"Stunning, Horrible, Gripping, and Awful"
I'm from Wakefield, grew up in the seventies, and this book captures what it was like to live in that desolate, dying part of of the West Riding during those horrible, dark, dark times.
We've moved on, thankfully, in some ways. Coppers are less likely to be in the pockets of businessmen (I hope), life is not the struggle it was back then, and you and you are not nearly so likely to be beaten up for having the wrong bike/clothes/hairstyle etc. But it's all here, casual violence to strangers because they are different, the nasty men, and nasty times. Eddie is often listening to the radio in his Viva, but no matter what was on, the feeling I had through out this book was the same as the darker parts of the Specials back catalogue. A decade too early, but spot on.
Other reviewers have complained about the use of the F word in it, but in that grotty little bit of West Yorkshire that's certainly how I remember it. Shouted across the street, screamed at each other and used in place of most of the rest of the English language, especially the more emotive parts, the F word was everywhere.
The plot is a slow burner but the finale is excellent. A great listen, let down a little by the frankly very poor accent of Saul Reichlin.
"I really love Camilla Lackberg novels"
But this audio book is let down by two things. The first is the at best workmanlike translation by Steven T. Murray with his usual heavy handed approach to language. Many subtleties of meaning seem to get lost and there is over use of the same phrase time after time. It is almost as if it has been translated by machine but I cannot simply put it down to being translated into American English rather than British English as I have with some of his previous translations, it's just really bad this time around.
Secondly is Eamonn Riley's delivery which seems very hurried. He does not leave enough space between sections in a chapter when the narrative moves from, for example, Patrick to Erica which means you are not sure who is speaking for a while. Similarly he leaves big gaps between paragraphs dealing with the same narrator but when listening you are expecting there to be a change and again it is confusing as to which character in the story is narrating. Finally his pronunciation of some Swedish names and places is also either off or he mumbles his way through them.
The story is actually quite good but is badly let down the translation and narration. The story alone deserves 4 stars.
"As good as Mankell gets"
If you are a Wallander fan then you simply must listen to this. It fills in the 'back story' of the gloomy and fiery tempered Swedish detective. The narration is well done, as always with Sean Barrett, although don't make the mistake I made of coming to this having just finished listening to his narration of Craig Russell's books (also excellent). It set up a weird resonance in my head that took half the book to subside.
If you are new to Mankell and Wallander, perhaps having already ready the Millenium trilogy, I would start with the first novel published 'Faceless Killers' because this prequel depends to some degree on already having some knowledge of Wallander. It explains how and why he is the way he is but sometimes omits to portray his character defects as fully as the earlier books.
"Good story from a less well known author"
This Deon Mayer book is, if anything, better than his other work available on Audible. Good story with a plot that twists and turns. The relationship between the two central characters is fascinating for the most part as both their personality clashes and sexual tension build to the final uncovering of the mental damage suffered by one of them.
And while some of the usual thiller/crime cliches are present,their protrayal in the technicolour and visceral landscape of South Africa adds enough freshness that they do not grate. A good listen
"Top class crime novel"
I'll be honest, I listened to this book not because I've ever heard of Deon Meyer, but because Saul Reichlin does the narration. No prizes for guessing where I had first enjoyed Reichlin's fantastic voice and generally good characterisations (Millennium Trilogy). However this book was a real revelation.
It does have some of the usual detective novel cliches in it (cop with a broken marriage, anyone?) but they are at least done in a refreshing way (this cop's marriage is breaking, not broken, for instance). It also shows the story from the perspective of three radically different central characters who are all easy to sympathise with and cast their subsequent actions in a light that is at least understandable if not justifiable.
The plot skips along a fair pace with none of the periods I sometimes experienced of wishing everyone would just get on with it. The jumping from character to character might be a little confusing, but this where the Audible version scores over the dead tree edition; Reichlin's characterisation of each of the participants is amazingly consistent and means that you can almost immediately know who is speaking and from what perspective this part of the tale comes from.
Last, but by no means least, is the fantastically vivid portrait that Meyer paints of South Africa, both its people and the landscape. It has that wonderful sense of place that authors like Henning Mankel create. But gone is the drearyness of the Scandinavian winter that characterises many of the Wallander books, to be replaced with the vivid colours and textures of southern Africa.
Overall a great book that is well worth the 14 hours of your life it demands.
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