I've listened to two and read another of the Nicci French books. Latterly I've discovered that it's a husband and wife writing team. I've enjoyed them all, but have to say the savagery of the descriptions of murder and torture in them did rather give me the creeps. In contrast, "What to Do when Someone Dies" is much more of a thriller in the same sort of style as Robert Goddard. There is some murder in it but there are no gory descriptions. Instead it's mainly a widow's quest to find the truth over how here husband died. The authors' write sensitively about what it's like to lose someone you love and how it feels if you fear that person was deceiving you. The story is a real roller-coaster of clues and false leads and I certainly didn't see how it would end and couldn't stop listening to find out what happened next. Highly recommended.
Kate Atkinson is such an imaginative writer and has again produced an intriguing, multi-layered story that explores different scenarios for the characters that pivot on a single event or choice in their lives that leads to quite different outcomes. There's an undercurrent of mysticism over the possibility of re-incarnation and the notion that time is fluid such that the past and future can intrude into the present.
The narrative switches back and forth in time from 1910 to 1967. You might think that this would be confusing in an audio book, but this is not the case: The time periods are clearly sign-posted and the characters seem so familiar that one remembers what happened to them in the other scenarios. The book is rich in period detail, particularly those during the Second World War. I was sorry when the book finished as I had felt so absorbed by the characters lives and made to think about how ones life can change direction in an instant.
The narrator is very good.
I can understand JK Rowling's desire to be judged on the merits of her first foray into detective fiction, but it was not to be. Whoever wrote this book has created a pacy story that keeps one listening. I read a lot of detective fiction and think her story well-constructed with well-developed characters. She's used many of the stock features of this genre: the principle detective (in this case a private detective) coming into the story following a broken relationship with a past that has left him wounded emotionally and physically. Incessant references to smoking and drinking, probably realistic but a bit hackneyed. I maybe lead a sheltered life but do many people use the 'F' word so frequently as a noun, verb and adjective as in this book? Even the most foul-mouthed must be stretched to use it about half a dozen times in the one short sentence! Despite this I did enjoy the book. It may be presumptuous to give advice to such a prestigious writer, but I think using Latin aphorisms to introduce the different parts of the book struck me as pretentious in a detective novel and smacks of a writer feeling that the genre is below them and that they have to show their academic credentials. It's a very popular form and high quality writing adds greatly to the pleasure and JK Rowling writes well and I hope that she will write some more books featuring Cormoron Strike.
A great deal of credit is due to Robert Glenister who does a magnificent job of bringing the book alive.