Clemency…

I just removed 32 books from my “To Blog About” List. 32. Most of these were re-reads, and a good number of them were audiobooks. For the most part, with the audiobooks, I’ve written something on the text version and have nothing really to add other than a comment or two on the narration — and there are only so many ways I can say that George Guidall has really grown on me (and I can’t imagine anyone else doing the Walt Longmire books now), or Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the perfect match for Peter Grant, or that Lorelei King and Luke Daniels just blew me away with their work.

Another example would be my re-read of The Rook by Daniel O’Malley — I took pages of notes on my re-read of that in preparation for the release of the sequel, Stiletto. Then my life got busy and not only did I not get around to taking those notes and making them into a longer-than-normal post, Stiletto sits on my shelf, unread. That’s driving me crazy.

There were a couple of non-re-reads on that shelf, too — but I never figured out how to take my one or two thoughts on the books and turn them into something interesting to read/write, and enough time has passed that I have to admit that it’s just not going to happen.

I still have too many books on that list, but I’ve gotta tell you, the (totally self-imposed) burden being lifted feels great.

Advertisements

Whispers Under Ground (Audiobook) by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Whispers Under Ground (Audiobook)Whispers Under Ground

by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator)
Series: The Rivers of London, #3

Unabridged Audioboook, 10 hrs., 17 min.
Tantor Media, 2012

Read: July 24 – August 5, 2017


Okay . . . man, how to sum this one up. Peter, Lesley and Abigail Kamara (a teen-aged neighbor of Peter’s parents) go down into the tunnels of the Underground to look for ghosts, and find one. What we learn here will be important come The Furthest Station. This is a fun little foray into the wider supernatural world of this series.

And then we get back to police work — a man is stabbed at the Baker Street tube and there’s enough for Stephanopoulis to bring in Peter just to rule out magic. Which he can’t do. It turns out that the victim is an American, which makes everything unnecessarily complicated. And then it turns out that he’s the son of a US Senator, and things get worse. The FBI sends an agent — Kimberly Reynolds — over to help out/observe/get in the way. So Peter has to handle to non-normal side of the investigation, keep Seawoll from having to hear about magic (because it interferes with actual police work in his mind), and not let Reynolds know that there’s anything not run-of-the-mill about Peter and the investigation. All at the same time.

Very quickly, it seems clear that there’s something going on that Peter and the rest just don’t get. Yeah, magic was involved in the killing, but there’s no real trace of it in the victim’s life — not with him, his school, his friends, his enemies, or anything. So where’s that come into play? The answer comes when it’s least expected and in a direction that was impossible to predict.

Aaronovich really pulled a rabbit out of his hat this time. Sure, he made both the rabbit and the hat, so it’s to be expected that he’d do that. But, there’s just something about the way he did this one — police procedural that accidentally turns up the answers and leads to something bigger than anyone expected. A great balance of UF and Procedural (the last one was a bit too light on the procedural for me).

Guleed doesn’t get enough to do, but I liked her presence. Lesley really gets to shine a bit here, and her inability to be a regular part of the police force is underlined here for her and Peter — and just how horrible that is emphasized throughout. When Stephanopoulis is the rational, supportive authority figure for Peter (other than Nightingale), you know that Seawoll is a little over the top in his antagonism to all things Folly. But mostly, this was about characters we know and like getting to do things to keep us liking them, and probably liking them more while introducing some new figures for us to enjoy.

Really, the main take away I had from this audio production was a bit of joy over the fact that Holdbrook-Smith isn’t perfect. His Agent Reynolds was just bad. At least the American accent part of it. I enjoyed his flubbing of that more than I should have. Meanwhile, everything else he did was just fantastic — especially Lesley. The range of emotion, sarcasm, etc. that he can put into her voice while still accounting for her lack of face is just incredible. Also, Zach Palmer — the roommate of the murder victim — was just hilarious. I know a lot of that was in the text, but the way Holdbrook-Smith brought him to life was wonderful.

As impressed as I was with the way that Aaronvich did everything he did, something about this one didn’t work for me as much as others in the series do (either in this re-read or originally). I’m not sure why. Still, this was a good, entertaining book that anyone who likes the concept of a Police Officer/Wizard in training should enjoy.

—–

3.5 Stars

Moon Over Soho (Audiobook) by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Moon Over Soho (Audiobook)Moon Over Soho

by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator)
Series: The Rivers of London, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs.
Tantor Media, 2012
Read: June 21 – 23, 2017

When I think back over the first books in this series, I remember them being a lot of fun — pretty funny, really, with moments of tension and drama.

I don’t know why I think that. Listening to the first two have been a good corrective. Yes, Peter is witty, and some of what he does while learning magic or talking to other police officers is amusing. But these are not light books — this is solid police work mixed with dark magic. They’re still fun, just a lot less light than I recall. Actually, my poor memory extends beyond just the tone. I remembered almost nothing about the plot of this one (I remembered almost everything that wasn’t involved in the main plot, the long-term investigation into the Faceless Man, the stuff with Lesley, etc.). Which made it a great experience to re-read.

Jazz musicians are dropping dead after performances of a lifetime — in ways that seem like natural causes, but Peter (and Dr. Walid) can tell there’s something more going on — just what that might be is a touch beyond them. There’s another supernatural predator traveling in London hotspots, preying on unsuspecting men. Peter and DS Stephanopoulos work together to get to the bottom of things — we also meet PC Sahra Guleed. After Guleed’s appearance in Body Work, I’ve been trying to remember where I knew her from, but I couldn’t come up with it, so pleased to have that question resolved for me — I remember now, and I remember what a great character she is.

Peter’s spirit, his curiosity, his drive — they make for a great protagonist, and I quite enjoy spending time with him. I would’ve liked a bit more Nightingale — but I understand why he wasn’t around. Even Peter’s new love interest and his new musician friends are a blast. Really, I can’t think of any characters in here I don’t dig.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith . . . I’m telling you, this guy is just great. His characterizations of the regular characters, plus the ones that we meet here, are great, he just brings everyone to life. But, the job he does with Lesley May’s voice as she recovers from the devastating injuries she sustained at the end of Midnight Riot? I don’t know how to talk about how wonderful — and heartbreaking — I found that.

Another little plus that the audio books bring (not attributable to Holdbrook-Smith) are the interstitial music, that little jazz bit between chapters. It’s just perfect for this series. If you could get that on a chip in the paperbacks to play when you turn the page of a new chapter (or on a whim)? That’d be gold.

A great installment in the series, solidifying the world and helping every character move forward following Midnight Riot.

—–

4 Stars

A Rare Book of Cunning Device (Audiobook) by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

A Rare Book Of Cunning DeviceA Rare Book Of Cunning Device

by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator)
Series: The Rivers of London, #5.6
Unabridged Audiobook, 29 min.
Audible Studios, 2017

Read: April 28, 2017


This is an audio-only release (for now anyway) about Peter (and Toby) go looking for a poltergeist in the stacks of the basements of The British Library. Harold Postmartin was hanging out at the Folly when Peter got the case, and wouldn’t let him shrug it off for awhile, so he got to do a little field-work, too.

It was fun to see Postmartin in action and learn a bit more about him. Peter and Toby were their usual entertaining selves. The Librarian (who’s name I can’t remember, sorry), was fun — the tie-in with Peter’s family was, nice too. The Library (in both fact-based and clearly UF ways) was an interesting place, and I can easily see the need for Peter to return there on another case.

Holdbrook-Smith is just fun to listen to, if I heard another couple of books in this series, I’d probably hear him in my head for any future Peter Grant/Rivers of London books. Top-notch stuff there.

I gripe too much about short stories being to short, so I’ll try not to here. This was a complete story, but it very easily could’ve gone on — in fact when the file ended, I pretty much thought that my headphones ran out of juice. It was good enough to satisfy, but not so good that I can’t grumble about it being short. This was fun, and though I’m not sure how giving a story away works to earn money for a library charity, I’ll trust that it does some how and hope that it meets with plenty of success.

—–

3 Stars