©2007 Peter May; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I down-loaded this book because I'd greatly enjoyed the author's The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man. But I was disappointed by The Critic. It's a curious mix of a very slow detective novel weighed down with far too much detail about the processes involved in wine making and tasting. I'm actually very interested in these subjects but would prefer to read about them in a book by a real expert. As a scientist I was a bit irritated by some erroneous 'facts'.
The sex scenes seem grafted in to make the book a bit racier and the author seems obsessed by women with large breasts, which proliferated through the book!
Peter May always delivers a good quality detective drama with a human warts and all hero who is human and fallible; not at all like the indestructible heroes of some detective stories. The plot moves fast, the characters are well sketched and have depth. The story is believable and I enjoyed every minute of it. Especially good is the French background, where Peter May obviously knows his France.
I haven't finished the book yet but so far I am enjoying it and am quite happy with the wine making details. However I made the mistake of listening to this immediately after the first Enzo book. Somehow Enzo has gone from a believable Scot to a rather plummy Englishman. Maybe if you listened to this book in isolation it wouldn't matter so much but I am finding it quite distracting from the plot. A case of try before you buy perhaps. Glad to see that the other Audible offerings in the series are back to the original narrator.
Love Peter May's books-the critic was no exception but found the narration irritating- Enzo shouldn't speak in a posh English accent!
If feel the characters are great and I invested in them in the first book in Series, I was looking forward to the second book, however I could not get past the French accent of the narrator. In fact after three hours I could bear it no longer and gave up. I love the way Peter May develops the characters and the plot, and Enzo is a great central character.
I never got there, Sorry!!
Great story and characters
We have enjoyed Peter May's writing style and other characters very much. His first Enzo book was just as good as the Lewis series. This one however was totally spoilt by James Adams' narration. We no longer have a Scottish Enzo but an English one and the French is more 'Allo 'Allo meets Inspector Clouseau. We were in fits of giggles quite regularly. The story is a little protracted in some areas and we were willing it along and the regular mentions of large breasts were becoming predictable. I'm sorry to not have liked this one and we will be moving on to the next Enzo book with the relief of being back with Simon Vance!
Not a bad story but VERY distracting performance by James Adams. Almost gave up a couple of times and laughed out loud at some points. Every French character sounded in a dire mood! Looking forward to next story with different narrator
A reasonable tale spoiled by the ridiculous accents used by the narrator. Whether the accents be French, Scottish or North American they're equally bad. I've listened to the first two of this series and they both have the same issues. No more for me I think.
The book was hard to get into but after perseverance I got caught up with the plot and couldn't switch off . The narrator had a hard job with all the different accents but once again inti the story and I found he was pulling it off.
I am about to start Blacklight Blue in the hope that Simon Vance can restore my enjoyment of Peter May tales.
James Adams attempts at any accent or at indicating female characters speach were irritating and distracting and spoilt 'The Critic' - so no, I will avoid his performances.
The story seemed weaker than usual and of course the performance killed it.
"Only a Fair Mystery"
Compared to the first book in the series, it felt like the author was reaching with this one. There seemed to be a lot of exposition that was not introduced very seamlessly - a lot about winemaking that felt like the author was saying "look what I found out about winemaking as I reseached this book!"
There was important detail necessary to the story; it just could have been more artfully introduced.
The denoument seemed sort of flat.
I listened to the first book and this, the second. I may give the third a try.
I thought it was ridiculous to give the characters outrageous French accents (to quote Monty Python) when, after all, they were all ostensibly speaking in French. In the first book, everyone had a regular (British) accent and Enzo had a Scottish accent. That seemed a much more appropriate approach.
It was actually a bit painful to listen to. Whoever was supervising the recording could have done a much better job.
This is book two in a multi-volume series.
This book was recommended to me by a friend who had read the paper version. It is, however, on of only two Audible books I have had to trash before finishing. What disappointment!
The initial problem was that the narrator, who would be quite good if he was reading a book about upper-class, stiff-upper-lipped British characters was reading a book in which the hero is half Scot and half Italian and who lives in France.
The accents were most unconvincing even though the narrator seems to pride himself on his pronunciation of French nouns. He no doubt does it well... for an upper-class Englishman.
The writing seemed to me to be trite and, therefore, painful. I had just finished listening to "Diamond Dust" which is well written and well read (British) and then moved to "Stranger in Paradise" (Robert B parker) which also captures the way people might really speak (USA) and the contrast with "The Critic" cause me to review/complain about the latter.
Don't waste your credits.
"Murder and winemaking in the south of France"
Enzo Macleod, a college professor who used to be a crack forensic technician, accepts the challenge to solve the seven most famous unsolved murders in France. This is the 2nd book of the Enzo Files series. Enzo is off to a small country town to solve the murder of a famous wine critic. The same elements that made the first book such a treat are all here: a brutal murder, a mysterious secret society, tons of history, local color and Enzo's women troubles (daughters, an ex(?)-girlfriend, and a new lover.)
Unfortunately, I started the series with the first book in the series, Dry Bones. Simon Vance, the narrator on the first book, was switched out with James Adams on this book. Simon Vance did such a terrific job on the first book, it took me a while to get used to the new voice. Problem was compounded by the fact much of the books are in first person, so the change in narrators was more distracting than it might have been. I toughed it out though, and was glad I did by the end of the book. 4 stars.
"Interesting crime, disappointing motive"
In The Critic, Enzo takes on another cold case: a body pickled in wine. He has to deal with local police obstruction, appearance of another pickled body, and several attempts to kill him.
He has a parade of people dropping in on his small, rented cottage. Each contributes to the case with his/her own skill set.
There is much information about growing grapes, harvesting them, production of wine, rating wine, and local vintners' jealousies. Enzo makes a trip to the US with soil samples to be assayed and compared to the wine from the newest body.
Needless to say, Enzo solves the crime and ties in a string of local disappearances.
This audiobook's biggest disappointment, for me, is the narrator. His use of phony, haughty, Inspector Clousseau-like French accents is not appropriate for this book. If he had just narrated, it would have been much better. In fact, in the parts where he does drop the accents, it flows well.
The second disappointment is the motive. After a big build up of odd murders, obvious obstructions to their solution, and near death experiences, the motive seems very thin.
In spite of the disappointments, I enjoyed listening to the book. I am still an Enzo fan and I will move on to the other books. I see that the narration has returned to Simon Vance which should be a huge improvement.
Very good read with moments of quirky humour amidst the mystery and intrigue. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
"Liked it dispite the other reviews..."
I like this series. If "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" is the best audiobook I've listened to, with a Neil Gamin book as second, this isn't a masterpiece but for me it is very enjoyable.
The reviews of James Adams really put me off for a while about getting the 2nd book in the series. Eventually I got it anyway.
It's not bad - I like the Simon Vance narration better but ??? Come on! It was fine.
"Weak story, lousy narration"
I'm a big Fan of Peter May, but didn't think this book comes close to the first Enzo book,let alone the three Lewis books, which are truly excellent. There are too many coincidences, and the motive that is eventually revealed is completely unconving. Enzo is supposed to be a forensic scientist. But, he comes across as foolish much of the time. The choice of narrator for the Critic was definitely disastrous. Enzo is a highly educated Scott from Glasgow. He should have a Scottish accent, not the BBC intonations that the narrator provides. Even worse was the narrator's attempt to mimic American accents. Don't British actors watch American television and movies? I can usually overlooked dialect faults in the narrator, but this narration was truly painful.
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