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Harrow

  • 24
  • reviews
  • 35
  • helpful votes
  • 91
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  • Operation Mincemeat

  • The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II
  • By: Ben Macintyre
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 514
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 371
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 368

From the best-selling author of Agent Zigzag, the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. One April morning in 1943, a sardine fisherman spotted the corpse of a British solder floating in the sea off the coast of Spain and set in train a course of events that would change the course of the Second World War.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just Brilliant

  • By Brian on 11-03-12

Wonderful tale of wartime espionage

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-03-18

I have never read a book of this genre before but thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this incredible tale.

The writing is excellent : characters are developed to become rounded humans, and their personalities play an important part in how the planned deception unfolds. The narrative is very well paced to be both detailed and gripping.

The book balances an evaluation of military events, to my mind reasonable and measured, with lots of colour and humour. It constantly reminds the reader that WW2 was fought by many types of people, some very far removed from the typical idea of a soldier and yet all men and women contributed to the war effort. It also shows that personal lives, relationships and careers continues even in the shadow of war.

A great binge listen.

  • Fire and Fury

  • By: Michael Wolff
  • Narrated by: Michael Wolff, Holter Graham
  • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,524
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,243
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,225

The first nine months of Donald Trump's term were stormy, outrageous - and absolutely mesmerising. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, best-selling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself. In this explosive audiobook, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Over the top?

  • By Joanna Reesby on 18-01-18

An incredible book : probably literally.

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

Reviewed: 08-01-18

It reads like a page turner, is a very easy listen, and well worth your time.

I couldn't stop thinking that most of it may not be very reliable but it remained a compelling listen.

There will be a lot of discussion about how accurate the book is, and on individual details it will almost certainly be well off the mark, but the overall theme - that the most powerful man on Earth, devoid of clear political or social agenda beyond gaining approval for the sake of it, is being manipulated by rival advisors / family members - rings alarmingly true.

There is example after example of a situation being handled disastrously by a man who has surrounded himself with inexperienced staff who will not challenge him. It's hilarious, terrifying, and compulsive listening.

The Russia link is - I think - covered well and the dangers to the administration outlined succinctly.

It ends with the chilling idea that Trump will not last but he is merely an unwitting prelude to a wider, and far darker, movement that aims to gain control of American politics.

Recommended (but don't believe everything you hear).

  • Babylon Berlin

  • Gereon Rath, Book 1
  • By: Volker Kutscher
  • Narrated by: Mark Meadows
  • Length: 18 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 79
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 74

Berlin, 1929. Detective Inspector Rath was a successful career officer in the Cologne Homicide Division before a shooting incident in which he inadvertently killed a man. He has been transferred to the vice squad in Berlin, a job he detests even though he finds a new friend in his boss, Chief Inspector Wolter. There is seething unrest in the city, and the Commissioner of Police has ordered the vice squad to ruthlessly enforce the ban on May Day demonstrations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Atmospheric, yet predictable, police procedural

  • By Harrow on 03-01-18

Atmospheric, yet predictable, police procedural

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

Reviewed: 03-01-18

I found this book to be very enjoyable but not genuinely gripping.

The atmosphere of 1920's Berlin comes through strongly which is just as well because the plot and characters are not particularly memorable.

The characters are the usual police procedural line up: lonely male with troubled past; senior officer showing him how to bend the rules; politically minded police chiefs; independent and very gorgeous young woman ; pseudo-sophisticated crime lord . . . I felt it was only the historical context which lifted the book. The Nazis, the communists and the ravers prowling the city were the most enjoyable parts of the book.

Narration is excellent and I will probably go on to explore the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien

  • Inspector Maigret; Book 4
  • By: Georges Simenon, Linda Coverdale (translator)
  • Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong
  • Length: 3 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 59
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 49

Georges Simenon's haunting tale about the lengths to which people will go to escape from guilt, translated by Linda Coverdale as part of the new Penguin Maigret series. A first ink drawing showed a hanged man swinging from a gallows on which perched an enormous crow. And there were at least twenty other etchings and pen or pencil sketches that had the same leitmotif of hanging. On the edge of a forest: a man hanging from every branch.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The follies of youth

  • By Monsieur Ghost on 07-07-14

A master craftsman

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-11-17

A short book, and the better for it.

Relatively little happens ( in comparison to a typical crime novel ) but the precise and measured way in which the themes are developed and explored is exceptional.

Simenon completely blurs any distinction between crime and literature. Another reason he should be celebrated.

  • The Night the Rich Men Burned

  • By: Malcolm Mackay
  • Narrated by: Angus King
  • Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28

There's nothing so terrifying as money.... Two friends, Alex Glass and Oliver Peterkinney, look for work and for escape from their lives spent growing up on Glasgow's most desperate fringes. Soon they will become involved in one of the city's darkest and most dangerous trades. But while one rises quickly up the ranks, the other will fall prey to the industry's addictive lifestyle and ever-spiralling debts.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More of the same ; works for me

  • By Harrow on 07-01-17

More of the same ; works for me

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

Reviewed: 07-01-17

This novel is set the same world as the Glasgow trilogy, and some characters from those books appear.

It is a stand alone tale. The writing is deceptively simple, and it's very much a plot driven crime novel. Nothing profound or particularly thought provoking but an extremely engaging, easy read nonetheless.

The narration is fine, some of the stresses grated me a little but overall the narrator suits the book well enough.

One tip : skip through the very long list of characters at the opening of the novel. You won't need them - this isn't Tolstoy - and all characters are introduced fully in the text. This list might be fine in print but really adds nothing to an audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Any Human Heart

  • By: William Boyd
  • Narrated by: Mike Grady
  • Length: 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 735
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 574
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 571

Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart's - lived from the beginning to the end of the 20th century - contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in '60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A poignant journey through a man's life

  • By Kirstine on 19-03-12

A twentieth century life

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

Reviewed: 07-04-16


The novel consists of the memories of one man who lived a remarkable life throughout the twentieth century. Each section of the book explores a phase of his life in detail. The protagonist lives across the world, and meets a wide array of characters in his pursuit of happiness, meaning, and, quite often, sex. Some sections are stronger than others, but the whole thing holds together well enough, and you really do come to relate to the main character, who is not always the most likeable of figures. It reminded me of A Dance to the Music of Time, in that historical events and figures often make cameo appearances, and the same few characters will crop up at different parts of the century.

If you like William Boyd, then this won't disappoint.

If you've never read William Boyd then this is a good place to start, although anyone wanting a more exciting page turner might enjoy 'Before Sunrise' to this book.

  • American Tabloid

  • By: James Ellroy
  • Narrated by: Jeff Harding
  • Length: 19 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 76
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 70

It's 1958. America is about to emerge into a bright new age - an age that will last until the 1,000 days of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Three men move beneath the glossy surface of power, men allied to the makers and shakers of the era. Peter Bondurant, Howard Hughes’ right-hand man, Jimmy Hoffa’s hit man. Kemper Boyd, employed by J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate the Kennedy clan. Ward Littell, a man seeking redemption in Bobby Kennedy’s drive against organised crime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Histrionics

  • By Luke on 25-09-15

Perfect narration of a near perfect novel

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-04-16


American Tabloid is a monster of a novel written in a distinctive, and powerful, voice.

I loved the book when I first read it, but the audio version is just so much more fun. The narrator is absolutely on the money for every individual voice, and the overall tone of the whole work.

It's a superb performance, and even if you have read the book, I would recommend this without hesitation. It's a hell of a ride.

  • The Remains of the Day

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Dominic West
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,213
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,121
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,116

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House. In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside – and into his past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • heartbreaking

  • By Emily Essex on 14-05-16

Measured and masterly

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-04-16


Dominic West gives a very measured performance in this audiobook which, in my opinion, does justice to the excellent novel.

Very little happens in the course of the novel, which is a study of the values and beliefs of one elderly man who has spent his life in service at a great stately home. It is a patient, and perfect, examination of why he has lived a life in this way, and why he seems unable to act differently. However, the writing is of such a standard that the audiobook soon becomes compulsive listening. West is particularly strong when showing the excitement and significance the character places on events which at first glance may appear banal, which is central to the entire plot.

High recommended.

  • The Way We Live Now

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 32 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 517
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 362
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 356

In this world of bribes, vendettas, and swindling, in which heiresses are gambled and won, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury is 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix has 'the instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte - the colossal figure who dominates the book - is a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel...a bloated swindler...a vile city ruffian'. But as vile as he is, he is considered one of Trollope's greatest creations.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic! Fantastic!

  • By Sharon on 15-11-09

wonderful narration of classic book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-06-15

I chose this as my first Trollope because it featured on the list of 100 greatest novels in The Guardian.

More than anything, the narration is captivating, and this makes a long text seem like a pleasant journey rather than a task to be completed.

The book itself is excellent : hypocrisy, social ambition and greed in high (ish) society are lampooned in a way that resonates strongly in the current financial climate. The love sub-plots (apparently something common to all Trollope books) are less satisfying, but do not detract from the overall success of the book.

I loved this listen, and might have a crack at another Trollope (definitely not a patch on Dickens for me, but still a lot to like), largely because the narration is of the highest order. This book would get into my top 100, but wouldn't threaten the top 75, so if this is the 'best' Trollope, then perhaps it might be better to quit here, but I can imagine Timothy West pulling me back, especially in a 2 for 1 offer . . .

  • A Dance to the Music of Time: Second Movement

  • By: Anthony Powell
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 20 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46

Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The narrative moves on

  • By Kirstine on 20-07-13

modern classic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-06-15

writing a review of the second movement is perhaps a waste of time: if you've encountered - and completed - the first, then surely you will be hooked. I read the first movement, and was so glad to listen to the rest.

simon vance is a superb narrator of powell, and captures the comedy running through the novels very well indeed. widmerpool is a creation of absolute genius. these are long reads, which could not be described as page turners, that I found myself captivated by.

the books themselves are, for me, as good as writing gets. they are often criticised for focusing on the lives of the upper classes, but i don't think that is valid. the books offer a wonderful insight into british society in the first half of the century.

I cannot recommend these books highly enough. Not everyone will enjoy them, but those who do will absolutely adore them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful