One winter’s morning, Lorimer Black - young, good-looking but with a somewhat troubled expression - goes to keep a perfectly routine business appointment and finds a hanged man. A bad start to the day by any standards and an ominous portent. Sure enough, Lorimer’s life is turned upside down and inside out in ways he could never have foreseen...An unabridged reading by Simon Shepherd.
©1998 William Boyd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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I enjoyed this novely enormously and thought that Simon Shepherd's reading was excellent. I understand a previous reviewer's comments on the breathy quality of the reading but did not find it at all off-putting and felt it was perfectly suited to the dialogue. A very intelligent and enjoyable read.
William Boyd is a great story teller and this book takes you into the complex and often humorous world of a cast of three dimensional and believable characters. It's one of those books that you're really sorry when you get to the end.
"another thought-provoking read of earlier Boyd"
Boyd's most recent books have all been different sorts of pure thrillers - Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms for example. Since listening to them I've gone back to his earlier works. I found Brazzaville Beach a less 'fun' read but it asked harder questions for and of the reader. Similarly Armadillo was less of a page-turner but still a great listen. The main character Lorimer is extremely well sketched, with insights into his complex behaviour and history shared as the story in the present day is spun. Excellent narration augments a potent package.
"A mixed bag of a book"
After a startling incident introducing the central character, Lorimer Black, as an employee of a shady firm of loss-adjusters, the book expands out in all directions with several sub-stories and diverse characters that dilute the impact of the central theme of an insurance scam that drives Lorimer’s stable life into a Kafkaesque decline. William Boyd’s fluid writing-style and imaginative descriptions carry the book, but I felt there’s too much self-indulgent insertions of irrelevant details upon such diverse topics as military armour (Black collects helmets) and the psychoanalytical interpretation of dreams. Lorimer’s insomnia triggers many ‘facts’ about sleep and sleep research not all of which are correct. The author just has too many themes in the book that he wanted to write about: less would have been better. As the narrative progressed I became more and more irritated by the repeated insertion of the words “The Book of Transfiguration” and three digit numbers popping up at random leaving me with the impression that I wasn’t clever enough to pick up some literary or mathematical allusion. I could deduce some allusions to transformation by a change of name such as Lorimer Black, changing from Milmre Blocj.
(I read elsewhere it’s an anagram). I’d hoped that all would become clear by the end, but the book just stopped abruptly with threads left dangling.
The narrator is very good.
"Great story - shame about the narration."
William Boyd has never diasappointed me; Armadillo is as rich and beautifully worded as all the other novels of his that I have read. However, this is one book I should have reserved for reading rather than downloading in audio. Simon Shepherd's breathless narration - what was wrong with the guy, had he just arrived at the studio after a cross-country sprint? - irritated and confounded me. There were times when his sharp intake of breath occurred after every three or four words, leaving me as exhausted and breathless as the narrator sounded. It ruined the mood of a lot of the scenes and, had not the storyline been so engrossing, I would have given up listening long before the second chapter. Not entirely a waste of one of my credits, I am convinced that Armadillo is worth buying in good old-fashioned book format, but I shall be wary of further novels narrated by Mr Shepherd. Sorry, Simon, it's nothing personal. I'm sure you're a lovely guy.
"Different, I suppose"
Never listened to or read a bad W Boyd novel, three stars this time only for comparative purposes, always a gripping read. Interesting twist on the usual police/private detective novel, with the troubled investigator this time an insurance loss adjustor investigating big money conspiracy.
It's basically a who-dun-it. However, the annoyingly ambiguous ending was too clever for its own good and left me frustrated rather than satisfied.
"A slow start"
Perhaps it's just me, perhaps it was deliberate, but I found it hard to understand this at first, though once I discovered the character's job, I got sucked into his story and dilemma. Surely it's terrible bad luck to come across such a bunch of horrible spiteful and self absorbed characters, though this is a theme of the author, and I had to pray it would be 'alright in the end'. Hmmmm. Personally I prefer the books of his which are drawn out over decades, but this was very gripping and I enjoyed it. On to the next Mr Boyd....
Mainly because I like the hero.
The girlfriend, because she is clearly untrustworthy and every time she comes into the story you just want to lead the hero gently away to a darkened room.
The bone-headed flower-stall keeper.
All about shapeshifting
"Another Boyd masterpiece"
Boyd is of the great storytellers of our age. This book beautifully brought to life by the narrator. Highly recommended.
"another great story"
no, not that much content, a good story but not to be re-read.
the characters and the wonderful reading
no, not heard his voice before
William Boyd's novels are such a great find ! all very different but all terrific. Good long stories with complicated stories and diverse characters.
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