Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 405
  • reviews
  • 5,072
  • helpful votes
  • 1,669
  • ratings
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-18-17

Sweet surprise

I’m not sure if this is the same John Lawson who writes the Inspector Troy series (which I like), but I loved this SO NOT Inspector Troy 1950s-60s set detective yarn, with its central mystery weaving around Vietnam and counterculture movements and icons. It’s not action packed or flawless but delivers story and character.

I haven’t written a review in years but found this so engaging and entertaining that want to shout to mystery and social history fiction fans: This is one of the overlooked good ones!

Read More Hide me
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-15-17

could be the best series you've never read

Clever, funny; well-plotted, peopled, and set; very nice prose; not too dark but not at all silly or predictable-- what more can a lover of Brit crime-espionage fiction ask? (besides more, please!) Herron doesn't make you work as hard as LeCarre or Greene, but that can be a good thing, if you're trying to relax. He is almost in their league as a novelist.

Narration on all three titles in the Slough Houses series is excellent, and even though the narrators vary, listening was almost seamless. Sean Barret deserves an award for Slow Horses (which I couldn't review since it seems no longer available in my region.)

I had a couple of this series from Audible sales unread for years. Once I finally hit the listen button, I went through the 3 available in days and eagerly await Spook Street's appearance, hopefully in audio next month.

Read More Hide me

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-04-15

cute (not silly) campus comedy cozy

This is a decent light mystery and very good campus comedy - if you've taught or even studied on a 21st campus, you'll chortle. Too bad about the "chick lit" label. The protagonist does have a light love interest tangled in the mystery but that's far from central to the plot or humour. Four starts might be a tad generous, but I enjoyed this more than most light mysteries and laughed more than most comedy. If Bow writes a second instalment, I'll download automatically.

Read More Hide me

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-04-15

for Rebus diehards only

I recently re-listened to the Rebus series in order since they are all available to me now. Most stood up - or played even better taken chronologically. In this one, however, Rebus is still an Adam Dalgliesh wanna-be, drinking Chablis, reading and listening to the classics, friendship-hugging vulnerable women. And Rankin is still learning how to write. That said, it's still a decent mystery, just not what we'd expect from Rebus or Rankin a little later in their careers. The biggest value was seeing Holmes and Rebus at the start of their relationship.

I really dislike Page as a Rebus narrator - but that's a more personal choice.

Read More Hide me

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-30-15

Not cutesy-cozy, but not hard-boiled; a delight

This second in a series is an excellent mystery, with storylines that hold up for all 13 hours, quirky and well drawn characters, great period setting, some humour. Main character – Breen – gets slightly darker through his experiences in novels 1 and 2: If the series continues for many instalments, he could became a Rebus!

To the squeamish (me): One corpse description near the beginning and one near the end are a little grisly (and as in the first novel, a small passage in the middle could bother sensitive animal lovers). Apart from that, no graphic violence but some good suspense. I work with technology all day, so I welcome older mysteries or period pieces that don’t hang on digital devices. And my inner social history geek loves Shaw’s ‘68-69 London. Of course the plot is good but secondary to the other elements and is as much about petty office politics and corruption as the BIG corruption described in the blurb -- more about how mundane compromises come in shades of grey.

Stewart's narration continues to be excellent EXCEPT that some of his women’s voices are too shrill, almost Pythonoesque. As in the first novel, I found this jarring for the first few chapters but then either my ear adjusted or he found a rhythm.

I so wish there were a dozen in this series rather than two. I stumbled across the first as a Whispersync bargain – and thought I’d found more in Kindle, but it appears that the novel is published under different titles in the UK perhaps –so shop carefully.

I don't usually rate a detective novel 5 stars - but this deserves it as solid, smart entertainment that provokes a little though but no angst.

Read More Hide me

35 of 38 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-04-15

Rebus really gels here

If you are interested in Rebus but not attracted to the whole series, this might be your entry point.

I am rereading/listening to Rebus, in order this time since the unabridged audio of all is now available in my region. This seems to be the novel where Rebus becomes that character some of us love so much, fascist though he can be. Though I usually prefer lighter crime novels with justice for all, Rankin created my favourite detective of all time here.

Michael Page is NOT a favourite narrator of mine so I delayed listening to a couple of his Rankin novel narrations, but he's OK for Rebus - more restrained than in other novels, but he still goes too gruff to distinguish some male characters (less shrill for women than he can be). However, James MacPherson became the voice of Rebus to me, so I feel something missing with Page and others - if MacPherson versions are available to you, get them if you can understand a delightful Scots accent. But skip the abridgements, even with that narrator --they make little sense because too much plot and character is skipped (not to mention setting, a real star of the series' later novels).

Read More Hide me

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-25-14

refreshing period Brit police procedural

Not saccharine-cozy, certainly not hard-boiled, this includes a decent mystery with humour and nice late 60s period touch. What the author gets refreshingly right is that overused "younger eager investigator --- older senior officer" relationship. The Beatles background is just a small part of the period setting; more prominent are the changing gender roles, sexual mores (nothing explicit though), and race/ethnic group relations. And it was better written than most of its kind. The Whispersync price was a great bargain when I purchased. I hope there are more "Tozer and Breen" books on the way - I could have tried a series binge, based on this one.

Read More Hide me

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-25-14

"maybe war takes a holiday today"

This isn't too sentimental (nor too gruesome) and convincingly recreates the possible development of one possible truce situation in the 1914 trenches. It doesn't directly address any BIG questions, other than the very powerful one posed by the truces themselves. I liked that it highlighted the conditions in the trenches, again without being too gruesome for family listening. I'm so happy to see commemoration of the centenary of the Truce since so many battles are so well remembered.

Read More Hide me

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-24-14

So glad I found this free story!

I"ve had Hill's Serailler series in my wish list for years, but hesitated to hit "buy." This short is just OK; however, the listen tells me enough to know that I will enjoy a full length Hill listen-- a well-written modern take on a village cozy with police procedural added, somewhere between the depth of PD James and the lightness of Deborah Crombie. The excellent narration lives up to the positive reviews of Pacey as the voice of this series.

Read More Hide me

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-03-14

Comfortable, well-crafted cozy

American detective fiction tries to be too action packed or grisly for me, cozies tend to be too cute, and I usually skip anything containing the PI acronym-- but I’m very glad I took a chance on this. The Sam McCain series seems to be the same “weight” of a Charlotte MacLeod, with similar gentle humour, humanism and craftsmanship. McCain is a young small town PI/lawyer who sleeps with his cats since his romantic ideal eludes him; He confers with his Mom and Dad and gets sick if he drinks alcohol (but still it doesn’t get too cute).

Gorman is I think an older author, and there is thread of respect for elders and veterans running throughout the three in the series that I’ve enjoyed so far. This is more “nostalgic” rather than historical fiction written with modern sensibility, but that made it a better comfort read, the kind of mystery that soothes a head cold and relieves tension from listening to too much about current affairs. I get the feeling that Gorman is capable of much heavier fiction, but he gifted the world with some needed diversion instead.

Pinchot's narration was perfect. I bought the book as a Kindle edition first, thinking it would be better as a speed read, but it was written and narrated so well that I recommend the audio (check whisper sync price).

Read More Hide me

20 of 21 people found this review helpful