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Stafford Steve

Heart of England
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  • Whose Body?

  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Book 1
  • By: Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Narrated by: Jane McDowell
  • Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 155
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 143
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 141

It was the body of a tall stout man. On his dead face, a handsome pair of gold pince-nez mocked death with grotesque elegance. The body wore nothing else.Lord Peter Wimsey knew immediately what the corpse was supposed to be. His problem was to find out whose body had found its way into Mr Alfred Thipps' Battersea bathroom.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Terrible performance

  • By Nicky on 12-04-15

Disappointing narrative after BBC dramatisations

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

Reviewed: 21-03-17

Would you try another book written by Dorothy L. Sayers or narrated by Jane McDowell?

I enjoy this story, but this narrator's voice soon began to grate. I believe Ian Carmichael whether reading The Lord Peter Whimsey books or playing the role in the radio dramatisations, but I didn't really believe this narrator. I've read and listened to many Sayers stories, but won't be purchasing any narrated by McDowell.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Whose Body??

Nothing in particular.

What didn’t you like about Jane McDowell’s performance?

Grating voice in a role where Ian Carmichael is already the default voice for Whimsey stories.

Could you see Whose Body? being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Difficult, given that for my generation at least, the late Ian Carmichael best fits the bill.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Poirot's Finest Cases

  • Eight Full-Cast BBC Radio Dramatisations
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Full Cast, John Moffat
  • Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,366
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,212
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,210

John Moffatt stars as the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The ABC Murders: A chilling letter sets the sleuth on the trail of an enigmatic killer. After the Funeral: A wealthy businessman is dead, and his sister thinks it was murder. Death on the Nile: Poirot is in Egypt when a chilling murder takes place. Peril at End House: Whilst on holiday, the sleuth encounters a young woman, a hat and a bullet. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: Mrs Farrars is found dead, one year after the death of her husband.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great but...

  • By Mr. D. A. G. Talbot on 24-03-18

Great dramatisation collection

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

Reviewed: 21-11-16

What made the experience of listening to Poirot's Finest Cases the most enjoyable?

Quite a variety of stories dramatised, from the most well known to those less known by occasional Christie readers such as me.

Who was your favorite character and why?

As this is a collection this question doesn't really work as there are just so many characters, though I suppose Poirot so dominates each story...

Have you listened to any of John Moffat and Full Cast ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

N/A

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

N/A

Any additional comments?

I really felt I had to write a review to comment on my major problem with this collection: the individual stories are not individually listed, as if the listener is only expected to start at the beginning and carry on to the very end. But I often fancy just listening to a particular story, and it is usually one right in the middle, so I have to guess and then move forward or back until I find what I am looking for. This is really not satisfactory, particularly as there are a lot of stories in this collection.

  • The Monogram Murders

  • The New Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Sophie Hannah
  • Narrated by: Julian Rhind-Tutt
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 645
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 603
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 606

Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one's mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman?

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • The Boring Monogram Murders

  • By Ulla on 18-09-14

Great disappointment

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

Reviewed: 23-11-15

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Someone who hasn't read the originals.

Has The Monogram Murders put you off other books in this genre?

No, but would hesitate to read this writer's other books.

Which character – as performed by Julian Rhind-Tutt – was your favourite?

None - all dreary

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Monogram Murders?

last third - rewrite the massive exposition as to what had happened

Any additional comments?

Not since I finished Anthony Horowitz's novel Moriaty have I felt so disappointed with an anticipated good read. But Horowitz’s novel was at least great fun until the author seemed to loose interest and resolve the plot with a sudden last minute, rushed exposition. This Poirot novel takes its final third of an overlong homage to set up both the solution and the many incorrect alternatives. Hastings, dull but endearing, is replaced by a banal and charmless Catchpool who recounts the story for much of the time, though without Dr Watson’s humanity or everyman intelligence. The village where the saga effectively starts has none of the interest of St Mary Mead, and the London hotel has none of the fascination of Bertram’s. If I hadn’t purchased this I would probably have abandoned this by half way, but determined to get my money’s worth with the vain hope that there might be a wonderful resolution I ploughed on. Convinced I must have missed a major aspect I even went back over the last third, to no avail. This is over-long, over-written (I now know that this phrase means), and far too convoluted. Poirot is a caricature with the worst aspects of his original character brought to the fore and played for all they are worth, yet with strangely anomalous aspects (he travels by London bus, writes with a finger in the mud, enjoys café coffee). The main theme seems to be that in a hotel not everything is what it seems, and those who are not chronic liars are merely pathetically naïve. This is hardly new, and was dealt with by Agatha Christie herself long ago in her exploration of the Great Train robbery. Read Miss Marple’s musings on the hotel as a simulacrum for a far more sophisticated discussion of authenticity and evil. Give this a miss, or return to your favourite original Christie novel.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Eye of the Needle

  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: Eric Lincoln
  • Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 194
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 141
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 143

One enemy spy knows the secret of the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin - code name: "The Needle" - who holds the key to the ultimate Nazi victory.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful thriller

  • By A. D. Thacker on 01-07-08

Read the book!

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

Reviewed: 13-04-15

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not time well spent as I could have been better occupied reading the book.

What did you like best about this story?

basic conceit about German intelligence in 1944 is great, but it's realisation was a great disappointment.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

too fast, and the am dram voices were just stupid

Was Eye of the Needle worth the listening time?

Not really.

Any additional comments?

Very disappointing. It's not that it isn't Le Carre, or even that Harris does this kind of thing better in Enigma and Fatherland, or even that pointless Americanisms litter this British story, but this is neither the reading of a novel nor a full dramatisation, but amateur night at the library with ludicrous voices. This is my most disappointing Audible talking book to date.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders

  • By: John Mortimer
  • Narrated by: Bill Wallis
  • Length: 5 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33

Horace Rumpole - cigar-smoking, claret-drinking, Wordsworth-spouting defender of some unlikely clients - often speaks of the great murder trial which revealed his talents as an advocate and made his reputation down at the Bailey when he was still a young man. Now, for the first time, the sensational story of the Penge Bungalow Murders case is told in full: how, shortly after the war, Rumpole took on the seemingly impossible task of defending young Simon Jerold.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A little too long. Probably for Rumpole fans only

  • By Mark H on 11-05-14

pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this

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

Reviewed: 26-02-15

Would you consider the audio edition of Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders to be better than the print version?

Having never found time to watch or read any Rumpole I was pleased to use a period of air travel to listen to this adaptation. I was committed to listening to the full story almost immediately.

What did you like best about this story?

The various voices of the different characters were excellent.

Which character – as performed by Bill Wallis – was your favourite?

Certainly Rumpole himself.

Any additional comments?

Great reading for long plane journey.

A Place of Execution cover art
  • A Place of Execution

  • By: Val McDermid
  • Narrated by: Paddy Glynn
  • Length: 15 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 275
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 81
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80

Winter 1963: 13-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from the isolated Derbyshire hamlet of Scardale. For the young George Bennett, newly promoted to inspector, it is the beginning of his most difficult and harrowing case: a murder with no body, an investigation full of dead ends. Decades later he tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote, but inexplicably pulls the plug just before publication. Catherine is forced to reinvestigate the past with results that turn the world upside down.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My first Val McDermid - I'll be back for more

  • By chris on 20-09-10

A powerful exploration of time and place

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

Reviewed: 20-03-14

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is an excellent novel that I would strongly recommend even if the listener has no prior interest in the Peak District, the 60s or the issue of capital punishment. If the listener, like me, knows the area, lived through the 60s, and has a personal interest in capital punishment, this is an incredible piece. Not wishing to ruin the twists in the plot I will say no more.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Place of Execution?

The initial setting of both the 60s and this part of Derbyshire are memorable, but the way the plot shifts to the present day is quite remarkable.

What does Paddy Glynn bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The reading is good, making the reading more like a radio play than a piece of text.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The realisation of what had really happened when the girl disappeared.

Any additional comments?

I've read the book, listened to the audible version, and read the book whilst listening to the audible version. I think I find this book remarkable. Some of that is due to my walking the Peak District throughout the 60s, so I feel personally very close to the action, but even if I had never visited the area or known that decade I believe this is still a most powerful, and thought-making piece, though fully to explain in what ways would be to give the game away.

  • Enigma

  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: Alan Howard
  • Length: 5 hrs and 59 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 158
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 126
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 126

At Bletchley Park Tom Jericho, a brilliant young codebreaker, is facing a double nightmare. The Germans have unaccountably changed their U-boat Enigma code, threatening a massive Allied defeat. As suspicion grows that there may be a spy inside Bletchley, and Jericho is suspected, his girlfriend, the beautiful and mysterious Claire Romilly, suddenly disappears.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enigma - exploring the complexities of Katyn

  • By Stafford Steve on 30-12-10

Enigma - exploring the complexities of Katyn

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-12-10

The film was disappointing in that it degenerated into a chase across Scotland, something Buchan (39 Steps) did better. The book is more interesting, building up the bizarre world of Bletchley Park as they seek within acute claustrophobia and developing paranoia to break the German naval codes the better to protect the convoys from the U-boats. But different agendas impinge upon their engagement with the Battle of the Atlantic, for they are also listening to Wehrmacht signals from the eastern front, where something very strange has been unearthed in the territories over which the Nazi extermination teams are putting down all resistance and more. The devil has found traces of someone worse, at least comparable, if you are Polish. It gradually becomes clear that our new Soviet allies have been up to something none of the Allies want to hear about. And so the chase is on, to stop the U-boats and so break the naval seige of these islands, while coming to terms with what has been going on along the eastern front. Different members of the team to break the German code react in different ways, but all are going to be changed utterly by the remifications of what they are discovering about war at sea and death along the eastern front. Since this book came out much has changed as regards our knowledge of what happened when Poland was divided between the Nazis and the Soviets. The book was a novel way into the complexities of why one of the worse moments of the Second World War was so long hidden not just by the perpetrators but by almost all concerned. It suggests too that no aspect of the war was totally sealed against what was going on elsewhere: this truely was a world war. And most people have to survive with little knowledge to go on, with every choice often little more than the lesser of the two evils. Read/listen to the book (and then read Fatherland for an exploration of an even greater though hidden trauma).

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Cold Mountain

  • By: Charles Frazier
  • Narrated by: Charles Frazier
  • Length: 14 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43

A soldier wounded in the American Civil War, Inman turns his back on the carnage of the battlefield and begins the treacherous journey home to Cold Mountain - and to Ada, the woman he loved before the war began. As Inman attempts to make his way across the mountains, through the devastated landscape of a soon-to-be-defeated South, Ada struggles to make a living from the land her once-wealthy father left when he died. Neither knows if the other is still alive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Cold Mountain

  • By Stafford Steve on 30-12-10

Cold Mountain

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-12-10

Journeys are a pretty familiar way of exploring the world after the big collapse of civilisation (Book of Eli, The Road) and this is just what the American South has come to, the military, social and economic collapse of a decadent society. Through the post-war chaos one man just wants to head for home, but on route he has to pass the furies. This is no Oh Brother Where Art Thou however, for the curdled societies through which he travels home are now at war with themselves. Here is each against the other, where almost all are considered undesireable outsiders, and where the con-artist rules with a vicious recourse to violence and retribution. But the characters he meets are not all vile, though few if any are untouched by being within a deepening wasteland. And of course the returning soldier changes too, always aware of the fragility of life, of friendship, and of his goal to return home. The 'kindness of strangers' is rarely apparent, but at the most unlikely juncture people can learn a new respect for themselves and others. Meanwhile the folks back home also change out of recognition, to themselves and those who might seek them out. New skills are won and shared, new identities formed, threatened and defended. As the traveller and the homestead convergence the post-war South starts to emerge as something none would have wished to find, but all have some responsibly for creating. This might make the tale very depressing, but its ability to pick out the human moment in the strangest of places (betting on lacrosse with the Cherokee) means that overall I find this quite heartening, though without the more contrived bitter-sweet ending of the movie Sommersby. Even if you have already seen the film read or listen to the book. As is so often the case the book has so much more to offer than the film: your view of folk will never be quite the same. And if a civilisation should collapse, get home as quickly as possible and don't look back. It could happen here too.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Thirty-Nine Steps

  • By: John Buchan
  • Narrated by: Robert Powell
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 783
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 591
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 595

An espionage thriller that has been called the first great spy novel, it has sustained its popularity, being embraced by each new generation. The first in a series of five novels it features the spy Richard Hannay, an action hero with a stiff upper lip who gets caught up in a dangerous race against a plot by German spies to destroy the British war effort. When Richard Hannay offers sanctuary to an American agent seeking his help in stopping a political assassination, he takes the first step on a trail of peril and espionage.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Exiting thriller, with insights into a bygone era.

  • By Harold on 10-06-08

Forget Hitchcock return to Buchan

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-10-10

There have been many movies, of varying quality, and at least two dramatised radio versions, probably better than any screen adaptations, but this audio-book takes us back to the original and still the best version, where 39 steps really do mean 39 steps, and the menace of German agents in the years up to the outbreak of war is palpable. No playing around with deep cover master spies with missing fingers; here the German mastermind is not only a master chameleon but one who can hood his eyes as only an agent of the Kaiser could ever do. Listen to the our hero's rapid disgust with Edwardian London, watch in your mind's eye as he thinks on the hoof, whether trying to get away from the murder scene unnoticed or trying to get as far away as possible by train lines and drover roads over the Galloway hills. A tale of daring do, this remains all the more exciting as our hero is making it up as he goes along, his experiences in Africa providing far less in the way of survival skills than we might expect. His dealings with road menders, inn keepers, and cads of the highest order demonstrate his honest ordinariness. At every turn his desire not just to survive but to find out what the Germans are trying to do that is so important they will do almost anything to capture him keeps the listener engaged. Though these times may be almost a hundred years ago, this is still a modern world of railways and telephones, and more particularly of short-sighted xenophobia that ignores the real threats to Britain and its way of life, all of which retains a certain currency even today. So, listen to this original version, particularly if you have little interest in music hall memory men, preferring your 39 Steps to be about spies thwarted at the very last by an ordinary person cast up amidst extraordinary times. It's almost as good as Geoffrey Household's more intense Rogue Male, another loner on the run from German agents 25 year later.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful