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  • The Fox

  • By: Frederick Forsyth
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Fox by Frederick Forsyth. The 18th novel from best-selling thriller writer Frederick Forsyth, the man who defined the genre. The Fox is based on the stories of British hackers Gary McKinnon and Lauri Love and centres around an 18-year-old schoolboy with Asperger’s Syndrome who is able to penetrate intricate firewalls to access the secrets at the highest level of foreign governments and other major organisations.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not Quite Such a Cunning Fox!

  • By Simon on 21-09-18

Not Quite Such a Cunning Fox!

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

Reviewed: 21-09-18

For once, with this author, when a publisher puts extravagant claims in their blurb it's hard to argue. Frederick Forsyth has written some of the all-time thriller greats so deserves the ultimate respect. They suggest he defined the thriller genre so is he still at the leading edge all these years later? He certainly throws a lot at this book to make it up to date and relevant with everything from Novichok to computer hacking being cast into the mix!

For me David Rintoul was more the star here with his superbly smooth narration which I always enjoy. The story itself relies on the now well-used super teenage hacker who can do things that no-one else can and in fact the first way they use his skills made me smile. However, I never felt that the characters came to life and the story was a fairly repetitive re-hash of the same thing happening in different ways.

It still felt that it had some of Forsyth's classy writing and one or two of the various secret service types made for good characters so with that excellent narration it's certainly not bad but Forsyth is no cyber security expert and this won't go down as one of his greatest hits.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Hunting Witches with Walt Disney

  • The Secret History of Hollywood
  • By: Adam Roche
  • Length: 2 hrs and 50 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8

Once upon a time... Hollywood went to war with itself. In the mid-1930s, Communism began to find its way into the film capital of the world, and over the next two decades, it tore the glamorous world of Tinseltown apart. Over four episodes Adam Roche investigates the role of the House Un-American Activities Committee's (HUAC) witch hunt on the careers and output of those in the film industry. As Communist sympathisers are identified and friends turn on friends we hear about how political tendencies affected actors and studios from devastating careers to influencing the films released.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Surprisingly Good!

  • By Simon on 19-09-18

Surprisingly Good!

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

Reviewed: 19-09-18

First off I must state from the outset that I am particularly ignorant about Hollywood and this period in US history. It was the name of Walt Disney that attracted me in the first place and boy did I have some childhood illusions shattered! This is a fascinating story set among some of the most famous megastars of the age but including some of the lesser known Tinseltown residents too.

The effect of the paranoia that swept America about the communist threat is a very human tale. The American Government response threw even the American Constitution out of the window in its zeal to out the "reds" leaving a trail of broken lives in its wake. It really is a great example of how far people will go when hysteria grips with even Donald Duck being exploited to make propaganda!

Adam Roche presents excellently and the soundscape is contemporary to the events and very enjoyable in its own right for nostalgia purposes. It all makes a very compelling package and its brevity is well-judged because at the end I still wanted to hear more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Once a Pilgrim

  • By: James Deegan
  • Narrated by: Joshua Manning
  • Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 367
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 336
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 333

John Carr has recently left the SAS, after a long and distinguished career, and is now working for a Russian oligarch in the murky world of private security. But an incident from his past - in which three terrorists were brutally killed - suddenly comes back to haunt him. Tracked by a hit man out for revenge, John Carr is forced to step over the line to defend himself and his family. It's a cruel and violent world - and one he thought he'd left behind.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Believable ex-SAS tale

  • By Sandy on 15-04-18

Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts!

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

Reviewed: 19-09-18


From the excellent opening scenes in the Middle East and Northern Island this story and its hero John Carr take a hold of you. Deegan of course has the weight of experience on his side as one of our most experienced special forces operatives. This doesn't always translate perfectly into the ability to write about it in an engaging manner but right from the off he nails it. The representation of Belfast and its denizens has a brilliant swirl of atmosphere about it that i have rarely seen done so well. Deegan's writinng made me feel like it was me and not John Carr walking down the Falls Road alone late at night!

Carr himself is a great lead and I will definitely be following this series for a long time if this is going to be the standard. Now Scotland gets its very own Jack Reacher antihero though there is definitely a touch more grit and realism to this one. If I was to be picky I would say that while his lead is great Deegan isn't shy of using a cliche character or two , Russians and women on the periphery of the story seemed to suffer the most in this one not least from Carr himself. Carr is a soldier who has been through the worst of experiences and his attitudes do reflect that in some ways though he also shows some good old-fashioned antihero nobility at times. It's that mix that makes us love these characters so much.

The narration is extremely well suited to John Carr himself and there is a good range of voices and accents even if one or two of the Irish women do sound more butch than Carr himself! That's a very minor quibble though as Joshua Manning does a fine job behind the microphone particularly with Carr and some of the IRA nasties.

In all this one of those prize audiobooks where author, narrator and of course the lead man all come together to create something that's definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Land You Never Leave

  • West of West, Book 2
  • By: Angus Watson
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 15 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 25

Newly and uneasily allied, two tribes from different worlds set off across the Ocean of Grass. Their mission is to fulfil a prophecy and take Ottar the Moaner west of west, to save mankind. In their way are the denizens of the Badlands, the most terrifying and powerful collection of murderers and monsters the world has ever seen.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Wootah Hooter!

  • By Simon on 15-09-18

The Wootah Hooter!

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

Reviewed: 15-09-18

Angus Watson is at it again, this is a genuinely fitting follow up to the excellent You Die When You Die. It gets better and better as it goes along with Watson's humorous approach to fantasy leading the Wootah refugees and Sophie Tornado and her gang through a genuinely epic adventure. Watson's imagination runs riot with monsters, battles, arena fights and chases each vying for attention.

The way that he delivers internal monologues and then Sean Barrett brings them to life is audiobook gold. Watson lets us get right inside the heads of his characters and one rather short-lived character's thoughts as he charged into battle had me genuinely laughing out loud. The joy of these books is that while there is at times an almost cartoon like feel to some of the characters and fighting you are constantly engaged with the characters and their fates. Who could not love Finbogie the Boggy or admire Sophie Tornado? Who could not laugh at Keith the Beserker or not find themselves grinning to hear the battle cry "Wootah!"

This is cracking stuff and I can't wait to hear how the trilogy ends with the next one!



5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Society of Unexampled Brilliance

  • Crime Grant Winner
  • By: Paul Warnes
  • Narrated by: Miranda Raison
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

When a young woman is savagely assaulted, the four members of the Jansen family find themselves increasingly involved. All four have secrets they keep from the police - and from each other. Johann is a disgruntled husband and planning to have an affair with a colleague. His wife, Sue, is a new member of The Society of Unexampled Brilliance and allowing its ‘self-improvement’ cause to take over her life. Rebecca, their daughter, is a teacher who moonlights for a private investigator, trapping adulterous men (though her own love life would come as a surprise to her targets).

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Only Curiosity Dragged Me To The End!

  • By Simon on 12-09-18

Only Curiosity Dragged Me To The End!

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

Reviewed: 12-09-18

Audible have steered me towards some great new authors recently so I was very much looking forward to this one. The setup sounded intriguing albeit a bit stretched, the Jansen family background is contrived to say the least. However, as the book developed it all just seemed to fall about around me, I'm still not even sure how seriously it was trying to take itself. I'm very used to the need for contrivance and occasional odd coincidence, even the best thriller writers use them. But this just felt like a different league. By the end I was resolved to follow the plot just about anywhere to find how it ended but only through morbid curiosity. I've actually finished the whole thing with a feeling like someone just played a clever joke on me and everyone around me is laughing and I still don't get it.

So, with that in mind I am going to be absolutely fascinated to see what fellow reviewers make of it. I would say though that this really does rely on high levels of coincidence, a complicated set of twisted character motivations and very odd behaviour from the characters at times. To give an example without spoilers the way that Jack's last meeting with his father comes about is to say the least improbable. The odd "White Light" aspect of the Society just felt bizarre and wasn't fully explored.

If I'm being harsh and it's a case of me just not getting it then I apologise to Audible and the author, I did after all enjoy a couple of the characters and some of the writing. I just can't recommend the overall thing personally.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Courtney's War

  • By: Wilbur Smith, David Churchill
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 14 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 39

Paris, 1939. Torn apart by war, Saffron Courtney and Gerhard von Meerbach are thousands of miles apart, both struggling for their lives. Gerhard - despite his objections to the Nazi regime - is fighting for the Fatherland, hoping to one day have the opportunity to rid Germany of Hitler and his cronies. But as his unit is thrown into the hellish attrition of the Battle of Stalingrad, he knows his chances of survival are dwindling by the day....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • My First Wilbur Smith . . . Not my last!

  • By Simon on 09-09-18

My First Wilbur Smith . . . Not my last!

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

Reviewed: 09-09-18

I'd never tried Wilbur Smith before, an amazingly prolific author still going strong in his dotage, albeit ably supported these days by David Churchill. Courtney's War is actually the umpteenth book in Smith's series about the Courtney family apparently but it works perfectly as a stand-alone.


In many ways it's a traditional World War 2 thriller but as the lead is a female spy it perhaps sheds some of the traditional imagery. It works on its own because Saffron Courtney is a brand new character, a tough, sassy lady who becomes a secret operative.

The story is epic in scope spanning the entire length second world war though being character driven it never feels overdone. It touches on some of the real evils and horrors of the second world war, in particular the concentration camps and the appalling "Final Solution". I learned a couple of things about this that I had never heard of before.


The romantic angle does play a fairly large part on top of the suspense, horror and action. I don't think that Smith will be branching out into romantic fiction any time soon but he does it as well as most thriller writers. The story does take its time in places but it gives lots of good depth and historical background making it very satisfying listening.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • A Gathering of Ghosts

  • By: Karen Maitland
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 13 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

Pagans tackle the Knights of St John with terrible consequences in the new medieval thriller by Queen of the Dark Ages, Karen Maitland. Set on the wilds of Dartmoor, this is a ghostly tale for fans of The Essex Serpent or C. J. Sansom's Shardlake series, and fans who can't wait for The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse. 1316. On the wilds of Dartmoor stands the isolated Priory of St Mary, home to the Sisters of the Knights of St John.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Keeble's Masterclass Shines on Karen's Grim Noire

  • By Simon on 08-09-18

Keeble's Masterclass Shines on Karen's Grim Noire

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

Reviewed: 08-09-18

in A Gathering of Ghosts Maitland and Keeble have come together to produce a fabulous audio book.

Maitland paints the grim existence of the denizens of the Middle Ages as well as anyone. She uses a palette of grimy greys, desolate blacks and sullen browns to describe their oft-blighted lives. There is very little humor or optimism in her books.

Keeble delivers a genuine masterclass despite the fact that so many of the characters are female. He brings out the ragged desperation that these poorest of peasants must have felt in an admirable performance. Their hopes, their fears and often their sheer terror are brought vividly to life. In fact this is one where it's difficult to say who contributed most to the overall production, author or narrator. They are a great combination.

Maitland takes full advantage of the dim history and rampant superstition of the times. Old Gods, vengeful spirits and various magics are infused into this atmospherically stark and grisly story. very definitely one I would recommend!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Her Majesty's American

  • Her Majesty's American, Book 1
  • By: Steve White
  • Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
  • Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    2.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    2.5 out of 5 stars 2

In an alternate future where the British empire never crumbled, the spaceships of Her Majesty’s Navy work to keep the spaceways safe. But there are those among the stars who are not so happy being subjects of the British Empire. In the Tau Ceti system, a cauldron of trouble brews as a terrorist faction of the rebellious Sons of Arnold attacks the empire from within, and warships of the theocratic Caliphate enter the system, prepared to do their worse to destroy the hated empire head-on.  

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not the Book I Was Looking For

  • By Simon on 04-09-18

Not the Book I Was Looking For

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

Reviewed: 04-09-18

A rare case of not being able to finish a book for me. After some pretty compelling fantasy epics I was in the mood for something snappier and I loved the idea of a traditional British Empire contesting rebels with a James Bond character, albeit with an American twist, at the centre of it. It didn't turn out to be quite the smooth ride I expected though.

For such a short book I felt that White went into too much unnecessary detail, for example a listing of planets and statistics about them. His characters spoke far too formally and with some definite cases of verbal diarrhea. While he does put a lot of effort into his re-imagined history it was often distracting rather than of any benefit.

The narration by Matthew Lloyd Jones was mostly fine but some of his accents felt weak and his dispassionate alien voice was perhaps too good in that it was hard to listen to.

So, maybe some good ideas but this was a book that simply didn't work for me.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Betrayer's Bane

  • Embers of Illeniel, Book 3
  • By: Michael G. Manning
  • Narrated by: Alex Wyndham
  • Length: 11 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 108
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102

Tyrion was a good person who had been born to a simple family and raised with love, but the world has shaped him for a different fate. Twisted by violence and torture, he is obsessed with a relentless desire for vengeance, and he has sown the seeds of wrath in his children. The She'Har have offered him the opportunity to be a great leader and usher in a new era of prosperity and peace, but, despite his gentle beginnings, Tyrion is no hero.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Spiral Into Utter Darkness!

  • By Simon on 04-09-18

A Spiral Into Utter Darkness!

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

Reviewed: 04-09-18

This, series has been genuinely outstanding. It includes what I would regard as some of the most powerful scenes that I have ever seen in a fantasy series. Tyrion's endless struggle against his oppressors and his own nature is genuinely a dark and gripping tale. He is constantly hemmed in by the unforeseen consequences of his actions and he and his children descend into a darkness that threatens to overcome everything. I now think that the author was definitely right to include his warning about the nature of the book, it delves into areas that are far from comfortable reading. Child abuse, domestic violence, intolerance and dark deeds are at the heart of this story and yet there are also positive, strong characters and the enduring hope, albeit often fleeting, that light will prevail. The tale of Tyrion's torment, his crushing desire for revenge and how it drives a man who undoubtedly had goodness in his soul to the edge of his sanity is a masterpiece. The true darkness though is how it effects those around him and what many of them become.

The narration by Alex Wyndham is top quality throughout, his voices really help to flesh the characters out.

The tensions grow as Tyrion and the world around him are dragged further and further into darkness. It all leads up to a quite cataclysmic finale and a sudden, brutal ending. Although there are some slower passages in this book the way that the sheer madness builds and then quite literally shudders to that dramatic conclusion is near perfection.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Cold Iron

  • By: Miles Cameron
  • Narrated by: Mark Meadows
  • Length: 19 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her. One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Cold Iron is a Warm Start

  • By Simon on 02-09-18

Cold Iron is a Warm Start

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

Reviewed: 02-09-18

I’ve been totally immersed in quality fantasy really and Miles Cameron has produced another quite absorbing tome for us to consider. It tells the story of Arunthur, a farmer’s son from a small and fairly remote village who left to study at a big city university. It bypasses much of the standard early coming of age stages and delves straight into Cameron’s world of magic, intrigue and colourful characters. War is steadily encroaching on the land and just while everyone should be uniting against a common foe a myriad factions compete based on their own priorities and designs. The worldbuilding is quite fascinating and the characters are cleverly built with no little depth in a traditional fantasy style.

At the heart of this story are a lot of issues that resonate in our current society and probably always have. The class and wealth divides plus racial and gender prejudices are all there in the core. In fact on some review sites I have seen the suggestion that the book itself is racist which I would reject totally and utterly. Some of the characters do show prejudices and intolerance of others but I think it’s always clear just what it is and it’s never glorified in any way. We won’t deal with prejudice and racism by pretending they don’t exist, that’s for sure. And it is an intrinsic part of this world’s mechanics, to be honest much like in a lot of other fantasy novels I have read.

The narration by Mark Meadows is well done. He’s not the most demonstrative but he has a good range of voices and accents for the characters.

All in all this is a promising start to the series and this first volume ties up plenty of subplots while setting things up nicely for bigger things to come. There is action, intrigue and a very detailed world to enjoy in Cold Iron and I get the feeling that things are just warming up . . .

7 of 7 people found this review helpful