This was a rather run-of-the-mill lady-detective who-dunnit with a predictably twisty plot (predictable that the plot twists, but not the direction... that was a surprise), and the main character is agreeably spunky without being annoying.
I do have to say, though, this is not exactly what I was expecting, based on the title. I was hoping it would take place in Montparnasse! I was preparing for a vacation in Paris, and was looking to get in the mood. So, if there's anyone else who is whacky like me, hoping to take Paris-vacation-listening with an appropriate theme... this is not it.
The overall premise and plot of this lady-detective novel are entertaining and even endearing and not-entirely-predictable. It is actually mostly predictable, but in that enjoyable way that you sing along to a new verse of and old favorite song. The aspect in which this audiobook shines, however, is in the narration. Katherine Kellgren gives an amazing performance, delivering the roles of the plucky main character, society matrons, posh gents, policemen, an old gaffer, and a host of other characters; she displays a delightful range of expression. Kellgren performs the climactic scene in which the mystery is solved in such a gripping manner that I seriously stopped what I was doing and just listened. Her performance throughout is phenomenal. I would love to hear more of her, and will probably continue listening to this series almost entirely because of her superior narration. Well done!
The story is a good solid science (biology) fiction lark, with just enough detail to seem plausible-ish, and enough suspense and sympathetic characters to fill in the gap. One drawback ... Since this is set in New York, I suppose the narrator really couldn't avoid using various New York accents to portray, and enliven, certain characters. But he didn't have to make them the most over-the-top caricatured accents for the "hard boiled" New York detectives. A minor complaint. This book is a good start to a solidly enjoyable series.
The mysteries and pacing are usually a little sedate in the Pitt novels, but this one really takes a turn for the thrilling in a number of scenes. Thomas and Charlotte (and Charlotte's sister) all venture into the scary back alleys of a rough-and-tumble London slum called The Devil's Acre. The characters are a little more colorful than usual, since the plot takes us outside the neat and tidy upper class society of Victorian London. As usual, Perry addresses a tangential issue within the novel, and this time it is the question of prostitution and exploitation of women in the lower classes, as well as the intersection of the lower and upper classes.
This novel was more interesting to me for the side issues that it brought up, than for the main plot itself. The mystery of a young boy's death and sexual abuse is at question, and Inspector Pitt meets resistance on all sides in finding the uncomfortable answers. As the author sometimes does, comments on social issues are made including homosexuality and equality in the justice system. It is an important message to remember today, that everyone deserves an unbiased investigation and a fair trial, whatever their social class, employment, or personal habits. The question of homosexuality was more indelicately treated, and it seemed to me that more often than not "homosexuality" was taken as a synonym for "homosexual abuse of children". I believe this was written in the 1970's, so maybe we should forgive the author this clumsy oversight as an artifact of the times; but it stood out to me as a mischaracterization, and ironic in a book whose secondary message was unbiased treatment and fairness. Overall, the plot was good and a little more who-dunnit than some of her other novels ... the evidence and all the characters and motivations are there from early in the story, and it is only for the reader to unravel them. Often Perry's novels rely on last minute plot twists that would be impossible for the reader to have known or understood, making it impossible to guess the outcome of the mystery before the crucial information comes to light. The narration was, as always, excellent. Davina Porter is a master, and brings a very human touch to all of the characters.
Rutland Place is one of the stronger books in the early part of this series. The characters are sympathetic and believable, but also compelling without being over-the-top or just plain dastardly. It's not as action packed and some of the other novels about Inspector and Mrs. Pitt, but I was never bored. The plot centers on Charlotte Pitt's mother and deals with the general theme of woman's dependence on the men in her life, including marital dissatisfaction, a widow who doesn't wish to remarry, and the intricacies of a sibling relationship. As usual, the mystery is solved by an 11th-hour revelation; so if you enjoy sleuthing and sifting through various clues doled out by the author, this mayb not exactly be the book for you. But if you like character-heavy detection and being carried along the current of the story to see where it leads you, then you will enjoy Anne Perry's style. As always, Davina Porter does a masterful job narrating.
I was a little worried after reading the other reviews here on Audible that found fault with the dramatization provided by the narrator and also one review that found fault with the audio quality itself. I am glad that I am a completist and gave it a try anyway. If you are familiar with the other witch-centric books narrated by Celia Imrie, you will not be surprised by the style of dramatization here. I found that it gave life to the book and greatly prefer this to a flat reading. The audio quality was just fine, too, with no static or background noises that I noticed. I am sad that some people might pass over listening to this book, based on the negative reviews here, since I think this is one of the best Discworld novels so far in the series in terms of plot and characters.
This was a better experience all-around, compared to my listen of the first novel in this series. I fully admit I listened to the first only because James Marsters was the narrator, and was disappointed. I gave this one a chance only because it was on promotion at a very low price. Being his first effort as an audiobook narrator, he still had kinks to work out in his narration style; I think he was going for a sort of noir-blasé vibe, but he ended up sounding bored. His style for this book (and possibly the second book in the series, I haven't listened to that one) was much more dynamic and engaging. Aside from narration, I felt that the novel itself was also much better than the first in the series and I really appreciated the more modern approach -- still invoking noir-style detective but with a self-awareness of the slightly ridiculous nature of the material. Overall, much stronger narration and more solid material. I think the series has come into its own, and I will be listening to more.
I read somewhere that this novel was written as a bet. Like Ravel's Bolero, this is not an entirely bad thing. It was originally published under a female pseudonym, and for Bernard Cornwell fans this novel will be a recognized as a sharp departure from Cornwell's other works. Cornwell, whose love scenes are usually about one sentence, stretches his wings a little here. Unfortunately Cornwell also departs from his usually intricately sketched characters and strong women. I couldn't help longing for the resilience and self-reliance of Teresa Moreno when the main character of this book could only recite the Lord's Prayer as her sole defense during a witch trial. Cornwell employs his usual gritty descriptions and preserves his loyalty to historical detail, so overall I do not regret reading this. However, I'm not rushing out to get the sequel.
I had read this play many years ago, but never seen it performed. I admit, at the time, that I was not very impressed. This performance has changed my mind! This a truly funny play that had me laughing out loud at times, and Oscar Wilde has a wonderful sense for the absurd. The performance was very good, I can't resist James Marsters in a British accent (oh, and the others were good, too.)
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