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  • reviews
  • 29
  • helpful votes
  • 89
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  • The Man from St Petersburg

  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 117
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117

It is just before the outbreak of World War I, and Britain must enlist the aid of Russia. Czar Nicholas' nephew is to visit London for secret naval talks with Lord Walden, who has lived in Russia and has a Russian wife, Lydia. But there are other people who are interested in the arrival of Prince Alexei: the Waldens' only daughter, Charlotte - wilful, idealistic, and with an awakening social conscience; Basil Thompson, head of the Special Branch; and, above all, Feliks Kschessinky, the ruthless Russian anarchist. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Read! Great Reader!

  • By JD on 23-08-18

New recording of an early Ken Follett novel

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

Reviewed: 13-10-18


I must admit to thinking that this was a new book, rather than a new recording of one of Follett's earlier historical thrillers.

I didn't find out until after listening and although it doesn't really matter, I was rather glad. I had thought this was a dip in form compared to others I have listened to. As it turns out, Ken Follett seems to have improved as a writer since this book.

The plot is straightforward enough : high stakes diplomacy meets family life and all hell breaks loose. It's all very enjoyable, if you take it with a slight pinch of salt. The plot does veer a little away from the realistic in my opinion but it's such a good story that it doesn't really matter. The usual Follett mix of personal drama interweaved with some of the largest events and characters in history are here.

The narration is flawless. Richard Armitage is one of the finest around and does another impressive job here.







  • Ordeal by Innocence

  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 248
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 202
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 200

Dr. Arthur Calgary takes a ferry across the Rubicon River to Sunny Point, the home of the Argyle family. A year before, the matriarch of the family was murdered and a son, Jack, was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Dr. Calgary is surprised when his revelation has a disturbing effect on the family: it means one of the family is a murderer.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not her best murder mystery

  • By Sarah Bridge on 18-01-18

For completists only

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

Reviewed: 23-06-18

I am a long time fan of Agatha Christie, and find her fiction works very well as an audiobook. Hugh Fraser is an excellent narrator but even he cannot save this book.

This story lacks the charm present in every other Christie I have read. The narrative is mainly driven by dialogue and unfortunately this is horribly stilted and dry. It has not aged nearly as well as Poirot or Marple.

The actual case is interesting at the start : typically there are a limited number of suspects and each is dealt with in turn. Christie tries to explore some wider issues, such as nature v nurture, but I did not find this effective. By the final scene where all is revealed, I was neither surprised nor particularly interested. The solution is far less impressive than most Christie endings.

Avid Christie fans may well find pleasure in this. I’d strongly advise newcomers or occasional readers of this wonderful writer to try another title.

  • Operation Mincemeat

  • The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II
  • By: Ben Macintyre
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 551
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 406
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 403

From the best-selling author of Agent Zigzag, the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. One April morning in 1943, a sardine fisherman spotted the corpse of a British solder floating in the sea off the coast of Spain and set in train a course of events that would change the course of the Second World War.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just Brilliant

  • By Brian on 11-03-12

Wonderful tale of wartime espionage

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

Reviewed: 11-03-18

I have never read a book of this genre before but thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this incredible tale.

The writing is excellent : characters are developed to become rounded humans, and their personalities play an important part in how the planned deception unfolds. The narrative is very well paced to be both detailed and gripping.

The book balances an evaluation of military events, to my mind reasonable and measured, with lots of colour and humour. It constantly reminds the reader that WW2 was fought by many types of people, some very far removed from the typical idea of a soldier and yet all men and women contributed to the war effort. It also shows that personal lives, relationships and careers continues even in the shadow of war.

A great binge listen.

  • Babylon Berlin

  • Gereon Rath, Book 1
  • By: Volker Kutscher
  • Narrated by: Mark Meadows
  • Length: 18 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 111
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 105

Berlin, 1929. Detective Inspector Rath was a successful career officer in the Cologne Homicide Division before a shooting incident in which he inadvertently killed a man. He has been transferred to the vice squad in Berlin, a job he detests even though he finds a new friend in his boss, Chief Inspector Wolter. There is seething unrest in the city, and the Commissioner of Police has ordered the vice squad to ruthlessly enforce the ban on May Day demonstrations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Atmospheric, yet predictable, police procedural

  • By Harrow on 03-01-18

Atmospheric, yet predictable, police procedural

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

Reviewed: 03-01-18

I found this book to be very enjoyable but not genuinely gripping.

The atmosphere of 1920's Berlin comes through strongly which is just as well because the plot and characters are not particularly memorable.

The characters are the usual police procedural line up: lonely male with troubled past; senior officer showing him how to bend the rules; politically minded police chiefs; independent and very gorgeous young woman ; pseudo-sophisticated crime lord . . . I felt it was only the historical context which lifted the book. The Nazis, the communists and the ravers prowling the city were the most enjoyable parts of the book.

Narration is excellent and I will probably go on to explore the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien

  • Inspector Maigret; Book 4
  • By: Georges Simenon, Linda Coverdale (translator)
  • Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong
  • Length: 3 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 61
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 50

Georges Simenon's haunting tale about the lengths to which people will go to escape from guilt, translated by Linda Coverdale as part of the new Penguin Maigret series. A first ink drawing showed a hanged man swinging from a gallows on which perched an enormous crow. And there were at least twenty other etchings and pen or pencil sketches that had the same leitmotif of hanging. On the edge of a forest: a man hanging from every branch.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The follies of youth

  • By Monsieur Ghost on 07-07-14

A master craftsman

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

Reviewed: 30-11-17

A short book, and the better for it.

Relatively little happens ( in comparison to a typical crime novel ) but the precise and measured way in which the themes are developed and explored is exceptional.

Simenon completely blurs any distinction between crime and literature. Another reason he should be celebrated.

  • The Night the Rich Men Burned

  • By: Malcolm Mackay
  • Narrated by: Angus King
  • Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29

There's nothing so terrifying as money.... Two friends, Alex Glass and Oliver Peterkinney, look for work and for escape from their lives spent growing up on Glasgow's most desperate fringes. Soon they will become involved in one of the city's darkest and most dangerous trades. But while one rises quickly up the ranks, the other will fall prey to the industry's addictive lifestyle and ever-spiralling debts.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More of the same ; works for me

  • By Harrow on 07-01-17

More of the same ; works for me

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

Reviewed: 07-01-17

This novel is set the same world as the Glasgow trilogy, and some characters from those books appear.

It is a stand alone tale. The writing is deceptively simple, and it's very much a plot driven crime novel. Nothing profound or particularly thought provoking but an extremely engaging, easy read nonetheless.

The narration is fine, some of the stresses grated me a little but overall the narrator suits the book well enough.

One tip : skip through the very long list of characters at the opening of the novel. You won't need them - this isn't Tolstoy - and all characters are introduced fully in the text. This list might be fine in print but really adds nothing to an audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Any Human Heart

  • By: William Boyd
  • Narrated by: Mike Grady
  • Length: 18 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 801
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 632
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 629

Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart's - lived from the beginning to the end of the 20th century - contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in '60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A poignant journey through a man's life

  • By Kirstine on 19-03-12

A twentieth century life

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

Reviewed: 07-04-16


The novel consists of the memories of one man who lived a remarkable life throughout the twentieth century. Each section of the book explores a phase of his life in detail. The protagonist lives across the world, and meets a wide array of characters in his pursuit of happiness, meaning, and, quite often, sex. Some sections are stronger than others, but the whole thing holds together well enough, and you really do come to relate to the main character, who is not always the most likeable of figures. It reminded me of A Dance to the Music of Time, in that historical events and figures often make cameo appearances, and the same few characters will crop up at different parts of the century.

If you like William Boyd, then this won't disappoint.

If you've never read William Boyd then this is a good place to start, although anyone wanting a more exciting page turner might enjoy 'Before Sunrise' to this book.

  • American Tabloid

  • By: James Ellroy
  • Narrated by: Jeff Harding
  • Length: 19 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 82
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81

It's 1958. America is about to emerge into a bright new age - an age that will last until the 1,000 days of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Three men move beneath the glossy surface of power, men allied to the makers and shakers of the era. Peter Bondurant, Howard Hughes’ right-hand man, Jimmy Hoffa’s hit man. Kemper Boyd, employed by J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate the Kennedy clan. Ward Littell, a man seeking redemption in Bobby Kennedy’s drive against organised crime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Histrionics

  • By Luke on 25-09-15

Perfect narration of a near perfect novel

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

Reviewed: 07-04-16


American Tabloid is a monster of a novel written in a distinctive, and powerful, voice.

I loved the book when I first read it, but the audio version is just so much more fun. The narrator is absolutely on the money for every individual voice, and the overall tone of the whole work.

It's a superb performance, and even if you have read the book, I would recommend this without hesitation. It's a hell of a ride.

  • The Remains of the Day

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Dominic West
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,347
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,243
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,239

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House. In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside – and into his past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • heartbreaking

  • By Emily Essex on 14-05-16

Measured and masterly

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

Reviewed: 07-04-16


Dominic West gives a very measured performance in this audiobook which, in my opinion, does justice to the excellent novel.

Very little happens in the course of the novel, which is a study of the values and beliefs of one elderly man who has spent his life in service at a great stately home. It is a patient, and perfect, examination of why he has lived a life in this way, and why he seems unable to act differently. However, the writing is of such a standard that the audiobook soon becomes compulsive listening. West is particularly strong when showing the excitement and significance the character places on events which at first glance may appear banal, which is central to the entire plot.

High recommended.

  • The Way We Live Now

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 32 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 579
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 421
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 415

In this world of bribes, vendettas, and swindling, in which heiresses are gambled and won, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury is 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix has 'the instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte - the colossal figure who dominates the book - is a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel...a bloated swindler...a vile city ruffian'. But as vile as he is, he is considered one of Trollope's greatest creations.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic! Fantastic!

  • By Sharon on 15-11-09

wonderful narration of classic book

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

Reviewed: 24-06-15

I chose this as my first Trollope because it featured on the list of 100 greatest novels in The Guardian.

More than anything, the narration is captivating, and this makes a long text seem like a pleasant journey rather than a task to be completed.

The book itself is excellent : hypocrisy, social ambition and greed in high (ish) society are lampooned in a way that resonates strongly in the current financial climate. The love sub-plots (apparently something common to all Trollope books) are less satisfying, but do not detract from the overall success of the book.

I loved this listen, and might have a crack at another Trollope largely because the narration is of the highest order. I can imagine Timothy West pulling me back, especially in a 2 for 1 offer . . .