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Angela

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Silly and anachronistic

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

Reviewed: 02-12-19

I've tried listening to this audiobook so many times but, really, it doesn't merit the time. The plot, the characters are just so vapid and silly. For some reason, the book put me in mind of Christie's "Tommy and Tuppence" series...but don't ask me why..

The only thing that rang true about the student, for example, was her name. Come to think of it, same could be said of the way in which the University and her studies were conveyed. The university sounded more like an offshore degree mill - and the True Crime #101 theme of her dissertation was laughable. Don't get me going on the dastardly Professor, driven to instigate murderous mayhem and madness by hubris and envy...

I've listened to all the books in the series with varying degrees of interest and irritation. This is, by far, the weakest of the series. It reads like it was written very, very quickly.

I have to admit that I've always had a problem with Ms Klein who is such a fantastically - as in, not wholly believable - irritating woman. The authors tell us what we're supposed to think of her but never provide any evidence in the character's behaviour and actions.

This book differs from its predecessors in that the plot, the little scraps of history, which I usually enjoy, were a far less effective distraction that usual. It was all Kleinified nonsense, devilish adversaries and a daft ingenue cum acolyte putting herself in danger at every opportunity.

The night-walking ( in a version of London that doesn't exist anywhere except, perhaps, the imagination of a US-based author of cozy and/or historical mysteries) is supposed to tell us something about Ms Klein but I'm not sure what, other than she seems impervious to danger or fatigue. (Like Mrs Thatcher....?) I suffer from insomnia and I can tell you for nowt that I wouldn't want to rely on a therapist who was not only sleep deprived but physically worn-out from spending her wakeful hours tramping around London. Mind you, her step-count must be enviable.




Everybloke Inspector Carlyle comes into his own

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

Reviewed: 30-09-13

A policeman with the quirks and foibles of the 'average' bloke isn't the most obviously attractive character to have at the centre of a novel but in this book I think James Craig gets the balance just about right.

I've listened to one other book in this series and I have to say I didn't take to the gruff Inspector at all. While I think I understood what the author was trying to do - i.e, get away from the overly quirky, emotionally incontinent, hard-bitten loner - with obligatory drink/drug/other problems - that is the stock male protagonist, the characterisation in the previous book (#1) lacked balance. Carlyle was too offhand, too devoid of empathy and lacking in any traits which I could find at all sympathetic.

Even 'nice' male leads in other books tend to be laden with neuroses and/or terrible childhoods not to mention an inability to move on from the trauma of losing a wife or a posh/mean girlfriend who gave them the elbow at an early age. Not Carlyle . He carries whatever emotional baggage he has like the stoic (ish) everyman he is. He doesn't even have a daft name.

The punk band he likes (The Clash) is the one that ordinary blokes like. There's no binbag & safety pin couture in his past. He has a wife and daughter to whom, it becomes clear in this book, he is devoted. He worries about his daughter's safety and her future. He takes his job seriously but not to the point of obsession which seems to be de rigeur in so many other procedurals. He is also, I think, committed to securing whatever kind of 'justice' is in his power.

He may be ordinary (and he is....sort of) but that in itself is a refreshing change from the tenpence-mix bag of cliches that so often populate crime novels.

As to the plot, it is far from formulaic. The ''fiends in high places' is not exactly new but it is well handled. And quite brave to judge by at least one review.

Finally, I'm sure the Inspector would far rather the alleged lack of narrative 'chords' in which his story is conveyed be compared to The Ramones rather than good old Status Quo.

1 person found this helpful

Everyone Lies cover art

Intelligent reworking of stock characters

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

Reviewed: 22-07-13

Would you try another book written by A.D. Garrett or narrated by Anna Bentinck?

Maybe...depends on the location

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I generally enjoy Anna Bentinck’s narrations but, in this case, she was simply the wrong choice. Very simply, she can’t do any of the Mancunian accent(s) so had to fall back on a variety of non-specific Northern accents. Note to narrators : Blackley is pronounced Blake-ley.

Did Everyone Lies inspire you to do anything?

It made me wonder why a moonlighting public sector employee – i.e. not on expenses – would stay at an expensive hotel rather than stay somewhere more economical within walking distance of a station.

Any additional comments?

This is an exceptionally well-plotted and generally better than average version of a particular sub genre - the maverick buddy forensic procedural. The plot is the book's main strength - not what you’d call original but very well crafted and full of twists and turns.
Mavericks abound in this book and if you're a regular consumer of crime fiction you'll have come across them many times before. Having said that, the main characters are, on the whole, interesting if not compelling.

Contrary to one of the blurbs featured on Audible, the location is not one of the book’s strengths. The book is very liberally peppered with locations and landmarks – and maybe that’s the problem. There are occasions when it feels like the author is waving a flag with ‘This is Manchester’ written in alternate blue and red lettering. Throwing in well-known landmarks like The Midland Hotel aren’t enough to convey a sense of place.

Entertaining tosh

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

Reviewed: 19-07-13

Would you try another book written by Robert Galbraith or narrated by Robert Glenister?

I would definitely listen to another book read by Robert Glenister. It was his voice that brought the book a decent sense of gravitas to the book. He read the story like he meant it. The 'wrong' reader could so easily have made the book sound even more like a golden age parody.

What was most disappointing about Robert Galbraith’s story?

Disapointment isn't the word as I had no expectations. It took me a few listens before put aside my confusion and listen through to the end. I couldn't decide what the book was supposed to be - modern mystery, golden age parody or something in between Once I'd made up my mind that the combination of unreality and odd reminders of other books didn't matter. The book was what it was, it wasn't supposed to be realistic

Have you listened to any of Robert Glenister’s other performances? How does this one compare?

He is always wonderful.

What character would you cut from The Cuckoo's Calling?

The two main characters are very attractive. They're the classic hard(ish) boiled PI and attractive/posh/could easily do anything she wanted assistant duo.

Any additional comments?

I'm not surprised the book was written by a woman. It had occurred to me that the author was American.

Murder Comes To Smugville...

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

Reviewed: 19-06-13

What would have made The Carrier better?

Simon and Tim Dreary fighting a duel in which they're both killed. Gaby Struthers joins a silent order of nuns ....and is joined by Simon's mother who is later asked to leave following a torrid affair with the religious affairs correspondent of the Observer.

Has The Carrier put you off other books in this genre?

No - but I would be loath to listen to any more in this series

Which character – as performed by Julia Barrie – was your favourite?

None - no disrespect to Julia Barrie

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

All of them

Any additional comments?

I have listened to all previous books in this series despite having serious misgivings about the characters, particularly Simon.
However, this latest helping of dull/daft Simon with added Tim Dreary and lashings of Gaby Struthers (equal parts acid tongued virago and besotted twirly girlie) is just too, too much. I really did not care who lived or died, who killed, or was killed, by whom.
Who or what is Simon supposed to be? Some kind of intuitive idiot savant weighed down by Oedipal hang-ups? A mildly afflicted (rather than tortured) genius? To me, he's just an unbelievable, thoroughly irritating composite character.
The sociopathic Simon is not the only failed attempt at complex characterisation. How about the totally un-PC, cracked and clingy Catholic mother?
With the earlier books, I was prepared to put up with the people for the sake of the stories, which were generally decent. Not so with this book. The smug/rude characters are allowed to dominate. Instead of a well-plotted and incisive story, there’s endless witter and bicker …and some very embarrassing sub-Noel Coward banter.

1 person found this helpful

A Tale in three parts..

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-11-12

A mediocre return as Rebus appears to follow the same career trajectory as his US counterpart, Harry Bosch. I had to force myself to get through the first third or so of the book...then it seemed to pick up only to fizzle out in an ending that I found...just plain daft. Three stars is, on reflection, maybe half a star too many. One other point, the Malcolm Fox who appears in this book is a far less rounded character than the one to whom we'd been introduced in previous books. Again, there were echoes of the route taken by Michael Connelly in bringing two main characters together but, in this case, I think there's a long way to go before the relationship becomes anything other than a clash of stereotypes.

Good solid yarn but wrong narrator

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-09-12

Despite all the main characters coming straight from the 'gritty/disillusioned section' at Central Casting for Crime Writers, I enjoyed the story. Not entirely sure why because there's nothing new in there - but still a solid crime yarn.



I did wonder at the choice of narrator. Not that there's anything at all wrong with Ms Thurlwell. She has a very pleasant posh-girl's voice. She sounded a lot like Alice Archer come to think of it. But she was totally wrong for this book which is set in a small Lancastrian town and is primarily about two slightly grizzled Northern blokes. I think that a male narrator capable of doing the correct accents (definitely not non specific 'eey oop' Northern) would have added to the atmospheric quality of the story.



One final point-ette of no special significance: When you listen to a lot of books you become sensitive to repetition. I'm sure others will agree that they notice when authors appear to have words they overuse. In Mr White's case, it's variations on 'grimaced'.

2 people found this helpful

Excellent surreal cozy

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-09-10

I nearly gave up on this book midway through the introductory briefing (listen and that will make sense) as the constant repetition of the name 'Rog' became increasingly irritating.....but I'm glad I persevered. Nicola Barker has pulled off a very neat trick in infusing a very traditional village 'cozy' mystery with a surreal edge that never becomes self indulgent. The epistolatory format allows the cast of seemingly standard village stereotypes to emerge as real and deeply flawed people through their unwitting revelation of quirks, prejudices and deeply buried (until now) dark secrets. It's all quite bizarre yet still believable and very funny.

3 people found this helpful

Deserves to be better known - worth a listen

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

Reviewed: 10-02-10

Highly recommended. I'd never heard of this writer but I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that, while it's no literary masterpiece, this book has far more depth than the average crime novel. Certainly far fewer of those jarring cliches that are the backbone of far better known books.

1 person found this helpful

Solid whodunnit ruined by anachronisms..

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-12-09

..and the sunday-supplement therapy-speak mouthed by almost everybody in the story. I can take the odd misplaced 'okay' or shades of obviously 21st century attitudes but it was really hard to listen to Philip Roth length expositions filled with a complexity of language and, what I suppose you could call psychological insights, that would not be available to a minimally educated person in the inter-war period. (They were nearly as eloquent as the definitely uneducated main character in 'the Nature of Monsters' whose narrative voice was so jarring I couldn't get through the book.) I had to fast-forward the long conversation between Morwenna and Penrose as it was as ridiculous as it was melodramatic. (I won't give details as it would spoil the story - suffice to say it was like listening to a erudite though glib self-help book for women in self-destructive relationship. Or should that be co-dependent relationships? There's also a very obvious dichotomy between the predisposition towards 'understanding' and the secret-squirrel behaviour endemic in the 'community'. I found it hard to like most of the characters or even care about their fates. I certainly has no empathy with the besotted duo at the centre of the story. They were as selfish and sleazy a pair as any you'd see on a daytime chat-and-fight show today - and not for the obvious reason that will become evident if you listen to the book. On the plus side, I like the Josephine Tey character though I often wished she'd let rip at Morwenna and the other M - the witchy one who seems to do the thinking for everybody in the village. Also, the reader was excellent. She seemed to me to manage all the accents, though I'm sure that there will be people who disagree, and even pulled off the male voices without sounding like a pantomine prince charming.

5 people found this helpful