Turner Raines is Mr Heartbreak. Everybody leaves him. They walk out, they run away...they die. When his oldest friend, Mel Kissing, dies with an ice pick through his skull, Raines picks up the thread and sets out to ask 'who?' and 'why?' But this is America in 1969, and one death is just a drop in the ocean. The Vietnam War is ripping the country to pieces, the Woodstock Festival is in full swing and Norman Mailer is standing as candidate for mayor of New York.
I’m not sure if this is the same John Lawson who writes the Inspector Troy series (which I like), but I loved this SO NOT Inspector Troy 1950s-60s set detective yarn, with its central mystery weaving around Vietnam and counterculture movements and icons. It’s not action packed or flawless but delivers story and character.
I haven’t written a review in years but found this so engaging and entertaining that want to shout to mystery and social history fiction fans: This is one of the overlooked good ones!
London’s Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “"low horses", as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. But now the slow horses have a chance at redemption. An old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts. The despicable, irascible Jackson Lamb is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade’s circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets.
Clever, funny; well-plotted, peopled, and set; very nice prose; not too dark but not at all silly or predictable-- what more can a lover of Brit crime-espionage fiction ask? (besides more, please!) Herron doesn't make you work as hard as LeCarre or Greene, but that can be a good thing, if you're trying to relax. He is almost in their league as a novelist.
Narration on all three titles in the Slough Houses series is excellent, and even though the narrators vary, listening was almost seamless. Sean Barret deserves an award for Slow Horses (which I couldn't review since it seems no longer available in my region.)
I had a couple of this series from Audible sales unread for years. Once I finally hit the listen button, I went through the 3 available in days and eagerly await Spook Street's appearance, hopefully in audio next month.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Small town life, big academic egos, corruption, revenge, and Spam musubis! The Musubi Murder is the first campus crime novel set in Hawaii, and the perfect gift for mystery lovers, Hawaii expatriates, disillusioned academics, and anyone who fancies Spam (the meat). Renowned Hawaii-born voice-over artist Nicole Gose brings her spot-on vocal characterizations and impeccable comic timing to this reading.
This is a decent light mystery and very good campus comedy - if you've taught or even studied on a 21st campus, you'll chortle. Too bad about the "chick lit" label. The protagonist does have a light love interest tangled in the mystery but that's far from central to the plot or humour. Four starts might be a tad generous, but I enjoyed this more than most light mysteries and laughed more than most comedy. If Bow writes a second instalment, I'll download automatically.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
In a shadowy, crumbling Edinburgh housing development, a junkie lies dead of an overdose, his body surrounded by signs of Satanic worship. Inspector John Rebus could call it an accident. But won’t. Now he’s got to search the city, from the tunnels of its dark underbelly to the private sanctum of the upper crust, to find the perfect hiding place for a killer.
I recently re-listened to the Rebus series in order since they are all available to me now. Most stood up - or played even better taken chronologically. In this one, however, Rebus is still an Adam Dalgliesh wanna-be, drinking Chablis, reading and listening to the classics, friendship-hugging vulnerable women. And Rankin is still learning how to write. That said, it's still a decent mystery, just not what we'd expect from Rebus or Rankin a little later in their careers. The biggest value was seeing Holmes and Rebus at the start of their relationship.
I really dislike Page as a Rebus narrator - but that's a more personal choice.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
November 1968. Judy Garland is performing drunk at the Palladium and the city of London is about to catch fire - literally. Summonded to a gas explosion, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen unearths a shocking discovery beneath the rubble: Mind-bending paintings by Bridget Riley and Peter Blake... and the garroted body of Jacob Pugh, a playboy god in the art world. With Detective Helen Tozer, Breen must infiltrate the artistic demimonde of a volatile and increasingly murderous city.
This second in a series is an excellent mystery, with storylines that hold up for all 13 hours, quirky and well drawn characters, great period setting, some humour. Main character – Breen – gets slightly darker through his experiences in novels 1 and 2: If the series continues for many instalments, he could became a Rebus!
To the squeamish (me): One corpse description near the beginning and one near the end are a little grisly (and as in the first novel, a small passage in the middle could bother sensitive animal lovers). Apart from that, no graphic violence but some good suspense. I work with technology all day, so I welcome older mysteries or period pieces that don’t hang on digital devices. And my inner social history geek loves Shaw’s ‘68-69 London. Of course the plot is good but secondary to the other elements and is as much about petty office politics and corruption as the BIG corruption described in the blurb -- more about how mundane compromises come in shades of grey.
Stewart's narration continues to be excellent EXCEPT that some of his women’s voices are too shrill, almost Pythonoesque. As in the first novel, I found this jarring for the first few chapters but then either my ear adjusted or he found a rhythm.
I so wish there were a dozen in this series rather than two. I stumbled across the first as a Whispersync bargain – and thought I’d found more in Kindle, but it appears that the novel is published under different titles in the UK perhaps –so shop carefully.
I don't usually rate a detective novel 5 stars - but this deserves it as solid, smart entertainment that provokes a little though but no angst.
35 of 38 people found this review helpful
Five years ago, a mysterious fire burned Edinburgh’s seedy Central Hotel to ashes. Long-forgotten and unsolved, the case reappears when a charred body - with a bullet in its head - is found among the ruins. Inspector John Rebus knows that his superiors would prefer he leave things alone. He knows that part of the answer lies somewhere in a cryptic black notebook. And he knows that to solve the case, he’ll have to peel back layer after layer of unspeakable secrets in order to arrive at the truth.
If you are interested in Rebus but not attracted to the whole series, this might be your entry point.
I am rereading/listening to Rebus, in order this time since the unabridged audio of all is now available in my region. This seems to be the novel where Rebus becomes that character some of us love so much, fascist though he can be. Though I usually prefer lighter crime novels with justice for all, Rankin created my favourite detective of all time here.
Michael Page is NOT a favourite narrator of mine so I delayed listening to a couple of his Rankin novel narrations, but he's OK for Rebus - more restrained than in other novels, but he still goes too gruff to distinguish some male characters (less shrill for women than he can be). However, James MacPherson became the voice of Rebus to me, so I feel something missing with Page and others - if MacPherson versions are available to you, get them if you can understand a delightful Scots accent. But skip the abridgements, even with that narrator --they make little sense because too much plot and character is skipped (not to mention setting, a real star of the series' later novels).
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
London, 1968: The body of a teenage girl is found just steps away from the Beatles' Abbey Road recording studio. The police are called to a residential street in St John's Wood where an unidentified young woman has been strangled. Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen believes she may be one of the many Beatles fans who regularly camp outside Abbey Road Studios. With his reputation tarnished by an inexplicable act of cowardice, this is Breen's last chance to prove he's up to the job.
Not saccharine-cozy, certainly not hard-boiled, this includes a decent mystery with humour and nice late 60s period touch. What the author gets refreshingly right is that overused "younger eager investigator --- older senior officer" relationship. The Beatles background is just a small part of the period setting; more prominent are the changing gender roles, sexual mores (nothing explicit though), and race/ethnic group relations. And it was better written than most of its kind. The Whispersync price was a great bargain when I purchased. I hope there are more "Tozer and Breen" books on the way - I could have tried a series binge, based on this one.
19 of 21 people found this review helpful
In 1914, the war which was to have been wrapped up by Christmas had - in reality - only just begun, as all sides entrenched themselves deeper into the Great War. Christmas Eve, 1914 follows one company of British officers as they rotate forward to spend their Christmas on the front lines, a mere 80 yards from the German guns. Upper- and working-class men and boys are thrown together into one trench and struggle to survive.
This isn't too sentimental (nor too gruesome) and convincingly recreates the possible development of one possible truce situation in the 1914 trenches. It doesn't directly address any BIG questions, other than the very powerful one posed by the truces themselves. I liked that it highlighted the conditions in the trenches, again without being too gruesome for family listening. I'm so happy to see commemoration of the centenary of the Truce since so many battles are so well remembered.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
When a bunch of neo-fascist thugs named The Bulldogs attack a Gay pride march in the sleepy country town of Lafferton, detective Simon Serrailler moves quickly to find the assailants. He’s already got his hands full making security arrangements for a memorial service to honour soldiers returning from Afghanistan. When anonymous threats come in, Serrailler wonders if the Bulldogs are behind these too - and worries that they know the Prince of Wales will be in attendance.
I"ve had Hill's Serailler series in my wish list for years, but hesitated to hit "buy." This short is just OK; however, the listen tells me enough to know that I will enjoy a full length Hill listen-- a well-written modern take on a village cozy with police procedural added, somewhere between the depth of PD James and the lightness of Deborah Crombie. The excellent narration lives up to the positive reviews of Pacey as the voice of this series.
23 of 26 people found this review helpful
In 1950s Iowa, a murder-suicide forces a lawyer to put aside his rock-and-roll grief.
Sam McCain loves Buddy Holly, because he's the only rock-and-roll star who still seems like a dweeb, and Sam knows how that feels. With the unrequited love of his life at his side, Sam drives more than three hours through the snow to watch his idol play the Surf Ballroom. That night, Buddy Holly dies in the most famous plane crash in music history, but Sam has no time to grieve....
American detective fiction tries to be too action packed or grisly for me, cozies tend to be too cute, and I usually skip anything containing the PI acronym-- but I’m very glad I took a chance on this. The Sam McCain series seems to be the same “weight” of a Charlotte MacLeod, with similar gentle humour, humanism and craftsmanship. McCain is a young small town PI/lawyer who sleeps with his cats since his romantic ideal eludes him; He confers with his Mom and Dad and gets sick if he drinks alcohol (but still it doesn’t get too cute).
Gorman is I think an older author, and there is thread of respect for elders and veterans running throughout the three in the series that I’ve enjoyed so far. This is more “nostalgic” rather than historical fiction written with modern sensibility, but that made it a better comfort read, the kind of mystery that soothes a head cold and relieves tension from listening to too much about current affairs. I get the feeling that Gorman is capable of much heavier fiction, but he gifted the world with some needed diversion instead.
Pinchot's narration was perfect. I bought the book as a Kindle edition first, thinking it would be better as a speed read, but it was written and narrated so well that I recommend the audio (check whisper sync price).
20 of 21 people found this review helpful