Georgette Heyer's mysteries are sprightly and entertaining, though dated in regard to foreigners (teeth gritted), and rather contrived, shallow plotti..Show More »ng (about which see comments on narrator). I am also less fond of the Inspector Hemingway novels than the earlier ones--they seem more routine. But like her other books, this was well written, full of fun, and had its share of wonderful characters--especially Vicky. And it is these qualities that make me love Georgette Heyer, even at her less-than-best.
For a number of years only two of Georgette Heyer's dozen or so murder mysteries were available on Audible, and those were reissues of weak audiocasse..Show More »tte recordings. So I was pleased when the first of these Bolinda productions appeared. But I wasn't keen on the samples of Ulli Birve's narration I listened to, so held off getting any of them.
Enter "Envious Casca," my vote for the best of Heyer's mysteries. "Envious Casca" is an exceptionally clever and well conceived mystery with an unexpected twist, interesting if not particularly lovable characters, and great dialogue full of wry British wit and plenty of humor. And it's set in the midst of a country house "Christmas jollification," so I decided in the spirit of the season to give Ulli a try.
Unfortunately my reservations about the narration turned out to be justified. Although Ms. Birve handles dialogue and character differentiation passably well, she reads narrative prose in a jerky, irritating style--pausing after what seems like every third word and breaking phrases into chunks that decimate the flow of the prose. Worse, she either doesn't recognize the humor in what she's reading or she's simply incapable of anything resembling comic timing or nuance. It's a disservice to what should have been a delightful "old school" mystery.
While I don't find them quite up to the standards of her Regency novels, I do enjoy Heyer's mysteries, which were "modern" at the time she wro..Show More »te them, in the 1930's - 1940's. Now they are period pieces, and interesting as such as well. Ulli Birve has now narrated most of Heyer's mysteries, and I have found all that I have listened to so far to be very enjoyable. I think that she "gets" the personalities of the various characters very well and conveys the spirit of the story, and the time period. And yet is easy to understand and follow the plot, which is important in a mystery.
One thing I find very helpful is that this book is "wispersync" ready, so I can go back and forth between my Kindle version and the audio version, or even read along with the narration. I enjoy "wispersync" and hope that Audible will make more of Heyer's mysteries available in this treatment, especially They Found Him Dead, which has many of the same characters as Duplicate Death.
I hope that Audible/Ulli Birve will soon release the two of Heyer's mysteries not yet available, Detection Unlimited and Penhallow.