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John Derderian

Torrance, CA


  • Bowl of Heaven

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Larry Niven, Gregory Benford
    • Narrated By Zach Villa
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In this first collaboration by science fiction masters Larry Niven (Ringworld) and Gregory Benford (Timescape), the limits of wonder are redrawn once again as a human expedition to another star system is jeopardized by an encounter with an astonishingly immense artifact in interstellar space: a bowl-shaped structure half-englobing a star, with a habitable area equivalent to many millions of Earths…and it’s on a direct path heading for the same system as the human ship.

    LesPaul says: "Nothing Happens... Nothing Happens... Its Over"
    "Ringworld wearing a Beanycopter"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone who hasn't read Ringworld. This is a slight variant on the Ringworld, and most of the interesting issues about the big artifact are the same ones dealt with, much better, in that book.

    The aliens here are new, and it looks like there might be interesting issues with them, but the book ends in the middle of the story before any of that gets going.

    If you haven't read Ringworld, listen to that book instead of this one.

    What could Larry Niven and Gregory Benford have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Put a whole story into this book, or provided some kind of resolution or payoff at the end of it. Or at least labelled this as only part of a story, so I would have known to avoid it. This is not the first book in a trilogy, because it is not a complete book in any sense. It ends at a seemingly random, insignificant point in the plot.

    Any additional comments?

    Niven and Benford, individually, are much better than this. Listen to just about any other of their books, but skip this one.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Maltese Falcon

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Dashiell Hammett
    • Narrated By Eric Meyers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, first serialized in a magazine in 1930, is best known through the iconic Humphrey Bogart film of 1941. But it was the book that created the classic "noir" genre with its tough private detective threading his cool way between the criminals and the law. Sam Spade, the private eye solving the mystery of the Maltese statuette, was the template for Philip Marlowe and a host of others…. but they come no more shrewd and cunning with Hammett peppering the text with one-liners.

    Kathi says: "Outstanding American classic!"
    "Classic story, poorly performed"

    I thought the reading was slow-paced and lifeless. There are long pauses at every comma in the text. This does a special disservice to Hammett's generally snappy hard-boiled prose. Descriptive passages especially seem to take forever.

    The book is a classic, perhaps the best detective novel of all time, but this audiobook version is dull. Read it or see the John Huston movie instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Laurie R. King
    • Narrated By Jenny Sterlin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1914, a spirited American girl named Mary Russell meets a retired Sherlock Holmes in the English countryside. Instantly realizing that Mary is gifted with astonishing deductive powers, the Great Detective emerges from retirement to join her as she tracks down a fiendish assassin.

    Marie-Elizabeth Finamore says: "Best of British restraint"
    "a good, but un-Doyle-esque, Holmes story"
    Any additional comments?

    If (like me) you’re looking to read more Sherlock Holmes the way Conan Doyle wrote it, this book isn’t it. An aging Holmes shares the spotlight with the Russell character, who is his intellectual equal. This is her story, and it’s told from her point of view, not by a fawning Watson.

    I’m one of those Homes purists who don’t want authors messing with the formula. I recently panned Anthony Horowitz’s The House of Silk for getting almost everything wrong, warping Holmes and Watson and most of the other Doyle characters beyond recognition. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, despite its very non-canonical setup, gets almost everything right. The relationship between Holmes and Russell is believable while still being quirky in the way that Holmes himself is quirky, and I had no trouble accepting Holmes in retirement taking on the young Mary Russell as he does here. We get an outside view of Watson and his relationship with Holmes, and that also rings true.

    If you’ve read all the original Holmes stories, this is an interesting take on Holmes’s later years that doesn’t conflict with canon or insult the intelligence. It’s a good book that is well worth reading--even if it isn’t more of the same old Holmes stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Poirot Investigates: A Hercule Poirot Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By David Suchet
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond...then came the "suicide" that was murder...the mystery of the absurdly cheap flat...a suspicious death in a locked gun room...a million-dollar bond robbery...the curse of a pharaoh's tomb...a jewel robbery by the sea...the abduction of a prime minister...the disappearance of a banker...a phone call from a dying man...and finally, the mystery of the missing will. What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!

    John Derderian says: "Poirot at his best: short"
    "Poirot at his best: short"
    What did you love best about Poirot Investigates?

    Poirot, like Sherlock Holmes, is at his best in short stories, and this is a collection of mostly clever ones. Agatha Christie has a tendency to cheat sometimes, and Poirot's deductions are sometimes little more than guesswork, but that's a lot more forgivable in a short story than a full-length novel. It happens in some of these stories, but they're good enough to survive it.

    Also, David Suchet pretty much is the voice of Poirot now. He does it well here.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There is only one character that matters here.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Anthony Horowitz
    • Narrated By Derek Jacobi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Sherlock Holmes is the greatest detective in literary history. For the first time since the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a new Holmes story has been sanctioned by his estate, whetting the appetites of fans everywhere. Information about the book will be revealed as deliberately as Holmes himself would unravel a knotty case, but bestselling novelist and Holmes expert Anthony Horowitz is sure to bring a compelling, atmospheric story to life.

    Debra says: "PLEASE tell me there are MORE !"
    "A poor Homes pastiche, despite the hype"
    What disappointed you about The House of Silk?

    Almost everything.

    All of the Conan Doyle characters are off, inconsistent with their characters in the original stories: Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, Mycroft, Moriarty, even Wiggins. Holmes especially does a number of rash, stupid things, and does little in the way of real investigation.

    Plot-wise, there are two mysteries crammed together into one story here. The House of Silk mystery is fairly predictable, with an obvious clue dropped early in the story. The flat hat mystery, the lesser of the two, is more interesting and has a real flavor of the Conan Doyle short stories. The connection between the two is artificial and does not work well.

    The framing story, that Watson is writing this old, long-suppressed story in a nursing home sometime after Holmes is found dead of old age on the Sussex Downs, borders on sacrilege for Holmes fans. The idea that the events in the story, especially a sensational murder trial in the middle of the book, were not well known publicly at the time is hard to swallow.

    Overall, there is a definite Twenty-First Century sensibility throughout the story that does not fit Holmes's Victorian England. Horowitz tosses in a number of anachronistic phrases throughout the book, and flubs some of the details of the setting. The most glaring of these is Holmes lighting his cigarette on the gasogene, a device mentioned a couple of times by Conan Doyle and which has nothing to do with flame, heat, or anything else that might light a cigarette. Small things, but this is what the game's all about when you write or read a Holmes pastiche.

    What didn’t you like about Derek Jacobi’s performance?

    Jacobi is a fine reader, and I especially liked his reading of I, Claudius. He's not terrible here, but his portrayals of Holmes and Watson did not fit the characters well in my opinion. Of course, he's helped in this by Horowitz, who has them saying and doing things that are out of character for them.

    What character would you cut from The House of Silk?

    Moriarty. His cameo appearance is senseless and out of character, his action is stupid, and his presence does not impact the plot at all. He seems to be there only because every mass media Holmes story these days includes him, unlike all but one of the Conan Doyle stories.

    Also Watson's wife, who, like Moriarty, adds nothing to the plot. Both these characters intrude enough to slow the plot down, then vanish from the story.

    Any additional comments?

    It's not all bad. There are times when Horowitz does a good job of reproducing Conan Doyle's style. And the side issue that he raises about the Baker Street Irregulars is interesting. There is a reasonable progression through the story, and it moves along okay, except for a slow beginning where Watson unnecessarily retells the story of his meeting Holmes from A Study in Scarlet, and a couple other patches like that. This would be a decent story without Holmes and company, Unfortunately, as a Holmes story, it largely fails.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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