I bought this book on a recent trip to London (under its original title, "Rivers of London,") and enjoyed it immensely... But the audio version is even better! Part of the fun in this series is that the main character is a mixed-race copper who is constantly interacting with all the different groups in London's ethnic/class melting pot. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith has the astonishing ability to handle all the different dialects, switching seamlessly between them as the characters converse. It's vastly better than the version I had in my head (especially being an American).
As for the story itself, what's not to like about a novel in which a snarky young constable suddenly finds himself recruited into the branch of the Metropolitan Police that handles all the "funny business" (magic)?
Full of detail and color about the city of London, packed with delightful, memorable, and even poignant characters, and with a rollicking plot that never stops moving, I highly recommend this book and the rest of the series.
As a former Boston resident, I really, really wanted to like this book...but for my taste, it was pretty dry stuff. I generally like histories featuring cultural, societal, and biographical tidbits -- I want a story about colorful individuals, vividly set in a different world -- but this book focuses largely on groups. Near the end it picks up energy, and the description of the Boston Massacre is absolutely gripping... But the book could have been so much better. The narration is a bit odd: the narrator has a very resonant voice, but his delivery is so mechanical it sounds almost artificial.
I got this to listen to with my husband on a long drive, and it really is delightful! I confess that I find Agathat Christie's novels so creaky as to be almost unreadable, but David Suchet does such a terrific job reading this that even I thoroughly enjoyed it. And my husband, who has a higher tolerance for antique mysteries than I do, absolutely loved it.
After a few minutes you can almost forget that one person is doing all the voices. He even does the young women's voices well, which can't be easy. It's quite wonderful to listen to.
I confess that when I downloaded this, I didn't notice that itt was abridged. I had read the book years ago and thought it was incredibly good: a thought-provoking look at a society just beginning to think scientifically, wrapped in a shifting story centered on the mysterious central character.
To my horror, the "abridgment" simply cuts out all the meat of the story with an ax, leaving us with a threadbare little Rashomon story. It's a horrible thing to inflict on a magnificent book.
Having said that... The reader is truly wonderful. Not only does he bring the accents of the characters to life (including Italian-accented British English and Robert Boyle's Scots burr), but he can switch accents in mid-sentence to accommodate both a narrator and a conversation.
My advice is read the book -- it's terrific. Look for other readings by Paul Michael. And with any luck someday an unabridged "Instance of the Fingerpost" will join the unabridged "Stone's Fall" (another shockingly good book by Iain Pears, this one about the rise of international capitalism... Wrapped in a very readable mystery) on Audible's virtual shelves.
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