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An Leughadair

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Least Favourite of the Hamish Macbeth Series

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

Reviewed: 06-04-18

Why did I read it?

I adore the Hamish Macbeth series, and this was the latest edition.

What's it about?

An income arrives in Cnothan, and town on Hamish Macbeth's beat. Paul English considers himself an honest man, but on calling on the incomer to welcome him to the community Charlie, Hamish's constable, lands them both in trouble at headquarters.

Paul English works his way around the communities, spouting his views on the shortcomings of the locals directly to their face, causing hackles to rise.

"I could kill that man," could be heard from Lochdubh to Cnothan. And, so ...

What did I like?

Honestly, the soothing tones of David Monteath were perhaps the only lovely thing about this particular episode of life in Lochdubh.

What didn't I like?

Oh dear. It seemed to me that the author, M.C. Beaton 'phoned it in'. There were so many errors in the book.

(1) Lucia Lament was noted as the daughter of Mr. Ferrari; however, in earlier books, we learn Lucia is a distant relative of Mr. Ferrari brought over from Italy to work in the restaurant in Lochdubh, after Mr. Ferrari's immediate family took over the running of his first restaurant.

(2) Initially, it is said Silas Dunbar's father died when he was two, then, later, it is said his father died 10 years previous. So, either Hamish's new constable is 12 years old, or this is yet another error.

(3) It seems the forensics team of Strathbane has been re-populated with boozy blokes, who I thought had been replaced a few books back.

There are many more inconsistencies like this that regular readers/listeners might pick up on.

How many constables can Hamish get through in one book? The answer: five (5).

Why bring Elspeth back into Sutherland at all? Her contribution to the narrative was negligible, with the low level rivalry between her, and Priscilla for affections of Hamish becoming increasingly tedious in its repetition.

The storylines featuring Colonel Halburton-Smythe, and Chief Inspector Blair were so far beyond believable, and extremely disappointing. Yes, this is fiction, which often strays from reality as it is set in an idyllic version of the highlands, but these narratives were just too far-fetched, and stretched far beyond the known behaviours of these long-term characters formed through the previous 32 books. These tangential stories seemed ill formed, and very ill judged. It's almost like they were padding for the scant murder mystery, which, itself, seemed poorly thought out, and too closely related to other victims, and plots in the series.

There are other disappointments, but I have listed only what I see as the major faults here. Overall, the book felt disjointed, the main narrative was thin, and the side stories not as believable as in the past. At times, the superstitious and supernatural elements felt more real than anything else.

Also, having listened to this audio series in its entirety several times now, I have begun to notice mistakes in the text, e.g. the wrong character having said a line. Unfortunately, this is also true of “Death of an Honest Man” having listened to it three times now.

Would I recommend it?

Honestly, no. Not even to fans of the series. I sincerely hope the next two books in the series, which M.C. Beaton has confirmed she is contracted to write, are not so badly composed as this one. I want a return to the Hamish Macbeth and inhabitants of Lochdubh I have grown to love.

15 people found this helpful

Disengaged

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

Reviewed: 17-07-13

This book could have been so much more:- more amusing; more engaging; more interesting.

If you have read, and enjoyed, the series by James Herriott about his adventures as a vet, or Patrick Taylor's amusing tales of a young, Irish doctor going into country general practice, then, like myself, you may have picked up this book hoping it would be more of the the same, or at least similar. Alas, you may find yourself disappointed with "A Seaside Practice" in this regard. "A Seaside Practice" is more auto-biographical looking at his Scottish country practice in the 1960s - prior to NHS efficiency drives - than engaging revelations, but, as Dr Smith himself admits, he does not befriend his patients, and the result seems to be all connection is lost: between the doctor and his patient, and the doctor and his listener/reader. So, this book feelks more like a tome about cases the good doctor himself thought would make amusing anecdotes for general readers, but it truly missed the mark for this listener.

I'm afraid, too, I had issues with Dr Smith's reading of his own book. It was a little flat, he faltered, all to frequently, on words, and I could hear pages being turned and mistakes being made, though the overall sound quality was good, being even in volume and pacing. Perhaps I might have enjoyed the book more if someone else had narrated it, but it certainly needed an editor who knows how to elicit an engaging style from their writer.

1 person found this helpful

The End of the Trilogy

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

Reviewed: 15-07-13

I shall miss this series, Fin and his Hebridean island. Although I wasn't as enchanted with the storyline in this third, and final book, it still kept me gripped. There is something about the gentle approach to these wild islands, and wild goings on that appeals in these crime books set in the western isles. Mr May has a gift for characterising the setting, as well as the people that inhabit that landscape.

I certainly didn't get to solve this one before the end, even though, once again, we are flip-flopping through the past and present hoping to marry up events in order to discern how the pilot of a plane in a loch that drained - suddenly and naturally overnight - came to be there. Fin encounters more people from his adolescence, and college years as those who appeared in the earlier books seem to fade away. This time, Fin is working privately having left the police, and this somewhat hinders his progress in solving the riddle.

As always, the performance of the story was superb, and helped add to the atmosphere.

Not sure I was altogether happy with the resolution in this book, but I did love this series.

An adventure that lacks ... something

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

Reviewed: 25-06-13

Here, Ken Ilgunas recounts his adventures as he seeks to pay off his undergraduate debts in the first part of the book, and, in the second, how he lived in order to secure his post-graduate degree at Duke University. This book appealed because I have my own unsecured debts, and a desire to return to university.

Although this book lived up to its synopsis, it was not exactly what I hoped it might be, but it though Mr Ilgunas's experiences did provide food for thought, though I now realise I could not follow in his footsteps.

Ken Ilgunas worked in in a remote outpost in Alaska to pay off his original college debt, then undertook a canoe journey with a group seeking to replicate the experience of the Canadian voyageurs of the 18th and 19th centuries; before doing his post-graduate degree all without going back into debt.

Although there are some interesting anecdotes about the adventures, and details of his budgets are provided, overall, I was not overly enthused by this book. Some sections I felt I was being preached to,in others, the narration became too wordy in describing feelings about places and/or people. As much as it appeared Ken Ilgunas went into detail, I’m not sure I really know just how he did cope on a day-to-day level under the strict, self-imposed budgetary, and living conditions; I always had the feeling something was missing from these recollections.

The author seems to berate the normal path people take through life, consisting of (in his opinion) getting and education, working in a job they may dislike to paying off the debts they accrue getting that education, getting a mortgage, continuing to work in a job they dislike to pay off the mortgage and other consumer debts, then retiring without having really lived. It’s a point-of-view held by many who seek the simpler life, but others may disagree believing it is more about “dropping out” of humanity, something which Ken’s mother hints at in the book.

The narration by Nick Podehl was quite well done, though I did query the pronunciation of some words, but this might have been accounted for by the difference between American and UK English. The audio edition I downloaded from Audible was crisp, clear and without any faults.

I would recommend this to anyone contemplating university via student loans, but I'm not sure it would be all that helpful to those that do want to take the corporate path.

Fell Flat

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-04-13

I have enjoyed the two previous audio books in the Malin Fors series, despite the limitations of the narrator of the first book. I was looking forward to the third book, but I struggled with it. This didn't seem to match the earlier tomes, and, at times, the plot seemed to indicate I had missed another episode.



This storyline felt bogged down, and I felt myself tuning out through larges sections of the story(?). The crime seemed to sit in the background of the detective's life. I began to care less and less about Malin herself, though the writing of her inner dialogue has improved, I simply lost interest in her, or her life. It was just too much angst for me; self indulgence at it's worst. None of this was the fault the narrator who did their best, I'm sure.



I am struggling to decide if I should listen to the fourth book when it is released later this month. I may be a sad end to a series that showed so much promise with Midwinter Blood.

An Oddity

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-04-13

As has been mentioned on another review, this book is not the usual fayre and thus has been received by many with mixed feelings.



It's an odd read: strange happenings - a lot involving bicycles - in pursuit of ill gotten gains. Treachery abounds in a place populated by unusual souls. I kind of understood the main character's predicament and so there were no suprises in the ending for me.



This version is well narrated, though I may have had the occasional quibble with pronunciation. There are footnotes in this book (be warned!) mostly relating to the work of a fictional scientist and philosopher, de Selby, which interrupt the storyline and I'm not sure how these contribute to the plot - really - but Mr Norton deals with these deftly.



I'm not sure I could recommend this book; it certainly held my interest on long, boring commutes, but is that really a recommendation? I don't think I would intentionally sit down to read it; in fact, I've had a hard copy on my bookshelves for a few years now never having passed the first page. Still, the audio was pleasant, but it truly was an odd choice of material.



If you want something weird, odd, strange and befuddling, this is the audio book for you.

2 people found this helpful

I should not have believed the hype

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-12

If I am honest, I was happy to see Roger head down the toilet (literally and figuratively). As the main character, I totally loathed him, for his selfishness, his ill treatment of others, his general outlook and behaviour. He was irredeemable in my opinion. I found myself on the side of Clas Greve as he chased down Roger, even as I disliked him just as much as Roger. Diana, Roger’s wife, is only viewed through his eyes and seems very flat as a character, but then I imagine she is a trophy bride. Actually, most of the characters were one-dimensional.

I learned about foreshadowing a long time ago, and this story is laden with it, the result being that nothing really comes as a suprise, not even the resolutions in the epilogue. Twists and turns abound though not unexpectedly, and the story does get a bit outlandish, almost cartoonish. If the story was meant to be darkly humorous, it didn’t do it for me, not until things got really sticky for Roger and I could relish in his discomfort.

The audio edition had volume jumps which annoyed me. One minute quiet, so I turned up the volume, only to have it get so loud I was scrambling to turn the volume down – again. And, so it continued, up, down, up, down. It also had editing issues with the track seeming to speed up at times, not so much it distorted the content, but changing the pace of the speech and, in turn, the pace of the story. This is a disaster when attempting to build tension as a thriller.

I did like the hint at the end not necessarily being the end; there is a hint that I might get my wish for Roger, which I can’t write about here without giving away too much. Not that any future reader will miss much.

The narrator, Steve West, did a good job of voicing the story.

I cannot recommend this book. That said, I will read Jo Nesbø‘s series of Harry Hole books, as they still come recommended from reviewers I trust.

Slow starter, but worthwhile

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-08-12

Having listened to, and enjoyed Midwinter Sacrifice, the first book featuring Malin Fors, I was keen to listen to this, especially since it had a different narrator.

The story's pacing is slow at first , and only really picks up towards the very end, but the use of voices, including those of the murder victims, kept me interested. The weather and seasons are notable as characters in these books, and as a heatwave raged around me in real life, it was easy to imagine the one in the book. Perhaps the slow pace was a reflection on the heat in Linköping, adding to the feeling of sluggishness felt by the characters themselves.

I was pleased to find Malin's inner thoughts more believable than in the last book, and I was much happier with the narration in Summertime Death, too because it wasn't as monotonous, thus breathing more life into the various characters; and this despite some being dead. Pleasingly, I was unable to discern the perpetrator in this book which counterbalanced the lack of astonishment at the identity of the last abductee.

I would recommend this audio book, especially if the listener has enjoyed Midwinter Sacrifice. I also look forward to listening to Autumn Killing and Savage Spring in the same series being translated.

4 people found this helpful

Rude, Crude, and (Darkly) Funny

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-03-12

The language is this book can be offensive, but as the main character is a hitman, in hiding in Iceland, after a job gone wrong, this is appropriate. The fact he rates every female character he encounters according to how many days it would take if they were alone before he would think about her (that way) was off-putting. Aside from this, Toxic has an amusing way of seeing the world, from a completely different perspective than the average reader. Seeing Iceland from his point of view is a revelation, and I'm not sure the tourist board would be altogether happy with Toxic's opinions.

I'm not sure about the accents employed by the narrator, but the nuances employed only add to the author's charaterisation. As the story progresses, one wonders where it will all end, but the desire to continue (regardless of whether you empathise with Toxic) is unavoidable. The humour is dark, almost black, but perfectly pitched. The only disappointment is the last few minutes; the ending. Even so, I'd recommend it to others.

4 people found this helpful