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Publisher's Summary

Book One: The Scandal at Bletchley

"I've been a scoundrel, a thief, a blackmailer and a whore, but never a murderer. Until now..."

The year is 1929. As the world teeters on the brink of a global recession, Bletchley Park plays host to a rather special event. MI5 is celebrating its twentieth anniversary and a select band of former and current employees are gathering for a weekend of music, dance and heavy drinking. Among them is Sir Hilary Manningham-Butler, a middle aged woman whose entire adult life has been spent masquerading as a man. She doesn't know why she has been invited - it is many years since she left the secret service - but it is clear she is not the only one with things to hide. And when one of the other guests threatens to expose her secret, the consequences could prove disastrous for everyone.

Book Two: The Red Zeppelin

"You'll never get me up in one of those things. They're absolutely lethal."

Seville, 1931. Six months after the loss of the British airship the R101, a German Zeppelin is coming in to land in Southern Spain.

Hilary Manningham-Butler is an MI5 operative eking out a pitiful existence on the Rock of Gibraltar. The offer of a job in the Americas provides a potential lifeline but there are strings attached. First she must prove her mettle to her masters in London and that means stepping on board the Richthofen before the airship leaves Seville.

A cache of secret documents has been stolen from Scotland Yard and the files must be recovered if British security is not to be severely compromised. Hilary must put her life on the line to discover the identity of the thief. But as the airship makes its way across the Atlantic towards Brazil it becomes clear that nobody on board is quite what they seem. And there is no guarantee that any of them will reach Rio de Janeiro alive.

©2015, 2016 Jack Treby (P)2017 Jack Treby

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    5 out of 5 stars

What an interesting premise!

I listened to the sample on Audible and was hooked from the start. I had the opportunity to ask the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review, and I jumped at it.

Jack Trebi did a wonderful job writing and narrating this story. The pacing is not too fast nor too slow, but just right to keep me engaged and expectant.

The story borrows from the right genre tropes to feel comfortable and familiar, while also developing well on its own. There is a healthy dose of humor, too! There were so many interesting characters too, even if few as intriguing as the middle-aged woman protagonist who masquerades as a man. The second book was my favorite, because when you are on a confined space - such as a zeppelin - there isn't much leeway for error.

The change of narrators was more felt because this is contains two books, I believe it would be less of an impact had it been two separate books. Still, Angela Dawe is a talented narrator and though it took me a bit to get used to a new voice I appreciate the new air she breathed into the story.

I will certainly read more from this author and listen to both narrators in the future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Leslie F.
  • LONG BEACH, CA, United States
  • 04-14-17

Fun and exciting series

I had previously read the second book in this series (The Red Zeppelin) and really liked it, so I was excited to get this collection, which contains both the first and second book together. I think that the pacing of the stories is really great - you won't be bored. The characters are interesting, especially the main character, who is a middle-aged woman masquerading as a man. That aspect of the book reminded me of "The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter" series - another series of books I enjoyed. There is quite a bit of humor, excitement, and even a few twists that I didn't expect. I listened to the Audible edition of this book. It was a little weird in that the first book was narrated by the author, Jacky Treby, and the second book was narrated by Angela Dawe. I would have liked the same narrator in the collection. It was hard having a picture in my mind of the character based on the voice of Treby, only to have it change in the second book based on Dawe's voice. Overall, this is a fun and exciting series. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Kept me guessing

Would you consider the audio edition of The Hilary Manningham-Butler Mysteries to be better than the print version?

I loved the audio. It brings everything to life. I got so caught up in the story.

What other book might you compare The Hilary Manningham-Butler Mysteries to and why?

It was a lot like the Flashman novels which I adore and Agatha Christie too. The second book was quite thrillerish. I was sure I knew whodunnit but I was totally wrong.

Have you listened to any of Jack Treby and Angela Dawe ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have heard Angela Dawe before. She's awesome. I love the way she reads. This is the first Jack Treby Ive listened to. His voice is just so right for this story

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Look before you leap!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Save Your Money

The narration is HORRIBLE. Nay, horrible squared times ten. I could not get past the first hour of the book. I think I may have enjoyed the story, but the author's narration ruined it for me. This was the waste of a perfectly good monthly fee/credit.

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Thoroughly enjoyable

The only negative is that the narrator isn't consistent from book to book, that threw me off at first, but ultimately both narrators were fabulous.

I love a good "who done it" mystery and these both delivered! I also loved the fact that "Sir" Hillary is not a typical sleuth as it really keeps the reader in the dark.

I hope that the author writes more for this series!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable

I was sent the audiobook in exchange for an honest review

Scandal at Bletchley Park Manor

A group of MI5 agents are invited to an anniversary weekend at Blechley Park. Everyone, it seems, has secrets. Sir Hilary Manningham-Butler is the narrator of the story and the listeners soon learn his secret. Others slowly emerge as the story continues. I found the story interesting, with twists that leave the reader/listener guessing until the very end.

I liked the historic feel of the story; I found the narrator's voice okay, although I thought his attempts at different accents slip at times, but it was enough to establish and keep the characters straight and individual.

The Red Zeppelin

I found this one more humourous than the first book as Sir Hilary must break in a new valet and finds him irritating.

This story finds him in Seville, and forced to take a trip on a zeppelin to catch a thief. Mayhem and mischief ensue. Another ensemble of characters to meet and try to figure out who did what and why. The author does a good job of playing things close to the chest until the very end, with a few surprises thrown in along the way.


Very enjoyable.

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An ejoyable mash-up (or two!)

A classically British crime caper, the first book A Scandal At Bletchley is a fun mash-up of Downton Abbey, Agatha Christie and James Bond.

The protagonist, Hilary Manningham-Butler, is a woman who has spent most of her life living as a man and a lot of fun is had with the difficulties this entails. The narrative is both fresh and familiar, with Jack Treby’s mastery of pace and narrative suspense making for an engaging read. The author shows little interest in straying from the traditional tropes of the mystery genre but this is not necessarily to its detriment. The dialogue is animated, the plot is genuinely riveting, and while a couple of the characters are fairly obvious, they are brought to life with a fullness that excuses any lack of originality.

In the second book we cross the Atlantic, on board a German airship, and the story takes in government secrets, cross-dressing and Spanish kings. The Red Zeppelin maintains the narrative drive of the first story with a suspenseful and diverting plot. This book has a different narrator and, though the two readers differ considerably in approach, they both put in a solid turn. Angela Dawes fairly rattles through the story while Jack Treby takes considerable delight in the comic potential of his characters. In short, a fun easy listen.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Narration ruined a possibly good comedy of errors

There were a few curiously interesting plot constructs and a couple of 'likeable' characters.

I had to try and ignore the voice of both narrators to appreciate the actual story and try to discern the possibilities of this story.

The various voices of men, women, English, American, French German were jarring and detracted from the content. The internal voice of Hilary was often lost
The style of speech of a privately educated upper crust male is quite idiosyncratic and the Hilary voice did not reveal this.
The clipped and plosive speech at times was inappropriate and irritating as were the upper inflections at the end of many remarks and responses

There were plot issues too. At various times I wondered what position Hillary could have held in a secret service or how it came to be he was well regarded by his section head.
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Similarly how the North England couple could have been well regarded sufficient to include them in the 'knees up 'was a mystery.
The journo of all people would have been aware of the possibilities of Hilary's unusual position. Not even a 'good news story' would be sufficient for his actions.Had he been working for a rival agency his actions may have made sense.
Even allowing for individual idiosyncrasies and motivation many characters were implausible in their roles.


As this story is read, the story is lost and for me the story fails. The sad thing is, it is the author who narrates and I imagine the author has an internal ear for the voices of his/her characters.

These two stories could possibly be redeemed by a more appropriate narration.