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One Last Dram Before Midnight cover art
  • One Last Dram Before Midnight

  • Short Story Collection
  • By: Denzil Meyrick
  • Narrated by: David Monteath
  • Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 310
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 286
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 280

Bringing together six short stories - two of which are previously unpublished - One Last Dram Before Midnight is perfect for fans of Denzil Meyrick. These tales take us from Jim Daley's early days pounding the beat in Glasgow as a young constable to a lighthearted whisky smuggling romp involving Hamish and some ghostly pipers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a Treat!

  • By Patricia on 24-10-17

Simply Fabulous!

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

Reviewed: 01-08-19

I'm not often one for short story collections, I normally prefer to spend time getting to know characters and the majority of the time find the short story form doesn't quite have enough for me. This is something different though, a whole collections based around the Jim Daley series makes it fascinating. Meyrick treats us to stories that dart around the years including a younger Jim Daley and younger Kinloch residents . . .

And that's how it fixes my problem with short stories, the characters are largely already known and most of all it contains the real star of the main series which is the town of Kinloch and its inhabitants. Their wonderfully quaint homespun wisdom is splashed liberally over topics ranging from ancient antiquities to knitted bikinis. And when David Monteath gives them voice they sing like a choir!

Like most good short story collections there is a real variety in here but I can honestly say that, despite my tendency to avoid this format, I enjoyed this as much as the books in the main series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

One Good Deed cover art
  • One Good Deed

  • By: David Baldacci
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
  • Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80

In 1949, Aloysius Archer arrives in the dusty Southern town of Poca City. He has nothing but a handful of dollars, the clothes he’s wearing and an appointment with his new parole officer. After his wartime experiences in Italy and a prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Archer is looking for a fresh start and a peaceful life. On his first night of freedom, Archer meets local business tycoon Hank Pittleman, who promises Archer handsome compensation to work as his debt collector. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Baldacci Hits the Top Forties!

  • By Simon on 30-07-19

Baldacci Hits the Top Forties!

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

Reviewed: 30-07-19

Quite a departure this for Davie Baldacci, normally a very contemporary thriller writer, this one takes us back to the 1940s. Aloysius Archer has fallen on hard times after serving in the war and is released on parole with just a few dollars in his pocket and a strict set of rules he must stay on the right side of if he is to avoid a return to prison. Immediately this presents challenges, Archer is no slouch and quickly finds gainful employment but it sets him on the road to potential ruin.

From the start I think this is some of Baldacci's best ever writing. Archer is immediately engaging as a character and the sense of place imbued into Poca City has real depth. The mystery is clever and compelling even if the story does rely just a little on Archer being trusted extremely readily by the lead detective.

Archer himself comes across very well, he's no fool but neither is he granted any great super powers, he comes across as a genuinely decent man who is maybe a bit rough around some of his moral edges. The supporting cast of characters is mostly very strong and Edoardo Ballerini does a very fine job of giving them all a voice.

So, quite a departure for Baldacci but a very worthwhile one and I wouldn't be too disappointed if he revisited some of this at some point.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

Nothing to Hide cover art
  • Nothing to Hide

  • Constance Fairchild, Book 2
  • By: James Oswald
  • Narrated by: Rose Akroyd
  • Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66

Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain's wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has other ideas. Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide investigation. It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Slightly Lackluster for an Oswald Book

  • By Simon on 27-07-19

Slightly Lackluster for an Oswald Book

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

Reviewed: 27-07-19

I've loved most of James Oswald's books up until now, his development of mystery and atmosphere and his patient and gradual hinting at and coaching the supernatural into the Inspector McLean series was a joy to behold. The first book in this series was also very decent with a very different lead character coming through a quite harrowing story.

Somehow despite all of his undoubted skill this didn't quite hit the mark for me. Several reasons, even though it starts with a bit of a punch to the guts due to the sheer awfulness of the crime uncovered it never quite manages to build the same level of intrigue. The bad guys don't quite ooze that charisma and underlying threat and London as a setting is clearly not close to Oswald's heart like Edinburgh is. On top of that there is the narration. Rose Akroyd makes a great Constance Fairchild and is a decent narrator but this contained a lot of big characters with strong accents and she isn't so strong there. It's being tough on her because some of the characters she is voicing have been done by Ian Hanmore who clearly has several advantages over her. Now, to be fair he couldn't do Fairchild as Ackroyd does her but outside of a few characters she struggled to give the characters impact.

So, it's not a bad story by any means, though things seemed to just happen to Fairchild through coincidence rather than design, and I probably will carry on with this series, it is worth it, it's just not that close to Oswald's best.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

Lake on the Moon cover art
  • Lake on the Moon

  • The War of the Worlds Audio Drama Sequel: A New Martian Menace Invades Earth (The Martian Diaries, Vol. 2)
  • By: H.E. Wilburson
  • Narrated by: Terry Thompson, Harry Preston
  • Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

When a Martian cylinder lands on Horsell Common, Ogilvy the astronomer barely survives a deadly heat-ray attack and wakes up in a hospital inundated with casualties as the first War of the Worlds alien invasion rages. He alone discovers the real significance of the Red Weed brought to Earth by the Martians and dispatches vital evidence on board HMS Thunder Child, but it is lost when the ship is attacked and sunk by Martian tripods.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Building Towards a Gripping Conclusion!

  • By Simon on 19-07-19

Building Towards a Gripping Conclusion!

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

Reviewed: 19-07-19

I love the bravery of this series, the sheer bravado of taking on this all-time sci-fi classic and taking the story beyond the bounds of the original, and doing so in a style that Mr Wells himself would likely approve of! Wilburson has captured the pacing and style of Wells and used it to project his story forwards, and this one certainly moves it on to significantly new ground making this part very much Wilburson's own.

However, not only did WIlburson take on the daunting task of progressing this wonderful old tale he chose to back it up with original music and sound effects. Given what has also gone before this is a brave statement from an exciting author. When you add all this to the narration style which is very sympathetic to the time period and the style of writing you have a winning combination.

I do think it's fair to say that in this second instalment, which is longer than the first, there is a slower pace and so the music and sound is less impactful than in the first episode. What this instalment does achieve very strongly though is to construct the story and atmosphere methodically taking it a long way beyond the ideas in the original book.

I admire the author very much for what he has produced so far, I don't envy him the task he faces now though. This one has taken the story on a long way and I am imagining a quite spectacular conclusion to this journey! Good luck Mr Wilburson!

Full disclosure: This review is based on a pre-release copy that the author very kindly provided me with. It is also worth mentioning that I have now bought myself the official copy to complete my collection because I enjoyed it so much!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

A Breath on Dying Embers cover art
  • A Breath on Dying Embers

  • D.C.I Daley, Book 7
  • By: Denzil Meyrick
  • Narrated by: David Monteath
  • Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 294
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 274
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 273

When the luxury cruiser, hastily renamed Great Britain, berths in Kinloch harbour, the pressure is on DCI Jim Daley. The UK Government are taking a high-powered group of businessmen and women on a tour of the British isles, golfing and seeing the sights, as part of a push for global trade. But when one of the crew goes missing, and an elderly local ornithologist disappears, will the pressure become too great?   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant

  • By Jennifer Chennell on 11-07-19

Dying Embers? No Chance, Meyrick's on Fire!

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

Reviewed: 16-07-19

Meyrick goes big again! He moves his stories into the sleepy town of Kinloch and it has become the centre of the world it seems! This time he ships in a world trade delegation on a luxury liner full of billionaires and even some minor royals. The stakes are high, Britain struggling to cope with current crises making these VIP guests and their cash vital to the nation's cause.

And where better to take them than Kinloch? What finer ambassadors could the world have than a uniform-stretching Jim Daley and the earthy wisdom of Brian Scott? Well, the obvious answer, of course, is the wonderful residents of Kinloch and Meyrick sets up some wonderful culture clashes as Hamish, Anna, Brian and his wife Ella who pretty much steal this show, impart their wonderful home-spun wisdom to these highly polished and urbane visitors from around the globe. If you've read these books this far I am sure you are a big Kinloch fan and Meyrick delivers them gloriously here!

The story itself, well, once you get over the scale of what Meyrick brings into Kinloch and maybe ignoring some less strong writing concerning some of the villains is thrilling enough. Naturally, there is the silky voice of David Monteath to read it to us, he is utterly superb at bringing the residents of Kinloch to life. I'm sure he'll forgive me for saying that maybe he's not so strong at the other varied accents the story throws at him but he does the key job of making each readily identifiable.

This is a book, that will have you laughing, keep you glued to the main story and provide a number of heartwarming moments as you listen to it unfold and Daley's personal story also takes some dramatic new twists. What's more, it delivers an ending that will make you hope that Meyrick is not going to take too long over writing the next one!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Stone Cold Heart cover art
  • Stone Cold Heart

  • By: Caz Frear
  • Narrated by: Jane Collingwood
  • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

A fractured marriage. A silent family. A secret that connects them all. When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there's not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him but can't - or won't - give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it. That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel, and Joseph is arrested for the murder.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beauty Among the Beasts!

  • By Simon on 13-07-19

Beauty Among the Beasts!

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

Reviewed: 13-07-19

You know, there is a quite special quality about what Caz Frear is doing with her books. In amongst some pretty nasty crimes she has set a beautiful character, DC Cat Kinsella. She is beautiful because she has a massively down-to-earth vibe about her, she's not perfect, she has concerns that range from the mundane to the extraordinary. There is a definite hint of the Bridget Jones about her though this is never overdone or allowed to detract from the seriousness of the storyline or descend into farce. This is no rom-com, Kinsella also has an inner toughness and she works in a tough world.

There are some things here that are more typical of the modern detective genre, a troubled past and a difficult, actually very difficult, family background for example but apart from the softer character approach Freer also quite refreshingly provides Cat with competent and caring superiors rather than the usual angry incompetents. It means that there is a very refreshing normality at the centre of all the harsh criminality which for me added a feel of honest realism.

The story itself is an intriguing mystery, there's very little action to speak of, it's all about the investigation. While it's not what I would call fast-moving Frear spends a lot of time on the investigating officers and their theories. The scenes I most enjoyed came in the police interviews that were conducted where Cat shows some real steel. I really liked the fact that the book spent some time with the interviews giving them proper attention.

The performance by Jane Collingwood is absolutely top-notch, she gets Cat to a 'T' and she is able to purvey both male and female characters with considerable aplomb which isn't something you can say about most narrators whichever sex they are!

So, in summary, not an action-packed thriller but an extremely satisfying read with genuine depth of character and sense of place. The interrogation scenes, in particular, stood out to me as did Cat, her bosses and several of the other lead characters. This book completes its own story and at the end sets the scene for more to come, I suspect much more! Cat's life doesn't look like getting any easier . . .

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

Sweet Little Lies cover art
  • Sweet Little Lies

  • By: Caz Frear
  • Narrated by: Jane Collingwood
  • Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,164
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,068
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,060

What I thought I knew: in 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared, and Dad knew something about it. Maryanne Doyle was never seen again. What I actually know: in 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle. Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad's pub. Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle's disappearance and Alice Lapaine's murder.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An interesting & accomplished new voice

  • By Michelle on 25-12-17

DCI Bridget Jones!

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

Reviewed: 10-07-19

What a surprising treat this was. Caz Frear has injected some serious humanity into the police procedural genre by introducing us to DC Cat Kinsella. Okay yes the title of this review is a little tongue-in-cheek but if you look closely there is a little of Bridget Jones there in Frear's femae lead. Battling with very human issues, some small and even mildly amusing while, unlike Bridget maybe also the deadly serious.

It's a good story too. Some nice little twists and I thought a satisfying conclusion. The key here is a very strong sense of place and people that the writer brings out through Cat and the other characters.

Definitely on the highly recommended list!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Chain cover art
  • The Chain

  • By: Adrian McKinty
  • Narrated by: January LaVoy
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 76

It's something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it's a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn't do as she's told, the boy will die.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good fun despite the broken links in the Chain!

  • By Simon on 10-07-19

Good fun despite the broken links in the Chain!

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

Reviewed: 10-07-19

A book with a seriously interesting premise, a challenging premise but one with obvious problems. What materialises is a pretty entertaining read - as long as you switch the logic circuitry in your brain to mostly bypass. The start builds very nicely aided by January LaVoy's excellent narration, she's one smooth operator behind the microphone!

The Chain is suitably ominous and some of the build up is extremely well done. The pacing is near pitch perfect and there is a great action sequence ending. There genuinely is plenty to like but if you need a touch of realism in your thrillers I would urge caution. The book never really gives a good reason why ordinary people are being successful at committing serious crime under pressure and at short notice a high percentage of the time. The ending too did have my eyes rolling just a bit at a couple of points.

So, I'd urge caution but if you do just like to enjoy an entertaining read and the devil can take the detail this certainly delivers.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

Marathon cover art
  • Marathon

  • The Long War, Book 2
  • By: Christian Cameron
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 18 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 36

Arimnestos of Plataea grew up wanting to be a bronzesmith, like his father. Then, in the chaos of war, he was taken to a city in the Persian empire and sold as a slave. To win his freedom he had to show that he could fight and kill. Now, to preserve that freedom, he must kill again. For the Persians are coming. A vast army sent by King Darius to put down the rebellious Greeks and burn the city of Athens to the ground. Standing against them on the plain of Marathon is a much smaller force of Athenians, alongside their Plataean allies. To defeat such overwhelming force seems impossible.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Ancient Mariner

  • By Simon on 06-07-19

The Ancient Mariner

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

Reviewed: 06-07-19

There's already something comforting and familiar about joining old Arimnestos as he relates the tales of his extraordinary life as a warrior, blacksmith and as a man in turbulent times. Peter Noble voices him extremely well and you can almost hear the crackle of a fire in the background. He's telling his story to his young son and his friends though this really isn't in any way a children's tale. It's as bloody and vicious as you would expect from this genre across this period. There are many excellent battle and combat scenes and Cameron does not give anyone an easy ride. The body count is high giving a real feel for the sheer mortality of the people of the period.

In short, this is high quality historical military fiction and I will definitely be joining Arimnestos in front of his fire again in the not too distant future!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Dragonslayer cover art
  • Dragonslayer

  • The Dragonslayer, Book 1
  • By: Duncan M. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27

Once a member of the king's personal guard, Guillot dal Villevauvais spends most days drinking and mourning his wife and child. He’s astonished - and wary - when the Prince Bishop orders him to find and destroy a dragon. He and the Prince Bishop have never exactly been friends, and Gill left the capital in disgrace five years ago. So why him? And, more importantly, how is there a dragon to fight when the beasts were hunted to extinction centuries ago by the ancient Chevaliers of the Silver Circle?   

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Here Be Dragons!

  • By Simon on 06-07-19

Here Be Dragons!

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

Reviewed: 06-07-19

Dragonslayer kicks off a new fantasy trilogy from Duncan M Hamilton and it does it in his usual style. It's a well-paced story that immediately engages as we see the perspective of the dragon as well as those of Guillot and Solène. This gives it a nice symmetry and colours the moral dilemmas that the book introduces.

I do think it's fair to say that those who like a lot of detailed world-building or detailed magic system design are unlikely to be satisfied with this. It's all about the plot, the story and the characters which makes it fairly light on the old grey matter and easy to speed through at a rate of knots quite comfortably. I personally like a broad variety of styles, maybe that means I am easily pleased, but every so often I like to be told a good old-fashioned story and this is what Hamilton does. It stays fresh and I liked Guillot's down to earth nobility in particular.

I think this is the talent of an author like Hamilton. He's hooked me in with simplicity, never letting detail distract from his storyline but including what is necessary. This opener does what a good start to a series should do, it tells its own story and sets us up nicely at the end for more to come. Add to that the undoubted vocal talents of Simon Vance and you have a very enjoyable production; I will definitely be following this trilogy going forwards.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful