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Summary

When a body is hauled from the River Tyne, Sarah Tucker heads North for a closer look. She identifies the dead woman as private detective Zöe Boehm, but putting a name to the corpse only raises further questions. Did Zöe kill herself, or did one of her old cases come looking for her? And what's brought Sarah's former sparring partner Gerard Inchon to the same broken-down hotel?

From derelict shipyards to its glitzy new quayside, Newcastle shows a different face everywhere Sarah looks. But then so do all the people she encounters, gangster, barman, scientist, cop - Sarah can't trust anyone. Nor can she leave until she's found the answer, however dangerous that discovery might turn out to be...

©2009 Mick Herron (P)2009 Isis Publishing Ltd

What members say

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Bit far fetched

Are there no Geordies able to read ? Worst accent ever
Not his best by a long wY

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • K
  • UK
  • 06-02-18

Unconvincing

‘Smoke and Whispers’ is fourth in a series focussing on the character of Sarah (it’s called the Zoe Boehm series but Sarah is the focus) who manages to get herself in range of fairly unbelievable investigative situations. This instalment is mediocre but, then, so were the others in the series.

I should not be beyond a decent writer’s skill to don a persona with a different gender, but Mick Herron doesn’t manage it convincingly. The protagonist, Sarah, isn’t really likeable and so the fallibility of her character merely comes across as fecklessness. In essence the character is written using too many female stereotypes for her rendering to be either plausible or admirable, neither do her many hang ups garner sympathy. She’s just a character who comes across as dithery and too much a victim to be an effective solver of crimes. It may surprise Mr Herron to know that we women don’t all obsess about our weight, cathartically shop or expect the nearest man to rid the vicinity of spiders.

The plot is pacy enough to be engaging, despite some fairly unbelievable developments, and there are some interesting secondary and tertiary storylines. This novel doesn’t have much in the way of mood changes or humour and less so because, actually, it’s just so sexist - Herron even uses the expression, ‘male-thinking’ at one point, really? It’s lazy thinking and I find those tired old cliches annoying. All of which possibly suggest that Herron was cutting his literary teeth on this book before producing the much more involving ‘Slow Horses’ series. I’m just glad I found those first!

The narrator was not up to the location; every single one of her Geordies either sounded dense or like a strangled parrot. She gives Sarah a voice which immediately characterised her as the embodiment of the ‘whining mammet’ so delightfully phrased by Lord Capulet.

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Dire narration

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No, the narration was distractly poor. I struggled to get to the end.

What did you like best about this story?

The interesting plot

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Anna Bentinck?

Sean Barrett

Did Smoke and Whispers inspire you to do anything?

Avoid this narrator in future

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Aaron
  • 25-03-17

Top of the Class

Herron writes masterfully.

It is nice to see a talented writer in the "Crime Fiction" genre. Plot is coherent, prose is beautiful, plenty of atmosphere, good dialogue, story moves forward at a good pace, memorable characters. Herron is a fun writer to read, and I'm not exactly sure why. His voice is distinct, but not forced. He is daring with his choice of words, but not forced. He has a style, but each book I read stands enough on its own to at least not 'seem' formulaic.

I hope Mr. Herron's writing continues to get better and better.

I look forward to reading his next book. (or as in this case listening to it) Anna Bentinck did a good job reading. I have no complaints, and for me that is high praise.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark Hancock
  • 09-08-16

Excellent series

Almost didn't read the book after seeing the description/blurb; very glad I did. Best of a great group. That said, I hope there will be more of Zoe & Sarah...if there is a downside to any of these books- & that's a big "if"- it's the lack of a firm resolution. They're not cookie cutter cliffhangers, to be sure, but one is left wanting more. Mark of a good author, actor, showman, magician, etc....well, yes. I do want more. Thank you, Mick Herron.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • David Jarrett
  • 13-09-10

Hard to get into

I listened to almost all of the story but could never get into it. Once I stopped listening I had no desire to go back and finish it.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful