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Squeaky Joe

Aberdeenshire
  • 18
  • reviews
  • 7
  • helpful votes
  • 19
  • ratings
  • The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones & Other Victorian Scandals

  • By: Michelle Morgan
  • Narrated by: Anne Dover
  • Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 31

A grisly book dedicated to the crimes, perversions and outrages of Victorian England, covering high-profile offences - such as the murder of actor William Terriss, whose stabbing at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre in 1897 filled the front pages for many weeks - as well as lesser-known transgressions that scandalised the Victorian era. The tales include murders and violent crimes but also feature scandals that merely amused the Victorians.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent storyline

  • By Simon Hodding MBDA on 16-05-18

A fascinating collection of gory stories

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

Reviewed: 15-09-18

Aside from Jack the Ripper, grisly murders don’t usually spring to mind when we think of the Victorian era, but hundreds of downright horrible crimes regularly hit the headlines at the time. While most of these have sunk without trace, Michelle Morgan has delved into dozens of long-forgotten murders, mysteries, kidnappings, disappearances and good-old-fashioned sex-scandals to paint an enthralling picture of crime in the days of old Queen Vicky.

As well as a whole bunch of murders and throat-slashing jilted lovers, there are a surprising number of accounts centred on that well-known source of killers - the stage actor. One of the most intriguing is the story of popular thespian William Terriss and his (somewhat unhinged) fellow actor Richard Prince, who stabbed the former to death at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre.

The inclination of a lot of killers to cut their victim’s throats left me feeling a bit woozy at times, and the sheer number of people who inflicted horrifying pain upon their victims (who, shortly before, they had intended marrying) is mind-boggling. It certainly puts twenty-first century domestic abuse statistics into perspective.

I did occasionally feel the text might have benefited from another good edit, but otherwise Ms Morgan tells a good tale. All in all, a fascinating collection of gory stories (and I do mean gory!)

  • Refusal

  • A Dick Francis Novel
  • By: Felix Francis
  • Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 145
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 128

Six years ago, investigator Sid Halley retired for good. He’d been harassed, beaten, shot, even lost a hand to his investigating business, and enough was enough. For the sake of his wife and new daughter he gave up that life of danger and uncertainty, and he thought nothing would ever lure him back into the game. He thought wrong. Sir Richard Stewart, chairman of the racing authority, begs Sid to investigate a series of dodgy races. Sid adamantly refuses, but the following day, Sir Richard is found dead under suspicious circumstances.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Dreadful pastiche of the Dick Francis style

  • By Charles on 22-03-15

A stonking good yarn

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

Reviewed: 15-09-18

Six years after investigator Sid Halley’s retirement, a request from racing authority chairman Sir Richard Stewart looks like pushing Sid back into the sleuthing game. But the former jockey-turned-detective has no desire to revive a line of work that got him shot, beaten up and thrown in the path of danger on a regular basis. With his wife and daughter to think about, Sid makes it clear he’s not interested in checking out a series of dodgy races. But when Sir Richard turns up dead, Sid may have to reconsider, and that’s before a mysterious Irishman starts making threatening phone calls.

After co-authoring a few books with Francis senior, Dick’s son Felix took up his father’s mantle in 2011 with his first novel ‘Gamble’. This is the fourth (of eight) and is also the fifth book featuring Sid Halley.

Years ago, I had a Dick Francis novel that sat on my bookshelf untouched for months, purely because I thought a book centred around horseracing wouldn’t interest me. So it was pure chance that I happened across ‘Refusal’ on Amazon while perusing something completely different. Though the first few pages intrigued me, I still wasn’t certain it was my cup of jockey’s tea, so opting for the audiobook version, I allowed the marvellous Martin Jarvis to garner my interest.

‘Refusal’ is a stonking good yarn that gives its hero plenty to keep him busy. With murder, kidnapping and arson on the agenda, the poor man is thrown from one impossible situation into another, with a villainous Irishman hovering over his shoulder at every turn. The plot spirals into a thrilling denouement where Halley’s future, and that of his family, could easily go up in flames.

Some knowledge of horseracing and betting might clarify the plot, but for a novice like me, these details are clearly explained by the author without over-egging the steeplechase custard. A great story with that’ll appeal to anyone who loves a mystery.

  • Heist

  • The True Story of the World's Biggest Cash Robbery
  • By: Howard Sounes
  • Narrated by: Howard Sounes
  • Length: 15 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 79
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 74
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 74

On 22 February 2006, GBP53 million was stolen from a cash warehouse belonging to the Securitas company in Tonbridge, Kent. In terms of value, the robbery puts previous British capers, such as the Great Train Robbery, in the shade. This was a crime notable for its audacity, carried out by an unlikely crew of players that included a used car salesman, two Albanian casual workers and a roofer. Five men were convicted at the Old Bailey in January 2008, which attracted nationwide media coverage.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Extremely Detailed!

  • By Richard on 08-08-15

An exciting and thoroughly absorbing tale

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

Reviewed: 15-09-18

In February 2006, an unlikely gang of would-be villains stole £53 million from a cash warehouse in Tonbridge, Kent. Rocketing the caper into the annals of British crimes such as the Great Train Robbery, the theft was audacious in its premise and, at times, positively farcical in its execution.

Subtitled ‘The True Story of the World's Biggest Cash Robbery’ this book tells the tale of a bunch of villains who planned to rob a Securitas cash depot in the early hours of 22nd of February 2006. Charting the whole scheme from conception to the capture of the gang, journalist Howard Sounes tells a thrilling and highly-researched story that is captivating in its attention to detail. Describing the lives of gang members, including wrestler Lee Murray and his pal Paul Allen, the author explores every aspect of the crime and how each of the gang played their respective roles. It’s also interesting that on those occasions when the facts are not clear, he does not resort to imagination, but simply points out the possible options and the most likely explanation.

This is an exciting and thoroughly absorbing account of one of the biggest robberies in the world, and will thrill anyone who enjoys true-crime stories.

  • Winter of Frozen Dreams

  • By: Karl Harter
  • Narrated by: Dennis Holland
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

On a freezing Christmas morning, a distraught young man named Jeremy Davies led police to a corpse he had placed in a snowbank some hours before. They found a man's body, naked, bloody and beaten. Davies insisted that he had not killed the man but that he and his fiancée had simply buried a stranger's body. The police investigation confirmed the fact that the victim, Harry Berge, had died in the apartment of Barbara Hoffman.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • excellent one of the best

  • By Amazon Customer petamd on 18-02-16

A thought-provoking case

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

Reviewed: 15-09-18

When a man turns up at a police station on Christmas Day saying he has buried a corpse, police are led to a naked body dumped in a frozen snowbank. Claiming that he and his fiancé, Barbara Hoffman, discovered the stranger in her apartment, Jerry Davies insists they know nothing about the dead man. However, when police begin their investigation, they uncover a tale of deception, insurance fraud and cyanide poisoning.

In any true-crime story, we expect certain things: references to police reports, official documents and personal letters, as well as actual evidence that backs up the author’s point of view. This is not one of those books. In a note at the beginning of the paperback version, Karl Harter says this book is the result of ‘extensive research and scores of interviews’. He also records how he has ‘dramatically emphasised’ some scenes. Well, that is certainly true, for Harter ignores the usual set-up and instead goes off at a tangent at regular intervals, imagining what certain people are thinking about, looking at, or doing with their hands. He also spends a lot of time relating intimate details of Hoffman’s sexual encounters, which seems inappropriate at the very least.

Maybe I’m just being picky but reading about real events is only interesting when we are given the facts rather than imagined scenarios. In ‘Winter of Frozen Dreams’ I’m left with the feeling that the author’s writing style would have worked better in a novel. Of course, this is only my opinion and I may well be doing him a disservice, and to be fair, the last section of the book which details the eventual court case, is positively riveting. But all in all, this is an interesting and thought-provoking case that could have been expressed far more effectively.

  • Oliver Twist

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
  • Length: 16 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 198
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 171
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 172

A workhouse orphan, Oliver experiences the terror and brutality of the criminal underworld. His companions, a thief, a whore, a pickpocket, and a fence, are destined for gruesome ends, but Oliver emerges unscathed from the darkness of the underworld.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A classic story read to perfection

  • By Ken Hill on 07-10-11

Classic rags-to-riches tale

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

Reviewed: 17-08-18

Brought up in the workhouse, orphan Oliver escapes to London and finds himself caught in Fagin’s criminal underworld.

Everyone knows the basic plot of this classic tale, but I was surprised to learn how much of it was new to me. It turns out that the many film and TV versions rarely do justice to the full story as the author intended, so the second half of the story is often left out. I’ve had ‘Oliver Twist’ on my bookshelf for about thirty years but have never managed to get past the first chapter. Finding the weighty tome available as an audiobook, I jumped at the chance to listen rather than read. The lovely Martin Jarvis brings the text to life with a marvellous variety of voices and accents, and even succeeds in making those passages where Dickens goes off on a tangent about life in general appealing to the listener.

Given that I also have ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘Great Expectations’ gathering dust on my bookshelves, I think audio versions of these two will soon be on my listening agenda.

  • Green River, Running Red

  • By: Ann Rule
  • Narrated by: Barbara Caruso
  • Length: 19 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 95
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73

In the most extraordinary journey Ann Rule has ever undertaken, America's master of true crime has spent more than two decades researching the story of the Green River Killer, who murdered more than 49 young women. Green River, Running Red is a harrowing account of a modern monster, a killer who walked among us undetected. It is also the story of his quarry -- of who these young women were and who they might have become.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Green River Running Red Ann Rule

  • By jennifer on 16-10-12

Not for the faint-hearted

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

Reviewed: 05-07-18

True crime writer Ann Rule tells the story of the Green River killer in this extraordinary book. Researching the case for more than twenty years, she later discovered the perpetrator had carried out many of his grisly crimes close to where she lived and had even attended her book signings. America’s most prolific serial killer is known to have murdered at least 49 women and evaded detection until he was caught in 2001. The author sifted through thousands of documents, police records and photographs to bring this harrowing tale to life, detailing the lives of the many victims, their stories and their deaths.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted – packed with gory details and scene-of-crime minutiae, Rule outlines how the police investigation team went through many permutations before they eventually apprehended the killer. At a time when DNA evidence was virtually unheard of, the Green River Task Force struggled to find links that might tie any of the victims to a particular person. Fighting the quirks and whims of political enthusiasm for the case, the detectives were often left with only a skeleton crew, and some members even followed up leads in their spare time.

This is a disturbing story of an apparently mild-mannered but deeply troubled individual and the trail of bodies he left across King County, Washington.

  • H. H. Holmes

  • The True History of the White City Devil
  • By: Adam Selzer
  • Narrated by: David Bendena
  • Length: 17 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

This is the first truly comprehensive book examining the life and career of the murderer who has become one of America's great supervillains. It reveals not only the true story but how the legend evolved, taking advantage of hundreds of primary sources that have never been examined before, including legal documents, letters, articles, and records that have been buried in archives for more than a century.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • fascinating factual book

  • By brando on 18-02-18

Fascinating account of the infamous killer

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

Reviewed: 13-05-18

Comprehensive examination of the life and career of America's first serial killer, using contemporary letters, documents, court records and newspaper articles. The book traces the infamous Holmes through several marriages, medical experiments and early attempts at insurance fraud, to the many individuals he may and may not have murdered.

Adam Selzer leaves no corpse unturned in this fascinating account of evil doctor HH Holmes. The details are at times gory, and include particulars of the deaths of several children, which some listeners may find upsetting. The author also has a tendency to repeat himself a little, though as the text runs to a smidgen under five hundred pages, it was useful to be reminded of earlier events and misdemeanours as the story came to its conclusion.

Selzer paints a thought-provoking portrait of Holmes, showing the many and varied versions of himself played out by the killer over the span of a relatively short life. While he was plainly a crafty individual, Holmes does not fit the usual criteria of serial killer and may have simply knocked off people who got in the way of his plans, rather than killing from a psychological or sadistic motivation. Nevertheless, some of his victims – such as the slaughter of several members of the Pitezel family – demonstrate a distinct lack of feeling for his fellow human beings.

A fascinating and well-researched book that will no-doubt sell in shed-loads when the forthcoming Martin Scorsese/Leo DiCaprio movie (The Devil in the White City) is released.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Peril at End House

  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 5 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 157
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132

Nick Buckley was an unusual name for a pretty young woman. But then she had led an unusual life. First, on a treacherous Cornish hillside, the brakes on her car failed. Then, on a coastal path, a falling boulder missed her by inches. Later, an oil painting fell and almost crushed her in bed. Upon discovering a bullet-hole in Nick's sun hat, Hercule Poirot decides the girl needs his protection. At the same time, he begins to unravel the mystery of a murder that hasn't been committed. Yet.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fab!!!!

  • By Catwat on 07-05-15

Classic Agatha Christie mystery

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

Reviewed: 20-04-18

When a young woman recounts a series of apparent mishaps, Hercule Poirot, holidaying in Cornwall, is intrigued. Along with his friend Hastings, he sets out to investigate what he believes to be a threat to the woman’s life. But how do you solve a murder that hasn’t been committed?

I read a great many Agatha Christie novels in my teenage years, but the plots of most of them have vanished from my memory, so it may be that I’ve read this one before. First published in 1932, this is the sixth of the Poirot books and features Captain Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp, who add to the fun.

My memories of Christie’s writing are tarred with the idea that I stopped reading her books due to boredom (with plots, characters etc), so I wasn’t expecting too much with this one. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. The writing is generally clever and witty (especially Poirot’s dialogue) and, though I did get a bit confused towards the end, it was an entertaining story that kept me guessing.

The audiobook is read by the lovely Hugh Fraser, who brings out the humour of Christie’s writing (and also played Hastings in 43 episodes the Poirot TV series).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Crimson Rose

  • By: M. J. Trow
  • Narrated by: Peter Wickham
  • Length: 8 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

March, 1587. Christopher Marlowe’s play Tamburlaine has opened at the Rose Theatre. But the play is almost shut down on its opening night. For a member of the audience, Eleanor Merchant, lies dead, hit by a musket ball fired from the stage. The man with his finger on the trigger? A bit-part player named Will Shakespeare. Convinced of Shakespeare’s innocence, Marlowe determines to find out what really happened. When a second body is found floating in the River Thames, it becomes clear that Eleanor Merchant’s death was no accident and that something deeper and darker is afoot. And why is the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, taking a close personal interest in the case?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A clever and witty story

  • By Squeaky Joe on 20-04-18

A clever and witty story

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

Reviewed: 20-04-18

London, 1587. A new play entitled Tamburlaine opens at the Rose Theatre, but when a member of the audience is murdered, young actor Will Shakespeare is the prime suspect and is thrown into jail. Playwright and part-time spy, Kit Marlowe, knows his friend is innocent and sets out to investigate. But when another body turns up, it seems the mystery is not a simple one.

This is the first time I’ve delved into MJ Trow’s massive oeuvre, which includes several book series (Lestrade, Maxwell, Marlowe etc). In this adventure, he spins an absorbing tale of murder, spies and money-lending. Having said that, while he paints a generally authentic picture of the times, the people and the minutiae of everyday life, his use of more modern language and modern expressions did occasionally jar with me.

For lovers of truly historic murder mysteries, it’s a clever and witty story that adds yet more layers to the legend that was Christopher Marlowe.

  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry

  • By: Jules Verne
  • Narrated by: Tim Curry
  • Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 189
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 165
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 163

A Signature Performance: Tim Curry, the source of our inspiration, returns – this time, he captures the quirky enthusiasm of this goofily visionary adventure.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Whiled away a very long drive!

  • By Emma on 27-08-16

Classic science fiction

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

Reviewed: 29-03-18

One of the earliest works of science fiction, Jules Verne creates a fantastical subterranean world in this classic adventure. Along with his nephew Axel and Danish eiderdown hunter, Hans, eccentric Professor Lidenbrock, charts a course to the planet's core, with only the occasional clue left by sixteenth-century explorer Arne Saknussemm to guide him.

The audiobook is narrated by that master of silver-tonguery, Tim Curry, whose variety of accents are by turns hilarious and impressive. The language does occasionally get a little over-technical, particularly when the Professor is explaining his theories, but otherwise it’s a rollicking good tale that shows off Verne’s fantastic imagination (the book was first published in 1864).

Classic sci-fi at its best.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful