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Search tags: the-detection-club
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review 2019-03-19 15:12
Finally an audio version that does justice to this particular book.
Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers,Mark Meadows

I don't know if this January 2019 release signals a new series of audios of all of Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, but if it does, please God let them all be narrated by Mark Meadows.  Although my overall favorites still remain the Ian Carmichael audios (not the BBC full cast dramatizations, but those where Carmichael actually narrates the unabridged novels themselves), there doesn't seem to be a full set of those available any longer, and the alternatives produced in the interim are of -- putting it gently -- extremely varied quality.** 

 

This is particularly true for the first Wimsey book, Whose Body?, where those looking for an audio version so far have had the choice between two ridiculously over the top, trying-too-hard (and thus failing) British versions -- one male, one female -- and an American version failing even worse, for incongruously incorporating what the narrator obviously thinks Wimsey's nasal upper crust voice would have sounded like into an otherwise unabashedly American accent. 

 

Imagine my delight, therefore, in listening to this Mark Meadows recording and finding that Meadows quite literally hits all the right notes; chiefly with Wimsey's own voice, but actually with those of all the characters and, notably, also with Sayers's own narrative voice ... and with extra brownie points for also getting the occasional French and German bits right, with only a slight English accent to boot.  So even if this recording doesn't usher in a full series of new Lord Peter Wimsey recordings -- although I hope it may -- it's definitely the one I'd recommend as the one to turn to for those audio- rather than print-edition minded.  Who knows, you may even end up finding you like the usually shrugged-on Whose Body? better -- or at any rate not any worse -- than some of the later Wimsey novels.  (Five Red Herrings and Unnatural Death do come to mind in that department ...)

___________________________________

 

** The one notable older, "non-Carmichael" audio I have yet to listen to is Patrick Malahide's recording of Five Red Herrings.  Even with, as BT reports, his Scots accent somewhat regionally "off", I can't imagine it to be anywhere near as awful as the so far exstant versions of Whose Body?, however.

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review 2019-03-01 22:39
Good news ...
The Unexpected Guest: A Play In Two Acts - Agatha Christie
The Unexpected Guest & The Pale Horse (BBC Audio Crime) - Agatha Christie

... for those of us looking for a quick Christie audio fix but who want to make sure they're listening to Dame Agatha's own words and not one of the novelizations of her plays by Charles Osborne: You can do just that!

 

The 1981 full cast BBC audio version of The Unexpected Guest (available individually on Audible, as well as sold in a CD set together with a dramatization of The Pale Horse) is based directly on Agatha Christie's play.

 

I received my print edition of the play today, and since I already owned the CD set, I decided to engage in a little spontaneous experiment and listen to the CD while reading along in my new print copy.  Result: While the radio play is a somewhat condensed version, it definitely does contain Christie's own words -- verbatim (solely minus the abbreviation).  I could follow along on the printed page quite easily.

 

(Well, OK -- admittedly I had bought the full cast audio version instead of the one of Hugh Fraser narrating Charles Osborne's novelization because I had hoped the full cast version would be based on Christie's own play, rather than (re-)dramatizing the novelization of a stage play ... but of course I couldn't be certain, so this was still a very satisfactory confirmation of my hopes and beliefs at the time when I bought the CD.)

 

Content-wise, this is rather a neat little mystery (non-series, as far as the protagonists are concerned); not quite as intricate as her novels, but very nicely done nevertheless, with the kinds of twists we've come to expect from our Agatha.  There are certain superficial similarities with several other books of hers, but the usual caveat applies ... what constitutes the solution in one book may be merely a red herring in another one and vice versa.  Since I had already listened to the CD I knew the solution this time around (though I needed a slight prompt to remember it), so this repeat experience brought with it all the joys of watching Agatha at work in laying her traps for the unwary.

 

I'm still planning to read the full print version of the play at some point so as to get the full flavour of the things cut out for purposes of the BBC production, but for what I could see while glancing over the cut out parts, the abbreviation was an exercise in condensation, not in altering the contents (even though at least one potential

red herring

(spoiler show)

element has been eliminated ... but that, too, is merely an extra tangent).

 

The print version doesn't quite run to 100 pages, so I'm going to keep this in reserve for Snakes and Ladders, possibly to be used in conjunction with the radio plays MR and I are going to listen to tomorrow ... as well as the odd short story or two to make up for the required 200 pages or equivalent audio listening time.

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review 2019-02-26 20:08
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Murder on the Orient Express: Complete & Unabridged (Audiocd) - Agatha Christie

Still as much fun as ever.  David Suchet obviously is Poirot -- but this is the one audio recording where he is equally obviously having the time of his life with the rest of the cast in an "Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets" manner, and I'm enjoying being along for the ride every single second, every single time.

 

Original review (also of this audio version) HERE.

 

Now onwards and upwards on the Snakes and Ladders board!

 

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review 2019-02-25 17:30
What a Disappointment
The Red Lamp - Mary Roberts Rinehart,Gary Dikeos

Ugh.  If I hadn't been listening to this for Snakes and Ladders I would have DNF'd.  Much too heavy handed use of pseudo-occult phenomena for my taste (also, the dead animals thing was done so much better by Conan Doyle in Silver Blaze; it just felt like copycatting here) -- and I really, really dislike stories in which the narrator comes across as a passenger of / on the train of events instead of the conductor; particularly if, as in this case, as a scholar (s)he ought to have had ten times the brain power required to solve the mystery on their own, instead of becoming a plaything being buffeted around by adverse forces and having to rely on someone else both active and prescient enough to see through the bad guy's machinations and save our narrator's behind in the process.  (And don't get me started on the bad guy's motivation and psychological makeup.)  Why, Ms. Roberts Rinehart, why?  You could do sooo much better!

 

Also, note to self, another audobook narrator to avoid like the proverbial plague henceforth is Gary Dikeos.  Stentorian declamation devoid of any sort of nuance (except when reproducing dialogue, of which there was way too little to make a difference here, however), which pretty much killed any sort of atmosphere Roberts Rinehart was obviously aiming for.  If I'd liked the story as such any better than I did I might have given it another chance with the print version just to get that irritating vocal performance out of my head.  As it is, I probably won't -- unless I encounter it in an omnibus collection or anthology somewhere, in which case I just might reread individual snippets.  Even then I doubt I'll revisit the entire book, however.  For now, I'm just glad I've got this one out of the way so my little helpers and I can climb that ladder on the Snakes and Ladders board ...

 

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review 2019-01-20 01:10
Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie
Partners in Crime: A Tommy and Tuppence Collection - Agatha Christie

This is the second of the Tommy & Tuppence Beresford books - some time has passed since the events of The Secret Adversary, and they are now quite the staid married folks. Or not.

 

Partners in Crime is a series of linked short stories - the British government has need of the Beresfords again, to take over a detective agency that has been used in some sort of espionage ring. While Tommy is pretending to be Mr. Blount, with Tuppence as his trusty sidekick and secretary, they are hired to solve some crimes in addition to the spy ring they are trying to bust. There's a stolen pearl, a poisoning, and some counterfeiters, as well as providing some assistance to a lovelorn young man who is trying to break his beloved's alibi for a bet.

 

Both Tommy and Tuppence are fans of the detective story, so they try out the personas of several of the best known detectives of the time, many of which I've only vaguely heard of, but who include the master of ratiocination, Sherlock Holmes, and he of the moustaches and leetle grey cells, Hercule Poirot. This is delightful.

 

In fact, the whole book is delightful. The mysteries are largely forgettable, but the banter between Tommy & Tuppence is engaging, and the two of them are adorable, bubbly, cheerful and warm.

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