I've seen the wonderful movie adaptation of this play (1957), and that helped bring this audio dramatization to life - I'm not sure it's quite as powerful without having a true feeling of the setting and behaviours. Plays are written to be performed, and without exposition (describing the setting, movements, expressions, etc) there is something always missing from only hearing the dialogue, unless you're already aware of those elements (or unless you're reading the set direction, etc.)
However, if you've seen this play on stage or in one of the film versions, this is a wonderfully performed version that will take shape in your mind quite easily.
As a disclosure, the actual performance is about 20 minutes shorter than the production time of this audiobook, which includes at the end an interview with the playwright's widow about the play.
This was a great listen! Although it might be notable for Edgar Allen Poe's inclusion in the book as a cadet at West Point, the novel really stands on it's own even if he weren't the character who helps the protagonist investigate murders and mayhem on the West Point campus. The narrator voices the characters well, and it was an all-round pleasure to listen to.
I love these Christie mysteries read by Hugh Fraser - he is wonderful. This outing has Poirot on an airplane trip from France to England when a fellow passenger is murdered on board. Like an isolated house mystery, those present are all suspects, and they are the only suspects. With the company of a British and French police inspector and the help of some fellow passengers, Poirot manages to sniff out the murderer. Oh, and along the way he plays matchmaker to two lonely passengers -- so in the end, all is well.
I loved the concept of this book, and I had high hopes. It could have been -- it should have been -- a lot better than it was. Sadly, the quality of the writing was pretty bad, and it ruined a good concept.
There's a kind of paradox in the book's concept, I think. It is filled with geeky 80s references that will only mean anything to those over 40 (or retro-geeks), but it's written with a protagonist and style of a young adult novel - and those readers are too young to get any of those references that populate this book. To try and overcome that, there are long-ish explanations of the movies, arcade games, and music from that decade that are used in the book, but in fact those explanations wouldn't be (shouldn't be) needed by those the book claims to want to appeal to. The result is that I feel like either the book is trying to teach me about a time period I fully remember, or that the book is trying to name-drop and wow me with an extensive list of pop culture to show me the author has done his research. A more engaging and subtle approach would have been to use the references without explaining them directly, slowly revealing an explanation in the context and usage. But that might have required too much writing talent, which I'm afraid this author simply doesn't really have.
This is one of those books that seemingly gets by (and gets high ratings) based on the subject matter, not the quality. The concept of an all-consuming universal alternate reality on line was great, as is the idea of an Easter egg hunt through that universe.....but it turns out the book is little more than a badly written story that drops names of 80s games, music, and movies as a badge of research, the way high school students would pad the bibliography list of their essays to make it look like they've done lots of research.
Wil Wheaton as narrator is a perfect fit, culturally, but, frankly, he's only average as an audiobook performer. Limited range of characterizations and inflections, it's more a recitation than an actual performance.
I leave disappointed.
I have read several of Patricia Highsmith's books before, though this is the first audiobook of her work that I have listened too. She is wonderful at writing psychologically creepy thrillers, and that is relayed nicely in this production. What I had not gotten from the movie version was how much Tom Ripley was a dreamer. Yes, he was a sociopath, but he was also a rampant dreamer who created elaborate scenarios in his mind of what his life could be like, "if only......." Sort of like a sociopathic Walter Mitty. His lies were all about making his life easy, but he never knew how he would do that until the opportunity presented itself. When it did, though, he showed no hesitation, conscience, or guilt about what he had to do, and was a practiced and skilled liar.
The narration might be considered too slow for some, but I thought it created the slightly creepy and sly sort of environment that fit Highsmith's style of writing and characterizations.
I got the feeling that this piece might have been some sort of test or audition for the series, or for the audiobook productions.........The story really has little to it, and serves mostly as an introduction to some of the characters (Georgie, Darcy, Wallis Simpson and the Prince of Wales). It also seems that Katherine Kellgren's narration is a bit "off", so I wonder if this was her first outing for the characters - she was (of course) still very good, but some of the characters' voices were a little too raw and overblown.
I enjoyed it as a bit of a freebie for fans of the series, but it's no where near as good as the actually novels in the series.
I bought this audiobook mostly on the strength of the narrator -- I've heard many of his other performances and loved them all. He was equally great in this, but the book was not as focused as I would have liked. Good history - 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama - with lots of activity and lots of emotion, but it tended to get lost a little and didn't stay on course as much as I think it needed to in order to keep the tension and interest in a way that would have made it great. Good but not great is the best way I can think to describe it.
I know that David Suchet is considered to have delivered the ultimate portrayals of Poirot in his 25 years portraying the man in television movie series "Agatha Christie: Poirot"......but that was not evident in his performance narrating this book. I guess it was fitting that the last movie he filmed as Poirot was Dead Man's Folly. If I didn't know who he was, I would have claimed he was overacting and chewing the scenery with some ridiculously cliched accents and over-the-top emphatic declarations in the final reveal.
The actual story is fine, but hardly one of Christie's better ones. The set up is a good one -- a "murder hunt" to follow clues is part of the entertainment at the annual fete at an old English estate, but the girl portraying the victim actually gets murdered. Sounds like it should have been better than it turned out to be, which seemed somehow both formulaic and muddled at the same time. All the usual suspects (red herrings, distractions, unknown participants) are there, but not presented well. This time I think everyone (Poirot, Christie, and Suchet) merely phoned it in.
This is a great novel, and considered to be one of the best crime/thriller novels ever written. That might be surprising to some, since it's not about the police or a detective, or even really about a criminal enterprise at all, but about a young girl who marries an older, wealthier man and becomes the mistress of a large, famous, classic English manor named Manderley in the early 20th century. She is haunted by concerns that she will not live up to the perfect perception that her husband's friends, family, and staff have of the now-deceased first wife, Rebecca. The struggle of the naive, young second wife against her dynamic and powerful older husband, as well as by the imprint of his first wife still left in their home are palpable. As for the crime and the mystery? Well, it involves Rebecca's death and why she seems to still haunt the memories of everyone who lives and works at Manderley.
This is not my favourite in the series, but the excellent narration and the ancillary characters (I bust a gut laughing at the old lawyer) make this one still good fun. Although Ceepak and Boyle are in Atlantic City this time, Danny Boyle keeps making references to either the town or people he knew from Sea Haven.......hopefully that extra stuff won't be necessary if the characters get back to their home turf of Sea Haven. I liked the new summer cop introduced in Hell Hole, and I hope we'll see more of her.
This is a good and thrilling ghost story, when you get to it.......in the last 1/4 of the story. Those who only know of the headless horseman might be put off by the long (but interesting) introduction to the life and character of the protagonist, Ichabod Crane.
For those who understand that the popularly known "ghost" (the Headless Horseman) is not actually the main character in the story and are not put off by the older style of writing, this is a good story and it's clear why it's a classic. Tom Mison does a good performance narrating.
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