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Publisher's Summary

London had Sherlock Holmes. The dark alleys of Edinburgh had Inspector McLevy.

Known as the father of forensics and a likely influence on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, real-life police inspector James McLevy is here reinvented by David Ashton in a thrilling mystery - the first in a series - set in dark, violent Victorian Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, 1880. Election fever grips the city. But while the rich and educated argue about politics, in the dank wynds of the docks it's a struggle just to stay alive. When a prostitute is brutally murdered, disturbing memories from 30 years ago are stirred in Inspector McLevy, who is soon lured into a murky world of politics, perversion and deception - and the shadow of the serpent.

©2016 David Ashton (P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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    8
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Story

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

Really struggling to finish this!

What would have made Shadow of the Serpent better?

Somebody else reading it. He is overly dramatic and I can hear him licking his lips and swallowing, which is really distracting. The performance is too much, much like the typical over enthusiastic thespian.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Shadow of the Serpent?

I`m really disappointed as the story seems really quite good and well written, but I cant listen to anymore of this. I might read the book though - fingers crossed that I don`t have that voice in my head when I do.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of David Ashton?

Anybody!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cindy
  • Missouri
  • 07-15-16

Dark drama

The author is a Scottish actor and his throaty whispers and heavy accent greatly enhance the story once the ear adjusts to them. It's a dark, Jack the Ripper type story but with enough difference to make it compelling drama. I was driven to look up the facts about the two great historical figures in the novel and the book became a learning experience as well.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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

Another 3 1/2 Star

I would have given this book a 3 1/2 stars just to be fair, as it just wasn't the book for me and I want to be fair. I might try it again in a few months and perhaps it will fit me better then, I will let you know then.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too much work!

I usually listen to audio books to relax, but getting into this one was not relaxing. There was far too much time spent on politics (both the national kind and within the police department) making work to remember a lot of the historical detail. Personally, I had trouble getting through it.

The reader has a fairly thick Scottish accent which is hard to get used to, it would lend atmosphere to the story, but he also seems to be a bit overdramatic and it's distracting to hear him breathing and licking his lips.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • K
  • 02-20-17

Worshipping at his own literary shrine.

I both agree and disagree with previous reviewers. David Ashton loves what he's written and he's going to make sure you savour every one of his words. Thus, the narration is, without doubt, more than a little self-congratulatory. Sometimes is it annoying: he rolls certain words round in his mouth for half an hour before spitting them out and, frankly, the occasional sighing and hushed reverence he gives certain passages is nauseatingly smug.

Having said that, the novel is a good read, intriguing of plot and with plenty of dashes of light humour. The characters are interesting and have enough originality mixed with reassuring stereotypes to keep this work engaging and yet safe.

Ashton does do a great job with the accents; I love the realism of some of the gutter expressions and colloquialisms. My mum, being a Scot, and using words like 'breeks' helped make the regional expressions more amusing to my trained ear than, perhaps, a novice one but it certainly adds authentic colour.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • homebeam
  • 06-22-16

Masterly performance by David Ashton

What about David Ashton’s performance did you like?

I read a review which said David Ashton's performance was distracting but I thought it was brilliant. The atmosphere he created was alternatively creepy, funny and thrilling. I wan't sure in the end if the story was quite as good as the performance but I enjoyed it so much I didn't want it to stop.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Lynne F
  • 06-26-18

Overly melodramatic

The narration was so awful that I couldn’t get past it to really appreciate if it was good story or not! Very disappointing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jacky Thompson
  • 06-22-18

Difficult to listen to

I've tried to listen to this book a number of times and really can't get in to it. I'm not sure if it is the story or the narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Talbot
  • 03-22-18

Not for me

Found the narration didn*t hold my interest and stopped me engaging with the plot. Bought as an offer - a mistake on my part.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • 07-05-18

Well

I am sure that the story is good but the narration is awful. No author should read there own novels unless they are an actor

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Louise
  • 06-17-18

Read with passion,

if you enjoyed the radio plays this is a close as you can get without a full cast drama. Read in such a way that it almost seems the same as the radio plays

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • J Blackmur
  • 06-04-18

Really not sure

This was one of the most difficult books to ‘get into’ that I have listened to. Ever. And I’m not sure why...it was a good story, perhaps read with too much inflection on occasion, which for me was almost soporific, rather than atmospheric. The author obviously loves his material, and wants to breathe life into every precious sentence, so maybe it’s just me...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sophie
  • 06-02-18

Very enjoyable once you get used to the reader

Engaging and very entertaining, with lots of colourful descriptions of 19th Century Edinburgh, a interesting plot and some laugh out loud moments I really enjoyed this book. Be warned however, the reader - the author himself - has quite an unusually dramatic style, where sometimes his voice drops to an almost inaudible whisper which caused me to be frequently adjusting my volume levels. He is also at times extremely drawn out and slow - but I found by setting my speed to 1.5x the pace was perfect. Looking forward to more (speeded up) adventures with inspector McLevy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Morgana
  • 05-04-18

Well worth a listen

Really enjoyed this book, great reader. Full of atmosphere and tension, looking forward to listening to another.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • soo jay
  • 11-29-16

Great performance spoiled by poor record recording

David Ashton gives a marvellous performance here, but I could not listen all the way through as the recording captures too much "mouth noise". I wonder if there is someway to rectify this?