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Derrick

Yelling, United Kingdom
  • 56
  • reviews
  • 110
  • helpful votes
  • 267
  • ratings
  • Red Winter

  • By: Dan Smith
  • Narrated by: Nigel Carrington
  • Length: 13 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11

Russia, 1920: Kolya has deserted his Red Army unit and returns home to bury his brother and reunite with his wife and sons. But he finds the village silent and empty. The men have been massacred in the forest. The women and children have disappeared. In this remote, rural community the folk tales mothers tell their children by candlelight take on powerful significance and the terrifying legend of The Deathless One begins to feel very real. Kolya sets out on a journey through dense, haunting forests and across vast plains as bitter winter sets in, in the desperate hope he will find his family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripped from first to last and narrating excellent

  • By Rowan on 22-07-14

Bleak adventure

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

Reviewed: 10-02-19

I came to this having read The Child Thief, which I enjoyed a lot. There are quite a few similarities with that predecessor: a troubled hero with a dark past travelling across a bleak, Revolutionary Soviet landscape, the pursuit by and of a faceless but terrifying enemy. In some ways there are too many similarities for my taste, but nonetheless this is a pacy, often old-fashioned adventure story. I almost think it is better than The Child Thief.

The author describes a brutal time in early Soviet history, but the descriptions of atrocity are kept to a minimum in favour of a traditional chase adventure. There is enough mystery and suspense to satisfy, and the denouement is not too contrived (as I felt maybe the end of previous book had been).

It is superbly performed by Nigel Carrington.

  • Nemesis

  • By: Rory Clements
  • Narrated by: Adam Sims
  • Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40

In a great English house, a young woman offers herself to one of the most powerful and influential figures in the land - but this is no ordinary seduction. She plans to ensure his death.... On holiday in France, Professor Tom Wilde discovers his brilliant student Marcus Marfield, who disappeared two years earlier to join the International Brigades in Spain, in the Le Vernet concentration camp in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Wilde secures his release just as German tanks roll into Poland. Meanwhile, a U-boat sinks the liner Athenia in the Atlantic with many casualties....

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Puerile nonsense.....

  • By Amazon Customer on 26-02-19

Taut, well-constructed thriller

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

Reviewed: 01-02-19

I enjoyed this. I came to it after listening to the first two books in this series and the same qualities were here too. This is well-constructed, with a tense story which does not have to rely upon implausible coincidences or a bashy-crashy superhero to make it work. There are some great set-pieces and a solid, evenly paced narrative, superbly rendered by Adam Sims.

If I have one criticism, it is that this is very like the other two stories; Prof Tom Wilde follows the trail of some suspicious murders, uncovers the dastardly plot to do something splashy, rides his trusty Rudge motorbike recklessly through the Cambridgeshire countryside and saves the day, some genuinely unpleasant acts by the bad guy to eliminate any residual support, followed by a reckoning with the Prof. Am I being churlish? Isn't that the plot of every thriller? Maybe, but at the end of this audiobook, Rory Clements shares his thoughts about the period he writes about and promises to read every review. So, dear Rory, please don't let this wonderful series, so well-written, become "samey" too soon?

  • Operation Red Falcon

  • By: Ronen Bergman
  • Narrated by: Joel Lovell
  • Length: 1 hr and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

Early on the morning of September 1, 1996, the Israeli military began preparing for a war with Syria they were convinced was imminent. The Israelis had received top-secret intelligence from a Syrian general and informant code-named Red Falcon, recruited 23 years earlier by Mossad spy Yehuda Gil - himself known as "the man of a thousand faces." Gil had been the general's sole handler, the conduit of decades of critical intelligence. But now, on the brink of war, questions arose about who exactly was handling whom. What information was real and what was a lie?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating

  • By Derrick on 19-01-19

Fascinating

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

Reviewed: 19-01-19

I came to this having listened to the much longer "Rise and kill first" by the same author, an investigative journalist from Israel. This is a well-told, immersive story about a one-time Mossad "suoer-spy" and his fall from grace. Far from glamourising the man or the agency, this is a wonderfully drawn portrait of a complex man in a story which seems plucked straight from the grey-shaded world of John Le Carre.

All too short, it is well-told, well-voiced and fascinating.

  • Rise and Kill First

  • The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations
  • By: Ronen Bergman
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 25 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 70
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 70

In this pause-resisting, eye-opening audiobook, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman - praised by David Remnick as 'arguably [Israel's] best investigative reporter' - offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating, enlightening and shocking

  • By Derrick on 19-01-19

Fascinating, enlightening and shocking

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

Reviewed: 19-01-19

I started this book a little sceptical as the author concedes the secrecy of the Mossad, but claims to have gained unparalleled unofficial insight through interviews with multiple Mossad agents across the period from 1948 till today. As the book continues with some remarkable stories, I started checking the internet alongside listening to the book. I have to say I found all of the stories that I checked to be corroborated by other sources.

As to the book itself, it is a fascinating and enthralling tale of decades of assassination covering not just Mossad, but the entirety of Israel's intelligence community. The narrative rattles along and I was surprised when I realised this book is 26 hours long.

There are a number of things that struck me. First is the sheer scale of this activity, well told with a good sense of how successive generations of operatives found reason to dispense with what many would see as "the rule of law". Second are the intimate links between the intelligence community with senior government; many Prime Ministers having served within these very same units earlier in their lives.

My over-riding impression, though, was Bergman's careful charting of this much-vaunted force losing any sense of moral compass. In recent times, Bergman describes how even senior retired officers, including one Mossad chief, feel its ruthless approach has become counter-productive. David becomes Goliath. That is not to say that he shies away from describing the appalling terrorist acts of the PLO, Black September and the rest, nor the very real threat from Arab countries and in more recent times, from Iran. But as one listens to the descriptions of discussions within Mossad and with politicians, it is fascinating to see how moral considerations are eroded until hardly recognised at all. Fascinating, enthralling, but appalling and sad.

One reviewer has talked about the author "having an agenda". I was intrigued as to what this might be, but for me, at least, it is less an "agenda" and more of an inevitable conclusion if one accepts the analysis that this book contains.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Game is Afoot

  • The Secret History of Hollywood
  • By: Adam Roche
  • Length: 2 hrs and 35 mins
  • Highlights
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 21

In 1939, 20th Century Fox teamed Basil Rathbone with Nigel Bruce in their lavish production of The Hound Of The Baskervilles and Hollywood introduced one of the most enduring detectives to the world of film. Over the decades interest in Sherlock Holmes wavered and he appeared antiquated to a modern world on the brink on a second world war, until a new plan was instigated....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating story of some well-loved characters

  • By Derrick on 19-12-18

Fascinating story of some well-loved characters

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

Reviewed: 19-12-18

Adam Roche has cornered the market in telling interesting and lesser known backstories to famous Hollywood films and stars. For Brits of a certain age who grew up with Basil Rathbone as "their" Holmes, this will be a fascinating narrative, straddling the stories of the actors but also the films in Roche's usual engaging style. The level of detail is great and prompted me to revisit a couple of the films.

OK, it is frothy and a bit sentimental at times, but this is essentially a nostalgia gig. Some of the background music; heavy on poignant piano solos or romantic strings can be a bit tedious, but not overly obtrusive.

One thing that a number of reviewers of Adam Roche's output comment upon is his intonation/accent. Whilst clearly British, I think the narrator tries for a slightly "posher" English accent than he actually has; maybe to appeal to a US audience. Certainly he describes things like the film censors in a way that assumes an understanding of the US system. As a consequence, he stretches some of his vowels in a way which is plainly forced to an British ear. Again, I found that a mild distraction as opposed to a material issue.

All in all, a great listen on an obscure but very engaging subject.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Angel Seven

  • By: Mike Lunnon-Wood
  • Narrated by: John Telfer
  • Length: 17 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 19

A group of scientists fed up with the post-Hiroshima world set themselves up with the resources to produce a phenomenally fast stealth plane which can intercept missiles - and hope to use it to bring about world peace. Recruited as a test pilot, can the hero stop a world from sliding into chaos? 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable if a little dated

  • By Mr. David on 05-12-18

Thunderbirds for grown-ups

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

Reviewed: 21-11-18

I came to this having read and thoroughly enjoyed Lunnon-Wood's 'military quartet'. This is a rather different beast. Whereas those are fairly well-grounded tales with a strong sense of realism, this is more of a fantasy tale. Whereas his other works outclass the fantasy techno-thrillers of other (often US) writers, this nestles very much in that field. A secret but hugely powerful organisation bent on nuclear disarmament builds a hypersonic plane armed with lasers years ahead of its time and uses it to coerce and encourage the world to nuclear disarmament. The comparisons with 'Thunderbirds' and International Rescue are hard to avoid. There are no visible puppet strings, but if there are such things in an audiobook, then they are here.

It is OK, if that is your thing. Another reviewer speaks of this being an emotional listen. It is true that all of Lunnon-Wood's other novels have a healthy dollop of sentimentality in them. This is no exception. In those other cases, it is grounded in a solid, strong and believable story. Here, it is much more comic-strip and, for me at least, rather less engaging as a result.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Universe of Horrors

  • The Secret History of Hollywood
  • By: Adam Roche
  • Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 33

Delving deep into the darkest corners of horror movies this series explores the highs and lows of the blood and gore genre following, in particular, the changing fortunes of Universal Horror. From Dracula and Frankenstein to The Black Cat, a movie that even Universal executives deemed "too vile for public consumption", and beyond to the influences of science fiction and the new breed of horror films.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great story, well delivered. Well worth a listen.

  • By mjh on 14-08-18

Great nostalgia

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

Reviewed: 07-11-18

I remember Friday nights on BBC2 as a kid when there was a double bill of these films. I loved that. This is wonderful nostalgia and genuinely informative about the context of these films. The narrator and presumably author is a bit strained. I suspect this is in service of a US audience. There is a presumption when describing censors that it is US-centric, so the forced posh English accent is part of the proposition. The reality is that the vowels don't work to any English accent that I have ever known, but might work for a US audience. But that is a minor grumble; this is entertainting stuff.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Treachery of Spies

  • By: Manda Scott
  • Narrated by: Emma Gregory, Philip Stevens, Sally Scott
  • Length: 18 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 200
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 184
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 184

An elderly woman of striking beauty is found murdered in Orleans, France. Her identity has been cleverly erased, but the method of her death is very specific: she has been killed in the manner of traitors to the Resistance in World War Two. Tracking down her murderer leads police inspector Inès Picaut back to 1940s France, where the men and women of the Resistance were engaged in a desperate fight for survival against the Nazi invaders.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent!

  • By kriss on 14-09-18

Too convoluted for its own good

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

Reviewed: 05-11-18

This starts really well, and I love the timeshift between the modern day and WWII, but it goes downhill for me from then. Any spy thriller needs to be complex and full of false trails, but this goes beyond the sustainable and just ends up being silly and a bit tedious. The plot stumbles into an impenetrable tangle at the climax, but you just go with it because trying to map out the 'how and the why' is not worth going back instead of just slogging to the end.

I did stay to the finish, but checked the time quite a lot to see whether I would.

It is wonderfully performed by a trio of readers; they do a fine job, but I wish they had better material.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Vietnam

  • An Epic History of a Divisive War 1945-1975
  • By: Max Hastings
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble, Max Hastings - introduction
  • Length: 33 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 287
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 265
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 262

Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam and less familiar battles such as the bloodbath at Daido.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant

  • By Derrick on 20-10-18

Brilliant

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

Reviewed: 20-10-18

I have read a few of Hastings's books and whilst liking them, have not thought them outstanding. This, however, is the book that Hastings was destined to write. In his foreword, he (rightly) pays tribute to the Ken Burns documentary series about the Vietnam war, and then proceeds to comprehensively outclass it with this awesome narrative history.

That is no mean achievement.

There are several reasons for this. I think the core is that this vastly experienced journalist can always bring his great ability to bring colour and humanity to a story; but the key here is that he was THERE. He sat in a Huey and interviewed President Johnson. It brings a sincerity and power to this story which is genuinely palpable. The pace, energy and drama of his narrative is extraordinary. His description of the Rolling Thunder air campaign or the Tet offensive is masterful.

That power is most evident when he describes the stories of individuals on both sides. The story of the Tet offensive is, I feel ,the finest passage of this work. The title of "tragedy" is powerfully but sensitively portrayed. The image of a petrified South Vietnamese girl opening her dress with trembling hands to an ARVN officer whom she erroneously thinks is bent on rape is heartbreaking.

Perhaps still more important, though, is his commentary on the North Vietnamese. In every other history of the Vietnam war (that this reviewer has read at least), the story is almost exclusively from the US/South Vietnamese side. The weaknesses of the losers is not usually balanced with any comparison with the ultimately victorious North, beyond a recognition of their huge commitment and courage. Hastings portrays the ruthless North Vietnamese as different, but no better; perhaps worse, then the incompetent and corrupt South. Again, the verdict of "tragedy" is driven home with heart-felt ferocity, but no lack of clarity.

This is a balanced, mature, even magisterial piece of popular history.

Get it. Just get it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Courts of the Morning

  • By: John Buchan
  • Narrated by: Peter Newcombe Joyce
  • Length: 16 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

Sir Richard Hannay introduces this last adventure involving his old friends.

John Blenkiron discovers that a ruthless industrialist is plotting to destabilise America and cause global turmoil. Although Bavarian born, Castor plans to dominate the world from Olifa, a small country in Latin America. Hannay realises he is now too old for the job of thwarting these evil designs and enlists the aid of his old friend Sandy Arbuthnot, now Lord Clanroyden.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Buchan's tactical stories are rather better.

  • By Mr on 04-10-18

Not vintage Buchan

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

Reviewed: 24-09-18

Like so many Buchan novels, this draws upon a small band of intrepid heroes who orbit around Richard Hannay, who provides the foreword to this adventure. However, that is the limit of his involvement in a story which takes place in the interwar period in a fictional South American country, but has lots of characteristics of Argentina and Chile.

With Sandy Arbuthnot (of Greenmantle fame) and the American speculator Blenkiron in tow, the story promises much but is strangely lifeless. It centres on a rebellion inspired and led by Arbuthnot, but almost all the real action happens off-stage, a bit like many of the battles in Shakespeare and is reported by characters who run on breathlessly to tell their news. There are a few set-pieces which are quite gripping, but this is not one of Buchan's best, and it is small wonder that it has fallen into relative obscurity.

For Buchan aficionados only, I feel.