LISTENER

Patricia

  • 26
  • reviews
  • 172
  • helpful votes
  • 78
  • ratings
Dear Wife cover art
  • Dear Wife

  • By: Kimberly Belle
  • Narrated by: Vivienne Leheny, Chris Andrew Ciulla, Pete Simonelli
  • Length: 9 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning - one with a new look, new name, and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • GREAT THRILLER THAT KEPT ME UP ALL NIGHT

  • By Patricia on 17-08-19

GREAT THRILLER THAT KEPT ME UP ALL NIGHT

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

Reviewed: 17-08-19

I love Kimberly Belle's writing and much enjoyed "The Marriage Lie" and also "The Last Breath" so I was fairly sure I would love this one too despite a few negative reviews. I usually prefer UK or Irish narration for audio books which is funny as I really enjoy US TV and Film with no such reservations - but there is something about Kimberley Belle's books as they swelter and steam in the deep south that means the accents adds to the atmosphere.
I thought all the narrators did a great job loved the accent of one of the guys who talked about pillaaas and windaaas as opposed to pillows and windows however it was very annoying the way that Vivienne Leheny made what was described as a southern drawl which could not conceal a Mexican accent as to me it sounded IRISH! Sometimes slightly Northern Irish but never Mexican and not a trace of a Southern Drawl either which was odd as being American I would have thought these accents would be far more familiar to her than a stage Irish accent ... but luckily the character with the dodgy accent did not play a huge part so it did not spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.
Those who enjoyed "Sleeping With The Enemy", "Gone Girl" , "Big Little Lies" and "A Simple Favor" will really enjoy this and although there is some violence it is not too dark or disturbing, not gory and although it is a serious subject the story focuses on the thriller aspect of the building suspense and of course there are some great twists and I did not guess one of the biggest ones until just before the reveal.
I read it in two chunks and took it with me to do work about the house which I only tend to do if it is a really gripping and intriguing read. I then was up all night finishing it and think I must have listened to it for 5 hours straight which I seldom do.
I think "The Marriage Lie" remains my favourite of her books but "Dear Wife" comes a close second and the descriptions of the locations really made me feel like I had spent a sizzling steamy night in the sultry South.
It had me hooked from the start and just kept cracking along as the suspense built and the twists and turns just kept going until the dramatic climax which was a very satisfying ending.
Highly recommended and looking forward to the next Kimberly Belle thriller.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Passengers cover art
  • The Passengers

  • By: John Marrs
  • Narrated by: Kristin Atherton, Roy McMillan, Clare Corbett, and others
  • Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 148
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course. The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife - and parents of two - who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive, but are the passengers all that they first seem?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Intriguing but did rather go on and ruined by sfx

  • By Patricia on 15-08-19

Intriguing but did rather go on and ruined by sfx

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

Reviewed: 15-08-19

I did not make it to the end of this book and am returning as though the story was good with plenty of twists and I liked the way it encompassed the earlier "The One" which I really enjoyed.
But for anyone who likes to listen in the evening as a way to unwind I found the many and varied music stings which started off a lot the chapters really jarred especially as many of them sounded like ring tones and just as I was about to really relax ARGHHHHH another sound effect jolted me back to full alert.
So I am not sure if it was because it rattled my nerves as the last thing I want to hear when I am trying to wind down is a cacophony of ring tone like music stings, or if it just seemed to be very drawn out, far too implausible or it was just a bit dark for me but I just lost interest. I really liked "When you disappeared", Her Last Move" and "The One" and I would try another John Marrs book but for whatever reason it became plodding for me plus irritating sfx.
I did think the rest of the production was excellent and loved the narration by Kristin Atherton, Roy McMillan, Tom Bateman, Patience Tomlinson and Shaheen Khan but not so much the other female narrator who I always find a bit irritatingly too goody two shoesy.
Bottom line, if you like really relaxing and drifting off listening to an audio book - this is not an audio book I would recommend.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Turn of the Key cover art
  • The Turn of the Key

  • By: Ruth Ware
  • Narrated by: Imogen Church
  • Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43

When she stumbles across the advert, she's looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious 'smart' home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. What she doesn't know is that she's stepping into a nightmare - one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • SIMPLY THE BEST - RUTH WARE THRILLS & CHILLS AGAIN

  • By Patricia on 12-08-19

SIMPLY THE BEST - RUTH WARE THRILLS & CHILLS AGAIN

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

Reviewed: 12-08-19

As a big fan of Ruth Ware, I had this latest gem on pre-order at the first possible opportunity. The Death of Mrs Westaway was, in my opinion, her best thriller yet so I waited with baited breath and it surpassed even my greatest hopes.
I simply could not stop listening .... except late at night when I found the building suspense and eerieness was so well written it really got me spooked.
So I simply spent a whole Sunday carrying it with me as I did household stuff and even kept it on in the shower as I was that gripped! I just thought it was so brilliantly written and just charged along like a runaway train with so many surprises and twists around every corner. I also rather like the sound of the dashing Jack Grant who added a certain frisson to the proceedings. I have to say I had plenty of shocks along the way with this superbly crafted thriller and the plot twists just kept coming. Great charaters, great concept and wonderful execution - I just loved it and would love to listen to it all over again as it really delivered all I would hope for in a top class thriller.
No gore or grit or horror just good old fashioned campfire thrills and chills and a wonderfully paced story line which immediately grabs you and whisks you away on a nail biting, nerve jangling adventure.
The twists and turns came thick and fast towards the end and some might say some details of the reveal were a bit far fetched but for me it was a very satisfying and beautifully polished finale which also did give you a moment to ponder what happened next which was another plot twist in itself.

I was initially a little disappointed to find out Imogen Church was narrating again as I found she just really overplays some performances, which is fine if it is a book which needs a helping hand with adding drama and excitement but Ruth Ware's thrillers are so suspenseful and dramatic and exciting they need to be able to speak for themselves. But this time I found it much lighter, pull backed and less overcooked performance, which allowed the story tell its brilliant self - I then found at the end that I had been listening to the book on 1.25 speed!
So I am delighted to have found this hack and I did enjoy this lighter touch in the read and it also made her rendition of male roles ,which I always have found in the past to be very grating like pantomime characters, sound more realistic and less self conscious. So to sum up, a really great narration at the slightly faster speed.

This book gave me 12 hr and 15 minutes of intrigue, suspense, mystery and sheer joy ....... I cannot wait for the next one, though this one will be very hard to beat and I may have to go back and re- read "In a Dark Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" again in the meantime which I also highly recommend. If only all thrillers could be this good.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Other Couple cover art
  • The Other Couple

  • By: Sarah J. Naughton
  • Narrated by: Pippa Bennett-Warner
  • Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 32
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 32

This was meant to be the perfect honeymoon. A five-star beach resort in Vietnam, with white sands, private villas and world-class cuisine. A chance for newlyweds Asha and Ollie Graveney to recover from a tragedy that has left them on the verge of collapse. Except things don't go as planned. When Asha wakes up in hospital after a brutal attack, her husband is nowhere to be found. And paradise has turned into a nightmare....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping read.

  • By sandy dean on 05-12-18

Top Class Thriller with escapist luxury setting,

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

Reviewed: 11-08-19

I love a good, thriller and this for me was a much better read/listen than the earlier "Tattletale" plus I always love a foreign, preferably luxurious setting and this 5 star Vietnam honeymoon resort ticked all my boxes.
I was intrigued and drawn in from the very beginning and I thought the plot was very well crafted with lots of twists and turns and mysterious reveals and teasers. I really relaxed and appreciated the great narration by the well known and very talented Pippa Bennet-Warner which made it just made a wonderfully enjoyable listen with great suspense and all the glamour and adventure of an exotic location thrown in.
It finished strongly and kept me guessing to the very end there was nothing too gritty or gory just great entertainment, clever gripping mystery with plenty of thrills and chills along the way. The ending did require a little suspension of disbelief but it was fresh and unique so no quibbles there.
I really enjoyed it and it would make a wonderful holiday listen or equally cheer up a cold rainy winter's day. I thought it was very well written and I will be looking out for Sarah J Naughton's next thriller with baited breath. 6 Stars!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Holiday cover art
  • The Holiday

  • By: T.M. Logan
  • Narrated by: Laura Kirman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 153
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 140
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 140

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Languedoc-Roussillon. But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • First class tale of lies and secrets

  • By R Scott on 02-08-19

Brilliant thriller, ideal for poolside reading

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

Reviewed: 06-08-19

I really liked "Lies" by the same author but was disappointed by "29 Seconds" which was so preposterous I returned it so it was with some trepidation that I got this book. I loved the premise so I thought I would give it a go and I was just delighted as this is my favourite of the three books by far.
There were plenty of twists and turns, red herrings, suspense and teasers all in a beautiful luxurious sunny setting. I read a lot of it lying in the sun and I really had a great time with it. I love a thriller which is exciting intriguing and involving but does not go to dark, gritty, gory or disturbing places and this really fits the bill. In other words it is murder mystery but in the best traditions of holiday whodunnit so a great read for all fans of the genre.
Towards the end the thriller ramped up and those looking for complete believability may find it a bit far fetched - but then if you are happy to believe one of the mums is a CSI officer, then like me you may be happy to throw scepticism to the wind and buckle up for intrigue, suspicion, and a rollicking adventure which makes compulsive reading,
So delighted I took a chance as I really did enjoy it and look forward to the next T M Logan thriller.
PS Narration by Laura Kirman was EXCELLENT, so many accents and easily identifyable charater made the listen extra special plus her children's voices were just so realistic it was spooky - great talent will look out for her name in future.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Stone Cold Heart cover art
  • Stone Cold Heart

  • By: Caz Frear
  • Narrated by: Jane Collingwood
  • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19

A fractured marriage. A silent family. A secret that connects them all. When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there's not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him but can't - or won't - give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it. That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel, and Joseph is arrested for the murder.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Cat Kinsella Legend Continues - FAB!

  • By Patricia on 04-08-19

The Cat Kinsella Legend Continues - FAB!

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

Reviewed: 04-08-19

It seemed a very long 18 month wait for this second book from the brilliant Caz Frear but it was so well worth and and cleverly written so new readers can jump into this second outing for Detective Cat Kinsella without reading Sweet Little Lies first and indeed then can equally then enjoy it afterwards. Bonus!
Indeed I am looking forward to re-reading Sweet Little Lies while waiting for the next adventure which this book left me gasping for with it's enigmatic end teaser.
Stone Cold Heart is just such a gem and so naturally told it just draws you in so you just buckle up for the twisting turning ride rather than enjoying the skilful seamless writing, multilayered characters and intricate plots and subplots and this total immersion in a mystery is the hallmark of a top class thriller and a true and rare talent.
Excellent narration by Jane Collingwood, as in book one, though as Cat was born and brought up in Ireland it would have a bit more bite and authenticity if narrated by an Irish Actor who would know Kinsella's Irish pronunciation is KinSELER not the anglicised KINsellA.
However when one is presented with such a fabulous confection as Stone Cold Heart so skilfully and seamlessly crafted by such an amazing writing talent as Caz Frear,it does not really matter if the cherry on top is Glace or Morello ........ it is still the most divine moreish treat and I was delighted to devour every last fiendishly plotted crumb of it.
Highly recommended, and head and shoulders above the average Detective Murder Mystery Thriller.
5 stars ++++++++++

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Then She Vanishes cover art
  • Then She Vanishes

  • By: Claire Douglas
  • Narrated by: Sian Thomas, Katie O'Flynn, Nathalie Buscombe, and others
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38

On a summer's night in 1994, 16-year-old Flora Powell vanished from her sleepy seaside town. She left no trace - only heartache for her mother and her sister, Heather. Twenty-five years later, Heather walks into a stranger's house. There, the loving wife and doting new mother kills two people in cold blood. So only one remains...Jess is sent to report on the case that shocked the hometown she left behind. But it's anything but business to her.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Right Rip Roaring Rollercoaster Ride of a Thriller

  • By Patricia on 04-08-19

Right Rip Roaring Rollercoaster Ride of a Thriller

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

Reviewed: 04-08-19

I was enthralled by Claire Douglas' twisty turning thriller "Local Girl Missing" narrated wonderfully by Emilia Fox and delighted to have found a brilliant author whose carefully plotted and so well written murder mysteries I could enjoy.
I then tried her earlier book "The Sisters" but could not get into it but was excited to pre-order "Do Not Disturb" ... which I returned as was, for me, a giant disappointment as not only was it a big step back from "Local Girl Missing" but I would not have even guessed it was written by the same person at it seemed clunky, far fetched and just was not a book that I would even bother to get half way through.
How delighted I was though when I took another chance on Claire Douglas with "Then She Vanishes" as this is the same top quality writing, effortless storytelling, superbly plotted myriad twists and turns edge of the seat thriller as I adored in "Local Girl Missing". I loved every minute. The narration was excellent too and it was all so flawlessly thought out and polished and kept you guessing from one moment to the next. The characters were all very complex and interesting and it was a really rich and layered story which it was easy to become totally immersed in. Just brilliant writing with an intricate and mysterious puzzle told with great talent and and I am so hoping that this return to form will yield many more fabulous reads to come. Highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

If He Wakes cover art
  • If He Wakes

  • By: Zoe Lea
  • Narrated by: Emma Swan, Julia Barrie
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

When Rachel discovers a Twitter message arranging a romantic liaison, she assumes her husband is having an affair and follows him. What she witnesses is so much worse: a hit-and-run using his car. Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie is increasingly worried about her fiancé, who’s not been in touch for days. When Suzie learns of huge debts racked up in her name, she fears he has run out on her, but then the threatening calls start, and she thinks something terrible has happened. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good Story Narrated like a Mount Pleasant Episode

  • By Patricia on 30-11-18

Good Story Narrated like a Mount Pleasant Episode

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

Reviewed: 30-11-18

This is a hard one to review for me as first of all I found the two narrators so very similar it was only after a few chapters that I managed to distinguish between them as I began to find the actor voicing Rachel very irritating and they both gave what sounded to me like an almost comedic read somewhere in between the TV Series Mount Pleasant and a Victoria Wood Sketch.
The last book I read was a bit dark for me but this one I felt was trivialised by the narrators who I felt, while very talented were just miscast and I could not take them seriously despite the excellent plot and meaty topics.
I found myself instead of relaxing into the read, fighting against it and imagining it read by one of the very many excellent narrators I have enjoyed on Audible books who have more gravitas and bring more atmosphere and suspense to a thriller like this. I suppose to me it just felt like the whole thing was read very much tongue in cheek and although there were some lighthearted stream of consciences from both characters for me it was a good thriller spoiled by turning both main characters into figures of fun who I could not take seriously.
However, horses for courses and I suppose this does work as a lighthearted, soap style romp and as such the narrators did do an excellent and rousing job of it embracing their roles with gusto. I just wish I had read instead of listened to this so I could have made up my own mind if it was lighthearted or now without such strong narration which at times was pure pantomime and as such a bit of a waste of a great thriller. Was a bit puzzled why "towards" was always shortened to "toward" as per American English and that did jar but otherwise excellent.
I also really loved the way the book handled the crimes in a sensitive way as and I felt it hit just the right note of not trivialising the gravity of it, or being clumsy or heavy handed with what is a hot topic for many and yet not diving to deep to make it all dark and heavy going. This is a tricky line to walk and I think this was done with great flair
I overall I liked the way this book was written and it clipped along with plenty of intrigue and mystery to keep you guessing. I dd not care for Rachel (Smug Mum) or Susie (Gullible, Reluctant Singleton). I do not even know why these two were pals as even they did not seem to care for each other much. I would have loved if the Event Management business was more explored as enjoyed the snippets of the project they were tackling as well as their many other trials and tribulations.
The plot was a good one and I did not guess the ending until it all began to reveal itself. I thought the ending was good and though unlikely was vaguely plausible and the book finished in a strong way, instead of fizzling out like so many thrillers.
I did enjoy it and think if it had two narrators who, first of all were more easy to differentiate between and secondly brought more mystery and suspense to it like Deryn Edwards, Elizabeth Knowelden, Caroline Lennon, Stephanie Racine, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Emilia Fox, Gabrielle Glaister, Gabrielle Baker, Imogen Church to name but a few of a huge wealth of excellent talent who I think would have done this book justice.
Perhaps it could be recorded again as some Audio books are to give a more thrilling and suspenseful dramatic read.
My advice would be to listen to the sample and see if these narrators are for you otherwise, do the book and yourself a favour and read it rather than listen to this version of it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Sentence Is Death cover art
  • The Sentence Is Death

  • Detective Daniel Hawthorne, Book 2
  • By: Anthony Horowitz
  • Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
  • Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 748
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 689
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 687

Passion, deception, an unexplained death and a detective with quite a lot to hide lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz's brilliant new murder mystery, the second in the best-selling series starring Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne. William Pryce is an elegant, smooth-tongued lawyer who has made a fortune out of celebrity divorces - and a lot of enemies in the process. Unmarried himself, he lives in a handsome bachelor pad on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Or, rather, he used to....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Writing is On the Wall - GREAT NEW SERIES!

  • By Patricia on 08-11-18

The Writing is On the Wall - GREAT NEW SERIES!

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

Reviewed: 08-11-18

I bought "The Word Is Murder" because "Magpie Murders" is one of my favourite books ever and my favourite Audible purchase to date and I had almost forgotten about it when I spied "The Sentence is Death" and then it all came back to me about the curious detective Hawthorn and how Anthony Horowitz had written himself into the books so you can enjoy a slice of his fascinating writer's life working on TV series as well as books.
It took me a little while to get up to speed again with the Horowitz/Hawthorn dynamic but soon I was in sleuthing heaven with many the well crafted twist and turn and red herrings galore - I especially loved the writing on the wall.
Having the same narrator really helped continuity and I had to go back and add this mention of Rory Kinnear to my review as initially omitted - and in this case that is compliment rather than a slight, as simply he is Mr Horowitz's voice for me and it is a great credit to him that he manages to present himself as an intrinsic part of the story rather than an actor putting his artistic stamp on a book reading. This book which requires the narrator to "be" not only the protagonist but also a real, living person requires special talent and sensitivity and Mr Kinnear pulls this off with aplomb by making it all seem so natural, believable and seamless letting the story tell itself. I am sure I will now find Mr Horowitz totally unconvincing as "himself" should I ever hear his real voice!
Overall,I got the feeling that this one perhaps was not quite as addictive as the first one (though I did really look forward to switching on every night and rattled through it at great speed, even bringing it with my for dishwasher loading and tea drinking which for me an unusual extension of my late night/early morning listening always in the bedroom!)
....but just as I was sighing and thinking "Hmmm, not really as good as the first" the plot took off again like a frisky horse on a frosty morning. I think I remember that writing tip being somewhere in this or the other book, always come in for a strong finish and save a twist for last and this was done in breathtaking style, leaving the listener/reader panting for the next adventure.
I adore Murder Mysteries and this one, having such a prestigious pedigree, was just so well crafted like a polished gem - such a shame that Mr Horowitz excellent writing advice could not be given to the plethora of disappointing murder mysteries which somehow seem to be published these days with a wonderful premise who just fail to deliver or fall apart half way through and fizzle out at the end leaving the reader with a "why did I bother - what a waste of a credit" feeling.
So whether this book is to your taste or not - it is stonkingly well written with so many fabulous twists and turns, super sneaky sleuthing, crafty clues and takes you along revealing, misleading, mystifying and illuminating with so much great panache, you feel that you too are part of the Detective Team.
There is talk in the book of this series being a three book deal but I can only hope that this part is fiction in this unique and ingenious fact/fiction format and there will be many many more than three. I know Mr Horowitz is a busy, busy man with his finger in many creative pies but PLEASE hurry up and give us another murder mystery soon - a second "Magpie Murder" stand alone would be a dream come true - otherwise please don't make is wait too long for the promised third in this excellent, groundbreaking and most entertaining series,
Happy, Happy, Happy Audible Customer - 6 stars!

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

Dead in Venice cover art
  • Dead in Venice

  • Crime Grant Finalist
  • By: Fiona Leitch
  • Narrated by: Deryn Edwards
  • Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35

Bella Tyson is a famous 40-something crime writer suffering from writer’s block ever since a bitter divorce two years before. When a fan offers her the use of an apartment in Venice, Bella jumps at it, hoping a change of scene will have her writing again. Once there, she soon meets Will, a charming Englishman, who shows her around the city. Enchanted by both Will and her new surroundings, Bella decides to write a supernatural murder mystery and begins researching local legends and the city’s more sinister side, including an illicit visit to the island of Poveglia, spooky former home of Venice’s asylum.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dead in Venice

  • By Mr J A Rae on 13-09-18

Undecided on Unique Unsettling Many-Mooded Mystery

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

Reviewed: 03-11-18

CHIAROSCURO!!! This appropriately enough, would be the best word to sum up this Italian set book - light and dark - comedy and tragedy - lighthearted flippant quips meet the grisliest hard hitting topics in, what seemed to me. often an uneasy marriage of convenience.
At first I thought this seemed like an Agatha Raisin reboot with a lot of Jane Fallon-like intrigue told in a comedic conversational lighthearted tone - then just when you are settled in for a fun filled frivolous romp ... everything got very dark - also I suppose a metaphor of Venice itself.
I adore thrillers set in foreign and especially glamorous locations such as Emily Barr's excellent mysteries and so I was really on board for this Venetian adventure but also enjoyed the establishing chapters set in the UK. It all started off very frothy and girlie and I enjoyed the description of life as a successful murder mystery writer - not so keen on a lot of the cringe worthy puns but over all I did like the chummy banter and humorous internal dialogue - could have done with a LOT less of the F words which seemed a little incongruous throughout the book and jarred with me.
And so to the crimes and mystery segment - loved the atmospheric settings but I did find the lack of any procedural protocol at crime scenes did break the spell for me with an un-researched casualness which took away any sense of realism as the book took a turn for more Nancy Drew than CSI territory. Again the mix of horrific sadistic murder with dreadful puns did not sit well with me and made realise how artful MC Beaton is to mix humour and murder mystery with Agatha Raisin without leaving a nasty taste in the mouth. Perhaps if the murders had been less shocking or the humour more subtle it would have also been more believable and less stomach churning pantomime.
I have to say I was not a fan of the romantic interest as he was made out to be so very dull. Hard as I tried I just could not muster up much enthusiasm for him, but perhaps that is because the only physical description was 5'6, mid brown haired and balding - after that I just could not shake Crimplene as a subtext and pictured him from then on in some sort of Man at C&A vintage beige Safari suit sticking out like a sore thumb in this otherwise stylish setting. I liked the way he was quintessentially an English Man Abroad - but did he really have to be painted as just one step away from the sock and sandal brigade?
Then about half way through the book took a very dark turn and got into some very heavy topics related to the murders and I have to say, for me, it felt awkward - just as if some funny chatty lady you met at a bus stop suddenly started talking about a horrible medical procedure - it just felt like a bizarre change of pace and style for the book as it then went on to handle some very gritty topics.
I enjoyed the back story to the murders and the reveals and guessed the rather unbelievable twist at the end. I also enjoyed the supernatural aspect and humorous ghoulish dream subplots and I have to say the whole book and plot was unique and very different to any murder mystery I have read.
It is a relatively short book at 6 hours and 4 minutes but it felt like the perfect length for this style of mystery and I did enjoy it but it might not have held my attention had it been much longer.
I thought the narration was excellent and I would love to hear more Audio books narrated by the very talented Deryn Edwards who made the book a delight to listen too though I am always a bit thrown when foreign locations are pronounced with such authentic gusto instead of a more a lower key Anglicised version - I would have thought that Deryn was fluent in Italian except when it came to the odd mention of the Italian police which she pronounced "Politzee" numerous times instead of "Pole- it-zeee- ahh" - but this was the only flaw in a complete gem of a performance which I really appreciated and really enhanced the many moods of the story.
Did I Enjoy Dead in Venice? Yes as at no time did I consider giving up on it and it gripped me from the start. Well worth a credit.
Would I have chosen it if I knew the theme it covered? I would have been a bit put off as it is not a topic to be taken lightly.
Do I recommend it? Yes, it is a very engaging book and light easy reading for the main part despite its darker side and indeed it is only the juxtaposition and contrast between the Jane Fallon/Agatha Raisin like mystery approach and the theme which make the dark parts look so murky in contrast. I suppose some people might say it was to serious a topic to joke about - but then I suppose murder itself is a terrible crime that we never think twice about a comedic approach to.
Food for thought, but a little uncomfortable a mix for me ... plus too much swearing also grated with me in such a lighthearted romp. In fact in that way it really is as if there are two books fighting to get out in the one story - both very well written, one light, one dark and though I would have happily read both separately, together they do not sit well with me.
I would try another book written by Fiona Leitch as I do think she is very talented and the book does end with the promise of a sequel which I would happily get on board for. hoping there might not be such a mismatch between style and theme.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful