We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Still Life with Murder: Nell Sweeney Mystery, Book 1 | [P.B. Ryan]

Still Life with Murder: Nell Sweeney Mystery, Book 1

Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess—for some. Born into dismal poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learns that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.
Regular Price:$19.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess—for some. Born into dismal poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learns that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.

The Hewitts’ eldest son, William, a former Union Army battle surgeon and the black sheep of the family, was reported to have died three years before in a notorious Confederate prison camp. But one snowy February afternoon, his parents learn that he is, in fact, still alive—and in jail for having murdered a man while intoxicated on opium. Infuriated by his son’s deception and convinced of his guilt, August Hewitt forbids his wife from coming to Will’s aid, so she begs Nell to help exonerate him. Nell finds that she must delve into the kind of dark and treacherous underworld she thought she’d left far behind if she is to unearth the truth before the hangman’s noose tightens around William Hewitt’s throat.

©2003 Patricia Burford Ryan (P)2014 Patricia Burford Ryan

What the Critics Say

"A beautiful combination of entertaining characters, minute historical research, and a powerful evocation of time and place. I'm very glad there will be more to come." (New York Times best-selling author, Barbara Hambly)

"P.B. Ryan makes a stunning debut with Still Life With Murder...I can't wait for the next installment." (Best-selling author, Victoria Thompson)

"If you like fast-moving, accurately drawn, historical mysteries, you won't go wrong by trying Still Life With Murder." (Reviewing the Evidence)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (54 )
5 star
 (22)
4 star
 (15)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.0 (49 )
5 star
 (21)
4 star
 (15)
3 star
 (7)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (2)
Story
3.6 (51 )
5 star
 (20)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (6)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Consequences Schmonsequences 08-14-14

    Daffy

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding mystery and narration!"
    If you could sum up Still Life with Murder in three words, what would they be?

    Thrilling, compelling page-turner!


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    The combination of terrific writing, a well-crafted plot, and exquisite narration added up to a delightful listening/reading experience. I didn't want it to end.


    Which character – as performed by Leigh Ryan – was your favorite?

    My favorite was Nell Sweeney, the sleuth. I'd never experienced Leigh Ryan's narration before, but now I'm going to look for her name! Her voice quality is lovely and easy to listen to, she reads with feeling, she handles accents well, and she manages to differentiate between different speakers smoothly and clearly. Unlike some female narrators who rough up their voices to do male characters, Ms. Ryan was able to indicate a male voice in a much more listenable (and nondistracting!) way. Altogether, a great choice of narrator for this book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I wish I could! I listen in the car during my commute, but this book and narrator were so good, I continued to listen after I got home. I almost never do that.


    Any additional comments?

    Only that I'm eager to listen to the rest of the series!

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Piper 07-26-14
    Piper 07-26-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    32
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I was swept away by Nell's search for the truth..."
    What did you love best about Still Life with Murder?

    Still Life with Murder is the first book of an amazing mystery series which follows governess, Nell Sweeney, as she goes through 1860s Boston, looking to uncover the truth about a grisly murder that is tied to the upper-class family she works for. I was thrilled to see that it was now an audiobook, and I had so much fun listening to this story again.


    What about Leigh Ryan’s performance did you like?

    Leigh Ryan captured Nell's voice magnificently, and her impressive stock of characters and dialects wove seamlessly into the story. Really lovely voice, I can't wait to see how she handles the rest of the series.


    Any additional comments?

    If you like a rich historical mystery with unexpected twists, Still Life with Murder is a wonderful read, and an exciting listen!

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meghan K. NYC 08-28-14
    Meghan K. NYC 08-28-14

    I like risky reads and thrilling conclusions

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Smart, fascinating female lead!"
    What did you love best about Still Life with Murder?

    I loved Nell, and how Leigh Ryan voiced her. What a strong, fun protagonist to have in a historical mystery. You really get on her side immediately, and stay with her for the whole ride.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Absolutely! I usually try and figure out a mystery as it goes, but I was genuinely surprised! Will struck a chord with me, and he balanced out Nell's personality perfectly. What a pair!


    Which character – as performed by Leigh Ryan – was your favorite?

    Hands down, Nell! But she voiced many great characters including a little girl, an irish police officer, and a brooding english drug addict.


    Any additional comments?

    What an excellent listen, with an ending that got my heart racing. Looking forward to the next in the series!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan belmont, MA, USA 09-05-14
    Susan belmont, MA, USA 09-05-14 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I love Nell Sweeney!"

    I read this book in print when it was first released, and was excited to listen to the audio book now that it's finally available. The story is great and the characters quite likable, but the narration by newcomer Leigh Ryan is fantastic. I enjoyed her use of different voices for the characters - sometimes that can be annoying, but in this book it works well! The book grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let up until it's over. I can't wait for the remaining books in this six-book series to be released!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CherylK 07-26-14
    CherylK 07-26-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The mystery comes to life!"

    P.B. Ryan's exciting first installment in the Nell Sweeney mystery series is a stunning adventure through 1860s Boston. I was immediately drawn to the protagonist, who, using her cleverness and charm, moves easily from the upper crust brahmin society, to the boardinghouses and opium dens that serve as exquissite backdrops to this fascinating mystery.

    This mystery truly comes to life through Leigh Ryan's wonderful narration. Leigh gives the large and diverse cast of characters an honest voice as the story unfolds. Her ability to capture both written text and subtext gives the story new depth.

    It is easy for me to highly recommend this audio book. We are fans of P.B. Ryan's entire Nell Sweeney series, and are eagerly awaiting the release of the second audio installment, Murder in a Mill Town.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhondalee 10-20-14
    Rhondalee 10-20-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great start to the series!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I already have! Listened to the book in the car, and it was a wonderful story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I really loved the setting. The world of gilded age Boston was so clear and fascinating. Great characters, compelling story.


    Have you listened to any of Leigh Ryan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't, but I'm looking forward to listening to the next book in the series. She's got a lovely voice, very easy to listen to.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathi 07-25-14
    Kathi 07-25-14 Member Since 2010

    Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1285
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    490
    253
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    272
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gilded Age in Boston--excellent mystery!"

    P B Ryan has written this mystery series set in the 1860's wealthy area of Boston. Ryan parallels Nell's own entrance into the book with her assistance to Dr. Greaves who is managing a particularly difficult delivery. Afterwards, it turns out that the maid who gave birth doesn't want to keep the baby, so it is wealthy Viola Hewitt, wheelchair-bound, grieving the loss of two sons in the Civil War, who decides to adopt the infant. She hires Nell to be governess, and so the connections between Nell Sweeney and the Boston Brahmin Hewitts begin.

    Very quickly into the story, there is a murder, and reason to think that William Hewitt, one of the sons long thought dead, is the killer. Viola is desperate to find out if it is her lost son, so secretly sends Nell to the jail to find out. This will eventually lead the curious Irish immigrant girl back into places she thinks she has gotten away from, as she cannot resist investigating the murder on her own.

    This is a book I read previously, and enjoyed comparing the written version with the narrated one. In the beginning, I was not too fond of Leigh Ryan's reading of some of it. But as the book moves along, I think her narration gets much better. I find her voice a bit soft and gentle for parts of it, but she did very well with the Irish accents, and Nell herself. This is an interesting book, which is why I wanted to re-read (hear) it. I like the author's skill with dialogue, with creating good characters, maintaining a good flow and fascinating details, and just the right amount of tension. I think this is an excellent beginning to the series. Recommend!

    17 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CedarStripper 12-05-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "REALLY enjoyed this book and EXCELLENT narration!"
    What did you love best about Still Life with Murder?

    The charming 19th century feel and the path the mystery takes as it unfolds. If you like to hear about the seedy underbelly of the cobblestone streets of Boston, you will dig this book!


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    The last 2 hours of the book are most enjoyable and yes I couldn't stop listening. (Trying to not give anything away)


    What about Leigh Ryan’s performance did you like?

    Her style of narration with numerous dialects and voices to cover through out the book. Not sure what the other lower starred reviews were thinking... but I'd say this is already one of my favorite audio books to date!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I have to admit that I am a sucker for a good murder mystery, but if you feel that same definitely check this book! With any review (especially a mystery) it's hard to write a review without giving away the best parts. If I were to pick out a specific part, it would be as Nell works to finally unravel the mystery and any of the sections at Fin's!


    Any additional comments?

    MORE PLEASE! Oh wait... there is on to "Murder in a Mill Town".

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Petersburgh, NY, United States 09-25-14
    Cheryl Petersburgh, NY, United States 09-25-14 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    69
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not the best choice."

    This may be a good series to read, but the narrator is very poor in the audible version. She has a sweet little voice that makes the prostitutes sound like they're in a high school play. The plot is somewhat shallow, although being the first in the series it deserves some time to develop the characters. I don't expect that I will continue with the series.

    2 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Z. 10-01-14
    Michelle Z. 10-01-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Tiresome Narration"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I love historical fiction, and was interested in this time period, but by the end of the narration, all I could focus on was the poor narration. Really took away from the storyline.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    I wasn't on the edge of my seat, but it was an interesting premise.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narrator's voice was very distracting. She seemed to develop a rhythmic way of talking by the end of the book; her performance made me realize how talented skilled narrator must be.


    Any additional comments?

    The only thing stopping me from buying the second book in the series is that it's narrated by the same person. Can't listen to her again.

    2 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 12 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.