Georgette Heyer: Behold, Here's Poison
(Narrator: Ulli Birvé)
The first Georgette Heyer mysteries I read were her Inspector Hemingway books, which in a way meant I was starting from the wrong end, as Hemingway progressed to the rank of inspector from having been the lead investigator's sergeant in the earlier Superintendent Hannasyde books. That doesn't impede my enjoyment of Hannasyde's cases in the least, however, now that I'm getting around to these, even though I found the first one (Death in the Stocks) seriously underwhelming. But Heyer redeems herself in a big way with Behold, Here's Poison: Though a fair share of her mysteries have a sizeable contingent of 1920s-30s stock-in-trade bright young things and generally "nice chaps" (which got on my nerves enough at one point to make me decide I'd had enough of Heyer), when she did set her mind to it, nobody, not even Agatha Christie, did maliciously bickering families like her. And the family taking center stage here must be one of the meanest she's ever come up with, only (just) surpassed by the Penhallows. I'm not overwhelmed with the story's romantic dénouement (there always is one in Heyer's books), and while I guessed the mystery's essential "who" and had a basic idea of the "why" at about the 3/4 - 4/5 mark (the actual "why" was a bit of a deus ex machina), by and large this has to count among my favorite Heyer mysteries so far ... though not quite reaching the level of my overall favorite, Envious Casca.
Ulli Birvé isn't and won't ever become my favorite narrator, and she seriously got on my nerves here, too. Since all of the recent re-recordings of Heyer's mysteries are narrated by her, though, I've decided I won't hold her mannerisms against the author, and I've read enough print versions of Heyer books at this point to have a fairly good idea of what a given character would sound like in my head if I'd read instead of listened to the book in question.
Colin Dexter: The Riddle of the Third Mile
(Narrator: Samuel West)
For Veterans' / Armistice Day I'm claiming the very first book I revisited after the beginning of the 24 Festive Tasks game: Colin Dexter's The Riddle of the Third Mile had long been one of my favorite entries in the Inspector Morse series, but Samuel West's wonderful reading not only confirmed that status but actually moved it up yet another few notches. (Samuel West is fast becoming one of my favorite audiobook narrators anyway.) The fact that due to the progress of medical research a key element of the mystery would have been much easier to solve these days does not impede my enjoyment in the least ... changing social mores aside, half the Golden Age crime literature, including many of the great classics by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and even, on occasion, Arthur Conan Doyle would be deprived of substantial riddles if they were set today. -- The book qualifies for this particular "24 Festive Tasks" square, because some of the characters' and their siblings' encounter as British soldiers at the battle of El Alamein (1942) forms the prologue to the book and an important motive for their actions in the world of Oxford academia and Soho strip clubs, some 40 years later.
Ok, I'm going to try and share something new and fresh here but I have to be honest this is book #4 Criminal Intentions Changing Faces, for this series and 'other than "ohmyfreakin'godthisis hella,hellaGOOD" I'm starting to feel like a stuck record but I'll give it a go anyways ok.
'Criminal Investigations' is a series with a slightly different form to it. The author's plan is to write this with a format that more strongly resembles a television show than a book series. As most of us know book series can vary in terms of when and how often they're released. I've read series where the books have been released almost all at once as was the case with Brent Weeks 'Night Angel' trilogy these books were originally released within weeks of each other (and no that wasn't an intentional play on words) other series may have months between each book or sometimes even years (let's think G.R.R. Martin here and still others have totally erratic release dates). Whereas with a television show we know that basically we're getting 13 episodes per viewing season (it use to be 22 but these days 13 seems to be the average). So the plan for this series as I understand is a possible 5 seasons with 13 episodes per season. So if you're planning on seeing this through to the end, as I and some other souls are want to do it's going to be like making a commitment to G.R.R. Martin himself the endgame is not for those in need of immediate gratification.
In order not to spoil this for anyone with a potential interest in following this series let me just say that...I'm not going to write spoilerish things in my reviews anything that I use that directly pertains to the events in an episode will also be found in the blurb.
Ok, so what am I going to talk about well the obvious of course why I'm reading this series. I love a good crime drama story, especially if it has a personal connection to it. With each episode of CI (yep, we're going to save me some typing and refer to this as CI for Criminal Intentions) anyways, with each episode there's a different crime being resolved and by different I don't mean same crime different faces I mean different crime with different faces and here in CI #4 what we were given was a case of domestic violence and while the who and why of who done it was apparent fairly early in the story. I was ok with that because while this was a part of the story it wasn't the focus this time around the focus was more about the impact that the case has on Seong-Jae one of the MCs in this series as he works to resolve the circumstances surrounding the victims murder... because we don't always live in a world of clear absolutes and sometimes upholding the law doesn't always mean adhering to the letter of the law and as an officer of the law Seong-Jae not only has to resolve this murder but he finds he needs to come to terms with that resolution...it's good stuff folks seriously thought provoking stuff because if you've read this and heard any news stories over the past few years I'm sure you'll agree with me that much of this story could have easily come from the pages of any newspaper.
And this leads to the next thing that I really like about this series and that's the strong undertone of realism that runs through these stories. This is not a light and fluffy series with sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. These stories deal with the dark side of human nature sometimes the lines between right and wrong become pretty fuzzy...just like in the real world.
So now onto my favorite thing about this series or I guess I should say things...Seong-Jae and Malcolm...these two men...sweet baby jebus!!! Let me just say this will test the patience of even the staunchest slow burn fan but it's going to be worth it...of this I feel certain.
These two men...I don't even know how to explain the dynamics between them other than to use a very cliche phrase and say 'It's complicated'. Seriously we're 4 books in and we'v basically gotten a couple of kisses that's it but..DAMN!!! I've read full on sex scenes that didn't radiate the heat that these two just begin in the same room...or even on a telephone together.
With every story we're given a crime drama that's resolved from start to finish but with each story we're also given a little more about Seong-Jae and Malcolm's past as they continue to dance around each other and there's an overlying storyline that's building and it's the one that keeps me coming back because in spite of the crime that's resolved the author leaves us with just enough answers to pique our interest while also adding just enough questions to tease the readers curiosity.
While this was probably the weakest of the stories in terms of the crime that was committed and resolved for me it was in fact one of the better stories from the perspective of personal relationships. It also seems to be a pivotal point as things seem to be changing both for and between Soeng-Jae and Malcolm.
I'm not sure what comes next for this series but I do know I'm on board to find out...episode 5 everyone 'It's Witchcraft' and it's happening tomorrow (November 10) and I'm so there! This series...very highly recommended! and definitely best read in order.
A copy of 'Criminal Intentions: Changing Faces' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow, this one kept me on a roller coaster of emotions. Olive and Nigel have been married for 15 years, and life has happened to them. Both of them have lost sight of why they got married and lost their way. As they journeyed into their past, I cried and laughed along with them. The author did a wonderful job getting across the feelings of two people trying to find their way back to happiness. I recommend this story.
I received a copy of the story through Candid Book Reviews, and this is my unsolicited review.