LISTENER

Jenny Jenkins

  • 37
  • reviews
  • 66
  • helpful votes
  • 71
  • ratings
  • The Moving Finger

  • A Miss Marple Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Richard E. Grant
  • Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 428
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 383
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 385

Lymstock is a town with more than its share of shameful secrets - a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate mail causes only a minor stir. But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs. Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note says "I can’t go on", but Miss Marple questions the coroner's verdict of suicide. Soon nobody is sure of anyone - as secrets stop being shameful and start becoming deadly.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My favorite Miss Marple Mystery

  • By ButterflyRose on 07-20-15

Richard E Grant is Fantastic

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

Reviewed: 01-01-19

In his memoir The Wawa Diaries, Richard E. Grant tells us that as a teenager he made a neat little living putting on puppet shows in entertainment-starved Swaziland. That training of shifting believably from one distinct accent and personality and gender to the next to cast a seamless unbroken spell is on clear display here. Delightful! But... one caveat ....

There is a clearly gay character described in derogatory (but indirect) terms that I would view as homophobic, though hardly unusual and even restrained perhaps for 1940s British culture. Still, the character leaves a sour taste whenever he appears — fortunately he is very minor and doesn’t appear often.

Apart from that, diverting and engaging tale with a late but consequential appearance by old Miss Marple who Grant reads exactly as I had always imagined her.


  • The Murder at the Vicarage

  • A Miss Marple Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Richard E. Grant
  • Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 593
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 542
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 540

"Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe," declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, "would be doing the world at large a favor!" It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later - when the Colonel is found shot dead in the clergyman's study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Christie's Story+Grant's Performance = Great Book!

  • By Scaramouche239 on 06-11-14

Superb Narration by Richard E. Grant

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

Reviewed: 12-23-18

I usually listen to Agatha Christie mysteries with half an ear and certainly not much deep interest in the psyche of the characters. Richard E. Grant has changed that. He inhabits each character so thoroughly, shifting without perceptible artifice from voice to voice, accent to accent, attitude to attitude with incredible facility, bringing even mundane interactions to engrossing life. I don’t know if it’s the reading alone but the plot too was full of complexity and surprises, one of Christie’s best. This might be the rare mystery that I listen to again. Bravo to Richard E. Grant for this wonderful performance.

  • A Pocket Full of Rye

  • A Miss Marple Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Richard E. Grant
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 329
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 299
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 294

Rex Fortescue, king of a financial empire, was sipping tea in his "counting house" when he suffered an agonizing and sudden death. On later inspection, the pockets of the deceased were found to contain traces of cereals. Yet, it was the incident in the parlor that confirmed Miss Marple's suspicion that here she was looking at a case of crime by rhyme....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another Brilliant Marple Mystery Performance!

  • By Scaramouche239 on 06-11-14

Richard E. Grant is a Revelation

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

Reviewed: 12-09-18

I’ve enjoyed Hugh Fraser’s reading of Agatha Christie: perfect accompaniment for household chores. But I never thought much of Agatha Christie as a writer of characters — real, breathing characters — before listening to Richard E. Grant bring each of these characters to full, breathing life. Funny, sardonic, written with flair! Could this really be Christie — whose characters sometimes seem like dollhouse figures she has decided to move here or there in reassuringly predictable fashion? Yes. Very much her still — but with every word counting and every character given the care and interest their author intended. Bravo, Richard E. Grant!!

  • The Hollow

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 382
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 356
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 353

A far-from-warm welcome greets Hercule Poirot as he arrives for lunch at Lucy Angkatell's country house. A man lies dying by the swimming pool, his blood dripping into the water. His wife stands over him, holding a revolver. As Poirot investigates, he begins to realize that beneath the respectable surface lies a tangle of family secrets and everyone becomes a suspect.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hugh Fraser excellent narrator for Agatha Christie

  • By Kathi on 02-17-14

More Depth than the Usual Christie

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

Reviewed: 11-18-18

Another superb reading of a Christie classic by Hugh Fraser.

I listen to these Agatha Christie’s while doing household activities and while they are almost always very entertaining l, I don’t expect to become emotionally attached to the characters. Most of the time the characters feel like cardboard stand-ins who Christie moves around like figures on a chess board.

But with THE HOLLOW, the characters showed greater complexity and depth and were less stereotypical and predictable. Poirot seemed subdued and almost tangential. As a book, it provided the pleasures of a real novel exploring the depths of human nature. That may be going too far — and yet it came closer to a more modern understanding of human nature with everyone having their own reasons and imperfections that we would do well to understand and accept. And yet all the traditional and expected Agatha Christie pleasures were as evident as always. I enjoyed it immensely.

  • Jeeves in the Morning

  • By: P. G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cecil
  • Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 402
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 296
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 293

Bertie Wooster, the dimwitted aristocrat with a heart of gold, had best avoid Bumpleigh Hall, but he pays a visit and soon is embroiled in a host of calamitous mishaps. Uncle Percy accuses him of burning down a bungalow; "Stilton" Cheesewright, betrothed to Bertie's ex-fiancée, barely controls his jealous rage; and Boko and Nobby blackmail Bertie into donning Stilton's stolen police uniform. Fortunately, Bertie's imperturbable valet, Jeeves, is nearby to perform a rescue.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Pleasure to listen...

  • By Julia on 12-06-09

"Jeeves in the Morning" = "Joy in the Morning"!

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

Reviewed: 10-29-18

Wonderful narration by Jonathan Cecil BUT be aware! JEEVES IN THE MORNING is the same audiobook as JOY IN THE MORNING, also available here on Audible. In retrospect, how obvious that is! But nonetheless, a pain in the neck to figure out if you have bought and listened to JOY IN THE MORNING years ago, especially since, let's face it, these wonderful Wooster and Jeeves stories do sound a lot alike even when completely different.

  • Three Act Tragedy

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 5 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 421
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 371
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 374

Sir Charles Cartwright should have known better than to allow 13 guests to sit down for dinner. For at the end of the evening one of them is dead - choked by a cocktail that contained no trace of poison. Predictable, says Hercule Poirot, the great detective. But entirely unpredictable is that he can find absolutely no motive for murder.…

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Queen of Crime at her peak.

  • By Jane on 10-17-12

B-List Christie but A-Plus Narration

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

Reviewed: 10-16-18

All the standard Agatha Christie elements are here — the remote country house and set of suspects, the quick and un-gory murders, the well drawn red herrings who may be imperfect humans but are not actually guilty of murder, the implausible plot that usually you somehow accept as possible. But the plot and characters here seem quickly sketched out and more implausible than usual as though Dame Agatha was hastening towards a deadline. Hugh Fraser captures every voice with believability and nuance of expression and endows this uninspired work with interest and liveliness. Bravo to Hugh Fraser — and despite the many flaws of this weak Christie tea, I am glad to have this audiobook as read by one of audio’s very best performers.

  • Lethal White

  • A Cormoran Strike Novel
  • By: Robert Galbraith
  • Narrated by: Robert Glenister
  • Length: 22 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,636
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,216
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,185

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike's office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic. Trying to get to the bottom of Billy's story, Strike and Robin Ellacott - once his assistant, now a partner in the agency - set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best 22 hours of the last week

  • By Jennifer on 09-27-18

Disappointed in good old "Robert Galbraith"!

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

Reviewed: 10-10-18

I really enjoyed the first two Cormoran Strike novels and savoured Robert Glenister's narration. But halfway through LETHAL WHITE, I am putting it back on the virtual shelf. So much of the book thus far has been from Robin's perspective as she goes undercover in the House of Commons pretending to be the goddaughter of an obnoxious representative who is being blackmailed. You need someone to relate to in a novel, and if it's only going to be Robin, then she has to be less nervous than I am and have more gumption about getting out of her bad marriage than the least imaginative of my friends.

Even the great Robert Glenister reads as though his heart just wasn't in it. Glenister is a pro, but you just can't hide lack of inspiration. When he was first hired to read these books, Cormoran Strike's voice was the dominant one. Not the case in LETHAL WHITE where Glenister has to read from Robin's perspective for pages and pages. His very male voice tries to find a reasonable register, and though he achieves it credibly enough, he rarely fully inhabits that female voice.

The problem is, Cormoran Strike is now so famous, he has to outsource his detective work to Robin and others. He more or less phones in like Charlie in Charlie's Angels. Fame and renown are "problems" other fictional detectives have and their creators manage to find solutions. But this solution, of hiring less gifted folks to snoop around for you and acting like dull mortals is not the answer. Halfway through and most of the plot is focused on Robin being afraid that her identity will be found out. And she acts nervous and behaves fearfully. That's not actually fun or interesting. If I were in similar circumstances, I too would find my heart palpitating with every suspicious look and set of inquisitive questions. But I should never be the protagonist in a mystery novel -- and perhaps neither should Robin. There's just too much relatable nervousness, too many unpleasasant, annoying characters, and far too little intrigue or too little cool detective work by Cormoran Strike.

I had expected better from the wonderful "Robert Galbraith" and hope the next book gets back on track.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Artists in Crime

  • By: Ngaio Marsh
  • Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Length: 3 hrs and 19 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 232
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 207
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 205

It started as a student exercise, the knife under the drape, the model's pose chalked in place. But before Agatha Troy, artist and instructor, returns to the class, the pose has been re-enacted in earnest: the model is dead, fixed for ever in one of the most dramatic poses Troy has ever seen. It's a difficult case for Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn. How can he believe that the woman he loves is a murderess? And yet no one can be above suspicion.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Aii! Abridged

  • By Charles on 06-05-11

The Real Mystery: Why Benedict Cumberland Narrates This Silly Trifle?

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

I have sometimes asked myself, “Would I pay to hear Benedict Cumberbatch read the telephone book? Is he just that great?”

Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch is just that great. But even his ability to infuse every character with nuanced individuality and the narration with a breezy irony, I thought I detected a hint of impatience with the clunky plot twists, absurd dialogue, and superficial characterizations of this 20th century relic, as his voice swept across the script like a cool breeze eager to be on its way.

Hard to imagine why BC agreed to do this production — unless it was one of his first paying gigs. The money could not be great, the prestige could not be high, the artistic interest would have to be minimal. Perhaps he is actually Ngaio Marsh’s grandson and he is paying filial homage to her legacy. Whatever the reason, even Benedict Cumberbatch could not redeem this little silly parcel of a mystery that seems to have fallen off a truck packed with mysteries from the Golden Age. As Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham go barrelling off, we are left with a small, clumsily-shaped approximation of an English murder mystery.

“Why have Americans never embraced Ngaio Marsh?” ran the headline of an article I once read in an English newspaper. Apart from not being able to pronounce her New Zealand name (the G is more or less silent), and If ARTISTS IN CRIME is any indication, it’s because Marsh’s settings seem like ancient history, and her plots are preposterous (to the point of involving aspirin as a knock-out drug). Her upper crust detective Roderick Alleyn demonstrates his insouciance by calling his sidekick Sergeant Fox “Brier Fox” and complimenting another subordinate with a jolly “good sleuthing,” which I believe even Nancy Drew never deigned say to her sidekick George as they hopped into her roadster. And at least Hercule Poirot could summon some sympathy for the murdered victim at the heart of the case — which Alleyn never does.

Other readers have objected to the fact that this novel has been abridged, which they failed to notice on purchase. I can attest that three hours of this ridiculousness is more than enough— and I speak as someone who still manages to delight in Hercule Poirot’s summoning of a manor house’s inhabitants into the library for a step by step explication of the grand denouement. In other words, I have high tolerance for corny cozy English mysteries. But if you go into ye olde tea shop for scones and clotted cream, you expect more than brick-like cakes heaped with gobs of glop.


  • The Murder Room

  • An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery
  • By: P.D. James
  • Narrated by: Charles Keating
  • Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 625
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 251

The Dupayne, a small private museum in London, is in turmoil. As its trustees argue over whether it should be closed, one of them is brutally and mysteriously murdered. Yet even as Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team proceed with their investigation, a second corpse is discovered. Someone in the Dupayne is prepared to kill and kill again. Still more sinister, the murders appear to echo the notorious crimes of the past featured in one of the museum's galleries: the Murder Room.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Classic P.D. James

  • By Jim on 11-23-03

The Best Adam Dalgleish

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

Reviewed: 07-29-18

If you don’t know PD James’s cerebral, character driven mysteries, don’t start here. The run up to the first murder is long and detailed. You will learn more detail about the characters than you can ever really use — though this is the technique James uses so as to give all the characters equal weight and possibility of suspicion. And one of my favorite James characters, Chief Inspector Kate Miskin, has only a small role here. But Adam Dalgleish in all his restraint, intelligence, humanity, professionalism is here in full and so well represented by Charles Keating’s narration. I have tried to listen to PD James on audio when read by Penelope Dellaporta. But although I myself am a woman on the older side, I find her narration far too ensconced in the voice of an older woman to serve James’s characters fully. Though PD James is an older woman writer, and certainly not hip or plugged in to tech changes and the like, she is one of the greats in terms of understanding and becoming humans of all ages and genders. Her narrator must be able to do so as well. And Charles Keating does. At one point in the novel, a character makes a Jane Austen reference. It is not overreaching to say that PD James has many of Austen’s gifts for finely observed character studies and the role they play in moving the plot along. Charles Keating brings almost all the characters alive, especially those from the middle and working classes (hey, it’s England— they don’t pretend these distinctions don’t exist!). The arrogant upper class are drawn and read a bit broadly. And why not? Perhaps the nature of arrogance is that it’s not a subtle presence.
Penguin Random House, I hope you read these reviews and will consider re-recording those novels read by Penelope Dellaporta and let the great and not-arrogant
Adam Dalgliesh have the voice he truly deserves.

  • Rumpole: The Penge Bungalow Murders and other stories

  • Three BBC Radio 4 dramatisations
  • By: John Mortimer
  • Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch, Timothy West, full cast, and others
  • Length: 2 hrs and 55 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 198
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 183
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 179

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the young, feisty, devastatingly acute Horace Rumpole in this collection of cracking cases, also starring Timothy West as the older Rumpole. Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders: It is the '50s, and two war heroes have been shot dead. Defending the suspect is deemed hopeless, so the case is handed to a novice. But the novice's superiors didn't count on the tenacity and wit of the young and hungry Horace Rumpole.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • BBC Performance...no a true audiobook

  • By LynR on 08-14-18

Benedict Cumberland as Young Rumpole: Delightful!

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

Reviewed: 07-23-18

Of course, was Rumpole ever really young? He was probably born a curmudgeon and Timothy West, who reads the Rumpole stories on audio and does so wonderfully, also plays the older reflective Rumpole to perfection here. But Benedict Cumberbatch adds a wry, dry twist to these stories that always leave me wanting more. Perfect casting all the way around -- and effective abridgment of the original by the writers and producers.