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.
This is a charming story, like all Thirkell's Barsetshire frivolities, but the reader has a terrible habit of pausing at odd places, playing merry heck with the sense of Thirkell's lovely sentences. Irritating enough that I stopped, and only finished listening two years later when I'd run out of everything else to listen to on a long drive. It's not Thirkell's best, but it's perfectly decent, except for the reader's idiosyncracy.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Horatio Hornblower sails South American waters and comes face to face with a mad revolutionary in a novel that ripples with risk and gripping adventure. Throughout his escapades, Forester's hero remains resourceful and courageous.
Don't start the Hornblower books with this one, the first that Forester wrote. Hornblower here is sketched in, self-absorbed, and slightly annoying; the Lady Barbara romance is off-kilter. Start with the great Midshipman Hornblower, a much more enjoyable book, and let this one come in its chronological sequence. Not bad, just not representative of the best of this series.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Jack Ryan, the former president of the United States, is out of office, but not out of the loop about his brainchild, the “Campus” - a highly effective, counter-terrorism organization that operates outside the Washington hierarchy. But what Ryan doesn’t know is that his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., has joined his cousins, Brian and Dominic Caruso, at the shadowy Campus. While a highly effective analyst, young Ryan hungers for the action of a field agent.
Good golly, this book is boring. Clancy and Blackwood churn up adventure and take f o r e v e r to tell it. Every t is crossed, every i is double-dotted, events telegraphed and texted and carbon copy sent by carrier pigeon to make sure you get it. Lou Diamond Phillips is a fine narrator, but even he can't do anything with this sloggy mush.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman is a devastating story of early pioneers in 1850s American West. It celebrates the ones we hear nothing of: the brave women whose hearts and minds were broken by a life of bitter hardship. A "homesman" must be found to escort a handful of them back East to a sanitarium. When none of the county’s men steps up, the job falls to Mary Bee Cuddy - ex-teacher, spinster, indomitable and resourceful.
This begins as an interesting inversion of the western formula, with a strong spinster rancher carting four madwomen home to the east. She co-opts a rascally claim-jumper, after saving his life, and the crew sets off. So far, excellent. But Swarthout betrays this promise by abandoning the strong woman (after first negating his own creation by making her turn weak and silly) and switching point of view to the claim-jumper. The four madwomen, whose backstories are painstakingly detailed, are slammed into a box and never speak or act with volition again; they're no longer characters but just Woman 1, 2, 3, 4. I won't do a spoiler, but Swarthout cripples his own book by killing off a vital character in a ridiculous denial of everything the character is about, and then lets the story dwindle off for ages in a diminishing, eternal, and very disappointing denouement. This is not a book for women listeners, especially any who might identify either with a strong self-sufficient woman or a woman who's gone insane after dealing with fate, winter, and idiots.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
Susanna Weber is the best dress maker in Imperial Vienna. Through skill and hard work, she now owns her own dress shop, looking out over the beautiful Madensky Square. To do so, she has left her past behind, if not without regret, at least resolutely. Looking around her, at her customers and friends, Susanna is aware that she has more than most - but a few small changes cause her to realize just how precarious her situation is.
A charming book from Eva Ibbotson, from her frothier side. "Journey to the River Sea" remains my favourite book of hers, but this is a tranquil, discursive, always interesting look at fashionable life in pre-war Vienna. Especially if you are interesting in fashion, Madensky Square is enjoyable and undemanding, and delightfully stylish.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Reacher's anonymity in Florida is shattered by an investigator who's come looking for him. But hours after his arrival, the stranger is murdered. Retracing the PI's trail back to New York, Reacher's compelled to find out who was looking for him and why. He never expects the reasons to be so personal - and twisted.
Give this one a pass. The story is marred by too torture-y a villain, made almost laughable because the narrator Jonathan McClain made the serious error of using a voice exactly like the Austin Powers' villain Dr Evil. The girl is more than usually bland, her character mainly delineated by her extreme thinness, and the romance is anemic. Child must have been tired when he got to this one, and in many passages he simply repeats sentences—at one big reveal, Reacher actually has someone repeat a piece of news (which we've seen coming for about an hour) four times. Four times. Skip to the next, this one was a dud.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
Sir Rudri Hopkinson, an eccentric amateur archaeologist, is determined to recreate ancient rituals at the temple of Eleusis in Greece in the hope of summoning the goddess Demeter. He gathers together a motley collection of people to assist in the experiment, including a rival scholar, a handsome but cruel photographer and a trio of mischievous children. But when one of the groups disappears, and a severed head turns up in a box of snakes, Mrs Bradley is called upon to investigate.
Gladys Mitchell's books are always tempting—the synopsis sounds promising, Patience Tomlinson is a lovely narrator—but always a baffling disappointment. Mitchell's heroine, Mrs Bradley, is an unsatisfying detective whose methods are opaque and whose psychology is suspect, as well as extremely outdated. I've fallen for three of these books now and come out of every one irritated. The convoluted mystery plot unravels at a lame snail's pace, the cast is overlarge and undifferentiated, the main characters are dolts, and the entire proceedings are remarkably humorless. Never again, Mitchell, never again.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Jonas Pickett, solicitor and commissioner of oaths, leaves London to set up a practice in a genteel Sussex resort. This collection of nine inter-linked stories tell the stories of his clients: from a retired Admiral to the queen of the gypsies.
These connected stories are amusing, elegantly-written, and engrossing. Michael Gilbert is one of the very best of the Brits, not nearly well enough known. His books encompass every kind of mystery and thriller: these are legal conundrums, far more interesting puzzles than Rumpole ever constructed, and told with cool detachment but no lack of suspense. As story follows story, Jonas Pickett's new life unfolds and complicates and resolves. High recommended—and great re-listening, too.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Morrissey, head of London's Regional Crime Squad, is trying to bring down a financial empire which is involved with organised crime and drug smuggling. He enlists the help of a Welshman and his pretty ex-girlfriend to aid him in the 'Snakes and Ladders' operation.Michael Francis Gilbert (1912- 2006) is recognized as one of the most versatile British mystery writers. He was a lawyer in London for many years and at one point had Raymond Chandler as his client. He wrote almost every sort of mystery and thriller.
Michael Gilbert is a brilliant mystery writer, perhaps less known than he ought to be because he did not have a series detective, just a fantastic series of one-off books. The Final Throw is one of his best, starring the rascally Welshman David Morgan and his highly-intelligent beloved in a twisting story of greed and corruption. The reader here, Andrew Timothy, is strangely well-chosen—his is not a dry professional read, but an exuberant impatient attack, complete with page-turning sounds and odd, forgetful pauses; he sometimes even seems half-drunk. But it's a great voice for David Morgan, and for the whole raffish, down-and-out, drink-addled tone of this thriller. Highly recommended, as are all Michael Gilbert's audiobooks.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Fergus O'Brien, a legendary World War One flying ace with several skeletons hidden in his closet, receives a series of mocking letters predicting that he will be murdered on Boxing Day. Undaunted, O'Brien throws a Christmas party, inviting everyone who could be suspected of making the threats, along with private detective Nigel Strangeways. But despite Nigel's presence, the former pilot is found dead, just as predicted, and Nigel is left to aid the local police in their investigation.
A decent country-house mystery, written by the poet Cecil Day-Lewis under his Blake pseudonym, but sadly almost ruined by the reader. Dyer's accents are heavy-handed, but it's the Shatner-like inappropriate breath-breaks that really make this a tough listen.
It's not the best of the Nicholas Blake books and you'll solve the mystery early on—but that's not so bad, makes a person feel clever to know the truth before the sleuths do. I hope the publisher continues to produce Blakes, but with a new reader please.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful