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The Stranger Diaries cover art

A fascinating departure for Elly Griffiths

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

Reviewed: 09-05-19

As much as I’ve enjoyed the Ruth Galloway novels, this feels like a much more sophisticated effort. I wouldn’t have guessed it was the same writer.

Lost Connections cover art
  • Lost Connections
  • Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions
  • By: Johann Hari
  • Narrated by: Johann Hari

Journalist explores his own psychological pain

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

Reviewed: 07-05-19

An interesting attempt to identify some of the economic and social contexts of psychological distress, and to think through ways of creating a world less toxic to our well-being.

However, he does this by setting up straw men to knock down. He makes much of medicine’s belief in a chemical imbalance theory of depression (which will seem alien to most of those who work in the field), whilst also reporting that psychiatrists have for decades proposed alternative models which attend to the person’s social, psychological, and physical situations.

There is a clear association between housing, jobs, environments, politics and mental ill health, but these aren’t things that are easily changed in the surgery or therapy room.

I thought the early section on medication was dreadful. Quite shockingly bad. I can’t see his footnotes on Audible, but he appears to rely entirely on two very critical writers, both interesting and challenging though they are, but without any effort to explore other researchers, other evidence, or other conclusions. That’s polemic, not journalism. He doesn’t even describe the critical literature on the distorting role of drug companies research, not that all research is undertaken by Big Pharma.

Considering this is a book about anxiety and depression, it seems odd that he doesn’t actually define what these highly complicated things might be, except in so far as they may relate to our evolutionary history.

What a mixed up, interesting, disappointing book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Whispers Under Ground cover art

London, underground

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

Reviewed: 08-02-19

After the first two books, this is positively restrained and focused, with a rather wonderful -if not entirely original- conceit (which I won’t spoil). The damage to London is kept to a bare minimum, and isn’t the fault of police officer, and apprentice wizard, Peter Grant. The characters are appealing, well-drawn, and becoming delightfully familiar. There are a few new characters to keep things fresh, and who will reappear as the series progresses. I love the humour and the descriptions of London itself (a character in its own right). The narrator is just perfect.

Rivers of London cover art

A great London book

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

Reviewed: 20-01-19

Lovely story with great narration. It’s funny, has astute observations about human nature, and really inhabits London. I rarely seen this before in crime fiction auth , Phil Rickman aside, who set their novels in a particular location. They mention a name, or a landscape, in passing, and if you happen to know the place you fill in the blanks yourself. Not here though. I think this is a great London book.

Lies Sleeping cover art

Wonderful addition to a wonderful series

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

Reviewed: 04-12-18

I’ve really enjoyed all the Peter Grant books and audiobooks, but this might be one of the best. Like the others, but more so, it’s rich, detailed, and funny. The characters are great, and wonderfully described. It brings a long story arc to an end, so a newcomer to the series will miss out on a lot of background. I can’t imagine any one else narrating them. Kobna rises to the challenge of the voices, despite the best efforts of the authors to derail him.

Lamp of the Wicked cover art

Uneasy listening

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

Reviewed: 24-02-17

I have the impression the Phil Rickman poured a very great deal into this complex, thoughtful meditation on the Wests and on the nature of evil. His imaginative leaps into the mind of Fred West are disturbing. But it's more than just that, with Rickman pouring misery and fear into the lives of his familiar characters, the bereaved Gomer, the obsessed Bliss, the fear Lol, and the probably depressed Jane. And the end, both characters and (this) reader seem exhausted. It's a long book and the narrator, Emma Powell, seems less sure of her character's voices. Too many men blur, and everyone seems "rural."

1 of 1 people found this review helpful