I listened to Crusie's book "Faking It" with the same narrator and some of the same characters and absolutely loved it! So this one has been a rather rude shock. I'm definitely no prude, but at slightly more than halfway through, the overly frequent and interminable descriptions of the sex scenes between Sophie and the mayor are not only NOT a turn-on, they have finally forced me to fast forward through them in irritation. I don't know the actual word count of this book, but at least half of them are variations of "shiver", shudder", and "heat". Especially "heat". Sometimes it appears more than once in the same sentence. I finally concluded that either Jennifer was having a private joke at my expense, or had to meet a deadline by padding out a short story. Save the credit on this one.
Had the plot of this one figured out right away, but as it went on I enjoyed the characters, the story, and Caroline Lee's narration. Especially Caroline Lee's narration. I could listen to her read a phone book. There's never any doubt about which character is speaking.
What can I say? It blew me away. There are so many things to comment on. I would never have read this book had I not seen the movie (against my inclination, although I admit it was wonderful), because I read (and watch movies) strictly for entertainment, and books like these are too painful to be entertaining.The performances are Academy-Award worthy, and the story is mesmerizing. Having been raised in the northwest by non-bigoted parents, I had no idea of the depth or breadth of the racism practiced in the South as recently as 50 years ago. The paradox of those white women depending so COMPLETELY on those black women for pretty much everything while simultaneously treating them like disposable towels is breathtaking. And mistakenly using the wrong bathroom? In trying to understand it, the only event I could liken the toilet situation to is when strange dogs poop in my yard and my complaints are loud. But I could never take a TIRE IRON to a dog, much less a human being. The level of racist hysteria that could be achieved over trivialities was unpleasantly very impressive.
But this a book review, not an essay..
I appreciated Kathryn's epilogue, when she explains that even though empathizing to a degree, she could not pretend to know what it felt like to be a black women working for a white woman during that era. How could she? But her book is magnificent. When an author can bring tears to your eyes with one line, and make you laugh out loud the next, she's done something right.
Pascoe and Dalziel are always such an readable pair, and when Colin Buchanan narrates, they can't be beat. I wish Audible would release (in some cases, re-release) more of their stories, and they SHOULD ALL BE READ BY COLIN BUCHANAN. As in, do us all a favor and retire the ones read by Brian Glover.
If you disregard the complete suspension of belief required to buy the genesis of this story, it gets much better as it goes along. I was able to do that, but my husband (who works in the water field) could not as we listened to this book during a 12-hour road trip to California. The unlikely possibility of a man deliberately drinking out of a decades-old, murky-looking bottle of (maybe) water with sediment floating in it ruined it for him right away. Him drinking out of it a SECOND time after being so VIOLENTLY ill from the first try almost ruined it for me. But past that, the story gets intriguing and the narration is flawless. That's why I gave it 4 stars. Less of long-suffering Claire would have been welcome (years-long-suffering wives who keep coming back for more being particularly tedious), but Anne and Kellan were great characters. And don't forget that superb narration.
A different kind of read for me, and very engaging. A solid story, fresh characters, and, as I said, outstanding narration make for a no-regrets purchase.
This was a mildly entertaining little book, and I certainly wanted to finish it, in spite of an irritated dislike of the heroine. A depressingly familiar type in modern fiction, an Amazon-sized, gorgeous, militantly-fierce feminist who is only too willing to kick a man in the groin for hinting that she is a "foxy lady", but who instantly develops a personality-debilitating amnesia after successfully defending herself from a knife-slashing serial killer. Why, you wonder? Well, as far as I could tell, it was because she just could not bring herself to remember that she had felt actual gladness that the bad guy was dead just after she killed him. ??? Nor did I enjoy her incessant, gag-worthy quips (and apparently neither did the narrator, as he did his worst part with her dialogue). Fortunately, her role was relatively small in the fairly good-sized cast of characters, and the rest of them were far more interesting. A quick, non-engrossing story to listen to while doing something else with your hands.
Peter May is a superb writer. Peter Forbes is a superb narrator. That being said, I'm returning this book after 5.09.33 hours. I can't take any more. Not one single good thing has happened since page one. It's been a steady onslaught of depression, dementia, divorce, accidental pregnancies, accidental deaths, betrayals, and hopelessness. One of the protagonists, is now shipboard with his brother and a friend (who is a girl and has already been raped by a Catholic priest during their journey). Orphans all, the hints have been BROAD that they are bound for hell on earth, having been sold down the river by their (Catholic) church. I know human beings have endured lives like these, but I read for the sake of entertainment, not to be reminded of man's inhumanity to man. It's going back.
We are introduced to a cast of characters here, but it's like reading a roster. We don't ever get more than mildly acquainted with any of them. This book illustrates the importance of fleshing out the characters enough to arouse the reader's interest in their actions. No one in Smokescreen evokes even tepid curiosity, so at the denouement the reader shrugs "Huh.", immediately - and completely - forgetting it. How I know that is I chanced across this book in my library a couple days ago, where it showed as downloaded in April 2012. Not remembering it at all, I decided to read it again. I finished it this evening, and the memory is already fading fast. Again.
Nothing particularly bad, just...dull.
Reginald Hill is one of the best, and this is one of his best. Engrossing storyline and outstanding narration (by another one of the best) means you don't ever drift off, having to rewind to catch up. As always, the humor contained in the writing had me laughing out loud more than once, but it's never contrived or slapstick. Reading a book like this one is like eating a wonderful meal when you're really, really hungry, and I couldn't recommend it more highly.
If you are a Georgette Heyer fan, skip these new ones until they are released with a different narrator. Ulli Birve is sleepwalking her way through - I am one hour in, and unless the plot can overcome her narration in the next hour, this one is going back.
What is going on? Doesn't anybody at Audible listen to these productions before they are released? Not only is her voice a deadpan monotone, context and punctuation are blithely ignored as she stutters her way through the sentences. Example: "Fountain looked annoyed, and shook his head." The narration: "Fountain. Looked Annoyed. And shook his head."
It's extremely distracting, and definitely not what Georgette Heyer's books deserve!
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