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Constance

New York, NY, United States
  • 71
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  • 480
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  • 107
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  • A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia

  • A Freddy Pilkington-Soames Adventure, Book 1
  • By: Clara Benson
  • Narrated by: Gethyn Edwards
  • Length: 5 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 156
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 139
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 139

It's 1929, and Ticky Maltravers is the toast of London high society, adored by everyone - or so it seems, until somebody poisons him over dinner. Now it turns out that numerous people with secrets to hide had every reason to wish him dead. But which of them murdered him? For Freddy Pilkington-Soames, newspaper reporter and man-about-town, the question hits a little too close to home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Freddy is Back

  • By Jerri C on 05-07-17

Charming Golden Age Upper Class Mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-06-18

Where does A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Not as good as Ngaio Marsh or Agatha Christie, (but nothing ever is). But if you're in the mood for a British Golden Age Cozy, this is perfect.

What did you like best about this story?

Light and fizzy dialogue, clever plot, not too bogged down on technical details, some nice characters, and perfect narration. Nothing too graphic and the amateur sleuth (Freddie) is a decent guy.

Any additional comments?

I hope there are many more Freddie Pilkington-Soames mysteries to come!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Pomfret Towers

  • By: Angela Thirkell
  • Narrated by: Yonnie Fraser
  • Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77

Pomfret Towers, Barsetshire seat of the earls of Pomfret, was constructed, with great pomp and want of concern for creature comforts, in the once-fashionable style of Sir Gilbert Scott's St Pancras station. It makes a grand setting for a house party at which gamine Alice Barton and her brother, Guy, are honoured guests, mixing with the headstrong Rivers family, the tally-ho Wicklows, and, most charming of all, Giles Foster, nephew and heir of the present Lord Pomfret.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sheer delight

  • By Constance on 08-15-15

Sheer delight

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-15-15

Any additional comments?

This is an old fashioned, innocent, but intelligent and witty story of a young woman's coming of age, an Edwardian weekend house party, and a beautiful old country estate. Sound familiar? It is, but written with a light touch. Painfully shy Alice, her impetuous brother, a horsey and kind hearted best friend, an utterly un-dashing heir, and an older generation with its own array of quirks. Readers who enjoy Jane Austen will find many similar pleasures in Thirkell's stories.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • The Speaker of Mandarin

  • A Chief Inspector Wexford Mystery, Book 12 (Unabridged)
  • By: Ruth Rendell
  • Narrated by: Michael Bryant
  • Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 52

There were some things about Chief Inspector Wexford's trip to China that he could never have dreamt of: That an old woman would haunt him from one city to the next. That a man would be tragically drowned. Or that, back in England, he would be investigating the murder of one of his fellow tourists.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Under-appreciated gem of mystery writing

  • By Constance on 05-16-15

Under-appreciated gem of mystery writing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-16-15

Any additional comments?

This is one of Rendell's very best, in my opinion. Wexford goes on a trip through China. This is the China of the 1980's--tourists have minders and travel conditions are far from luxurious. Wexford experiences the journey almost as a dream. The heat, the long hours on trains, the unfamiliar food, the complete dislocation from his ordinary life, and most of all the repeated glimpses of an old woman with bound feet--combine to create a sense of being in a hallucinatory haze. Back from his journey, he gets involved in a murder connected with one of the people on his tour. Rendell succeeds brilliantly in creating an unforgettable and spellbinding atmosphere.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Catherine Wheel

  • By: Patricia Wentworth
  • Narrated by: Diana Bishop
  • Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 86
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88

There was a certain heavy air of intrigue and mystery emanating from the old inn high on the cliff top. The Catherine-Wheel had once been a home for pirates and smugglers, but now it looked like it was harbouring a murderer. It had begun with an advertisement in the paper requesting descendants of the late innkeeper, Jeremiah Taverner, to stay for a weekend at the inn. They had arrived, a mixed assortment, to the family reunion eager to discover the secrets of their ancestry. But one of them had been hideously murdered, bringing the inn's stormy past into frightening focus.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Unlistenable Dud from Usually Wonderful Writer

  • By Constance on 08-19-14

Unlistenable Dud from Usually Wonderful Writer

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-19-14

What disappointed you about The Catherine Wheel?

I usually love Patricia Wentworth and I usually rate her books 5 stars. I consider her as good as Agatha Christie--an intelligent, interesting writer of Golden Age mysteries. Unfortunately, this story opens with long, agonizing lists and descriptions of complicated family relationships. A central character is tracing his many relatives and choosing some of them to come spend the weekend. The relationships are quite labored and unless you are insanely into genaology (not your own) you may find this deadly dull. I tried and tried but could not get past this indigestible clump of relationships. ANY of her other books are vastly better than this one. Latter End is a particular favorite of mine...The Fingerprint, Lonesome Road, Through the Wall---you can't go wrong with these wonderful titles if you like an old fashioned classic British mystery, but I cannot possibly recommend The Catherine Wheel. The usual reader reads this one and she is great. But not enough to save this dud of a tale. So sorry!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Return to Longbourn

  • The Next Chapter in the Continuing Story of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
  • By: Shannon Winslow
  • Narrated by: Marian Hussey
  • Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 204
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 183
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 182

What will happen to the Bennet females now that Mr. Bennet has died? With Mr. Tristan Collins on his way from America to claim his property, Mrs. Bennet hatches her plan. The new heir to Longbourn simply must marry one of her daughters. Nothing else will do. Will it be Mary or Kitty singled out for this dubious honor? When the gentleman in question turns out to be quite a catch after all, the contest between the sisters is on. Which one will be the next mistress of Longbourn?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Decent but not fabulous Jane Austen knock-off

  • By Constance on 10-29-13

Decent but not fabulous Jane Austen knock-off

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-29-13

Any additional comments?

This is an amusing and well narrated story based on Jane Austen characters. The writing is mostly fine, but there are some lamentable lapses in diction, for example, a character says: "The thing of it is..." I find these stylistic lapses inexcusable. Even a single read-through of Jane Austen's novels should be enough that the author would know to write "The plain fact is" instead of "The thing of it is..."

That said, lovers of Jane Austen will probably enjoy this lively story that features many of the familiar faces of Pride and Prejudice.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Eleven Pipers Piping

  • A Father Christmas Mystery
  • By: C. C. Benison
  • Narrated by: Steve West, Jean Gilpin
  • Length: 17 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 73

Father Tom Christmas, the recently widowed vicar adjusting to life in the English village of Thornford Regis, would do almost anything to avoid attending the annual Robert Burns Supper at the local hotel. But as chaplain to a traditional Scottish pipe band, Father Tom must deliver the grace - and contend with wailing bagpipes, whiskey-laced parishioners reciting poetry, and the culinary abomination that is haggis.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Multi-layered, character-driven mystery

  • By Constance on 10-29-13

Multi-layered, character-driven mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-29-13

Any additional comments?

This is a "village cozy" in the tradition of classic British mysteries. It is well written, with fully developed characters in a wide variety of personalities and tones. The plot is complex and even a touch bizarre, but all the dots connect at the end. I highly recommend this for people who enjoy Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. The narrator is top notch.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • The Art Forger

  • By: B. A. Shapiro
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 10 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,917
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,611
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,605

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting - a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum - in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire's studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late 19th century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Engrossing forage into art forgery and intrigue

  • By D on 11-28-12

Very Entertaining Art and Crime Story

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-13

Any additional comments?

Not a towering literary feat, but a good strong story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Wonderful writing about impressionist art and forgery techniques. Art lovers will particularly like this book, but even if you don't think of yourself as an art love you might want to try this---it could well turn you into a fan of the impressionists. Highly recommended.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • The Golem and the Jinni

  • A Novel
  • By: Helene Wecker
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 19 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,255
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,383
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,374

Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enchanting Debut Novel - Delicious!

  • By Tango on 04-26-13

Fascinating but Flawed Fantasy

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-13

Any additional comments?

This well written fantasy places a Jinni and a Golem in turn of the century New York City where each is taken in by a member of the burgeoning immigrant community. Each is stranded by circumstance in this alien environment, compelled to conceal their magical identities, struggling to live with dignity and meaning in a situation where their magical abilities must be hidden with extreme care. What a great premise for a book! We see them assessing and grappling with the social and cultural conditions of humankind in this particular time and place. Many readers will enjoy this book.

I stopped listening about half way through despite all the book's good qualities---and excellent narration by George Guidall--because I found the character of the Jinni increasingly repellent: egotistical, selfish, and emotionally cold as ice. I kept comparing this book to Jonathan Stroud's The Amulet of Samarkand, in which a demon is summoned by a young wizard and forced to interact in the human world. He is a demon, but he has abundant charming qualities: funny, witty, and at heart a force for good in the story. To create a "good" demon, Stroud created a character who is not consistent with the classical definition of a demon, and to this extent one can say that he "cheated" in order to make a better story. The author of The Jinni and the Golem has not "cheated" in this way with her Jinni. The Jinni's character is consistent through and through with a god-like being that has existed for thousands of years without any moral compass. And maybe, if the author had made him into a character whom I loved to hate, it would have worked. However, his behaviors do not inspire an enjoyable hatred in this reader--nor do they inspire any affection. He is just depressing to spend time with.

The Golem on the other hand is a sympathetic character---and so are many if not most of the human characters. I wonder how this story will turn out. Will the Jinni develop a heart? Will the Golem find the friendship and a sense of belonging for which she yearns?

The narration by George Guidall is typically wonderful.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Fever Tree

  • By: Jennifer McVeigh
  • Narrated by: Jayne Paterson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 60

Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men - one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only then the rumor of a smallpox epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does she see her path to happiness.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Colorful Historical Fiction

  • By Constance on 07-26-13

Colorful Historical Fiction

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-26-13

Any additional comments?

A childhood of pampered luxury does not prepare Frances to be left penniless and friendless on the death of her father after his business fails. In desperation, she marries a young man whom she despises. This man brings her to South Africa, where he is trying to build a medical practice. We are now in the milieu of the 19th c. diamond boom, in which unscrupulous white men exploited the Africans without mercy. Just as Frances begins to make some tentative steps towards contentment in her new life, her husband is transferred from a field station where he inoculates people against small pox to the city of Kimberly, a rough town built up around a huge open pit where the workers are beaten, tortured, and routinely crushed in the unsafe mining conditions. To Frances' dismay, her husband is an outspoken critic of the mine-owners' corrupt treatment of workers. His speeches and articles put both of them at risk for their lives.At this point, Frances makes the disastrous decision to reach out to a man with whom she had an affair on the boat from England. Readers recognize this man as a stinker through and through, but Frances' characterization is done with such skill that we understand and almost sympathize with her.This is a good story, a vivid historical novel, and a fun romantic narrative. It is not among the very great historical novels like Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies, but it is thoroughly entertaining and interesting, especially in its evocation of mining in South Africa. The narration is absolutely terrific.

I should just add that some of the love scenes are fairly explicit.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Frequent Hearses

  • By: Edmund Crispin
  • Narrated by: Philip Bird
  • Length: 6 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52

Gervase Fen is more at home in his ivory tower than in a London film studio, but Murder can take place anywhere, and aspiring actress Gloria Scott's suicide definitely looks like murder. Oxford don Gervase Fen is at the film studios to advise about a film biography of Alexander Pope. Gloria Scott appears to have had little reason for wanting to kill herself by jumping off Waterloo bridge, but someone has taken great pains to hide Gloria's real identity, and Gervase Fen's detective nose begins to twitch.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Intricate, Witty, Engrossing Classic Mystery

  • By Constance on 06-26-13

Intricate, Witty, Engrossing Classic Mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-26-13

Any additional comments?

In earlyish 20th century England a young and ambitious actress is victimized by political and sexual politics. From this evil deed a tide of murder and revenge is unleashed. The egotistical, striving world of film is evoked in wry observant tones as we meet various eccentric characters, most of whom have deep secrets. For lovers of British Golden Age mysteries, this will be pure catnip! Superb narration.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful