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What did you like best about Siege at the Villa Lipp? What did you like least?
I am a fan of Eric Ambler in the main, especially his better known works such as Journey into Fear and Uncommon Danger. What I struggled with here however was something of a lack of action and what was in essence a rather placid story. It seemed a chore to listen to in the end which is something I wouldn't have identified with Ambler at all.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
The thing I perhaps struggled with most was what seemed to me a rather flat, over technical explanation of what is really quite a dry subject matter; tax avoidance. During certain passages I found my attention wandering. The Criminologists were a strange set of characters too; neither menacing enough to provide a threat nor naive enough to represent the victims or fools you might have expected to act as foils for the 'baddie'. Also, for a crime novel, did it really deliver a crime? Is Firman a bad man or merely a shady businessman? The reasoning behind the siege was somewhat confused I thought too.
Have you listened to any of Stephen Greif’s other performances? How does this one compare?
I believe he delivered what the text demanded of the characters.
If this book were a film would you go see it?
If it were rearranged, it could be a true thriller I guess. There are interesting journeys into the past that explain who Firman is and why he finds himself the man he is but embedded as they are within the siege framework, they end up feeling too disconnected to matter.
Any additional comments?
In my humble opinion, the book is overlong and doesn't really deliver a punchy story. Everyone comes across as bland or strangely apathetic.
Any additional comments?
Without spoilers I will just say this is a story about the world of corrupt tax advisors, extortionists and criminologists and, more than a story, it paints a detailed portrait of the people and their psychology. It has an authentic feel though, not being an expert in this field, I can't be certain that it is based on accurate research. The story is set during the eponymous siege but much of it takes the form of flashbacks relating the life story of the first person narrator. It paints a convincing and fascinating picture of a world of deception, threats and bluffs. I found it engrossing from start to finish.
Stephen Greif uses less variation for the different voices than my favourite readers - in a few places barely enough to distinguish who is speaking - but he has a pleasant voice to listen to and the suave intonation he gives the narrator's character is perfect.