©2003 Andrew Taylor; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
"Jennings reads with such enormous variety that we are consumed by his characterizations....The listener becomes completely absorbed with the persona of the novel." (AudioFile)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is incredibly vivid and totally enthralling. It is a mystery, with many threads. It is not fast paced, but clues and details are gradually revealed until finally it all comes together at the end.
Much of the pleasure of the listen comes from the historical backdrop for the story. I love the details of life in the early 19th century. The author draws a fabulous picture of society, the social conventions, the dress and acceptable etiquette observed by the affluent through to the extreme poverty, filth and violence endured by the poor. Life in a boys school and the acceptability of thrashing and the apparent inevitability of bullying are also fascinating to hear about.
The narrator is quite wonderful too. He does a great job with portraying the various English, American and Irish accents of the characters and he really added to my enjoyment of the book.
I have to admit that the involvement of the schoolmaster throughout the story is at at times a little contrived but this did not detract from my enjoyment. The child Edgar Allen Poe does appear throughout the story and although he is integral to the tale, any child would have served to play the part just as well. So don't read this just because you are a fan of Poe, that may result in disappointment.
All in all a rich and vivid picture of early 19th century London, with a cleverly woven mystery to keep you guessing.
"An absolute must"
An exceptional book and recording. The reader is the best I have heard - and I'm a keen Audible fan! - and the plot very well constructed. What's the audio equivilent of 'un-put-downable'? This would be a great gift to someone not too sure if they wanted to go the audible route. It displays, so well, what a blast a well read audio book can be. So, I guess you can see I liked it!!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen. The narrator does a great job and keeps the listener engrossed.
The plot weaves its way with many twists and turns. Although Edgar Allen Poe is a relatively minor character in the story, I have been inspired to find out more about his life as a result of listening to this.
This is a highly recommended book. It successfully combines a gripping crime story with a fascinating historical perspective.
"modern wilkie collins"
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book,very well narrated,which immediately reminded me of Wilkie Collins.There are bank collapses,women constrained by the expectations of a rigid society,harsh schools,murder,speculative house building and much more. We even get to meet the young Edgar Alan Poe.Unlike with Wilkie Collins,the characters in this book are allowed 'normal' feelings and fantasies and the book has clearly got a modern author,but the breadth and colour of the plot owes a lot to the past but it is no pastiche.
"Wilkie Collins is not dead..."
... but back here in the modern form of Andrew Taylor. It was a compelling mystery that I'd recommend to any fans for Conan-Doyole or Collins - not to mention Poe of course!
"Such a compelling book"
This is a perfect mix of 'Dickensian' narrative and rattling yarn. The story is woven through with real details and yet of course, it's highly florid fiction! Perfection is reached by combining this clever and complicated story with the narration, which is really excellent. I was very sorry to reach the end.
"Good sense of Victorian England"
Good sense of the period. I liked the narrator and cared about his fate. It lacked tension at times and, to be frank, rather than finding the ending satisfying, I was glad when I got through it. It felt rather long.
"Good book, great reading"
This is a decent Victorian thriller/mystery with an excellent sense of period and a nice twist, but what sets it apart is the really exceptional narrator. Taylor uses a spectacular range of voices and accents to milk the text for all its worth. Terrific listen.
"A Tour de force"
what a wonderful experience this book is.
The author combines an intriguing mystery with a sure footed attention to period detail that is simply exquisite.
Although the setting is the early 19th century the subject matter
(a banking scandal)is coincidentally remarkably contemporary.
The characters are fully fleshed out and entirely believable.
The writing style is reminiscent of Dickens - and I can think of no higher compliment for a book of this type.
Alex Jennings, the reader, with his superb characterisation
and delivery completes what is a a hugely pleasurable experience.
"Not worth the bother"
A better story
It was very, very boring
He's an excellent performer but this was a low point for him. He uses the same voice for one of the characters that he uses for Merriman Lyon in Susan Cooper's excellent children series 'The Dark is Rising' and Alex Jennings is normally far too good to do something like this.
A poor story read by a narrator who was off his game this time.
I enjoyed this book and was interested that Andrew Taylor had decided to write is as a 19th century novel - it really works.
Alex Jennings is an excellent reader and that is an important ingredient in this case.
The two criticisms I have are that it fades out at the end and that Edgar Allen Poe is quite a peripheral character. He has to be there for the plot but it would have been good to learn more about him as a person.
I shall read the book again....
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