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Summary

Seth is the oppressed kitchen boy at the remote Last Chance Hotel, owned by the nasty Bunn family. His only friend is his black cat, Nightshade. 

But when a strange gathering of magicians arrives for dinner, kindly Dr Thallomius is poisoned by Seth's special dessert. A locked-room murder investigation ensues - and Seth is the main suspect. The funny thing is, he's innocent. 

Can he solve the mystery and clear his name, especially when magic's afoot?

©2018 Nicki Thornton (P)2018 W. F. Howes Ltd

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Great story, spoiled by very strange narration

(Listen to the sample before you buy this). I have already read the paperback of this book to my son. We have douzens of audiobooks for car journeys, mainly read by Stephen Fry, Simon’s Callow etc. This is the latest one, but read by Russell Bentley. To be fair to Mr Bentley, it is a very difficult book to narrate. The sentence structure is hard to get used to, and inconsistent. It’s almost as if two people wrote different sections of the book. Despite that, the story is captivating and intriguing, and my son loved it. He would say “one more chapter, Daddy” so often I would have to pretend I heard the doorbell I. Order to get his to go to sleep.

I’m afraid the narration spoiled the audiobook version. The third person narrative is read in a perpetually ghoulish-dramatic tone that doesn’t have any obviously link to the ebbs and flows of the story. It’s almost as if Mr Bentley hadn’t read the book at least once before he sat down and pressed record. The accents of the various characters are also odd. When a man with a Cornish-Midlands accent has a conversation with a Scandi-Roman woman, the listener’s attention is distracted away from what is actually happening in story. In my view, that defeats the very outcome the narrator is hoping to achieve. Some words are also mispronounced. For example, Mr Bentley pronounces “spindly legs” as “spine-dally legs”. Again, very distracting.

Simon Callow or Stephen Fry would have done this book justice. Animal Farm by Callow is a work of perfection. Sadly, Mr Bentley hasn’t done this work justice, and I’m afraid I will not be purchasing further audiobooks read by him. I recommend you listen to the sample before buying this one. It may just be my ears. My son did fall asleep though, and he didn’t do that even after hearing Animal Farm for the fourth consecutive time.