This story follows military medicus (doctor) Gaius Petreius Ruso who is a Roman man living in Brittania (England). HeCrossposted at The BiblioSanctum.
This story follows military medicus (doctor) Gaius Petreius Ruso who is a Roman man living in Brittania (England). He's escaped to the Brittania to heal from a disaster of a marriage that ended in divorce and the death of his father that left the family with many undue debts to pay. Brittania is considered a backwater town but important nonetheless. It's too small to be considered grand, but too large to be ignored by the Romans. As if going from everything to having nothing wasn't bad enough, women continue to bring trouble for Ruso after he examines a dead woman found in the river and rescues a slave from her callous owner.
This story takes place during a time when modern medicine was just beginning to emerge. Doctors were regarded as suspicious conmen and "healers" still ruled surpreme. I loved how Downie weaved that into the story, showing how doctors began to record treatment and discover new ways to deal with various medical ailments and conditions. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Ruso ushered around the new doctors in training and reveled in their naïveté after one fainted (and the others just barely made it out) when Ruso showed them a particular gruesome case. The description made me chuckle because it was just so Ruso-like.
Ruso is a bit cynical and serious, but he does have a little bit of a dry comedic side. He's very sure of his abilities as a medicus almost to the point of cockiness, but unlike his friend and fellow medicus, Valens, he keeps to himself in a world where knowing the right people means everything. He often feels awkward in social situations and almost always says the wrong things in his mind, so he tends to keep to himself. His bedside manners are cool because he's a man of logic, even by his own admission, but Ruso cares more about people more than he shows. This care extends beyond mere medical interest, but he's not sure how to "fix" people beyond what physically ails them.
Ruso complains that he shouldn't get involved in certain matters, but still he finds that his underlying compassion and concern causes him to do the exact opposite, which is how he ends up "investigating" a murder that he insists he's not investigating. He's also terrible at being a hard ass as shown when he became Tilla's "master." Tilla is just one of a group of ragtag friends he picks up during the course of the story which includes the charming Valens who thinks that Ruso needs a new wife, an overenthusiastic scribe named Albanus, and a dog he claims not to care for. He complains about them, of course, but I don't think he'd know what to do without them.
Despite all the elements that could make this a complicated story to listen to, it was very easy to follow. Nothing really went beyond my grasp or caused me to pause and rewind just to make sure I was understanding what I'd heard. Downie didn't use language that was too complicated, and the things that seemed a little unfamiliar she was able to explain in the simplest terms, even when it didn't really seem necessary. However, this was a surprisingly light listen. I was afraid that I would get partway in and decide that I need to read the book rather than listen to the audiobook.
One of the chief complaints I'd heard about this book was that the language was "too modern," but that's the usual complaint of many historical fiction settings ranging from books to television. I wasn't surprised to hear the complaint, but it just seems like old news now since many shows and books take this approach. I think that's because it makes it easier on the reader and the writer. How many people would really be interested in reading this if written in the style of that time? What writer would stick to writing a story in such a style? It would be tedious for both the reader and the writer. I agree that maybe some word choices absolutely were too modern, but that's such a nitpicky thing. However, I can only say that it doesn't bother me. Your mileage may vary.
My chief complaint is that, while I liked Ruso, he could be a bit annoying at times. I'd get mad at him for how he tried to treat Tilla, calling her property and trying to force her to call him master, even though he was terrible at being bossy--at least to Tilla. He does show a surprising amount of sexism that can be a bit annoying, too. Not because it's sexism, however. This is ancient Rome era we're talking about. It's annoying because it's obvious that he's not as sexist as most, but has defaulted to sexism because of his general disillusionment due to a bad marriage, which is understandable but so frustrating. Some of his actions were so obtuse to the point that I had to wonder if Ruso was okay mentally at times. An example being how he wanted the rumors about him investigating the murder to stop since he "wasn't investigating," but he made it his business to ask every person around if they'd heard he was investigating the murders. Really, Ruso?
As far as the narration goes, Simon Vance is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. He has a voice that is perfect for reading. This will be the third book I've listened to with him as the narrator and he never fails to impress me with his read. He's remarkable; his narration is always so impeccable. I have never encountered a narrator with such clean narration skills. Also, he understands that timbre not pitch determines how realistically a female voice will come across when reading, and even when faced with multiple female speakers in one scene, he gives them all their own personality that makes them easily discernible one from another.
The only real complaint I have is that he's a fast talker. I tend to speed up my audiobooks between 1.25 to 2.0 times faster than normal. With him, I have to get used to the pace he's keeping before I can speed it up, but that's really a trivial complaint when compared to how extraordinary he is as a narrator.
This was a great opening for the series, and I look forward to following more of Ruso's misadventures as narrated by Simon Vance....more
Aaron Stampler is found in a confessional booth holding a knife, proclaiming his innocence, after someone killed the revered Bishop of the city. MartiAaron Stampler is found in a confessional booth holding a knife, proclaiming his innocence, after someone killed the revered Bishop of the city. Martin Vail, a quick-witted lawyer who isn't afraid to leap before he looks, is basically coerced into defending the young man who appears guilty in every sense of the word. Every politician in the city seems to have a vendetta against Vail and looks foward to seeing him lose the case.
Liked the movie. Loved the book. As with most book-to-movie adaptations, the book was better. Unlike his movie persona, Vail isn't cool, well-dressed sauveness that Richard Gere presented. The Vail in the book is a man who isn't overly concerned about his personal appearance, and he isn't afraid to grab at straws, and he makes lawyers tremble just at the mention of his name.
The book also provided more insight on Aaron. You get a taste of his childhood and find out more about what molded him. In the book, Aaron is a genius, despite the accent and his angelic appearance. His childhood wasn't the best thing, and he's even described as being able to detach himself from tragedies. Is that enough to make him a killer? Is he mentally stable?
I'm sure by now, most people have heard about the twist, but that doesn't take the impact away from reading it for yourself. I read the "twist" over and over again, even though I've seen the movie and knew what to expect. A first-rate legal thriller. I can't wait to read the sequel....more
Reread for the G+ book club that a friend put together. I was initially drawn into these books by the television series, which ended well before it shReread for the G+ book club that a friend put together. I was initially drawn into these books by the television series, which ended well before it should have and before my crush on Paul Blackthorne could reach full fruition. This is a fun series, and I was more than glad to reread it with some other fellow book nerds. When I'd started reading this years ago, it was so rare to see a male lead written in a paranormal series. And in the world of Anita Blakes, Rachel Morgans, and Sookie Stackhouses, it's still somewhat rare to have a male navigating the quirky world of the paranormal, adding a male slant on the familiar victories and defeats that are present in paranormal books. ...more
**spoiler alert** Can't say that this one is my favorite. I love this series, but as with book #3 in this series, it was kind of predictable from the**spoiler alert** Can't say that this one is my favorite. I love this series, but as with book #3 in this series, it was kind of predictable from the minute the whole cast of players was introduced what was going on despite Handler's best efforts to make everyone appear to have a motive. Despite that, though, I still love Handler's characters and the flair he gives them. Still, I was more interested in learning what was to become of Mitch and Des' relationship since they were obviously on different planets (Mitch wanting to move forward and Des thinking Mitch wants to break up with her). I wish there had been more on what's going on with the two of them, but this is a mystery series before it's a romance series. I was glad to see Handler using a little less sista-girl talk in this book. It always seems so unnatural when Des talks to anyone like that who isn't Yolie or Soave because of the upper crust picture that Handler has painted of Dorset's residents. Even though I wasn't blown away by this one, I can't wait to get the next book and see what becomes of my favorite mystery duo. ...more
**spoiler alert** 2nd book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I was trudging my way through Twilight (still only half done with that book a**spoiler alert** 2nd book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I was trudging my way through Twilight (still only half done with that book after two weeks--a shame) when I decided to shift my focus to this instead. I breezed through this book. The story picks up right where the last one left off and is just as personable and easy to read. Along with a fiance, Precious has picked up an adopted son and daughter. Some may think she went along with that too readily, but it seemed in character for her to me. Firstly, she'd lost her own child and is unable to have anymore, and it's obvious that she wants children. Secondly, from the way she talks about how traditional and familial that the people of Africa are (or used to be as she thinks this younger generation is going down), would it have been in character for her to cause a stink because of the children? I love how much pride the characters have in their country and how life is just a different experience for them.
I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the first for a couple of reasons. I thought the angle with the maid fizzled before it even got started. There's a bit too much of Mma Ramotswe KNOWING things without any explanation why she might know these things aside from intuition, which can be very strong but not plausible in every hunch. Parts of the book were rambly, and I think this was to give the book a more personable tone. However, it really just makes you want to skip right over it and get to the point at times.
Another great book in the series will continue with it....more
**spoiler alert** Another good story from Handler! Who the killer was was a bit obvious to me. I knew from the moment I read the prologue that Tito's**spoiler alert** Another good story from Handler! Who the killer was was a bit obvious to me. I knew from the moment I read the prologue that Tito's killer was going to be a guy. Didn't know which guy and didn't suspect Will until Donna was murdered, but knew it would be a guy--DEFINITELY. As the story went on and I read about how he abused Esme, I definitely knew I was right since guys who are in denial about their sexuality sometimes act macho to make up for their perceived weakness.
However, the getting to that conclusion was one wild ride that was full of twists and turns that I throughly enjoyed! I almost wished that Tito hadn't died. Handler did an excellent job of making me loathe him and feel sorry for him in the same breathe. I love a story where characters get me emotionally involved, and Handler definitely does that with his characters.
Sometimes, Handler writes Des with too much "sista-girl" attitude, but it was definitely more BELIEVABLE when she was speaking to Yolie in this story. I also think that sometimes he goes a little overboard with Bella and Mitch's Jewish-ness as well, but overall, I LOVE these characters. And I LOVE this series. ...more
Note: Originally read December 2009. I'm pushing some of my oold reviews to my website. Don't mind this.
I picked up this book because I love the serieNote: Originally read December 2009. I'm pushing some of my oold reviews to my website. Don't mind this.
I picked up this book because I love the series. The premise of a serial killer killing other serial killers was just too interesting to pass up. You actually root for Dex, even though you know that he's the bad guy as well. The beginning of this book was just like watching the series. The series mirrored it perfectly. I could hear Michael C. Hall in my head just as he sounded on that first episode while reading the beginning of this.
Dexter spends a great deal of time trying to make us believe that he is completely incapable of any kind of human emotion, even as he does express a certain amount of elation while he's butchering others and while he's admiring the work of this new killer, and while that seemed repetitive for some readers, I interpreted it as a mechanism to make himself truly believe that he has no feelings because many of his actions and thoughts say otherwise. Yes, I do believe that he's partly right in his assessment of himself. It takes a certain kind of uncaring, broken person to do the things he does, even if it IS to others like himself. However, I don't believe that he's really as uncaring as he tries to paint himself to believe.
This book was like a personal look into the dark side of a person's psych (same with the series). It makes you wonder if that bright smile from the mailman is really hiding something sinister behind it. ...more