In this book, Adam Dalgliesh spends a holiday on the Norfolk coast, and quickly becomes involved in the investigation of some local murders. What starIn this book, Adam Dalgliesh spends a holiday on the Norfolk coast, and quickly becomes involved in the investigation of some local murders. What starts out as a very straightforward police procedural quickly turns into an intricate examination of character, as we find out that most of the local residents, whether complicit in the murders or not, have hidden motives and reasons to lie to the police and to each other. In the end, the web of secrets is so complicated that even Dalgliesh doesn't unravel one or two strands. (He does solve the mystery, though.)
I found the book quite compelling, although one or two of the revelations about the characters stretched credibility. (I don't want to get into spoilers, but I though that Caroline Amphlett's subplot got a bit bizarre.) Still, I'd definitely recommend this if you're in the mood for a very psychological mystery with a great sense of setting.
This BBC Radio 4 series is basically "British History: The Good Parts Version". It's not deep, but it does look at the high points of British historyThis BBC Radio 4 series is basically "British History: The Good Parts Version". It's not deep, but it does look at the high points of British history from a variety of angles, and is a great way to get to grips with the broad outline of British history. And the narration is superb.
This volume covers more than a thousand years of history in just over three hours. The succession struggles in the years before the Norman conquest make particularly interesting reading. Ever wondered just what made Aethelred the Unready so unready? Have a listen to this and find out. ...more
I was expecting this audio to be a bit of a mixed bag, honestly. And I suppose it is, but it's a very enjoyable one.
The story begins with the DoctorI was expecting this audio to be a bit of a mixed bag, honestly. And I suppose it is, but it's a very enjoyable one.
The story begins with the Doctor and Ace arriving in Colditz Castle, a German prison camp, in 1944. They're quickly captured, and then separated. Ace occupies herself with trying to survive and escape, while the Doctor has to deal with a Nazi scientist named Klein who's very interested in the TARDIS. And the Doctor quickly realizes that he might have changed history so that the Nazis win the war - and he's got to figure out how to change it back.
It's a good story, combining the suspense of prison-escape stories with the intellectual thrills of a good time paradox. There's some slight oddness in the sound design - often the actors voices have a quite heavy reverb or echo effect applied. It's clearly meant to convey the echoes of rooms in the castle, but the way it's executed, it ends up just emphasizing the fact that these are actors in a studio with electronic effects being applied to their voices. It's oddly distracting, but not enough to kill my enjoyment of the story.
I'm quite looking forward to the return of Klein in the next run of Seventh Doctor audios.
I still haven't entirely gotten used to the way Big Finish split the ongoing plotline of the Bernice stories between audios and books, so I'm not realI still haven't entirely gotten used to the way Big Finish split the ongoing plotline of the Bernice stories between audios and books, so I'm not really sure if this audio just starts in the middle of the action, or if it continues on from things that took place in the books. (All the more reason to get cracking on some of the Benny books I picked up in the last Big Finish sale, I suppose.) I felt a bit at sea for the first few minutes, but after that it mostly wasn't a problem. (Except that it really felt like I was supposed to know who Miss Jones was, and I can't remember encountering the character before. Have I just not been paying attention, or has she not appeared in any of the previous audios?)
Anyway, the story is a cracking one: The Braxiatel collection has been invaded by a power known as the Fifth Axis, and Benny makes a set of very surprising discoveries about who is behind them. (Given the title, I suppose it's not a spoiler to say that, yes, it's the Daleks - but there's a bit more to it.) There's action, snark, relationship drama, terrible moral dilemmas, and Irving Braxiatel being devious - it's just about everything you could want from a Benny adventure.
There's also a bonus story on the disc that puts a rather interesting twist on the "If you could go back in time and kill a baby who would grow up to be a horrible genocidal dictator, would you?" dilemma. It's pretty graphic in its description of the fictional dictator's acts, though, so be warned - it's not a light and cheerful Benny tale. ...more
Solidly entertaining story with some satire of the entertainment industry and some trademark Dave Stone looniness thrown in. I'm slightly put off by sSolidly entertaining story with some satire of the entertainment industry and some trademark Dave Stone looniness thrown in. I'm slightly put off by some minor things like the blatant meta-ness of the characters announcing something along the lines of "Wouldn't it be nice to have a little adventure that doesn't relate to anything else?" and I can't figure out why Jason and Benny seem to have adopted a whole new set of swear words that they've never used before or since. And I honestly can't decide whether the ending is genius or pure silliness. ...more
This story very much begins in medias res - Judge Dredd and Johnny Alpha have just saved the world from a zombie menace, and exactly what that zombieThis story very much begins in medias res - Judge Dredd and Johnny Alpha have just saved the world from a zombie menace, and exactly what that zombie menace was and how Dredd and Alpha came to team up is left for the listener to deduce. I did find myself wondering if this audio references continuity that I'm expected to be aware of from a previous audio or from the comic, although ultimately, I was able to piece together quite enough to enjoy the story.
And it's a very enjoyable story. The highlight is really the interplay between Dredd and Alpha: these guys are not natural allies, and sparks fly between them quite entertainingly. The story also features an interesting twist on time travel - the way Alpha gets back to his own time is to give Dredd a message with his precise location, which Dredd will deliver to someone who will eventually give it to Alpha's employers in the future, who will use their time travel tech to scoop him up and bring him back. So when Alpha writes the message, and doesn't disappear, there are two options - either Dredd will betray him, or Dredd will never make it back alive to deliver the message.
There are some flaws - I guess that the Cold War-esque portrayal of the Chinese as fanatical Communist drones with crappy technology is part of the 2000 AD universe, but it feels dated now. (In fact, I'm made a bit uneasy in general by the way the Dredd audios portray Asian cultures, but there are a lot of things in the Dredd audios that make me uneasy.)
This one is still a good read, but it seems to be caught up in lots of ongoing Marvel universe continuity, much of which goes completely over my headThis one is still a good read, but it seems to be caught up in lots of ongoing Marvel universe continuity, much of which goes completely over my head since I'm not a big Marvel comics reader. And it feels a bit disjointed, as if parts of the story were happening in other comics. Perhaps I should become a bigger Marvel comics reader.
Still, it's good fun - I particularly love a conversation between She Hulk and Iron Man about double-standards in superhero costumes: why does he get a cool suit when she has to run around in her unmentionables?
The cover blurb described this as "Iain Banks on acid". My immediate thought was, "Well, if I had to name an author who really didn't need pharmaceutiThe cover blurb described this as "Iain Banks on acid". My immediate thought was, "Well, if I had to name an author who really didn't need pharmaceutical enhancement, Banks would be one."
Still, the comparison to Banks is not entirely inapt. Certainly, Jones and Banks share a tendency to create fantastical but fantastically detailed futures, with a bit of sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll about them. Jones doesn't have quite the whimsical tendency of Banks - there are no spaceships with funny names or snarky AIs here.
What I didn't quite realize when I picked up this book is that it is several books in to a cycle that began with Bold As Love. While I enjoyed Rainbow Bridge, I think I'd probably have gotten a lot more out of it if I'd actually read the previous volumes. Jones is a somewhat oblique writer - or at least, like Gene Wolfe, she doesn't spell out any more for the reader than she thinks is necessary.
The book is set in a post-petroleum world of energy scarcity, in which our heroes have until recently been rock-star (yes, literally) rulers of Britain. Their rule is abruptly ended by a Chinese invasion, and they decide to play along to avoid further bloodshed, knowing that they harbor secrets that could make the Chinese rulers very unhappy indeed.
I still feel like I need to go back and read the previous books to put the whole picture together, but this book has made me fairly eager to do so. ...more
The first half of this is pretty enjoyable, though with a few flaws that I'll get to in a moment. The plot, which centers around a nightclub in IbizaThe first half of this is pretty enjoyable, though with a few flaws that I'll get to in a moment. The plot, which centers around a nightclub in Ibiza where the DJs claim to be angels, is pretty interesting. And as a bonus, we delve into Ace's family background a little more.
I didn't like the second half quite as much. The final episode, where all is revealed and resolved, felt drawn out and a bit confusing.
The play also suffers a bit from the problem that any work of fiction trying to portray the work of a genius artist suffers from: it's not always easy to bring that genius across in the fictional milieu. We're told that Gabriel is a genius composer, and that his music inspires incredibly deep emotion. What we actually hear in the audio is mostly some fairly pedestrian techno music. (Although I did like the dance remix of the Doctor Who theme tune that opens and closes each episode.) And the actors, though they're trying, don't always do the best job of selling the mesmerizing qualities of the music with their reactions.
Also, I do find the portrayal of Ace in these early plays to be a bit patchy. It feels like everyone involved is going to such great lengths to portray how "troubled" the character is that she feels gratingly one note. I much prefer her in more recent plays, where she's clearly still someone who has her demons to wrestle with, but they don't swamp the rest of her character.
Overall, this is a story whose ambition exceeds its actual achievement. I still find it much more interesting to listen to than a story that totally plays it safe, but I do regret that this one didn't live up to its potential a little more. ...more