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Amy

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Member Since 2006

146
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 53 reviews
  • 160 ratings
  • 598 titles in library
  • 26 purchased in 2014
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  • The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By James Carnac
    • Narrated By Mark Meadows, Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (61)

    This memoir was recently discovered and appears to have been written in the 1920s by someone who asserts that he was Jack the Ripper. This person is James Willoughby Carnac, and this memoir was written shortly before his death. It is an account of his entire life, including a few short months in 1888 when he became the murderer known to posterity as Jack the Ripper.

    Martin says: "Absolutely Fascinating"
    "Maddeningly fascinating!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper is a maddeningly fascinating work. It was reportedly discovered in 2008 in the possessions left to his heirs by S.G. Hulme-Beaman, a children's author and illustrator best known as the creator of the Toytown stories and their characters (including Larry the Lamb) who died in 1932. The manuscript is attributed to "James Carnac," who professes to be the real Jack The Ripper writing about his gruesome exploits 40 years after the fact. The book is made up of four parts: 1) Introductory notes apparently made by S.G. Hulme-Beaman, which explain how he came upon the manuscript while acting as executor of Carnac's estate, but failed to follow Carnac's directions to send the manuscript to a publishing house due to its disturbing and distasteful subject matter; 2) the first two sections of the narrative, which relate the story of Carnac's young life (including his father's murder of his mother and subsequent suicide) and Whitechapel years (including the Ripper slayings); 3) the third section of the narrative, produced on a different typewriter than the first two sections and written in a different, more "fictional" voice, bringing Carnac's story to an all-too-neat end; and 4) commentary by Alan Hicken and respected Ripperologist Paul Begg.

    What is this book, exactly? Several possibilities exist. It might represent Hulme-Beaman's attempt at a "true crime"-inspired novel, but this seems unlikely due to both the man's workload and his personality. It might be a novel by another author that came into the possession of Hulme-Beaman. (There is no record that James Carnac ever existed.) It might be a genuine autobiography of Jack the Ripper, and either the author's name is actually a pseudonym or somehow the historical James Carnac managed to live and die without creating a paper trail. Or perhaps it is a modern-day hoax purporting to be a manuscript from the late 1920s.

    I went into this with the intention of reading it much like The Lodger (1913), an early twentieth-century novel by Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes, a woman who lived through the Autumn of Terror and evoked it well in her story. As such a work of fiction, The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper is effective. Carnac's fascination with blood, his knowledge of his father's act of murder/suicide, his curiosity about his French ancestors' roles as executioners, and his own strange (and resisted) compulsion to kill his kind uncle set the stage well for the horrors to come.

    The descriptions of his behavior as Jack the Ripper offer the most interest. Unlike most works and speculations of the time, which attributed to the Ripper complicated motives (religious fanaticism, a personal vendetta against women, a desire to undermine the police force and law in general), Carnac comes across much in the way we understand modern psychopaths today. He killed because he liked killing, and he got away with his crimes because he was smart enough to choose his victims carefully. His dark, wry sense of humor is both startling and convincing. What is more, the end of the Ripper's murderous spree has a believable justification: Carnac was badly injured in an accident with a carriage (while crossing the street to get to a paper detailing his latest crime), losing both his leg and his mobility.

    What I find most fascinating about the book is how it follows and deviates from known facts about the murders. Carnac admits that he had kept scrapbooks of media coverage of the crimes, and the similarity between some of his narrative and contemporary newspaper accounts can be explained by the fact that, after forty years, he returned to his clippings to remind himself of particulars. That said, he also deviates in some critical ways from widely-reported details -- and, in one case, provides a detail only known to have been reported in one account published in New York -- which certainly creates the effect of firsthand knowledge.

    The odd ending, with its vastly different tone -- and, seemingly, purpose -- is also a mystery unto itself.

    It's interesting to speculate on the real nature of this work. I am not suggesting that I was persuaded that Carnac existed or that he was the Ripper, but I was impressed by the psychological insight of the text and the historical mysteries it provides.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Katherine Howe
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1045)
    Performance
    (400)
    Story
    (405)

    Connie's mother asks her to sell an abandoned house once owned by her grandmother in Salem, Mass. Relunctantly, Connie moves to the small town and inhabits the crumbling, ancient house, trying to restore it to a semblance of order. Curious things start to happen when Connie finds the name "Deliverance Dane" on a yellowed scrap of paper and begins to have visions of a long ago woman condemned for practicing "physick," or herbal healing, on her neighbors in 1690s Salem.

    Darinda says: "Love it!"
    "What if the Salem accused really were witches?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    During her oral exams for Ph.D. candidacy at Harvard, Connie's advisor asks her the following about her understanding of the colonial American witch trials: "Have you not considered the distinct possibility that the accused were simply guilty of witchcraft?" Here lies the major premise of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

    No, Connie hadn't considered this possibility, and she doesn't take it seriously when Professor Chilton raises it. After passing her orals, Connie divides her summer between clearing out her grandmother's decrepit home in preparation for selling the place and trying to find an avenue of research for her dissertation proposal. Both endeavors meet when she realizes she may have a lead on a previously unmined primary source: a "recipe" book owned by one of the forgotten prosecuted "witches" from the Salem witch trials. Most of the novel follows Connie's search in 1991, but this narrative is broken up and complemented by extended interludes set during the colonial witch trials.

    Howe's strength rests in description. Her portraits of colonial and contemporary Massachusetts bring the settings to life and make them central characters in her story. The fact that Howe herself is the descendant of Elizabeth Proctor (who survived the Salem witch trials) and Elizabeth Howe (who did not) also adds depth and texture to this intergenerational tale.

    As a Ph.D. in history myself, I found much of Connie's experience as a graduate student to be familiar. The time frame for her research is wildly condensed from "real life," but Howe offers an explanation for Connie's advisor's crazed expectations. More than a few times I thought that writing this novel must have offered cathartic moments in exorcising Howe's own graduate school experience.

    That said, Connie seems a naive, clueless, and inexperienced in her chosen field of study and even basic research methods, and I wasn't quite sure how she'd made it to candidacy at all. A third of the way into the novel I guessed exactly how the rest of the story would unfold, and I ended up being right on every count. This book therefore fails as a procedural story or a mystery. Its enjoyment lies in its sense of mood and atmosphere, as well as the strong connections it underscores between the past and the present, place and memory, history and identity.

    Katherine Kellgren's narration was an obstacle to enjoying this book, especially the voice she used for Professor Chilton, which was such an outrageous caricature that it belonged in a farcical comedy. It's difficult to take a tension-filled scene of peril seriously when the narrator's reading makes you want to laugh.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Bucholz
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (42)

    No city has had as powerful and as enduring an impact on Western civilization as London. But what made the city the perfect environment for so many great developments? How did London endure the sweeping historical revolutions and disasters without crumbling? Find the answers to these questions and more in these 24 fascinating lectures.

    Cynthia says: "Walking through London/Two Millennia"
    "Good Starting Place or Refresher"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I went to these lectures in order to brush up on my knowledge of London's history (which varies depending on the era from "rather expert" to "rather sketchy") and gain new perspectives on the "Cool Britannia" phenomenon today, and this fit the bill. Robert Bucholz offers an interdisciplinary and broad history of the city drawing from court history, literature, sociology, urban planning, economics, and other approaches. He manages to cover a great deal in a short time, complete with entertaining asides and corny humor. I especially appreciated his guided tours of the city during different stages of its life (Chaucer's time, Shakespeare's time, Samuel Pepys's time, Dickens's time, and "Millennial London"), which provided very useful comparisons and contrasts. A work this brief covering such a time span cannot be all things to all people, but for someone already familiar with the history and wanting a refresher, or someone wholly new to the history and seeking an introduction, this is an ideal resource.

    The individual lectures are as follows:

    1. There's No Place like London
    2. The Rise and Fall of Roman Londinium
    3. Medieval London's Thousand-Year Climb
    4. Economic Life in Chaucer's London
    5. Politics and Religion in Chaucer's London
    6. London Embraces the Early Tudors
    7. Elizabeth I and London as a Stage
    8. Life in Shakespeare's London—East
    9. Life in Shakespeare's London—West
    10. London Rejects the Early Stuarts
    11. Life in Samuel Pepys's 17th-Century London
    12. Plague and Fire
    13. London Rises Again—As an Imperial Capital
    14. Johnson's London—All That Life Can Afford
    15. The Underside of 18th-Century London
    16. London Confronts Its Problems
    17. Life in Dickens's London
    18. Two Windows into Victorian London
    19. Questions Postponed and the Great War
    20. London's Interwar Expansion and Diversions
    21. The Blitz—The Greatest Target in the World
    22. Postwar London Returns to Life
    23. The Varied Winds of Change
    24. Millennial London—How Do You Like It?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Name of the Star

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Maureen Johnson
    • Narrated By Nicola Barber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (122)
    Performance
    (110)
    Story
    (114)

    The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city - gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect.

    Melissa says: "London"
    "Paranormal Ripper-Related YA"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's hard to rate this novel, because it does many things.

    For one, it's a YA fish-out-of-water tale about a small-town Louisiana girl who suddenly finds herself in a boarding school in London. As a glimpse of London life, popular culture, and history through an American lens, it's a very successful and often laugh-out-loud funny tale.

    The novel is also a Jack-the-Ripper thriller about a copycat murderer who uses the original Ripper slayings as inspiration for "tribute" killings, with some clever and chilling contemporary updates to the 1888 story. This aspect of the novel, with its atmospheric descriptions and creepy depiction of the morbidly fascinated public at large does work on its own, although it's somewhat jarring next to the more upbeat schooldays story.

    But wait, there's more! This book also serves up a paranormal coming-of-age and coming-into-your-powers narrative about ghosts (or shades), those who see them, and the secret police who are in charge of cases involving them. (Think of the Torchwood group dedicated to ghosts. I couldn't unsee Torchwood throughout this section of the novel.) In some ways the novel hangs together - thank heavens Maureen Johnson confined herself to the copycat killer and didn't go back to the mystery of the original Ripper - but in some ways this combination felt overly ambitious, as if everything but the kitchen sink had been thrown into the mix.

    Johnson telegraphed at least three of the intended "big reveals" far in advance, so the mystery angle of the book fell flat. The less said about the teen romantic scenes, the better. In addition, I normally really enjoy Nicola Barber's narrations, but her varied attempts at a Louisiana drawl were so outrageously bad that they kept shocking me out of the story. Just dreadful.

    I don't think I'll be following up on more of this series, but I'm not sorry I listened to the novel. Perhaps those who enjoy paranormal YA works will enjoy it more than I did. I listened to it for the Ripper connection primarily, and there were enough innovations there to make this worth my while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ripper Hunter

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By M. J. Trow
    • Narrated By Terry Wale
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Who was Inspector Frederick Abberline, the lead detective in the Jack the Ripper case? Why did he and his fellow policemen fail to catch the most notorious serial killer of Victorian England? What was he like as a man, as a professional policeman, one of the best detectives of his generation? And how did he investigate the sequence of squalid, bloody murders that repelled - and fascinated - contemporaries and has been the subject of keen controversy ever since? Here at last in M. J. Trow’s compelling biography of this preeminent Victorian policeman are the answers to these intriguing questions.

    Amy says: "A Step in the Right Direction"
    "A Step in the Right Direction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It seems remarkable that there's never been a biography dedicated to Frederick Abberline, Chief Inspector for the Metropolitan Police and arguably the most famous of the professionals involved in the Autumn of Terror's search for Jack the Ripper - remarkable, that is, until one realizes just how much information we don't know about the man. I applaud M.J. Trow's attempt to put Abberline's life and work (both Ripper and non-Ripper related) into a larger context. I hope this is a starting point from which others may launch new research. I certainly learned a great deal about Abberline's other cases, and I was pleased to hear the Ripper murders put into a different perspective.

    I especially appreciated how Trow used popular perceptions of Abberline and police officer George Godley, such as their portrayals by Michael Caine and Lewis Collins in Jack the Ripper (1988) and Johnny Depp and Robbie Coltrane in From Hell (2001), as framing devices for his deeper explorations into historical reality. (I only wish he had engaged with the portrayal of Abberline and Edmund Reid in the current Ripper Street from 2012-present, as well, although this book's publication date would have made that a very tight squeeze.)

    This is not a flawless study, but it is both useful and interesting to those fascinated by the history of law enforcement, detection, and/or the Autumn of Terror. It has the sense of a "good starting place" about it, and I hope it will inspire more exhaustive research along these same lines. Solid narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2681)
    Performance
    (2489)
    Story
    (2484)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    H James Lucas says: "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"
    "A worthy sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a thoroughly satisfying sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling, and I'm looking forward to more in this series. As with the first novel, J.K. Rowling (as Robert Galbraith) gives readers a new perspective on a world she knows well: in this case, the publishing industry. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in Cormoran Strike to track him down and send him home. Of course, all is not as it seems, and ultimately Strike must investigate Quine's gruesome, grisly murder -- which Quine himself apparently described in detail in his latest unpublished manuscript, a text which also cruelly attacks almost everyone he knows (and thus offers many motives for murder). The mystery itself is expertly constructed, well paced, and clever.

    Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin both grow as individuals and a team. One mystery from the first novel is solved -- that is, what Strike's ex-fiancee Charlotte did that was truly unforgivable enough to break up their sixteen-year on-and-off-again relationship -- while another is introduced regarding Robin's personal history. Both characters remain compellingly three-dimensional. Strike's defense of Mrs. Quine and both characters' interactions with the Quines' developmentally disabled daughter Orlando remind readers why these flawed individuals are nonetheless the "heroes" of the tale. Cormoran's younger half-brother Al also puts Strike in a new perspective, and I hope we'll see more of him. London is very much a character in its own right, as well, and Rowling paints its portrait in beautiful detail.

    This novel has none of the symptoms of second-book symptom. Rowling knows how to draw characters, plot mysteries, and evoke settings, and all three talents are well displayed here.

    This is the third audiobook I've listened to narrated by Robert Glenister, and he continues to blow me away with his pitch-perfect readings. He is perfection.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hell Is Empty: A Walt Longmire Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Craig Johnson
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1483)
    Performance
    (1240)
    Story
    (1234)

    Spur Award-winner Craig Johnson has garnered critical acclaim for his Walt Longmire mysteries. In this riveting seventh entry, Wyoming’s Absaroka County sheriff, Walt Longmire, is pushed beyond his limits. When three hardened convicts escape FBI custody in a mountain blizzard, an armed psychopath leads them up Big Horn Mountain. As Longmire struggles to track their treacherous ascent, he’ll need all the help he can get from the tribal spirits of the towering summit.

    Susan says: "Transcendental"
    "Walt Longmire follows Dante into a frozen hell"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Craig Johnson manages to do something different with every new addition to his Walt Longmire series, and in the case of Hell is Empty, he's created one of his most memorable and meaningful novels yet. The majority of the novel follows Walt's one-man hunt for the convicted and escaped murderer Raynaud Shade in the icy hell of the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area at 13,000-foot elevation during a winter blizzard. This cat-and-mouse pursuit unfolds as an extended reimagining and commentary on Dante's Inferno, complete with its own Virgil -- that is, the return of Virgil White Buffalo from Another Man's Moccasins, who happens to be the grandfather of one of Shade's victims, and who may or may not be dead at the time he helps Walt on his quest.

    (Needless to say, this is not the place to start the Longmire series. But if you're already a fan, this is a special treat.)

    Suffering from a concussion, hypothermia, exhaustion, and the effects of high elevation, Longmire is hardly a reliable narrator, and Johnson satisfyingly offers both mystical and medical explanations for (most of) what happens in the mountains during Longmire's long night of the soul. This seventh Longmire novel transcends traditional man vs. man and man vs. wilderness conflicts to achieve an introspective, philosophical, spiritual tale worthy of Dante (seasoned with plenty of Homer for extra flavor). I completed this with breathless relish.

    George Guidall was made to read these books. His narration is perfection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • What I Was

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Meg Rosoff
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    In this beautifully crafted and heartbreakingly poignant coming-of-age tale, an older man recounts the story of his most significant friendship - that with the nearly feral and completely parentless Finn, who lived alone in a hut by the sea.

    Julie says: "A gem of a book"
    "Dreamlike, haunting coming-of-age story."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an elegant, almost dreamlike novel that confirms my high estimation of Meg Rosoff (first inspired by my appreciation of How I Live Now). Rosoff's prose is deceptively simple, and the reader may feel hard pressed to explain what actually happens in the story, and yet the novel is packed with multi-layered ideas and compelling emotion.

    The official description begins like this: "Toward the end of his life, H looks back on the relationship that has shaped and obsessed him for nearly a century. It began many years earlier at St. Oswald's, a dismal boarding school on the coast of England, where the young H came face-to-face with an almost unbearably beautiful boy living by himself at the edge of the sea."

    The novel unfolds as H recounts how he escaped the suffocating tyranny of mediocrity at his boarding school by stalking the lone Finn and insinuating himself into Finn's life until a kind of understanding, if not traditional friendship, blossomed between them.

    I was reminded somewhat of A Separate Peace by John Knowles at the beginning of the tale, but in the end What I Was surprised me, and I found I liked Rosoff's take even better than Knowles's.

    Rosoff, like life, refuses to wrap things up tidily with a bow at the end. I would've been disappointed if she had.

    I suspect this will be haunting me for some time (as How I Live Now continues to do).

    Ralph Cosham, as always, delivers an excellent narration.


    Here's an indicative passage:

    "I studied Finn the way another boy might have studied history, determined to memorize his vocabulary, his movements, his clothes, what he said, what he did, what he thought. What ideas circulated in his head when he looked distracted? What did he dream about?

    "But most of all what I wanted was to see myself through his eyes, to define myself in relation to him, to sift out what was interesting in me (what he must have liked, however insignificant) and distill it into a purer, bolder, more compelling version of myself.

    "The truth is, for that brief period of my life I failed to exist if Finn wasn't looking at me. And so I copied him, strove to exist the way he existed: to stretch, languid and graceful when tired, to move swiftly and with determination when not, to speak rarely and with force, to smile in a way that rewarded the world."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Casual Vacancy

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By J. K. Rowling
    • Narrated By Tom Hollander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2859)
    Performance
    (2511)
    Story
    (2531)

    When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.... Pagford is not what it at first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.

    cristina says: "I was surprised by how much I liked it"
    "An Intentionally Disturbing Political Parable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The last five words of The Casual Vacancy, "the congregation averted its eyes," serve as an able description of one of the novel's major themes. The seemingly idyllic village of Pagford is filled with characters who have averted their eyes, who have defined themselves and others in suffocatingly narrow ways, who have contributed to a community of overt denial and hidden resentments. The most likeable, sympathetic, and heroic character, Barry Fairbrother, dies on the fifth page, and his death opens "a casual vacancy" on the parish council that brings many of Pagford's quiet conflicts -- parents vs. children, wives vs. husbands, rich vs. poor -- into high relief.

    Rowling's intolerance for intolerance shines through here as she unearths pettiness, hypocrisy, and other ugly aspects of human nature. The shifting points of view give the reader insights into, and often unexpected empathy with, a variety of perspectives.

    What is most impressive about The Casual Vacancy is how its multitude of characters and their different storylines weave together to lead the reader inexorably to a final devastating -- and wholly avoidable -- tragedy. This is far from an enjoyable, entertaining read. It is an effective political parable, however. While it's easy to compare the climax to the proverbial train wreck, that comparison is inaccurate. A train wreck is merely a terrible accident, at least to the onlooker. The final tragedy in The Casual Vacancy leaves a great many guilty by commission or omission, and it makes the reader question how he/she might unwittingly contribute to a similar calamity.

    I cannot say I liked this novel, because I was (as Rowling intended) continually disturbed as I read it. But I appreciate it for its unflinching commitment, elegant organization, and thorough lack of nostalgic sentimentalism. It reminds me of a more robust version of the television show Broadchurch, in a way: that little community that appears to be ideal is, in fact, the world in miniature, a distillation of imperfect human nature, a portrait of what Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation." Rowling leaves us with the suggestion that some fortunate few may learn from their experiences and make positive changes, but that many others will continue to avert their eyes.

    I'll let a favorite passage speak for itself.

    "'But,' her voice broke at last, and he heard the mother he knew, 'he loves you, Stuart.'

    She added the lie because she could not help herself. Tonight, for the first time, Tessa was convinced that it was a lie, and also that everything she had done in her life, telling herself that it was for the best, had been no more than blind selfishness, generating confusion and mess all around. But who could bear to know which stars were already dead, she thought, blinking up at the night sky, could anybody stand to know that they all were?"

    Tom Hollander's narration is well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cuckoo's Calling

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    Overall
    (6571)
    Performance
    (5976)
    Story
    (5983)

    After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: his sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

    Tracey says: "Unbelievable debut mystery set in London"
    "I'm ready for the sequel!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Cuckoo's Calling possesses all the traits I would expect from a work by J.K. Rowling: mediocre prose eclipsed by expert storytelling; complex characters who are immediately and consistently compelling; an intricate plot with generous background and multiple surprises; and pointed, incisive critiques of the shallowness and hypocrisy of our contemporary culture, balanced by the heroism of characters who have in one way or another fallen through that culture's cracks.

    Once again, her protagonist is an underdog. Cormoran Strike has lost a leg and a livelihood in Afghanistan and a fiancée and home in London. He's living in his shabby office, not quite one step ahead of his creditors, when the brother of a now-deceased childhood friend engages his services as a private investigator. The mystery he is to tackle, however, has already been explored by the authorities, press, and public with a fine-toothed comb. Could it be possible that the highly publicized death of Lulu Landry, the celebrated supermodel and sister of Strike's client, wasn't a suicide after all?

    Rowling's skill at planting clues and misdirections works in the reader's favor here. The unraveling of the mystery itself is highly entertaining and absorbing. Rowling's experiences with public fame and private family strife inform her insights and descriptions. The greatest achievement of this novel, though, is the creation of the noir-flavored hero Strike and his "temporary" secretary Robin, who are well worth following into their next adventure.

    This is the second audiobook I've heard that featured Robert Glenister as narrator. I'll definitely be seeking out more. He has a gift for accents, and he injects the perfect amount of feeling into his reading to captivate the reader without upstaging the prose. Magnificent! Well done indeed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Stephen Seitz
    • Narrated By Ric Jerrom
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    After Mina Murray asks Sherlock Holmes to locate her fiancé, Holmes and Watson travel to a land far eerier than the moors they had known when pursuing the Hound of the Baskervilles. The confrontation with Count Dracula threatens Holmes' health, his sanity, and his life. Will he survive his battle with Count Dracula?

    Amy says: "A Very Satisfying Crossover!"
    "A Very Satisfying Crossover!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly enjoyed this crossover between Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes universe and Bram Stoker's Dracula. It is told in the same format as Stoker's work, but with Dr. Watson's letters and notes interspersed with the journal and diary entries of the other characters. Mina Murray employs Holmes and Watson to find the missing Jonathan Harker. They travel to Transylvania and have their own nasty encounter, and this puts them on the trail of Count Dracula.

    One might expect that Holmes and Watson would join forces with Van Helsing and company, but quite the opposite is true, and here is the great delight of this novel. The reader gets to see both sets of characters from the not always complimentary perspectives of the other. I particularly enjoyed how Watson's fierce brand of personal loyalty and dedication to medicine opposes Van Helsing's -- and saves the day (and ultimately humankind).

    I am a great fan of both Conan Doyle and Stoker, and I've reread the Holmes canon and Dracula quite recently. Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula provides a clever combination of both with a satisfyingly rational conclusion. One word: Science!

    Ric Jerrom's handling of the different characters and accents was terrific.

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