London, with its long history, winding streets, grey skies, and multinational population, has been and continues to be a brewing pot for mysteries, spy thrillers, and psychological dramas. Walk across Tower Bridge, down a twisted street, into a pub, and you will recognize a scene from one of your favorite audiobooks.
While Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series takes the listener all over the world, his latest, THE HOUSE OF SPIES, starts at Charing Cross Road, which is why I found myself right there looking cautiously for white vans with terrorists jumping out. With narrator George Guidall’s voice in my ears, I mainly worked at not getting run over by cars and busses speeding by from the wrong directions at intersections. Guidall’s rendition of Allon also followed me into the National Gallery of Art, where I imagined finding the multi-talented spy master and art restorer standing, with his head slightly tilted, contemplating Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus. Although Silva is very clear that his characters are fictional, I still found myself looking for Julian Isherwood and his art gallery around St. James. This is the power of the characters that Silva has created and that Guidall now voices. Read more…
AudioFile contributing editor and reviewer Aurelia Scott has been a lover of Sherlock Holmes since she was a little kid poring over the annotated collection, as regular blog readers are well aware! I was excited to learn of actor Stephen Fry’s new narration and commentary on the complete works of SHERLOCK HOLMES and decided to sit down to chat with Aurelia about our mutual love of the detective and all the many interpretations we have listened to over the years.
Stephen Fry’s narration is special, as it not only includes his complex rendition of Sherlock and the engaging Watson, but also his own introductions that share with listeners his reflections on the novels and short stories. Listen in as Aurelia and I discuss our love of Sherlock, our appreciation for this masterful collection, and why Sherlock is still so relevant today.
It began with “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” which is arguably Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous short story. I was 11 years old and at odds with the world when my mother thrust a heavy volume into my hands. Still complaining, I retired to my room. Within a page, I’d been offered a wonderful new nineteenth-century identity as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson’s invisible sidekick. One who knew that only a dog cart throws up mud on a person’s sleeve in that way. “And then,” as Holmes explained, “only when you sit on the left-hand side of the driver.” Soon thereafter, we discovered the snake in the wall, that is, the speckled band, and I was hooked for life.
The Sherlock Holmes canon—four novels and 56 short stories—has remained in print since publication of the first novel, A STUDY IN SCARLET, in 1887. It’s inspired hundreds of screen adaptations (beginning with a silent film in 1900), radio and stage plays, and new Holmes novels and short stories by other writers. Luckily for us, that wealth has produced an equal richness of audiobooks. Read more…
Listeners of mystery series often look forward to the annual event of a new title from their favorite authors. This week’s new reviews will please a lot of listeners.
Daniel Silva is a writer I follow in both audio and print, but it’s hard to beat George Guidall’s performances of the escapades of master spy Gabriel Allon. HOUSE OF SPIES is the 17th in the series, and even with the recurring characters, I think a newcomer could drop in anywhere. If globe-trotting spies are not your cup of tea, consider Ann B. Ross’s Miss Julia series. MISS JULIA WEATHERS THE STORM is #19 in a series “owned” by narrator Cynthia Darlow. I’ve not tried one myself, but I do love Cynthia Darlow.
Another tempting series is the Lady Hardcastle mysteries from T.E. Kinsey. DEATH AROUND THE BEND (#3) sounds like it might quell my sadness in saying goodbye to all the DOWNTON ABBEY folks, although these mysteries are set a decade or so earlier. A lady’s maid and her mistress as sleuths sounds pretty grand.
My last suggestion this week isn’t exactly a new installment in a series—but if you think “new” can also extend to a new narrator having a crack at a well-loved series, check out Stephen Fry’s SHERLOCK HOLMES—and it’s not just another performance of the many Holmes stories. Fry not only narrates each one, but interjects a short essay before each novella and the major collections of stories. Fascinating for fans, but also a perfect way to get a little context before leaping into ‘the game.”
Which series are you keeping an eye on for the next installment?