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Mary-Liz

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The Tooth Tattoo audiobook cover art

Terrible reader; not the best Lovesey story

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

Reviewed: 05-07-16

I'm guessing -- I'm hoping -- it was only that Simon Prebble was committed to another project for them to have brought in Clive Anderson to read this. Please make it a temporary replacement. Anderson, flat and painfully slow and slurry, can't measure up to Prebble's crisp voice work in the other Diamond novels. Dialogue exchanges here feel like walking against a current; too many pauses and weird intonations. Anderson is especially bad with women. One in particular, as another reviewer noted, he reads with an inexplicably low drawl, yet she is written to be a witty, savvy Irishwoman--she should have a bright, quick way of speaking. I found myself dreading it every time that character wandered back into the story.
As for the story, it needed an editor. There are several spots in the narrative where information is needlessly repeated. For example, we are told four or five times that top musicians are able to play priceless instruments because they get them on long-term loan from wealthy benefactors. I noticed several repetitions of certain information, but I can't list them without revealing too much of the mystery. There are other flaws in the storytelling. At one point, Diamond confronts a character with a "oh you know about that, do you?" when only a few chapters earlier Diamond was present when the character learned the fact. Some threads started at the top of the novel dangle neglected at the end. None of these are deal-breakers, but together they're indicative of sloppy writing in what should be a tight detective story. It's atypical of Lovesey, who is usually more careful. He was off his game here.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

A Dressing of Diamonds audiobook cover art

It just isn't that good

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

Reviewed: 04-24-15

Very slow moving for a police procedural. Considering it involves the abduction of a child -- a judge's child, at that -- the story shuffles along aimlessly, with many, many digressions, and with the investigator offering numerous theories and guesses, which do not seem to be based on the available evidence. Characters often act in bizarre, unbelievable ways: Would a woman who is desperate over her missing child be planning a party that she hopes will end in a spouse-swapping sex romp -- with the lead investigator? Stuff like that is just thrown in, as if perfectly expected and ordinary. I couldn't decide whether Freeling was doing it because readers of the mid-1970s, when he was writing, expected the French to be into "free" sex, or to keep us artificially interested in a story he had lost track of himself.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam audiobook cover art

Funny and entertaining

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

Reviewed: 03-21-15

The puzzle is straight-forward but the characters are very appealing. The thief-writer's friendship with his agent is especially engaging. Some very funny descriptions and situations.

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line audiobook cover art

Too many cliches

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-11-15

Nice performance by Kristen Bell.
Not a very well written book, though. Many plot points seem as stale as the fetid beer dregs in the bottles littering the streets of Neptune after Spring Break. One of the worst is the dumb-as-rocks sheriff, a classic of bad pulp fiction, but even this guy wouldn't be stupid enough to fail to check out a chief suspect's alibi. The machoer-than-thou drug cartel boys are tired stereotypes bordering on offensive.
Still, Veronica remains appealing and I found myself rooting for her in spite of the writing. She deserves something better than a story that feels like a first-draft TV script.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night audiobook cover art

Charming but lightweight.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-17-15

The story about cricket was just... Wow, way too much cricket. No more cricket stories, for God's sake. Otherwise fine.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Girl on the Train audiobook cover art

Excellent thriller

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

Reviewed: 01-16-15

Beautifully written, well fleshed out characters. An almost perfect study of the unreliable narrator. I felt the clues to the killer were telegraphed early on, but I read an inordinate number of thrillers and mysteries, so I'm hard to fool. There is a nice twist in the end I didn't see coming.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

True Grit audiobook cover art

Beautifully written

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

Reviewed: 03-05-14

I can't believe I hadn't read this until now. Charles Portis writes in a way that would make taxes or legislative bills fascinating. His dialogue, settings, characters -- especially his characters -- ring absolutely true. Is there anyone more appealing in fiction than the brave, formidable Mattie Ross? The film versions just make her feisty, which is nice, but she is so much wiser and morally complex than the child she appears to be. The Cohen Bros. did a very good job with this story; the John Wayne version seems a cartoon set against the real narrative. Neither movie does True Grit justice. You miss all those wonderful, expertly chosen words. And who knew Donna Tartt, a fine novelist herself, had such an engaging, Southern reading style? Really, please, buy this immediately and listen to it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Stranger House audiobook cover art

Scrappy heroine, pleasingly complex mystery

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

Reviewed: 03-05-14

Well written and crafted thriller, which uses the classic chestnut of the remote village, with residents who distrust nosy outsiders, to great effect. You think this is going to be an old-fashioned horror, with restless ghosts and forbidden, pagan rites still practiced by the weird locals. In fact, it's a modern, psychological drama, its twists attributable to very human fears and desires. Some of the crimes may be too modern for certain listeners: If you are bothered by stories that involve hurting children or torture, be aware that this narrative takes a few dark turns. Nothing overly graphic, but it does go there, if not all the way there.
There are two mysteries here, one historical, one contemporary, each with its related protagonist, a compassionate Spanish ex-priest and a scrappy, Australian mathematician named Samantha Flood. Sam Flood is almost worth the price of admission alone -- she's that appealing.
Great reading by Gordon Griffin, who differentiates the many characters with vocal distinctions and quirks. I had no trouble keeping the large cast straight.
My only complaint is that the epilogue, while intriguing, ties up the threads too neatly. Still, the rest of the story is so good that I'm willing to forgive Reginald Hill for this over-zealous bit of plot writing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Monkey's Voyage audiobook cover art

Fascinating, if you can handle the detail

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

Reviewed: 03-05-14

This is an exhaustive study of biological history and evolution, as it relates to continental drift, cladistics and other off-shoots and counterpoints to Darwin's theory. I had never heard of the field of biogeography until I listened to this book and now I feel very comfortable with the subject. The author begins with Darwin and then looks at each successive theory in turn, ultimately disproving many or tempering their strict stances with alternative possibilities. De Queiroz builds his case brick by scientific brick, until he returns to Darwin, who first suggested that many, if not most, of the breaks and bizarre pan-continental connections in the biological narrative could be attributed to seemingly impossible journeys across oceans by species. Darwin did several experiments but didn't live long enough to prove his suppositions. De Queiroz, however, with the benefit of DNA testing, cites numerous examples of plants and animals that could not have reached certain shores any other way except by ocean travel.
I found this book illuminating and entertaining. I've read Darwin, but I am not a scientist, so some of the theoretical explanations went a bit too deep for me. But de Queiroz works hard to engage the non-scientist and his enthusiasm for his subject is hard to resist. He brings to life many interesting historical characters, such as the gentleman-explorer who influenced Darwin and the passionate, if wrong-headed, Leon Croizat, who thought Darwin "congenitally not a thinker."
The reader does a great job with material which, while very well written, can be dense in its exhaustive detail.
I bought this book on a whim and I'm very glad I did. I learned a lot.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Persuasion audiobook cover art

Great tale, well told and read

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

Reviewed: 03-05-14

This is one of my favorite Austen novels and I loved the BBC Radio 4 version with Juliet Stevenson in the role of Anne Elliot. She seems to understand the heroine's inner conflicts better than anyone else. Stevenson brings all of her sensitivity and training as an actress to this reading. Simply beautifully done.
In every Austen novel, there are the silly characters whom Austen meant to be comical, but whose persistent idiocy irritate me to the point where I just skip over their parts. They are almost always women, the worst being Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, although Miss Bates in Emma and Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility are similar, if lesser, annoyances. But in Persuasion, the silly character happens to be a man, Anne's father Mr. Elliot, and I find that, far from irritating, Mr. Elliot is one of the funniest and most ridiculous characters in Austen's fiction. Stevenson seems to appreciate him, too, for she reads his part with relish, infusing him with all the pompous self-importance Austen intended. I found myself stopping the performance and replaying those parts two and three times. Great laughs.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful