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Knucklebones

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  • The Noel Coward BBC Radio Drama Collection

  • Seven BBC Radio Full-cast Productions
  • By: Noel Coward
  • Narrated by: Alex Jennings, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, and others
  • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11

Renowned for his wit, style and sophistication, Noël Coward was one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. His plays, set in the glittering world of high society in which he lived, are much admired and have remained in the popular theatre repertoire to this day. This collection brings together the very best radio adaptation

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Blowing hot and cold

  • By Knucklebones on 19-10-18

Blowing hot and cold

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

Reviewed: 19-10-18

I'm afraid out of the seven plays I only enjoyed three of them: 'Private Lives' (wonderfully performed and as pertinent today as when it was written), the other-worldly 'Blithe Spirit' and the poignant 'Still Life'. The remainder, unfortunately, have dated very badly, leaving just an irritating shrill memory in their wake.

  • The Dupin Mysteries

  • By: Edgar Allen Poe
  • Narrated by: Bill Nighy
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    2.5 out of 5 stars 5

The three tales that make up Edgar Allan Poe's The Dupin Mysteries introduce us to the cracking character of Chevalier Auguste Dupin. As a rationalist and practitioner of brilliant deduction, he was to become the template for most of the detective fiction that followed speedily in his wake. The first tale, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", details a form of murder solving that was to become only too familiar.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bill Nighy is snsx

  • By Barbara Murray on 25-02-16

Extremely hard work wading through these

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

Reviewed: 19-10-18

Poe's three mysteries featuring C. Auguste Dupin are The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt and The Purloined Letter. They're all closely-argued philosophical discussions with very little action, and to modern ears it's rather like wading through thick cold porridge. The second story especially was so long and turgid that I had to keep pausing to give myself some respite. These stories might just possibly appeal to very logical minds, but even Bill Nighy's mellifluous tones couldn't save it for me. Returned very swiftly.

  • Rat Race

  • By: Dick Francis
  • Narrated by: Ian Ogilvy
  • Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 92
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63

Hired to fly four racing buffs to the track, pilot Matt Shore expects it will be the kind of job he likes: quick and easy. Until, that is, he’s forced to make an emergency landing just minutes before the plane explodes. Luckily, no one is hurt, but it isn’t long before Matt realises that he’s caught up in the rat race of violent criminals who are dead-set on putting anyone who stands in their way on the wrong side of the odds.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Poor narration

  • By Simon Evers on 17-05-13

Dull dull and yet more dull

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

Reviewed: 20-04-18

Ian Ogilvy gives a one-dimensional and very dull reading of this rather trite and predictable story which will only really appeal to someone who's hooked on one- and two-engine planes. Yet another worthy but misunderstood hero who keeps coming to the rescue but rarely gets the credit. Where are all the interesting and entertaining characters who inhabited Francis' earlier novels? Not here, that's for sure. Not recommended.

  • Dead Heat

  • By: Dick Francis
  • Narrated by: Felix Francis, Tony Britton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63

The night before the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket sees the great and the good of the horse-racing community gathered for a prestigious black-tie Gala dinner. It is a fitting testament to the glamour of the occasion that top chef Max Moreton is cooking the evening's meal. Founder of the racing town's favourite Michelin-starred restaurant, the Hay Net, Max is something of a celebrity in Newmarket circles.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Slow cooking not worth the wait

  • By Knucklebones on 20-04-18

Slow cooking not worth the wait

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

Reviewed: 20-04-18

Sounds like an interesting scenario, but witten without any depth of insight into the restaurant business, and far far too slow in getting anywhere. Also Tony Britton is far too old to take on this role of a late-20s energetic chef. Gone are the amusing and entertaining characterisations of earlier Francis readings, and instead we're given a very downbeat exhausted rendering. I managed just over 2 hours of it before returning the title. Not recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Roger Moore

  • My Word Is My Bond
  • By: Roger Moore
  • Narrated by: Roger Moore
  • Length: 2 hrs and 40 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 82

The first ever autobiography of this truly international legend, written with all the trademark style, candour, charm, and wit he has brought to stage and screen over his long and illustrious career.

With personal anecdotes about such luminaries as Noel Coward, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Cary Grant, and Sean Connery, and memories from the heyday of Hollywood, this frank, funny and charming autobiography is packed with wonderful stories.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very interesting Autobiography.

  • By William Stewart on 13-04-13

Too short and (sorry) too old

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

Reviewed: 12-06-17

I came away from this with two impressions. Firstly, that this Abridged version has cut Mr Moore's life story down to the bare minimum in order not to strain his voice during the recordings. It just left too much out of what's been an interesting life. It doesn't help that a big chunk at the end is devoted to his work for UNICEF - a charity that he is deservedly passionate about, but for the listener it means even less of his film career is covered in this brief 2hrs 40mins. My second impression was (sorry to be cruel) that at 80 years old Mr Moore's voice is too far gone to bring the necessary energy to the telling. He starts with a bounce at each new section but then quickly dies away into a slowish slur. The same fault applies to his 'Bond on Bond' recording.

For those who want a slice of Roger Moore's wonderful wit and bonhomie, I recommend instead 'Last Man Standing' - interesting and funny tales from his movie and TV career - which is both Unabridged and read in a decent Moore--ish drawl by the excellent Jonathan Keeble.

  • Blood Sport

  • By: Dick Francis
  • Narrated by: Tony Britton
  • Length: 7 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71

Gene Hawkins, investigator by trade, was expert at arranging events so that they appeared accidental to all involved. Therefore, when he himself witnessed an ‘accident’ his curiosity flared up bright, and he insisted on looking into what he regarded as a work of art. A quarter of a million pounds worth of Derby-winning stallion had vanished into the Blue Grass of Kentucky... and a young man and a girl spent a dangerous afternoon in a punt on the River Thames.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • blood sport

  • By Mrs on 26-05-18

Depression makes for a depressing story

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

Reviewed: 04-05-17

What becomes clear very early on is that the protagonist suffers from clinical depression. So this interesting tale of tracking down stolen horses in the U.S keeps taking sudden and unexpected downturns as Hawkins contemplates for the nth time whether to top himself. Approaching 40, our depressed hero falls in love with an 18 year old girl who returns his feelings with interest (a bit of wishful thinking on the author's part, I felt). Together with some absurdly good fortune in tracing the thieves, this is a roller-coaster of an uneven ride. By no means one of Dick Francis' best. Good audio quality throughout.

  • Break In

  • By: Dick Francis
  • Narrated by: Tony Britton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 95

Steeplechase jockey Kit Fielding has just ridden another winner for his patron – the Princess – when his distraught twin sister Holly comes to him with terrible news. A newspaper is printing stories that will put her husband, Bobby Allardeck, and his stables out of business.Putting aside the age-old Fielding-Allardeck feud, Kit decides to try to find out who is behind these cruel stories.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging

  • By David on 28-06-18

Surprisingly unpleasant hero and poor sound

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

Reviewed: 22-04-17

This is the first Dick Francis novel that I've actively disliked, mainly because the hero is rather unpleasant, and as much of a blackmailer in his way as his enemies are. I had no empathy for him, nor for his rather privileged girlfriend.

The recording has obviously been taken from worn-out audiotape - fuzzy, muddy, changing volume and clarity at virtually every chapter, and with a massive speeded-up chunk in the middle. Recordings of this poor quality really shouldn't be offered on Audible at standard prices! The final thing that wrecked this one for me is Tony Britton's utter inability to do convincing female voices, especially his falsetto American gal accent (exactly the same failing that spoilt the otherwise excellent 'High Stakes').

  • Banker

  • By: Dick Francis
  • Narrated by: Tony Britton
  • Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129

Tim Ekaterin's merchant bank, like all banks, only invests in sure things. Now he's about to involve it in ₤5 million of prime horseflesh, a stallion called Sandcastle. Top breeders reckon it's the safest bet in racing. But racing doesn't just attract the money men of the city. It's riddled with all kinds of dubious dealmakers. People who don't think twice about breaking bones. People to whom no bet is safe until it's paid in blood, Ekaterin's blood.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent

  • By David on 18-08-07

When bankers used to be the good guys

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

Reviewed: 21-04-17

Written long before lax regulations and greed put bankers beyond the pale, this is an interesting tale of a stud farm whose future hangs on the purchase of a £5m horse to improve the quality of its foals. But as usual dark deeds are afoot to scupper their new acquisition, and it's up to our likeable hero banker to delve the depths and sort it out. It plods along at a reasonable pace, though after the initial action at Ascot there are no helter-skelter racing scenes nor much scent of the turf, so it lacks the spills and thrills of other Francis novels. It's a fairly strong detective story with numerous strands that are neatly tied up by the end.

Like many of these old Dick Francis/Tony Britton recordings, the overall sound quality drags this title down into 3* territory. It's just about tolerable as there's no obvious background hiss (unlike 'Straight'), but the sound leaps around all over the place with blurry, muddied sections, some over-fast bits, and a general 'copied from worn audiotapes' nastiness. A pity.

  • Bonecrack

  • By: Dick Francis
  • Narrated by: Tony Britton
  • Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 69
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56

Violence suddenly takes the lead in the life of Neil Griffon. Following a grisly accident that lands his father in the hospital, Griffon finds himself in charge of his father's stables. Before he has a chance to get his bearings, he is brutally assaulted and abducted. The price for his freedom will mean the betrayal and deception of those who trust Griffon most.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book

  • By Hazel on 21-07-13

Strong and believable storyline

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

Reviewed: 18-04-17

The set-up for this story seems a bit outlandish at first, with the hero being blackmailed and brutalised into taking on a relative amateur to his father's training stables. But the characters are very well-drawn and the motivations believable. The novel becomes both an insider's view of the relentless training regimes and a thrilling journey into independence for the likeable and courageous hero. I enjoyed this novel tremendously, as well as the expert narration by Tony Britton. Good sound quality throughout.

  • Flying Finish

  • By: Dick Francis
  • Narrated by: Tony Britton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 130
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84

Henry Grey doesn't particularly care for having been born the heir to an earldom. he is a reserved young man whose greatest problem is his mother's match-making plots and whose greatest joy is to ride as an amateur steeplechase jockey. But on a sudden impulse, he throws in his respectable desk job to join a firm which transports racehorses all over the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • believable story line

  • By Amazon Customer on 15-05-12

More flying than riding

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

Reviewed: 18-04-17

This story is based almost completely in the air transportation of horses, so don't expect much action on the turf. It's got a decent storyline of shady dealings in horseflesh trading, with interesting characters and lurking menace. And for once the narrator makes a pretty good fist of the principal female voice (the hero's Italian love interest). What rather spoilt it for me was the complicated, puzzling motives behind the final violent confrontation, which involves some sort of Cold War defection, which I still can't figure out in how it relates to the general plot!

Good sound quality throughout. Altogether, this is one for holding in reserve until you've worked your way through the best of Francis' novels, unless you're particularly gripped by novels set in the skies..