One morning before dawn at her regal country estate, Lady Lavinia Truelove is crushed to death by a horse. Classified as "death by misadventure," this appears a gruesome accident, but Scotland Yard detective Joe Sandilands suspects foul play - a misgiving he is struggling to separate from his personal grievances toward Sir James Truelove, who is Lady Lavinia's widower and the influential academic patron of Dorcas Joliffe, whom Joe one day hopes to marry. As Joe's investigation yields surprising secrets about one of England's most powerful families, he discovers how little he knew about not only the gilded lives of the moneyed but also his relationship with Dorcas. Is Joe prepared to risk a future with the girl he loves to uncover the truth behind Lady Truelove's death?
©2014 Barbara Cleverly (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I almost have a hard time believing Barbara Cleverly wrote this hot mess. I have listened to many of the Joe Sandiland books and enjoyed them. I can say I finished this one only to see how Joe and Dorcas' relationship was resolved. Even that wasn't satisfactory. In fact, the ending as a whole left me shaking my head in wonder.
The bizzare reading of Sandiland's voice by Matthew Brenhen made the listen a trial. Where is Joe’s suave and cultured voice of the past. Sandiland’s working class voice (at least to me) doesn’t fit with his continued references to poems about the ancient goddess Diana, his knowledge of English miniatures painters, and other highbrow subjects. Other voices were inconsistent.
The narrative is often interrupted by excessive author intrusive lectures/information on subjects such as miniature painting and the goddess Dianna that could have been covered in one or two sentences because they play only a slim role in the overall story. Worse, it was often unlikely that the characters in the scene at the time would have been familiar with or bothered to think about the subject matter. I often felt disconnected from the scenes and the characters.
I am now forced to wonder if more entertaining readings of previous books made me overlook weakness in the writing or if this volume just needed serious editing. an editor needed to stamp "show don't tell" on almost every sentence.
I have loved all of Barbara Cleverley's literate and nuanced Joe Sandilands novels, including this one, but the narrator, Matthew Brenher, chooses to give Joe Sandilands a lower-class London accent, even Cockney. It doesn't seem to me to be in keeping with the character's background. I found it disorienting, as if the character had changed backgrounds, as in the previous novels, Terry Wale and Simon Prebble had given him a public school, university, ex-office- in-the-First-World-War-British army accent. Joe Sandilands is Scottish and though there hadn't been a hint of Scots in the other narrators' voices, at least a Scottish accent would have been in keeping with Sandilands' background. Why would he talk like a Cockney? Apart from that, this is a great book.
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