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Jenny Jenkins

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  • 61
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  • Artists in Crime

  • By: Ngaio Marsh
  • Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Length: 3 hrs and 18 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 227
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 202
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 200

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 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 609
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 240
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 236

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 139
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 126
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124

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.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fun to read

  • By Amazon Customer on 07-17-18

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.

  • A Murder Is Announced

  • A Miss Marple Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Emilia Fox
  • Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 393
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 361
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 353

The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn, including Jane Marple, are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette that read: "A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30 p.m." Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful Agatha Christie... horrific narration

  • By Alex on 10-17-16

Each Character's Voice More Annoying Than the Next

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

Reviewed: 07-23-18

Penguin Random House identifies Emilia Fox as an acclaimed audio book reader, but it is hard to make that claim with this performance. I have listened to dozens of Agatha Christie and other mysteries on audio, and this ranks as one of the worst. It's always a tricky line to toe as a reader, to present a silly or annoying character without being unbearably annoying to the listener. Somehow the best readers manage this trick, but Emilia Fox, no. The high-pitched shrieky tones of half the characters are simply unbearable. The best readers also manage to slip into male and female voices without it feeling false, yet Emilia's male voices remind me of my own feeble attempts to sound male when imitating people I know, but dropping a few registers but bringing little conviction to the shift in gender. All in all, with this book, I never fell into that happy suspension of disbelief that takes place when the best readers, such as Hugh Fraser, read the best stories, such as Agatha Christie's.

As a kid, I preferred reading the Miss Marple tales to Hercule Poirot stories. But thanks to Hugh Fraser's superb renderings of Poirot and Hastings, and Emilia Fox's irritating rendition of Miss Marple and her band of vicars' wives and the like, I am now on Team Hercule Poirot. I will probably not relive all those great Miss Marple moments on audiobook because this rendition of A MURDER WAS ANNOUNCED was simply unbearable. The publisher would do well to vet the readers and ask if they are helping to keep this series of mysteries alive. Audio books keep these novels alive and even encourage the sale of text versions. Hard to imagine anyone savoring this collection of irritating characters in a cozy yet murderous English village as told by Emilia Fox.

  • Set the Boy Free

  • The Autobiography
  • By: Johnny Marr
  • Narrated by: Johnny Marr
  • Length: 9 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 266
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 250
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 249

An artist who helped define a period in popular culture, Johnny Marr tells his story in a memoir as vivid and arresting as his music. The Smiths, the band with the signature sound he cofounded, remains one of the most beloved bands ever and have had a profound influence on a number of acts that followed - from the Stone Roses, Suede, Blur, and Radiohead to Oasis, The Libertines, and Arctic Monkeys.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best autobiography I've ever read!

  • By Lulu P. on 01-24-17

One of the Great Rock and Roll Memoirs

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

Reviewed: 07-12-18

Like Patti Smith's "Just Kids", Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", Bob Dylan's "Chronicles", and Keith Richards' "Life," Johnny Marr's "Set The Boy Free" is the story of a young kid discovering himself as an artist by falling in love with music, sitting up late at night listening to the records he loves over and over, struggling to re-create what he hears on a guitar and, in failing to replicate what he heard, creating a new musical voice and vision. (I am pretty sure they also all loved the great American girl groups of the early 1960s and I think we still need to wait for that great book.)

Listening to Johnny Marr's thoughtful, Manchester-inflected voice, I could envision all that he experienced. The first time I listened to the book, I was on a long car ride and wasn't able to pause and listen to the music he references in the book. This time around, I took all the time I wanted. I listened to the obscure, the forgotten, the never-heard, and the much-loved: the early Everly Brothers his mother fell in love with and listened to over and over, Mott the Hoople, The Smiths' first single "This Handsome Man," and Johnny's latest album as a solo artist.

I had bought the book as a one-time Smiths fan and was astonished to find that I had become a Modest Mouse fan at the same time that Johnny Marr joined the group. In these days where I listen to music on iTunes and Spotify, I no longer have the close read of the album cover that helped me learn the names of every member of a band. But now I know why I loved those Modest Mouse songs: that twangy, driving force of Johnny Marr's guitar that is both percussive and melodic. Imagine being professionally defined by the band you were with for a few years in your 20s! Such seemed to be Johnny Marr's fate after The Smiths broke up. Yet this is a story of constant self-discovery and discovery of new forms and music, without denigrating or shortchanging The Smith years, which were great ones. Johnny brings to life the thrilling connections he and Morrissey made once they'd found each other and worked with the kind of inspired complementary partnership of Richards-Jagger and the other great songwriting teams that makes you feel that there might be a God or that music might be God itself with inspiration being that light yet powerful touch that makes all the pieces fall in place after years of struggle. Anyone who has been an artist or writer will recognize and connect with Johnny in his description of those early moments of stumbling into and onto the sound you had always wanted to make without realizing it. Like great poems, a great song is familiar and new at the same time. As Morrissey writes in a much later, post-Smiths song, "Let The Right One In," "You have every right to say, what kept you so long?" (Sorry, Johnny!)

I have read some criticism of Johnny's emphasis on clothes and what he wore. In every city around the world, young working class people express their creativity, their refusal to be stifled and suppressed, their insistence on asserting their individuality, their originality and ability to transform everyday materials through their clothes. This was true in the 1970s punk world I lived in, the 1980s hiphop world, in Lagos, in Japan -- clothes are the art form of young people without money, without a government-sanctioned, society-encouraged voice, the way to be seen, to be heard, and yes, to be admired as beautiful young people should be celebrated and admired. And for Johnny Marr and the girl who would become his wife, Angie, clothes and the way they transformed and wore them became means for being seen and heard that led to their lives as artists.

This book is also about Johnny's ability to grow and evolve as a person -- all the while remaining the person of integrity, kindness and love of music he has always been. That he remains married to the girl he fell in love with at first sight and helped forge a life with as a teenager -- well, in these sometimes dark days, I will always love a great love story. More love, less hate, more music, more openness, more growth, more pride without arrogance, appreciation for the creativity and art of others, hard work as the condition in which inspiration makes itself known: this is what "Set The Boy Free" is really about. I am so glad Johnny Marr not only wrote it, but read it.

  • The Right Stuff

  • By: Tom Wolfe
  • Narrated by: Dennis Quaid
  • Length: 15 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,176
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,087
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,080

Millions of words have poured forth about man's trip to the moon, but until now few people have had a sense of the most engrossing side of the adventure: namely, what went on in the minds of the astronauts themselves - in space, on the moon, and even during certain odysseys on earth. It is this, the inner life of the astronauts, that Tom Wolfe describes with his almost uncanny empathetic powers that made The Right Stuff a classic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Righteous Book, Righteous Narrator, Righteous MEN!

  • By Gillian on 02-08-18

Great Story, Great Reporting and Great Reading

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

Reviewed: 05-20-18

Dennis Quaid reads this great tale of modern America with verve, humor, inspired pacing. Loved the movie but the book gives you the behind the scenes decision making that the film, otherwise so spot on, could not include. One of the best audio books ever!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • L'Appart

  • The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home
  • By: David Lebovitz
  • Narrated by: Graham Halstead
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 72

When David Lebovitz began the project of updating his apartment in his adopted home city, he never imagined he would encounter so much inexplicable red tape while contending with the famously inconsistent European work ethic and hours. Lebovitz maintains his distinctive sense of humor with the help of his partner, Romain, peppering this renovation story with recipes from his Paris kitchen.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • delightful!

  • By bet on 01-12-18

A Paris Sans Delights

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

Reviewed: 02-15-18

This book is a gift to francophiles who have fantasized of moving to Paris and know they never well because the author will make you feel relieved for avoiding that fate.

First and very important: The reader is top notch: genial, naturalistic, and able to speak the French terms and phrases correctly as far as my high school French expertise can detect.

But halfway through this story of a torturous renovation of a Parisian apartment, I realized I was listening to a truly miserable story masked by a pleasant narrator and well read recipes read at the end of each chapter and a few tossed off rueful wry comments as though it's all a humorous experience. But clearly it is not. Parisians appear grumpy, lacking in humor, perpetually in a state of annoyance and discomfort because of stores and institutions that make life as difficult as possible. Apart from the boulangeries and markets, who would want to be in this city? New York seems warm and fuzzy in comparison to his Paris.

Most of all it is plain as day that the contractor working on the apartment is a liar and a crook -- no spoiler alert needed since I came to this conclusion one third of the way in and so will you. Why did the author stay with him? It was almost like reading a battered wife's delusions: "But he told me it would be all right and I believed him again." And I have never read a book with so many deceitful, lazy characters that wasn't a thriller or mystery. So I was glad to say au revoir and will seek out other books read by this narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Verdict

  • By: Nick Stone
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 21 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,430
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,958
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,935

Terry Flynt is a struggling legal clerk desperately trying to get promoted when he is given the biggest opportunity of his career: to help defend a millionaire accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite. The only problem is that the accused man, Vernon James, is not only someone he knows but someone he loathes. This case could potentially make Terry's career, but how can he defend a former friend who betrayed him?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of THE best audiobooks ever!

  • By Sarah on 05-22-16

Better Narrator Than Mystery

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

Reviewed: 11-27-17

Many of the premises of the plot were obvious or outlandish. And the protagonist continually seemed to be saying that he hadn't realized things that the reader saw all along -- in fact the protagonist seemed to be something of a dimwit or certainly no smarter than the average reader. The narrator, though, brought much of the story to life. Not sure about the accents -- sometimes the glottal stops of the protagonist's working class accent reminded me of Mick Jagger when he was trying to seem streetwise -- but the shifts in emotion and pacing and tone were excellent. The author got lucky! A fun ride and good for amusing you during those boring workaday chores but far too often I wound up saying aloud, "Oh, come on! You didn't see that coming, Terry?" while my husband gave me one of those "quiet down, crazy lady" looks from the other side of the kitchen.

  • Born a Crime

  • Stories from a South African Childhood
  • By: Trevor Noah
  • Narrated by: Trevor Noah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 93,118
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 86,264
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 85,855

One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book and perfect narration

  • By Marilyn Armstrong on 12-15-16

One of the Best Audio Books Ever

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

Reviewed: 03-20-17

This memoir far exceeded my expectations: Moving, enlightening, funny. Trevor Noah is an excellent writer, inspired reader and storyteller, and his memoir sheds light on growing up in South Africa at the twilight of apartheid. Sheesh, he has lived a lot for one so young -- born only in 1984! Most of all, this memoir is a portrait and tribute to Trevor Noah's mother, exceptional and human and fallible and funny and grave, and the great devotion and love of a mother and son. I love it and look forward to Noah's future books. I know he will not stop just at this one. He has a lot to say about his own experiences and the world around him. I hope he takes his time and produces many more books and audio books as engaging, thoughtful, entertaining and moving as this one.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Murder on the Links

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 6 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 728
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 659
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 662

An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course. But why is the dead man wearing his son's overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Story

  • By Sylvia L. on 01-26-17

Good Fun, 1920s Style

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

Reviewed: 03-04-17

Hugh Fraser turns in his usual superior performance in this somewhat creaky Hercule Poirot (from 1923). It's especially old fashioned in the stilted dialogue that takes place during action scenes, along the lines of, "Mon dieu, Hastings, my suspicions have been confirmed!" (I'm sure Agatha C's original lines were far better even if they were a bit dated sounding!)

But with so much of the plot spelled out, these mysteries are perfect accompaniment for chores such as cleaning the garage when your mind might wander or you have to make a bit of noise. You don't need to catch every line to understand what's going on. And a great new mystery writer like Tana French is too scary for me to listen to alone at night (Audible should have a category of Mysteries for Scaredy Cats).

Agatha Christie's female characters are lively and well drawn here, not quite the paper dolls they can sometimes seem to be. An amusing listen, all in all.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful