Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mysterious Series

So a couple of series to talk about now - both of them with books in the running for an Audie award for mysteries (one of my Armchair Audies categories), which is what brought me to them to start with. And they're very different, but both quite worthwhile.

Chris Ewan's Good Thief's Guide series centers on Charlie Howard, an English mystery writer and, oh yes, also a thief. He makes his way from city to city across the globe (Amsterdam, Paris, and Vegas that I've read so far - The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas being the audiobook nominated this year), and manages to find himself deeper and deeper in trouble wherever he goes. With the advice and help of his forbearing agent, Victoria, he eventually extracts himself - but not so cleanly that he can stay in the city he's just visited. So on the road again he goes (at the moment, in my reading of the series, he's on his way to Venice.) Ewan's writing is bright and clean, and Charlie is self-deprecating and not as smooth or adroit as he'd like to be, a great character to hang out with, even though he'll embroil you in all sorts of dangerous nonsense. The mysteries themselves are solid, and I always enjoy Ewan's descriptions of the locals and locales that Charlie encounters. 

Simon Vance reads the Good Thief's Guide series, and obviously I love it. His delivery is smooth and clean and engaging, and he picks up perfectly on the emotional sub-texts as well as the energy of the text. 

Lars Kepler's Jonna Linna series follows Swedish Detective Inspector Linna through some disturbing and dangerous territory in and around Stockholm. If you like complex, psychologically-twisted plots, read Kepler (which I found out is the pen name of a married couple of writers - Alexander and Alexandra Anhdoril - but my husband just acted like I was crazy when I proposed that we write a series together about a female private detective in 1930s Dublin, even though it is obviously a brilliant idea!) In the Audie-nominated The Nightmare, Linna investigates a suicide that wasn't, and an accidental drowning that also wasn't, and his instincts (like all good fictional detectives, his instincts are almost always right, even if there's no evidence to support that) tell him there's a connection. Although Linna's personal/emotional life is the least compelling thing about the series, as a detective he is fun to get to know, and I love the way he interacts with his colleagues. Kepler relies a little heavily on "horrid childhood leaves massive damage leading to creepy criminal adulthood" bad guys, but really commits to them once they're out there. 

The mellifluous Mark Bramhall reads the Jonna Linna series. He is a master of voices and tone, and there's something very fluid about the way he narrates. I'm not sure why I haven't posted about Bramhall before - though largely it's because I encounter him a lot on multi-voiced books - but I'm always happy to see his name on a project, because I can trust him to fully explore the text. This is no exception, and I particularly love when Kepler's characters are joking with each other, because there's an edge of teasing laughter that makes me smile along with Bramhall.

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