Dockerty police chief Orwell Brennan has his hands full. The town’s mayor keeps trying to use him for re-election while her slick, out-of-town challenger is smearing him every chance he gets. Meanwhile, Brennan’s middle daughter is getting married soon, his youngest is starting to notice boys, his wife has him on a diet, and someone keeps stealing his favorite cookies.
Things take an ironic turn for the worse when a Toronto police officer, who was in town to investigate a local murder, is killed in his hotel room. The victim was about to interview the eccentric local dance teacher - a former Russian ballet star who has dark secrets in her past, some unsavory associates, and a slippery way with the truth. One of Brennan’s officers teams up with the dead cop’s ex-partner, and the two uncover a ring of shady pawnbrokers, crooked cops, and Russian thugs, all of whom are after one thing: the Sacred Ember, a very rare ruby once owned by the Tsarina herself.
We get Scots reading Scottish writers, English reading English writers and Americans reading Americans, so why not Canadians reading Canadians? Then at least we'd have someone who knows how to pronounce Canadian cities and towns. I cringed every time this narrator pronounced Montreal as MON-treal (American pronunciation), instead of Mun-tree-ALL (English Canadian) -- I was cringing a lot because the complex story has a plot twist that involves Quebec.
Narrator has quite a few goofs on place names, the worst being pronouncing the Ontario town of Guelph as "Gelf" instead of "GWelf." But he also had odd ways of saying perfectly ordinary words: "umbrellla" was UM-brella, and "coaxing" was co-AXE-ing. (Heard that one on my morning run and almost tripped in disbelief.) His general reading style is robotic and bizarre, like someone who doesn't understand punctuation. His inflection would suggest sentences had ended before they actually had, or he runs on in the same monotone as if a string of sentences were one long, single sentence. It goes on like this for 11 unabridged hours.
I've listened to more than 200 audiobooks over several years and I'm usually easy-going about the narration. But this one left me feeling irritated and cheated of a good story -- not to mention the price of a credit. I hate to sound dreary and mean, but I must say that I will never purchase another audiobook narrated by Christopher Prince.
Marc Strange is a good writer, with a keen sense of plot and interesting characters. His work deserves a better reading than this.