I must have missed something along the way because I could not get caught up in this story. Yes, the Scottish accent was a challenge, especially at first, but once I got used to it I still could not care about what happened next in the story. This was my first Ian Rankin book and, because of the positive reviews, I expected a lot more in the way of plot, characters and use of language. I'm afraid I've been spoiled by Adrian McKinty's books, every single one of which I've listened to (except the YA ones), and Rankin just doesn't compare.
I thought I would enjoy listening to anything narrated by Gerard Doyle, but this book has convinced me that I was wrong. This is the second Neville book I've "read" and it will be the last as I find his plot lines predictable and the language unremarkable. I adore Irish noir (I realize now how spoiled I am by Adrian McKinty's work) but am off to find other authors whose writing adheres to Elmore Leonard's most important rule, "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
Sorry, but I couldn't wait for this book to be over. Unlike so many other mysteries/thrillers I've listened to, this just did not hold my attention. The "romance" between Walt and Vonnie was not credible and the dialogue between the two of them inauthentic. Except for thoroughly enjoying Walt's sense of humor and his banter with the other characters, I thought the book needed a major boost in terms of plot line and using something other than stereotypes for characters (the accomplished best friend with a humble persona and self-deprecating sense of humor, the snarky and highly capable female deputy with a stale marriage and a crush on Walt, the cranky secretary who barks back at the boss, the woman who runs the local cafe and keeps the world right with her cooking, and an assortment of oddball town residents who either drive the Sheriff crazy or engender his deep affection despite their lunacy). I firmly believe the mystery genre can be well written and look for that in the books I choose; unfortunately this one was not a shining example.
I don't remember what genre this book was listed in, but it should be under romance because the majority of the writing is about the love interests. Very little attention was given to developing a good mystery. The characters were one dimensional and predictable, the plot line not at all suspenseful. I could not wait for it to end and considered abandoning it numerous times. The narrator tried to make it into a good listen, but was saddled with some pitiful prose. Don't download this unless you're looking for a stereotypical story about a fiercely independent woman who returns to her childhood home after many years away and falls for the sheriff who is as stubborn as she is.
The narrators of this book take the story and make it better than it would have been if I had read it on paper myself. Their skilled narration and "spot on" Irish accents kept me immersed in the plot, setting and characters as if I were really there. The story within a story within a story is well crafted with mystery, tragedy and humor that made me watch the time elapse on my iPod with regret. I found the language vibrant and worthy of close attention, no matter which timeframe we were in: medieval or modern. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I felt the motives of two important characters, as revealed at the end, were not as compelling, or fully fleshed out, as they should have been. This will be one of my favorite listens for a long time -- until Christian Moerk publishes again, I'm sure!
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