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Clash of cultures.

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

Reviewed: 04-07-20

I always find it fascinating to read about other cultures, but this was a striking clash between traditions: a young woman is brought up in a Bangladeshi family in Britain but then sent to be married off in Bangladesh. Neither the girl nor the boy want the match but they are given no choice, the fathers have made a deal.
It reminded me of a biography I read many years ago, Sold by Zana Muhsen, when two sisters were sent back to Yemen by their father. It is heartbreaking to realise that this still goes on and that some people can be so cruel and unfeeling to their own children.

Although the subject matter is important and the book carries a significant message, I couldn't rate it highly as I didn't feel it was well written. The narration by Chiquito Joaquim Crasto was excellent for the voices of the fathers but difficult to listen to for the narrative.

Full marks for the ending, which took me by surprise.

Murder in Atlantic City

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

Reviewed: 01-06-20

This was the first book in a series of murder mysteries featuring Damian Dickens and his lawyer Gus. I enjoyed getting to know 'Dick' and found him to be an endearing character, as he solved the mystery of the death of his former client, Celine Sutherland.

Celine's body was found under the Altlantic City Boardwalk (pier?), soon after she came to Dick for help. He feels responsible for her death and blames himself for not being able to protect her. The clues, however, suggest that Damien Dickens himself, was responsible for her murder and he is duly arrested.
Celine's sister and brother-in-law are owners of a huge tobacco concern and there is much family conniving and interaction, which gives an interesting twist to the plot.

My one issue with the book was the excessive description of what everyone was wearing whenever they entered the story, which became irritating after a while.

This was an enjoyable first book, paving the way for future adventures, ably narrated by Tom Lennon, although his female voices were less convincing. I am looking forward to Book 2.

Another murder in Wales.

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

Reviewed: 17-04-20

Goodness, book 6 already. This is the furthest I have ever got through a series. And I'm sure that one of the reasons I've become so invested with this particular series is the sultry Welsh tones of the narrator, Richard Elfyn. No disrespect meant to the author, but what better combination is there that an excellent author supported by the perfect narrator?

I now know Inspector Drake well enough that I would recognise him if I were to pass him in the street. Unfortunately I'm a long way from his Welsh haunts (and I'm not allowed out on the street anyway!). He is currently on his third side-kick, Sara. (Has the author worked his way through the previous contenders and decided Sara is the best fit?) I like Sara, but if I'm honest, she has less character than her predecessors. Hopefully we are going to get to know her a bit better now that Drake has a new lady in his life, the lovely Annie.

So, on to the investigation that is the central theme of the book. An eminent barrister is found murdered in his holiday home, in a fashion that reminds Drake of a particularly nasty series of past murders. (Murders in Wales do seem to be rather brutal and exhibitionist, I must admit, and they rarely come singly either). Over the course of the Easter holiday, Drake and Sara battle against false leads and conflicting information, to find an explanation for this death and prevent further loss of life.

I was listening to this over the Easter period, which made it all the more poignant, but it was the ending of the book that raised this from a 4 to 5 star read and cost me an hour and a half of sleep. I now have book 7 lined up and I am very much looking forward to spending more time with Drake and Sara.

Land Girls

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

Reviewed: 13-03-20

I really enjoyed this book, it was just the right balance between happy and sad, loving and losing. And reading it in the middle of the Coronavirus scare, it kind of put all our current concerns into perspective. These people were worrying for their families and young men for years on end, I have no idea how they coped.

The two main characters are young women who volunteer to help farm the land while the men are off at war. They were known as the Land Girls. They did all the work previously done by the men and they worked long hours.
Frieda was a German Jew, sent out of her country with hundreds of other children, to save them from being sent to the concentration camps. She struck lucky with Doris, a very caring step-mother, but her worries for her family haunt her. She meets Sandra, raised in an orphanage after the death of her mother, she has only her brother Alf for family and he has volunteered with a bomber squadron.
The two girls recognise the similarities in their situations and strike a firm bond.

Through hard work, love affairs, bomb attacks and food shortages, the girls get through the war and help each other to survive. I was very surprised to find that one of them had eating issues, I had thought that a modern problem.

The narration of my audiobook was excellently done by Rosie Jones, who did a fabulous job with the accents of the two girls.

Shirley Dickson was a new author to me and one I shall look out for in the future.

1 person found this helpful

Man overboard!

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

Reviewed: 05-03-20

I enjoy these cruise ship mysteries, even though cruising itself doesn't really call to me. I am becoming fond of the characters and love the sleuthing that goes on in each subsequent novel.

In this episode we have Rachel Price, accompanied by her elderly friend, Lady Marjorie Snellthorpe. They are barely on board, when a body tumbles over the side. Rachel is a Police Constable by profession and would happily leave the problem to the security professionals on the ship. Marjorie, on the other hand, can't resist a challenge and encourages Rachel to start snooping around.

There are some fun characters on this cruise, including the smarmy Freddie Mercury look-alike, who obviously has several enemies. Then there's an energetic stag party and a group of excitable female cheerleaders, which is bound to be a volatile combination. Rachel's friend, Sarah is travelling with them again and Chief Waverley, head of Security is responsible for solving the murder.

I enjoyed the narration by Alex Lee, in very correct English and with such a soothing lilt that I fell asleep on the plane while listening and had to replay the last few chapters three times!

I see that Dawn Brookes is releasing book 6 of this series in March and I hope that they will all be available on audio soon.

Murder in the art world.

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

Reviewed: 01-03-20

This was another enjoyable listen from Stephen Puleston. It didn't matter that I had jumped from #3 to #5, missing out #4 - Drake's relationship status is a little different, but otherwise he's the same thorough police officer, dealing with his personal issues in his own inimitable fashion.
Again the narration was by the excellent Richard Elfyn, with his wonderful Welsh accent, saving me from murdering the names of the places and mispronouncing the characters.

This murder case had art as its theme, a rare bonus for me; I think I have only read one other novel centred around art and I loved that one too. The murder victims are presented to represent a famous art installation, such as Tracy Emin's Unmade Bed. Drake and his new sidekick, DS Sara Morgan, must find a motive amongst several suspects within the local art world, before more bodies are found.

I liked DS Sara Morgan, she was a good foil for Drake, unlike her predecessor, who I found too much of a stark opposite.
Drake also begins to learn of the hidden life of his recently deceased father, and is introduced to an unknown half brother. He continues to struggle with the separation from his wife and daughters, a sad fatality of the life of a dedicated police officer.

I'm sure this series is excellent in book form, but I am finding the narration adds another level to the novels and I'm looking forward to the next episode.

To be read alongside 100 Points.

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

Reviewed: 29-01-20

I listened to the audio version of this very short book, which is intended to be read alongside Quig Shelby's novel, 100 Points. It sets out a manifesto for a dystopian life where punishments are severe and the reward for living a frugal, considerate life, is banishment to Scotland at the age of 60.

I didn't find it particularly readable as it sounded more like a list of the author's discontents and the solutions he would like to see. A lot of them are pretty radical. Taken alongside the novel it does make sense, although I did spot one issue related to wearing crucifixes, which contradicted what was said in 100 Points.
With the current collapse of democracy, this treatise might have some workable suggestions, but I would not like to live in the world he describes either.

The narration by Craig Bowles was good although no voices were needed other than his own, so I suppose it was an easier task than most narrations.

Personally I would have made this an appendix to the main novel, rather than a short addendum.
Final thought - interesting.

Death of an antiques dealer.

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

Reviewed: 23-01-20

This is the 4th book in this series that I have read, (somehow I have missed No 5?) and each one has been better than the last. The combination between Stephen Puleston's writing and Richard Elfyn's narration is just perfect and this is one series that I will definitely continue.

Inspector Drake is an interesting character; he suffers with OCD and needs to keep repeating certain actions. This was a big factor of book 1 but now it simmers gently in the background and forms a part of his character, rather than being an overwhelming part of the book. I can't help but think it might be a good symptom for a police officer in many ways. He's a likable guy and it was nice to see him enjoying a bit of female company after the separation from his surly wife earlier on in the series.

Antiques dealer, Harry Jones is murdered early on in this episode, and there is no obvious reason for his death. Drake and his new sidekick, Sergeant Sara Morgan work well together to follow clues and unearth evidence. I definitely liked the character of Sara more than his previous partner, who was messy and too much of a contrast to Drake. I hope she decides to become a full time mum and Drake can stick with Sara.

I don't want to give too much away, so I shall finish with a quick word of praise for Richard Elfyn, the narrator, who brings the area of Wales alive with his beautiful soft Welsh accent. Goodness knows what names I would allocate to those unpronounceable places and people, without his help.

Now I need to step backwards in time and listen to book 4.

More bumps in the night.

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

Reviewed: 14-01-20

This was my fourth book by John Bowen and the third narrated by Helen Clapp, who is starting to feel like an old friend telling me stories around the fire. This is the second in the series; 'Where the Dead Walk', based on a film crew who are filming TV shows in haunted houses. There is plenty of atmosphere, a missing person and a suspected suicide, all of which build to a satisfying ending.

We have lost Kate from the first book and her partner, Henry, is taking more of a back seat, so it took me a while to get comfortable with Kate's replacement, Chloe. She is very young and inexperienced, but certainly enthusiastic, and like Kate, seems to be totally unphased by the thought of wandering haunted houses in the night.
Ray and Charles are taking more of an active role this time, especially Ray, who does a lot of the sleuthing to unravel what went on in the house 30 years before. It's probably more of a who-done-it than a paranormal horror, as the title might suggest, but that suits me just fine.

I'm looking forward to this series continuing and to more narration by Helen Clapp.

Never say never.

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

Reviewed: 26-10-19

I enjoyed this audiobook, although I would class it as a Romance novel primarily and that's not my first choice of genre. It didn't hurt that I rather fancied Nick, the owner of the company that Sarah worked for.

Sarah Margo is traumatised by her parents' sudden divorce and vows never to marry. Her mother is a harridan and abuses Sarah psychologically. Her father, however, is adorable and things improve when she goes to live with him. As she matures, she throws herself into her career as an engineer and becomes super-proficient in her field. She works for a large company in New York and eventually gets sent to the parent company in Burrell, situated on an island in the English Channel (does this place actually exist, I couldn't find it?). That's where the story really takes off and the pieces begin to fit together.

On the downside, I thought this book was overly long, in fact the first part seemed a bit disjointed from the rest and at one stage I wondered where we were going. In the end it made sense, but I think I would have preferred the whole of the part be edited out and the important information drip-fed to us through the remainder of the book. This would have added interest as we read and cut out a large chunk that felt unnecessary.
In addition, there was rather a cast of thousands and when some of these people popped up again later in the narrative I admit, I wondered who they were. This is probably more of a problem in the audio version, where your speed is regulated by the narrator and doesn't give you much chance to think back. Which leads me on to the narrator, Gryphon Corpus, who did a pretty good job, although I wasn't too convinced by her upper-crust English accent (being English myself!).

As far as I'm aware this is the author's first book and in spite of my reservations I did enjoy it. There was just one odd chapter at the very end that suggested that everything had been planned from the start...no!!!