Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Audiobook Review: Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room
Author: James Baldwin
Narrator: Dan Butler
Unabridged, Length 6 hrs, 49 min
Publisher: AudioGo Ltd 4/1/13

Publisher's Summary:
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.

My Thoughts:
I found Giovanni's Room  to be emotionally intense and powerful.  David, a young American, has fled to Paris to escape something in himself that he does not want to admit.  His girlfriend, Hella, is traveling on her own to give herself some time to decide what she wants from their relationship.  David spends time with his friends in a gay bar to prove to himself that he is not one of them.  Then he meets Giovanni and begins a love affair that makes him realize escape will never happen.  The novel begins with the end.  Hella is on her way back to America and Giovanni's fate is sealed.  I could empathize with David, being torn between two lovers and fighting against something in himself that he didn't want to accept.  I could feel for Hella, knowing she lost her fiancee to another man.  But my sympathies were mostly with Giovanni, who thought David was his salvation and begged him not to leave. I won't say any more for fear of spoiling it for other readers but when the last chapter was over I had a lump in my throat for hours.

Dan Butler was the perfect voice for David.  At first I thought he was reading too slowly and deliberately but I soon saw that his interpretation gave David's thoughts a dreamlike quality.  It was almost as if David was seeing his memories through a curtain as a way to keep them from being so sharp they would destroy him. 

James Baldwin is an amazing writer. When Giovanni's Room was published in 1957, I'm sure people were outraged at a black man daring to write about gay white men.   It's such an important literary work, I don't know why I never discovered it until now but I'm glad I did.  I give it 5 stars.

Review copy provided by AudioGo. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Song Dog

The Song Dog
Author: James Mclure
Narrator: Steven Crossley
Unabridged, Length 9 hrs, 37 min
Publisher: AudioGo Ltd, 4/2/13

 Publisher's Summary:
The year is 1962. Young Lieutenant Tromp Kramer of the Trekkersburg Murder and Robbery Squad has been ordered up to Jafini, a small, dusty town in northern Zululand, to investigate the "hero's death" of the town's chief detective, Maaties Kritzinger--another Afrikaner maverick, and one with many secrets. Kramer finds himself increasingly identifying with the victim as the investigation proceeds. And then his path crosses that of Bantu Detective Sergeant Mickey Zondi, who is trying to locate a multiple killer whose summary execution will quiet the spirits of his ancestors. Despite the racial differences, the two men sense a kinship...one that might prove dangerous in rural South Africa in the year of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely love this series!  I listened to and reviewed The Artful Egg a few weeks ago and was delighted to have the chance to review The Song Dog because this prequel to the series shows how Lieutenant Tromp Kramer and  Bantu Detective Sergeant Mickey Zondi first teamed up to solve a crime.  At first Kramer thought Zondi was a suspect in the bombing and set a trap to catch him.  Zondi was curious to see what Kramer was up to and ended up saving Kramer when someone tried to shoot him.  Kramer had become increasingly frustrated with the inept investigations of the Jafini police department. He quickly recognized the intelligence and ability of the Bantu detective and arranged for Zondi to work the case with him. Despite their racial differences, the pair make an excellent crime-solving team.  I don't listen to many books twice, but I did listen to The Song Dog a second time.  It was fun to experience the investigation knowing where all the clues and seemingly unrelated incidences would lead.  Listening to Steven Crossley is such a treat.  He gives each character a personality and I especially liked his performance of Kramer.   I give The Song Dog 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who loves good detective fiction with a historical setting and plenty of humor. 

Review copy provided by AudioGo.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Tooth Tattoo

The Tooth Tattoo
Author: Peter Lovesey
Narrator: Clive Anderson
Unabridged, Length 11hrs, 40 min
Publisher: AudioGo Ltd. 4/30/13

Publisher's Summary
Peter Diamond, head of Bath CID, takes a city break in Vienna, where his favorite film, The Third Man, was set, but everything goes wrong and his companion, Paloma, calls a halt to their relationship. Meanwhile, strange things are happening to jobbing musician Mel Farran, who finds himself scouted by methods closer to the spy world than the concert platform. The chance of joining a once-famous string quartet in a residency at Bath Spa University is too tempting for Mel to refuse. Then a body is found in the city canal, and the only clue to the dead woman's identity is the tattoo of a music note on one of her teeth. For Diamond, who wouldn't know a Stradivarius from a French horn, the investigation is his most demanding ever. Three mysterious deaths need to be probed while his own personal life is in free fall…

My Thoughts:
I chose The Tooth Tattoo for the intriguing title and the fact that I love mysteries set in England.  I was not disappointedI liked being immersed in the unfamiliar and enjoyed learning about the world of a string quartet, how they complemented each other and were closely knit in their working life but totally separate in their private lives. Once very famous, the quartet was making a comeback after recruiting Mel Farron to take the place of  Harry, their viola player who disappeared four years ago.  Peter Diamond came into contact with the string quartet while investigating the mysterious death of a young woman who had a tattoo of a musical note on one of her teeth..  Many seemingly unrelated clues kept me guessing and I realized who the murder was about the time Diamond solved the case. This was my first Peter Diamond mystery and I assure you it won't be my last.  This was also my first experience with narrator Clive Anderson and he was fantastic.  He was especially good with the voice of the female member of the string quartet but not so good with other female voices.  I always knew who was speaking and it was a pleasure to listen to him.  I will add him to my list of favorites.

I liked the fact that The Tooth Tattoo didn't make me feel that I had missed something by not having read any of the previous Peter Diamond mysteries.  I recommend it to mystery lovers and give it 4.5 stars.

Review copy provided by AudioGo.