What a pleasure to have a new Sherlock Holmes adventure to enjoy, written in the true Conan Doyle style and as complicated and enthralling as usual.
This tale is rather darker in places than Holmes tales with which we are familiar. Nowadays some subjects can be addressed which Conan Doyle, in his time, could not mention although he would not have been unaware. This is perfectly acceptable and it is only fitting that the genre can be updated in this way, but it may seem strange to modern readers who do not realise the innocent ignorance of so many in the Victorian era.
It is good to have such a distinguished narrator as Derek Jacobi, a pleasure to hear and who even managed to make Holmes a fraction more likeable. At least Holmes seemed to be a little kinder to Watson, a change long overdue.
The inhabitants of Pepys Road, in a London suburb, come from wide ranging cultural backgrounds and have with a variety of occupations, interests and plans for the future. The story is set in 2007-8 when the global financial crisis will affect them all in different ways.
We meet a rich young banker and his spoilt wife, a Pakistani shopkeeper and members of his family, an aging widow and her grandson, and a young Senegalese soccer star here with his father and minder. Through these characters we come to follow several others who touch their lives such as a nanny, a builder and the local traffic warden. Pepys Road itself and the people who come and go there are representative of London in all its glorious diversity.
The individual dramas in the lives of the residents are played out, while the overall story is held together by the mystery of the letter cards “We Want What You Have” as they appear. The clear detailed descriptions writing help you picture Pepys Road, the workplaces and the people. John Lanchester's understanding of so many different characters and his skill of sharing that understanding with us in natural, seemingly effortless writing is first rate.
There is thoughtful perception in the ability to think as Petunia in her eighties, or how Patrick and Freddy cope with living in UK, or the process as Zbigniew, the builder wrestles with his problems. The trepidation of the whole family awaiting the arrival of their matriarch, Mrs Kamal Snr, is humourous perfection. There are so many marvellous characters here, some you will love, some to make you laugh, some you may dislike intensely. Colin Mace narrates clearly and smoothly so the story flows and each character comes to life in your imagination.
You may run through a wide range of emotions in this book, not everything can end happily, but it is hard to stop listening until the realistic and satisfying conclusion. Capital is now a firm favourite for me and I highly recommend it, hoping many others here will share the enjoyment.
Fragrant Harbour refers to Hong Kong. It was originally the meaning of the Cantonese name of a small harbour on the island, but was adopted as the name for the whole island when it became a British Crown Colony in 1842.
The four main characters are completely different, but well described and we can easily relate to each different approach or point of view. The interactions and relationships between them is carefully woven and each person is entirely believable in their own way. The overall plot worked out well but be prepared for a wide range of emotions and a few shocks. It is quite complex at times and needs concentration, but this is part of the pleasure given by this book.
As we follow their stories we also get some idea of how local and world events affect the city itself and the lives of the people living there. These include the Japanese invasion of China, World War 2, the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the handing back of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
It was equally as interesting to get an idea of Hong Kong - the history, the city itself, the atmosphere, way of life and importance in business through all the changes. I knew very little of Hong Kong's history so needed to look it up and check a map to try and place the different locations in and around Hong Kong and in China in relation to each other, as the action in the story moved and changed.
Corruption, manipulation, favours for favours, courting of powerful influence and the expectation of bribes is an accepted way of doing business throughout Asia and this reality is very clearly illustrated in the story and summed up by two particular expressions used “The mountains are high and the Emperor far away” and “To deal with a big gorilla you need a bigger gorilla.”
David Yip did an excellent job, there were many different characters and nationalities to reflect and differentiate between and it cannot have been easy. I loved Fragrant Harbour, it contains so much to enjoy on many levels and I recommend it unreservedly.
This new book by Donna Leon has an intriguing and unusual theme of baroque opera. We get glimpses of life in and around European courts, some scandalous historical characters and social history of the times. The pace is gentle, but not boring, the ending is satisfying, but not earth shattering, and it is an enjoyable book worth listening to, although somehow felt a little flat and incomplete.
The main character, Caterina Pellegrini, is likeable and could be interesting, but I need to know more to understand her better, there are many gaps in her background and loose ends were left unsatisfied. Apart from Caterina herself, most of the present day characters were only lightly touched on and left little impression. Some of her family and friends were introduced, but so briefly. I want to know more about her sister who is a nun, more about her kind brother-in-law and definitely more of the drunken Romanian academic.
If, on the other hand, this is meant as the first of a series, where Caterina has future mysteries to solve, possibly in and around her specialty world of music and opera, this would be a good introductory book. We can look forward to the development of the characters of family and friends, their relationships and interaction. I hope my curiosity will be satisfied and look forward to hearing more about Caterina Pellegrini’s world in the future.
I found that the narrator’s gentle but strong Irish accent very distracting when she read various characters with strong Italian accents and also that the sound quality was not clear, making this audio hard to listen to, but not enough to stop me wanting to finish the story.
Love it but was totally unprepared and it is so scary. Shall I dare let grandsons listen with me in the dark on Halloween Night ? They think they're so tough, but ...........................
Agatha Christie mysteries are some of my favourite ???comfort??? listening as they provide a good puzzle with larger than life characters who are usually aristocratic and affluent and live in beautiful English countryside settings. We can escape into these pleasant surroundings and even though a murder or two is bound to be committed we do not have to suffer gory details. This story is typical and, of course, includes a stately and faithful butler.
M'sieu Hercule Poirot of the sharp eyes, logical thinking, extreme vanity, kind heart and formidable moustaches is a much loved character and his dry comments always leave me smiling. He makes his appearance midway through this story, which starts with such well drawn and interesting descriptions of the main characters that they are easy to picture.
Lady Angkatell, in particular, is an absolute gem. She flows and floats around her country house home ???The Hollow??? continuously chattering on in a hilarious but apparently inconsequential flow. Despite this we begin to realise that she artlessly manages to plant certain pictures in the minds of her listeners ??? including us. Lady Lucy would be a nightmare to live with, but she alone could make this book worthwhile, although there is also plenty of surprise and entanglement to enjoy. So many times we think we know ???who dunnit???, but we are kept guessing again and again until the end
Hugh Fraser is an excellent narrator for all these books and always finds the perfect voice for each different character to bring them to life for us.
Some contemporary writers have given us acceptable and enjoyable new stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. This particular collection is very disappointing as the solutions are so glaringly obvious from early on that all mystery is lost. The performance is good but does not make up for the boredom of waiting for the ending you have foreseen. Although the likeable Dr Watson is well portrayed, he has been made to seem unbelievably gullible.
The author is John Taylor, NOT Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as another reviewer has made clear, and this should be corrected on Audible as it is misleading.
Wonderful to have the latest Bryant and May on Audible - the two aged detectives who began together in the 40's and are still solving crimes in the 21st century. This is the ninth book in the series so it may be helpful to listen to earlier ones like "The Water Room" or "Seventy Seven Clocks" to get used to the characters, but this book will certainly stand on its own.
Every book brings us a mystery with a central theme and strange and intriguing facts about it - this time the history, myths and anecdotes of the "Punch and Judy Show" and Mr Punch's arrogant evil is well explored in this marvellous twisting tale.
Meanwhile the Peculiar Crimes Unit continues to fight for its existence against the devious Home Office Security and we still cannot be sure it will survive. The team is gradually expanding and we get more involved with their different personalities and interaction.
Tim Goodman is the perfect narrator for this series, all his characters sound just right and his particular irresponsible, grumpy, but very likeable Arthur Bryant could not possibly be bettered.
Some reviewers wrote that this book would appeal to Dresden fans, so I took a chance on "Hounded". Thanks for that recommendation, you were spot on, Harry would surely get on well with Atticus. I think it would also appeal to followers of John Taylor in "The Nightside" series.
That mythical and faery beings use modern language, idioms and customs makes perfect sense if they are to survive and remain unnoticed. It is the particular way in which this is done that adds so much to the humour and enjoyment of this book. If you're a ghoul, in a modern world, of course you need a refrigerated van to store those parts of a body you couldn't eat straight away. Oberon, the inquisitive wolf hound, is a gem and I really loved his conversation.
I very much look forward to collecting the rest of 'The Iron Druid Chronicles" and hope Scott Brick continues to be narrator, he was excellent.
This is an excellent short mystery thriller, easy and enjoyable to listen to. It is not in the usual Agatha Christie style, with comfortable old friends like Poirot and Miss Marple on hand to solve the crime.
There doesn't seem to be any crime, at first, just a hope of romance for young Michael Rogers and a long held dream of a beautiful house. But suppose he ignores the gypsy's warnings?
Suspicious characters, twists and turns and an unusual ending. All read beautifully by Hugh Fraser who just seems to find the right voice for each person every time.
....thunders Amos Starkadder, hell fire preacher at the Church of the Quivering Brethren. He has been describing the terrors of the afterlife and underlining the fact that there will be no butter to soothe the burns of the damned. This is just one of so many throw away lines that keep bringing back a smile.
Long ago as a teenager I devoured and enjoyed the emotion charged and dire tragedies of writers like Mary Webb, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot. Whilst not wishing to detract from great classic literature, they did tend to paint rural life of those times as full of doom, gloom, and poverty and peopled by sad.slightly deranged and pathetic characters down trodden by domineering, manipulative elders.
This glorious light hearted spoof on so many of those Victorian plot lines had me in stitches and I loved every moment. I usually steer clear of dramatisations, as for me the background sounds etc can be distracting. This one was clear as a bell and the narrators a delight.
If you listen to the sound sample above make sure you hear it all through as the start is NOT how the recording really sounds - just another teaser. Sit back and enjoy - this is fun.
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