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Michelle

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The Sublime & The Ridiculous Entwined

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

Reviewed: 05-01-14

This book kept me enthralled, and I got my earphones out at every opportunity. The story is of a high-flying American financier who decides to take a holiday. During his period of leave, he becomes entangled in the search for a medieval document, the eponymous "Codex" of the title. The story is exciting and moves at a pace; it is built around the alleged conflict between an English duke & duchess.

The story works its way up to an exciting conclusion. The conclusion, however, never comes. In a nutshell, the story just stops. It's extremely annoying and leaves the listener feeling totally short-changed.

4 people found this helpful

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

Reviewed: 31-12-13

The theme which winds it's way through the story is the manner in which outsiders, indeed anybody different to those indigenous to a place, can be ill treated. The novel is set in nineteenth century rural Wales, and deals with a young woman who is ignorant of the fact that she is a fledgling witch. I cannot say more as it would spoil the book for anybody listening to it for the first time.
The narration is excellent. There are two voices which take the listener through the story, one Welsh and one English. I, for one, could not discern which is the narrator's actual accent, if either.
If you like historical fiction with a dash of the supernatural, then I cannot recommend this book enough. Those new to the genre may find it a touch strange and difficult in places, but it is well worth persisting through the more unusual scenes.

8 people found this helpful

Female Take on the Psychological Whodunnit

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

Reviewed: 23-06-13

I bought this book on a whim with a refunded credit; I really cannot say why. What I can say, with total certainty, is that I'm extremely glad that I did.

It is a psychological whodunnit, centred on the inexplicable murder of a Polish nanny, whose corpse is discovered in a fairly public place by the female presenter of a daytime magazine-type programme. Naturally, the police become involved and the plot twists and turns from this point onwards. The quasi-psychological denouement is built up, not gradually as most novels of this type are apt to do, but in steps and plateaux. This is refreshingly different, although I cannot say much more without spoiling the story for others.

The story is written in the first person and the narration is a perfect rendition of the main character's thoughts, actions and, more than anything, her feelings and emotions. The other main characters are the cliche'd personae of the high-flying city lawyer, the Eastern European nanny, the world-weary Met police inspector, the newspaper hack and the upper middle class Home Counties best friend. Whilst they might be cliche'd characters, they are expertly cracked open and their quirks, foibles and flaws are laid bare and dissected.

In conclusion, I really cannot recommend this book highly enough, but with the caveat that it is not really suited to anyone without a fondness for fictional crime/detective novels. I have awarded the full five starts, both over all and for the superb narration. I have, perhaps, been a touch harsh on the plot and marked it down to four stars. The reason for this is that there are not only a small number of non sequiturs in the peripheral story line, but also the occasional poor construction of language; this broke the rhythm of the prose. As I have said in many previous reviews, this is my review and I dare say that this small criticism is purely subjective and is the direct result of my own "taste and fancy".

17 people found this helpful

Superb Debut

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

Reviewed: 29-05-13

Imagine Raymond Chandler crossed with Douglas Adams, and you get something approximating this excellent debut novel from Robert Galbraith. The plot is centred around the death of a supermodel; suicide is the obvious verdict, a verdict that her brother cannot accept. There is little to add about the plot, and laid in such bare terms it sounds like a cliche of countless other novels of this genre. I can assure the listener, however, that both the plot twists and the prose themselves make this anything but a cliche. The author's use of the English language makes the book a must-listen in its own right, the construction of the words themselves are a delight; a number of idiosyncratic similes and metaphors are simply inspired, the description of one model's attempt at a pout making me laugh out loud. Whilst all the characters are colourful in their own right, the book is based around a one-legged gumshoe detective and his temporary secretary, who has harboured a secret desire from childhood to work for a private eye. He is a world-weary former member of the military, she a fresh-faced and somewhat naive Yorkshire girl recently arrived in London. Again, these sound somewhat cliched and two-dimensional when described in such basic terms, but they are so well written that they are anything but. With audiobooks, the narrator is arguably just as important as the book itself. Robert Glenister does a sterling job here, especially with the vocal characterisation of all those we meet. His skills definitely added to my awarding the full five stars to "The Cuckoo's Calling". Anybody who enjoys a good crime novel will love this; anyone who doesn't, won't. This may seem pedantic, but it is worth saying as a great review can sometimes tempt listeners into books that are patently unsuitable for their taste. This may be just another of many detective tales, but I, for one, cannot wait for the sequel.

14 people found this helpful

Myth Reworked - Badly

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

Reviewed: 27-05-13

I read the blurb for this book and it sounded so good that I bought it without waiting for my monthly credits. I shouldn't have bothered.

The first few chapters are exciting, making the reader want to race on to find out how the plot is going to develop. Unfortunately, the rest of the book fails to live up to this promising beginning. The first mistake is that the current day mystery is wrapped around a dramatised tale of Plato's visit to Italy; the narratives in no way mirror each other and the author should have concentrated on just one.

The Plato story is one that has been revisited many, many times over the last two and a half millennia. Everything that could possibly have been said has been said and the author should have left well alone. The other strand of the book is basically a modern day version of the "Orpheus and Euridice" myth. Again, this has been done to death over the centuries and this is not one of the better versions. It starts well, but fizzles out and even the ending is predictable and not particularly well plotted out.

In the book's defence, the narrators did a sterling job. The exception to this is the quotation from Plato read at the beginning of each strand of that part of the story; it was recorded using an echo chamber mike and made it sound like the start of a cheap rock music track (an album track at that!). This was totally unnecessary.

In summary, this book attempts to be too many things and, as is usual with such things, fails to do any of them well.

4 people found this helpful

Great Improvement

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

Reviewed: 16-05-13

This is Dan Brown back to his best; a racy thriller with more twists, turns and total plot inversions than any one book could possibly be expected to contain. It is not great literature, but, then again, it never claims to be. A précis of the plot isn't really possible without spoiling the whole book. Suffice it to say that Robert Langdon, a character who needs no introduction, is back to what he does best, racing across Europe in a desperate attempt to thwart the baddie; who the baddie actually is, however, is swathed in layers of smoke, mirrors and downright misdirection until well into the story.

Whilst Langdon is delightfully the same, he is supported by a cast of well drawn characters who are at once believable yet, in most cases, fundamentally flawed. It is not possible to say more than this without spoiling some element of the caduceus-like plot.

For Audible, however, the performance can make or break the enjoyment of a book, and, in this, the American narration spoiled this to a certain extent. The only non-European character is Langdon himself, so I would have expected some effort on the part of the narrator to reflect this. The entire book is read in American English, the exception being the Italians, whose accents were almost risible in parts, and with such verbal horrors of "niche" continually pronounced to rhyme with "pitch", and "fertile" to rhyme with "turtle". This utterly set my teeth on edge after a while. I appreciate that this is entirely my own personal "taste and fancy", but this is my review and it is sometimes difficult to retain total objectivity.

Overall, this is a great listen, narration aside. Dan Brown fans everywhere will love it; those who never warmed to his oeuvre of the thriller wrapped in conspiracy theory may well be disappointed once again.

80 people found this helpful

Caveat Emptor

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-04-13

I have been eagerly awaiting the last book in the author's Citadel trilogy, and I have not been disappointed in any way.



The main characters around whom the story winds are all there, no one has been omitted or moved into the background. This book brings all the remaining threads of the story so far, together with the mysteries left hanging at the climaxes if the first two parts.



My only criticisms, if they can be referred to as such, are the absence of the Goth pathologist and the voice of Athenasius. The latter is my main gripe as the narrator has read all three of the books and all the voices of all the other main characters are exactly same, leading to a seamless continuation. This isn't really a criticism, however, just my own "taste and fancy" coming to the fore. Similarly, the absence of the Goth pathologist is merely a mild irritant as he was only ever a minor character, but he did steal any scenes in which he appeared.



The most important message I feel I must emphasise is that the book is the final part of a much longer work. Minimal attempt, if any, is made by the author to explain the background surrounding the apparently bizarre history of events or characters of any of the main protagonists whose story this effectively is.

1 person found this helpful

Almost Perfect

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-03-13

This is Elly Griffiths at her best, unfortunately at is ruined by one thing; the narrator's characterisation of Cathbad's voice.



The story is classic Ruth Galloway and it cannot be faulted, the usual suspects are all there, with the twist that the main plot is set on the Lancashire coast. Most of the voice characterisations, which is very important when listening to a book, are fine. The voice of Cathbad, however, is dreadful. The Druid grew up in rural Ireland and has spent his adult life, as far as we have been informed thus far, in Manchester and rural Norfolk; the narrator makes him sound as though he were a bad actor trying to portray the result of a Home Counties upbringing coupled with Eton and Oxbridge.



The book itself would be a definite "five stars", but I just cannot do the same for this audiobook as a whole.

6 people found this helpful

Superb

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-12-12

This book is simply superb, and any fans of Ms Mosse will not be disappointed.



It sticks to the usual formula of two stories, separated by hundreds of years, which come to mesh together. The main story is based in the French Free Zone durning the middle and latter years of WWII. It may be the same formula, but it is by no means a regurgitation of the same stories of the author's previous novels.



The only caveat I would add is that this book does presuppose that the reader has read "Labyrinth"; I can imagine that anyone reading "Citadel" as a stand-alone book, not having read any of the author's previous books based in the Languedoc , could find themselves rather confused in places.

12 people found this helpful

Deadly Intent cover art

Dreadful Narrator

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-12-12

This was what I've come to expect from Ms La Plante, a great story woven around damaged but believable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, however it took me several attempts to get past the first couple of chapters due to the dreadful narration. The narrator sounded as if she should be reading books aimed at teenage girls, not a gritty crime novel.