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SHAKING LIKE AN ASPEN LEAF
The Mummy might have been seen up and moving around, but we are not 100% sure. Like a lot of old, so called horror books, this is about what might or could happen. Very little actually happens and this is not really worth your time.
Harrison is an excellent narrator.
30 of 36 people found this review helpful
Imagine having a sensationally successful literary creation—a figure that even today remains the most famous of all fictional detectives—and yet wanting to be rid of the fellow. It’s like trying to imagine P. G. Wodehouse bumping off Jeeves. But when, as you probably already know, Conan Doyle threw Holmes and Moriarty into the Reichenbach Falls a despondent reading public demanded that Holmes return. And so he did.
Not having dipped to any extent into Conan Doyle’s other works—the stuff he was probably referring to when he said that Holmes, “takes my mind from better things”—I was curious to hear what those better things were like. Not wanting to jump feet first into a larger time commitment (say, The White Company, a historical novel that clocks in at some 15 hours) I was glad to find “Lot No. 249” at 1 hour 18 minutes (and $0.73).
It’s a nice little spine-tingler. Old hat now, of course; reanimated mummies are the stuff of a thousand B-movies. But I always get a kick out of seeing how a genre began (listening to the full cycle of the Holmes/Watson stories, Stoker's Dracula or Shelly's Frankenstein gave the same pleasure). I was curious to see how Conan Doyle would play this particular hand. I was prepared to be indulgent, to sit back and enjoy. And I did. Thoroughly.
I’ve read other reviews calling J. B. Harrison’s performances “adequate”; I’d rate this one a few rungs higher. He’s no Patrick Tull or Simon Vance, but he gives each character in the all-male cast a distinctive voice that accords with the personality Conan Doyle assigns him. And he puts the tale across with vim. And vim is what it requires.
The usual Holmesian-Victorian atmosphere prevails; good men who live by an unspoken but universally accepted code are repulsed by the nefarious doings of men less upright than themselves. The East is mysterious, exotic and suggestively dangerous. The West is, especially as this story takes place at a fictional Oxford college, a mix of solid, ivy-covered Gothic (with an understated patina of Christianity) and keen scientific rationalism (again, much like the Holmes/Watson sagas). Though misguided, the assumed divide between faith and reason was a common piece of mental furniture in Victorian/Edwardian England (the young Winston Churchill reconciled the supposed breach by simply accepting the claims of each within their respective spheres). And it’s a noxious weed that thrives even more luxuriantly today. But I digress.
At $0.73 you really can’t go wrong. I used Lot No. 249 as a lighter, less demanding palette cleanser after a longish Dickensian trek and it worked wonderfully.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I got this as I love Arthur Conan Doyle, but this was completely ruined by the choice of narrator. Why pick an American to narrate a story set in England with British characters? He doesn't even try to do a British accent. Rubbish and utterly disappointed.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
Lovely short story, well executed, good pacing and characterisation. However, the start of the audiobook is a spoiler, so skip to where the story actually begins at 1:40. (a modern audience will still deduce the "spoiler" quickly as it's a common theme these days, but still it's a bit irritating to have it so blatant in the first seconds before the story has even begun)
1 of 1 people found this review helpful