Agatha Christie's stories still hold up well over time, in spite of items (even plot-dependent items) that are out-of-date these days. This is a good mystery, performed well by Hugh Fraser, and very enjoyable. Hercule Poirot is a character whom I find a little over-bearing, but fortunately he doesn't show up until about half-way through.
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.
I wasn't sure about this when I started listening, but I got more used to the interpretation of the novelization format, the more I got to like it. Unlike a play, this format leaves little interpretation to one's imagination and, in fact, gives the characters ideas and actions that never appeared in the play. That's not necessarily bad, just different, and I think those who are Shakespeare-philes might have a problem with the new interpretation of Polonius or Ophelia.
The novel also expands on the action and expands many of the mentioned events, like the pirate attack and the activities in Fortinbras' camp. Very enjoyable, and well read. It's not "Hamlet", but it's good all the same.
Hint: Be sure to listen to the afterwords, which help explain how the authors used primary sources as part of their work in writing the novel.
You've got to get past the ridiculous set up of a murdered PhD student looking 98% like a Dublin police detective and the police managing to slip the detective into the life of the deceased.......but once you get past that, what remains is an interesting and intriguing book.
Honestly, the character of Cassie didn't make a big impression on me in In The Woods, though I liked that audiobook a lot. So when I saw that there was a second Dublin Murder Squad book in Audible, I was surprised to find it about her and not about Rob, Cassie's partner in that book. Surprised, but not troubled, found I really liked this book and the exploration of how a detective feels and changes when surrounded by various circumstances undercover. That's really what this book is about -- more a psychological thriller of a detective undercover than a mystery about who killed the Trinity student and why.
The narrator did an excellent job, and I found her Irish accent a joy to listen to.
In this case, Poirot takes on the job requested of him in a letter he received months too late - and long after the letter writer is dead.........did she die an accidental death, as has been officially stated, or was it murder? And if it was murder, who was the guilty party? There's a collection of relatives and hired help who all might get a piece of the inheritance, and it's up to Poirot to figure it out. Very nicely done by Christie from a kind of routine set up (as many of her's are). As for the dog......well, the deceased client's dog get a few "words" in the story too.
I thought this book needed a good editor - things dragged on a little too long and the middle dragged too far from the heart of the story i.e. the ongoing relationships between those who can cut through reality to thoughts (Vic, Mags, Charlie). I did like that heart of the story, but Hill's writing suffers too much from excessive and unnecessary scatological and juvenile language (including all the swearing, which is a significant amount). His father had a tendency to lean a little too far that way, but either he has a better editor or enough self control to rein it in (and enough talent in other places to make it tolerable). This is the first book I listened to that was narrated by Kate Mulgrew, and she did a terrific job with all the characters.
I've enjoyed several other (later) books by Martin Cruz Smith and I was looking forward to one of his earlier novels.....sadly, I finished disappointed. There is much less characterization and much more cliched action in this book. It was fine, and average novel about vampire bats and infectious disease on a Reservation, but nothing to write home about. It was interesting, though, to read the about the political issues between the Hopi and the Navajo from the Hopi point of view which paints the Navajo in a bad light.....different from other books I've read where the protagonists (and the novel's setting) are Navajo.
The narrator did a really bad job; I had to run this book at 1.25x speed just to make the narration sound "normal" and not be too slow and ponderous. He is bad with differentiating characters with his voice and some of the characters sounded really unbelievable.
This is a nice, lightweight mystery that is a little dated (written in 1964), but not in any way that detracts from the story or the writing. I had heard about the series of the rabbi sleuth many years ago, and it was nice to actually enjoy it now -- with one of my favourite narrators George Guidall, who did a wonderful job. The protagonist is only rabbi in a small New England town, and the mystery of the murdered woman is tied in with conflicts among the synagogue board members, office politics, and town gossip among the Jewish and non-Jewish residents. That helps it all ring true, with believable characters (for the mid-sixties suburbs).
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