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To me one aspect of a good book is that there is a directional drive that pulls you along as if you are in a boat following a current set out by the author. This sense of directionality and flow of a story line are missing in this mystery. Instead, the book is made up of a series of events loosely strung together by endless verbage. Some of these vignettes are engaging but the story as a whole is disjointed and carelessly thrown together. Things don't follow in a way that makes any sense. It's as if the author wrote a pile of word pictures and then just shuffled them together and called it a book.
If you add all of this to the questionable narration, then the whole experience is pretty darned awful. Keep in mind that it is 15 hours of awful to boot. The falsetto voice used frequently by the narrator was too much for me to stand. The voices became so mixed up that it was almost impossible for me to tell who was talking and what was going on most of the time. After hours of this I no longer cared.
I wanted to like this book but it was a disappointment. It just wasn't for me and I can't recommend it to others either.
23 of 24 people found this review helpful
For once the publisher's summary gets this right: I think fans of Penny and McCall Smith would enjoy this character- and setting- driven Brit cozy -- though it's not quite up to the humorous musing of McCall Smith or to Penny's prose -- but it's also only the first in the series. Despite the comparisons, it didn't play as derivative - more of a re-mix, re-set: Throw in an English village instead of Quebec and add elements of the cozy subgenre, Anglican sleuth.
I liked the narration - West is very "vicar like" in his languorous delivery of Father Christmas' observations and deductions, and there are hints that there is much still to learn of the Reverend in later installments. Gilpin - her sections are briefer- provides the counterpoint (kind of stereotypical) traditional housekeeper's voice. The "stereotype" might extend to the setting -- but it is a cozy -- and the variety is in the village characters, moving about among the usual elements (a May fair, the "Colonel," etc) with their 21st century secrets.
Readers of Alan Bradley will need to weigh in on whether the 9 year old Christmas daughter's perspective resembles his Flavia .
This is not a Christmas novel, despite the title, but it is cozy reading for such a holiday. While I'm not breathlessly waiting for the next book in the series, I will keep downloading.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful