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For a number of years only two of Georgette Heyer's dozen or so murder mysteries were available on Audible, and those were reissues of weak audiocassette recordings. So I was pleased when the first of these Bolinda productions appeared. But I wasn't keen on the samples of Ulli Birve's narration I listened to, so held off getting any of them.
Enter "Envious Casca," my vote for the best of Heyer's mysteries. "Envious Casca" is an exceptionally clever and well conceived mystery with an unexpected twist, interesting if not particularly lovable characters, and great dialogue full of wry British wit and plenty of humor. And it's set in the midst of a country house "Christmas jollification," so I decided in the spirit of the season to give Ulli a try.
Unfortunately my reservations about the narration turned out to be justified. Although Ms. Birve handles dialogue and character differentiation passably well, she reads narrative prose in a jerky, irritating style--pausing after what seems like every third word and breaking phrases into chunks that decimate the flow of the prose. Worse, she either doesn't recognize the humor in what she's reading or she's simply incapable of anything resembling comic timing or nuance. It's a disservice to what should have been a delightful "old school" mystery.
25 of 27 people found this review helpful
This novel was one of Heyer's "modern" works, set during the 1930's about when it was written. Now it has become a period piece. Being an American, I can't speak to how well Ulli Birve pronounces the English of the 1930's, but I love how she captures the personality of the characters. I enjoyed listening to this novel very much, and hope that Ulli continues with her reading of Heyer's mysteries, she has most of them available on Audible now.
This specific book is set during an "old fashioned English Christmas", a setting that has been used by mystery authors from Agatha Christie to Rhys Bowen. I read it most Decembers, and enjoy it. This year, it is pleasant to let Ulli Birve do the reading for me. While there are Heyer novels I enjoy more, this one is a fun title.
I do wish that Audible and Amazon would make more of Heyer's works "wispersync" capable. It is frustrating to own both the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook of the same work and not be able to use wispersync. Not to mention the nice discount pricing on the audiobooks if you already own a Kindle version.
(It would also be nice to have a discount on the Kindle version if you already own the Audible version!! Hint, hint!!)
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
I used to read Georgette Heyer's mysteries when I was a child. So I'd obviously read this one before, but this was like it was the 1st time. The characters were superbly portrayed by the narrator & all were extremely well written! A beautiful novel for a cosy 'fireside' read, with a twist that you really never see coming.
I'm off to purchase the next one. Well worth the investment.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
The reader spoke as if she were reading a foreign language - stilted and unconvincing.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
The story was predictable.