Monday, 4 May 2009

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover
Overture to Death
by Ngaio Marsh

narrated by Ric Jerrom

"It was planned as an act of charity: getting up an amusing play to finance a new piano for the parish hall. The question now under bitter discussion is, who shall play the overture? Though Eleanor Prentice wins, on the night of the performance she cannot play. Miss Campanula steps triumphantly into the breach. A chord is struck, a shot rings out, and Miss Campanula is dead, shot between the eyes. Inspector Roderick Alleyn realizes she may not have been the intended victim and sets the stage for a repeat performance."

Well, it was OK. Good story, good characterisation, but a bit dated - not surprising since it was written in the 1930's. Having said that, it was a classic whodunnit, where all the clues are laid out for you. Was it the squire, the squire's son, the rector or his daughter, the doctor or the worldly lady or the nasty old maid (the other one, not the nasty old maid who was murdered)? My only quibble is that the characters are all a bit one-dimensional. Two nasty old maids? A soft-hearted widowed vicar? Young love! Even the Inspector becomes uncharacteristically soppy at the end.

Image of the book cover
Leave it to Psmith
by P.G. Wodehouse

narrated by Jonathan Cecil

"The idyll of Blandings Castle is about to be disturbed, for the Hon. Freddie Threepwood is poised to make his debut as a jewel thief. Freddie, however, is not alone: Blandings is simply brimming with criminals and impostors all intent on stealing Aunt Constance's £20,000 diamond necklace."

This is a repeat performance, the first in the history of this blog, so I'm not sure if it should feature for a second time or not. What happened was that I ran out of audiobooks and podcasts, and rather than buy another book or wait for the next monthly book credit to arrive, I thought I'd revisit a previous one. It's really good, though, worth a second listen. I love the turn of phrase that Wodehouse uses. For example, Psmith (the P is silent) is a natty dresser and cares about how he looks, but is asked to wear a chrysanthemum so that he can be recognised at a meeting point. "That's a chrysanthemum?" he asks the flower seller disparagingly. "Just one?" He then describes walking through town 'behind the shrub'. It's all about the words, and luckily the readers they use for professionally recorded books know how to make the most of them.

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