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
I use audible because I am too lazy to hold a book.
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.
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.
Yes, what's not to love if you are a Historical mystery/crime fan? There are great charactors and twists and turns in the plot...just good fun! Having listened to all of the McLevy radio series (9 and 10 on pre-order) I listened to the Shadow of the Serpent. Whilst I prefer the radio series, as there are more actors in it and I have grown to love each of them for their charactorisation, once I settled into listening to David Ashton's reading, I have really enjoyed the audio book. What a talented man he is!!!
I dip in and out over several days and listen when needing a little time to relax or when doing some mindless chore e.g. ironing :-) The reading allows me too be spirited away to Edinburgh.
Now ready to order the next audio book in the series whilst awaiting the 9 & 10 dramatised series. I feel some 'Clutter clearing' coming on and will need distraction :-)
I have had to restart this book so many times I have forgotten. Mr Ashton may have penned a brilliant book and once I got over his heavy breathing while reading and the distracting accents I did like the Scottish version of Sherlock.
But when I re- listen to a book it because I enjoyed it so much I wanted to listen to it again and several I missed first time round but I going to have to read-listen so I can understand it the second third or even fourth time.
Maybe another narrator , someone like Stephen Fry would have done justice what is a really good book.
The story was good but the narrator was poor. He read every word as though to hammer home it was a mystery. it could have been three hours shorter had he not done so. A real pity as I would like to read more stories of McLevy but can't face the narrator and will probably return this book as I won't be able to listen to it again.
"Really struggling to finish this!"
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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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