Unbecoming Habits : Simon Bognor Mysteries

  • by Tim Heald
  • Narrated by John Lee
  • Series: Simon Bognor Mysteries
  • 6 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For the sake of honey, Bognor investigates a cabal of treasonous monks. As the friars of the abbey gather for group prayer, Brother Luke stays in the garden. His tardiness is not due to an overenthusiasm for his potatoes, but to the fact that he is lying facedown in the dirt, strangled to death by his own crucifix. For Simon Bognor, this will prove inconvenient. A special investigator attached to the British Board of Trade, Bognor knows that Brother Luke was an undercover agent, come to look into charges of national agriculture secrets being smuggled across the Iron Curtain in jars of the abbey’s famous honey. Someone killed to protect the apiary espionage, and Bognor assumes with irritation that whoever did it will kill again. A portly desk jockey with a bad eye for detail and no experience with danger in the field, Bognor approaches the abbey hesitantly, certain that among these lambs of God lurks a wolf with a taste for blood.

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Mixed reactions to this book

So It's not easy to write this review. I have mixed feelings about this book. First of all--to give it it's due--it was written in the early 1970's, so one must think in that time frame . Simon Bognor is an unlikely investigator sent to look into the murder of an undercover agent who had been posing as a religious in a friary. Bognor has little experience in doing this sort of work, and is not completely sure he wants to go anyway. But he gets there, and has to sort out murders that take place in a friary that sells it's signature honey to other parts of Europe.Only Bognor suspects the honey-selling is not what it seems--are they sending out more than honey? This book, recall, was written during the time of the Cold-War.

So the book is okay--I think I'll try another in the series. But I'm not crazy about the narrator. Although in one way, he perfectly gives the flavor of the stilted stereotypical British mannerisms that are often amusing, his voice (to me) would be better suited to a Monty Python episode (and I do love Monty Python--but perhaps not here). There is some dry wit in the book, so perhaps that works. However, as I listened, I found myself "translating" what I was listening to into how it might have sounded in my own mind if I had been reading the book (with my American accent). And I discovered I liked, or at least understood, it better that way. I felt that the prissy snobbish style would have worked better in a British country house mystery than the different environment of the friary where all the people came from various backgrounds.

However, that is my taste. I'm pretty sure that the narrator fully intended to push the limits of that sort of snobbish, crisp upper class (and maddening) style of speech. And I'm sure it probably works well with the book--except that I simply did not like it. I love it in PG Wodehouse works, but not this one. Others may find it hilarious. I also felt he read just a little bit too fast--kept feeling I was often one sentence behind in listening. All that being said, I still enjoyed the book, see promise for the next ones. Wish it had a different narrator, but I won't let that stand in the way of listening to another.
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- Kathi

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-19-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios