death of Mrs. Johnson.)
Moseley, a prolific but undetected criminal has gotten less attention in history than Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahlmer, John Wayne Gacy and other white serial killers. It is this very racial oversight which led FBI profilers into mistakenly predicting that the DC Sniper had to be a white male. They should had done the research that this author put into her book.
This is one of the best true crime books that I've read in years. Pelonero does get a bit weighty in some places, giving a blow-by-blow account of some court testimony. But her attention to detail in other areas is well done. This story is not just about 3 dozen people who failed to act by merely not calling the police - although not much has changed in many decades since then, as evidenced by the recent murder in a yoga wear store while 2 Apple Store employees next door listened with their ears to the common wall. This is a story about a horrific crime, an innocent victim, a mentally ill killer and the question of the public's MORAL duty to assist a fellow human being fighting for his or her life.
I initially purchased this because the synopsis led me to believe it had a good account of the Australians' contribution to the victory in the Pacific theater. Not so. The usual American stories are covered much more than any of the Allies, particularly Australia. I am so sick of hearing about General Douglas MacArthur's legendary narcissism.
This overall account is a bit heavy, causing me zone out several times. And, many times, it was difficult to tell whether it was the Allies or the Japanese fighting, dying, escaping and/or strategizing. There's a lot of statistics in this book which would make it more interesting in print rather than audio. very little on the Australians
One point that I found to be of great interest is the way author Alan Rems described the problems incurred by the African-Americans in World War II as a whole. In the kazillion books that I've read on the subject, black soliers are rarely even mentioned. In the few books that contain our contribution, the gamut runs to either our men being totally useless and untrainable or - closer to the truth - they served with incomparable bravery and sacrifice. Here, we learn the real obstacles that made it difficult for black Americans: being expected to put their hearts into fighting for a country that treated them like second-class citizens. Yet even Hems fails to name the first African-American soldier to be killed in the line of duty in the Pacific in his description of the deed.
Overall, this is a good book for real devotées of military history.
The first book in this series, "Only Time Will Tell", was well-written with great characters, interesting plot lines, and the perfect narration using both a female AND male narrator to seamlessly blend the two main characters accounts. (Well-matched narrators with quality recording production is the often overlooked cornerstone in well-produced audiobooks.)
So it was with great anticipation that I began the second installment of "The Clifton Chronicles". I'd already added all of the series to my Audible "Wish List" thinking that it would be another masterpiece in sweeping generational sagas, second only to John Galsworthy's series, "The Forsyte Saga". However, this book should have titled "NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE"! It is nothing more than 10 wasted hours, culminating in a lame kitschy cliff-hanger not worthy of a writer like Jeffrey Archer. This book is a long, disjointed, meandering tease written to get readers to buy Book 3. I wish I'd read the Audible synopsis of the third book which overtly and unabashedly reveals the secret and major conflict that took Archer 10 hours NOT to resolve in Book 2. I ended up skipping more than half of chapters, eventually going right to the last one, which turned out to be disappointing. If you've read Book 1 with its engaging cliff-hanger at the end, just skip this one and spend your credit or money on Book 3. As for me, stick a fork in me - I'm DONE with "The Clifton Chronicles"!
I love all of Charles Todd's books, having read 5 of this series. However, this story was just too incredulous for words! It's hard to believe that a nursing sister and a military officer would go tearing around the English countryside looking for a missing injured soldier whom the Army and Scotland Yard is chasing. This, in the middle of a war, as if both of these people couldn't be better utilized elsewhere. I get that Bess wants to save her reputation since the soldier went AWOL on her watch but to waste resources like gasoline trying to outdo the criminal investigators already on the case is a bit much.
I would shorten it. The story is a compelling and interesting one. However, there's too much unnecessary information which adds nothing. Also the dialogue is contrived and written as if this is a fiction novel rather than a true account.
The heroic survivor Jans Baalsrud. His courage and faith was incredible.
Maybe. However, I didn't like him in this work because his tone is too cavalier, almost as if he's reading a fairy tale like "Hansel and Gretel" to a group of transfixed school children.
Overall, this was a great inspiring story of courage under the worst conditions ever. An abridged version would keep the listener engaged. In the hard copy, at least one can scan through and/or skip irrelevant pages.
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