Martin Jarvis is great, and as a newcomer to Wodehouse I found myself really enjoying the stories of Bertie and Jeeves. I give the Jeeves stories 5 stars, but there are only 2 of them, and the other stories here feature a different character entirely: Reggie Pepper. Pepper's stories are not nearly as good, and I was sorely disappointed when I realized that there were so many of them. I suggest downloading a different book in the Jeeves series.
I had high hopes for this book, but it's far less interesting than its premise. If, like me, you're interested in the idea of somebody being able to explore historical periods, this is NOT a book for you. Though the characters travel back in time, we don't actually get any interaction with historical figures or even much description of the times or places. There is a lot of silly Adventure Story plot, but very little about time travel or English history.
Worse still, the protagonist is annoying, and her character doesn't make sense. She's supposed to be a PhD in History, but she acts like a simpering and rather foolish teenager, even though she's a grown woman and, so we are told, a gifted scholar. A lot of the characters' interactions are straight out of a YA story about a high school for magical time-traveling teens, but, again, we are supposed to believe these are all intelligent adults. Zara Ramm's reading is perfectly competent, but the character is so annoying I found myself disliking her performance.
I suggest skipping this one.
The Coroner is different from most crime novels because the "detective" is a lawyer who has taken the job of coroner in a small town in Wales. Thus her investigation methods are different from your typical sleuth, or even from a medical examiner/detective figure like Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta. I definitely learned a lot about coroner law, which is far more interesting than I expected!
The mystery itself is a bit bland. The courtroom scenes are far more gripping than the investigation, but overall the central plot is not exciting. Two juvenile offenders end up dead, one in custody and one who has just been released, and Jenny is suspicious of what happened at the facility where they both were detained. From there, it doesn't go anywhere you wouldn't expect it to, and it takes a bit too long to arrive at the conclusion. The main draw here is in the unique main character, and her unique career.
Jenny is fascinating, in part because she isn't a lovable protagonist. The fact that she suffers from panic attacks is one main focus of the novel, which I found compelling, but if you don't want to hear the explicit details of what it's like to have an anxiety disorder, this is not your next read. The idea of the damaged detective is nothing new, but Jenny Cooper's particular story--her mental illness, her anger about her recent divorce and job change, and her traumatic history--make her unusual for this genre. Sian Thomas's narration fits the character but is nothing spectacular.
Overall, I would recommend this as a good, but not great, mystery that is worth reading if you are looking for something a little different than the typical detective fare.
Listening to the story made it easier to follow along. I switched back and forth and both reading and listening had their merits, but this audio edition is at the very least equal to the print.
It is a bit like Winesburg, Ohio in that it's a series of interconnected stories that describe one town, but the tone is lighter, though the stories do cover some dark topics. It is also a bit like Lark Rise to Candleford.
Her tone matches the somewhat ironic, sometime sad but often funny voice of the narrator perfectly. Sometimes when reader perform Victorian novels they can drone, but Clare Wile kept the story interesting.
If I had the time, I could have easily listened to it all in one sitting.
This isn't a listen for someone looking for lots of drama or plot, but it is sweet, and evokes a time and place quite vividly.
If you like procedurals, this is a very good one. It is a little bit dated, but not in a way that detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
What I like about this plot is that it is always moving forward. Too many detective novels get overly sidetracked in ancillary plots about the protagonist's issues or there the investigation gets bogged down. This doesn't take too much time to linger on insignificant details.
The narrator is terrible at doing the other characters' voices. She does a particularly offensive job with the blue collar detective, the gay scientist, and the nanny. She also reads slowly, so if you don't like a slow reader, she isn't for you. I
I think it would look something like the UK's Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren, only Kay Scarpetta is a much softer character. It has that same well-paced but detailed procedural feeling to it.
First of all, I should admit that I am a grown woman who often enjoys listening to juvenile or young adult fiction, but I'm often disappointed by the quality of the writing. This story, however, is just charming. The narrator's asides are witty and Penelope Lumley, the governess from Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is a delightfully satirical heroine in the vein of Jane Eyre. I will say that for the sequels I switched to reading the print versions, because while Katherine Kellgren does do a great job with her narration, I didn't love her portrayal of the children. She was a bit too shrill with their howling and too growly with their dialogue. That said, while I was reading the subsequent books, I heard her voice in my head as the narrator, because she is spot-on for that particular voice.
It is among the more pleasurable audiobooks in the mystery genre that I've listened to.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr, because they are both about serial killers in 19th century New York, delve into some of the history of their respective time periods, and show amateurish detectives. However, Gods of Gotham is better written!
Boyer seems like a perfect fit for the narrator, Timothy Wilde.
I found the final lines surprisingly moving, but other than that it isn't an especially poignant story. It is, however, thrilling.
I'm not sure--fans of horror won't be pleased because it isn't particularly scary, and fans of psychological thrillers will be disappointed by its lack of psychological depth.
1. The ending is cheap. It feels unearned. It seems like it's meant to be a "twist" but it is by now something of a cliche. 2. I would have focused on the central mystery of what was actually going on in the sleep room a lot more. There were a lot of interesting tidbits hinted at that were ultimately glossed over.
Matthew Brenher does a great job bringing the story to life. He kept me interested in the narrator, who otherwise might have come off as dull.
The first half is strong--the mystery unfolds in an interesting way, but ultimately it doesn't pay off.
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