A Sea of Troubles, Donna Leon Narrator: David Colacci

A Sea of Troubles
Donna LeonNarrator: David Colacci

Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery book 10

8 hours 7 minutes

 David Colacci Narrator for Donna Leon
David Colacci

Narrator Review: David Colacci

I loved listening to David Colacci narrate Donna Leon's, Guido Brunetti series, his voice is so deep and sonorous, and is slightly tinged with an accent, Venetian? Italian? He gives emphasis to words as he's reading that are rather musical or, well I don't know what, but it gives such an interesting touch to his narration, making for a much more interesting listen.

That is when he is reading text, just wait till he starts getting into character dialog. Amazing, sounds so authentic, as Brunetti he brings out the slightly laid back personality and casual introspective way of solving a crime. Colacci does not sound laid back or slow at all, it's just the way he personifies Brunetti, that you can grasp the personality of this amusing and intelligent policeman.

He does Paola, Brunetti's wife in a nearly female voice. The contrast between Brunetti and Paola is just enough to tell which one is speaking, using a very different intonation for Paola, creating an atmosphere of simpatico between them. Vocalizations for the various fishermen and policeman, could not be more perfect.

A Sea of Troubles, A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery  Donna Leon

Author Donna Leon

Audio Book Review: A Sea of Troubles

In A Sea of Troubles, the wee hours of the morning brings a tremendous explosion, that rouses a small fishing village on the Island of Pellestrina, the fire is intense and spreading fast. Men, women and children, leap from their beds to discover the cause of the disturbance. Villagers in mass, throw open doors and begin running towards the harbor in a variety of dress and undress, men frantically jump in their own boats to back them away from the onslaught of flames.

When the excitement settles down and boats are rescued, two villagers are missing. Slowly, the crowd disperses and they return to their own cottages, it is not till the next day that anyone calls the police to report Julio and his son, Marco as missing. Stranger still is, it's not a villager, but the insurance agent, of a fisherman, who calls the police. Confusion within police departments, brings an ill equipped department, who were not informed that the bodies were at the bottom of the sea.

Sergeant Vianello is on hand when divers search the sunken boat. Vianello, he immediately can see that Julio and Marco were murdered when they bring up the bodies. He also knows the people in the village are a very close knit community and closed mouth, especially with outsiders. He calls his boss, Commissario Brunetti, to ask how to proceed. Brunetti, tells him to try and keep it quiet that it's murder and not an accident, and he'll be there as quick as he can.

Brunetti and Vianello find their investigations have reaped them very few clues. They see, they need someone with a connection to the village, to solve this murder. The lovely, intelligent, and well connected, Signorina Elettra, offers to go to Pellestrina and snoop around for them. It's a tempting idea, yet, there are fears for her safety, and this concerns the police.

She is more sure of herself and not too concerned, as she spends a weeks vacation on the island and visits her relatives, once a year. She goes to Pellestrina, disregarding Brunetti's misgivings. He reluctantly has to allow it, as the villagers, on questioning, only will answer direct questions and, with as few words as possible. When Brunetti tells his wife, Paola, what Signorina Elettra, is going to do, Paola, is angry and goes ballistic on him for allowing a woman to do this. Brunetti does place a young policeman, on the island to keep an eye on her, for safety. She mingles with the villagers and keeps her eyes and ears open, to any mention of Julio or Marco.

When a woman is pulled up in a fishing net, Brunetti, has a heart stopping moment, fearful that Elettra, met with foul play. He hastens to the island to investigate, and feels guiltless relief when he see's it is not Elettra. It's a constant battle of wits against the fishing village, when no one will reveal the reason Marco's father was despised by everyone. Brunetti and Vianello, persist in chipping away at the residents until all the clues fall in place.

Peppered throughout all of Leon's books are tons of unnecessary phrases, qualifiers and debris. As in, "he, pushed open the door, and held it for Brunetti. Then pulled it closed behind them"  After entering and opening the door, we can assume it closed behind them, the wind pushed it closed or we don't care if he closed the door. The sentence would only be adding to the scene if it slammed on his foot, or closed so fast it broke his finger, or something, but to just add, he shut the door is superfluous.

If not for the amazing narration by David Colacci , I can only say that it would be quite boring to read so much detail as the opening and closing of the door or about the table in the restaurant. From "a small vase of wildflowers, stood to left of the bottles of olive oil and vinegar" then we get further detail about the wicker basket holding the bread sticks, in two languages. An entire chapter is predominantly devoted to going to this restaurant, what it looks, like, all in excruciating detail. Would have been a much better book if it had been edited. Colacci does take the edge off and manages to get through these dull details. His vocalizations of the local people is beyond outstanding.


The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner, Narrator: Olivia Thirlby

The Next Best Thing
Jennifer Weiner
Narrator: Olivia Thirlby
12 hours 9 minutes
Simon & Schuster AudioWorks

The Next Best Thing Jennifer Weiner
Narrator Jennifer Weiner

Narrator Olivia Thirlby reading The Next Best Thing
Olivia Thirlby

Narrator Olivia Thirlby, maintains an appropriate low key voice from beginning to end of the book, staying in sync with the overall message of the story. Her dialogs are very well done, with characteristics of each person coming through nicely. Thirlby, narrates so well, that you soon find your not listening but engaged, while she is bringing into your mind vivid imagery of events and conversations. Her voice is pleasant and easy on the ears. It was especially enjoyable that Olivia Thirlby, is close to the age of our protagonist, Ruth Sauders, and she is a skilled enough narrator to do older people in a way that is appropriate and not offensive.
An excellent narrator, I can confidently recommend that any book she narrates, is going to be an excellent listen. If you have not heard any other narrations by Olivia Thirlby, then Jennifer Weiners, The Next Best Thing, is an excellent one to start with.  Jennifer Weiner's books are not the run of the mill, girl meets boy, her plots are more robust and realistic, easily related to by the reader.

I thank Simon & Schuster for providing a fine 11 CD, set of The Next Best Thing for review. This has not in anyway influenced my review of the narrator, Olivia Thirlby or Jennifer Weiner's, The Next Best Thing. I have been a fan of Weiner's for a long time. 

Tragedy occurs in the life of Ruth Saunders at a very young age, leaving a lifetime of emotional and physical problems. As Ruth adjusts to living with her already aging grandmother, and dealing with with physical pain and tragic losses, we are lead on a journey of one young woman's determination to overcome all obstacles and debilities to achieve her dreams of success and fulfillment. Her grandmother, is a spry and very active seventy years old, when Ruth decides it time to move to Hollywood to further her ambitions to become a screenwriter. With grandmother in tow, they make the move and find that they like living in a metropolis.

 Each makes her way in this new environment with the support of each other, yet, without encroaching on each others life. Ruth finds she has fallen in love with her boss at her first important job, but it turns out to be unrequited love, when he marries another woman, on the very next day, after she's confessed her feelings for him and more. Crushed she knows she cannot face him and feels humiliated. She goes into an emotional retreat to regain control of her feelings. Ruth has earned an impressive work record and through a friend finds another job, one that is even more fulfilling than the last one.

Grandmother meantime, is having the time of her life, and finding new people to party with and interesting men to date. This is encouraging to older people, that aging need not mean an end to a fascinating and fun social life. When grandmother decides to remarry and move out of their shared apartment, Ruth has to pull herself together quickly and decide where she is going to with her life. We are moved through all the ups and downs of Ruth and grandmother's social and work life, holding our breath to see how Ruth deals with her physical handicap, and a broken heart from her first love interest, to how grandmother finds love and marriage again, late in life.

It's a sad, yet, heartwarming story. The characters are well developed so you feel their pain, and joys, cheering for them to succeed. The love and friendship between Ruth and her grandmother is touching and inspiring. In the end will Ruth find the happiness we know she deserves? Yes, she does, and with someone you will not suspect. Listen to the book and discover how and who will deserve her love. I personally, did not find any of the usual quips and laugh out loud lines in this book. It is far more somber and serious than Weiner's other books. Nonetheless it is a good book and worthy of reading again and again. With a good narrator, like Thirlby, it's a winner all the way around.

The Next Best Thing  by, Jennifer Weiner  


Friend of the Devil, Peter Robinson, Narrator: Simon Prebble

Friend of the Devil
A  Chief Inspector Banks series, book 17
Author: Peter Robinson
Narrator: Simon Prebble

Books on Tape
13 hours, 24 minutes.

Ron Keith voice over and audiobook narrator
Ron Keith Audiobook Narrator
James Langton, Audio book narrator photo
James Langton          Narrator

Peter Robinson's, Inspector Banks series is read by more than one narrator. Simon PrebbleRon Keith and James Langton are equal in talent, all are outstanding in every way. Mr. Prebble has such a melodious voice which he uses to skillfully bring out every personality while he still captures the sensitive and the horrifying passages. 

The opening lines being read by a master narrator such as Simon Prebble, sounded spooky and foreboding. While the introduction music leads into and then drops back in volume to further emphasize Mr. Prebbles outstanding narration, it will send some shivers up your spine. Simon Prebble smoothly and without any qualms, reads the depraved scenes as smoothly as sliding on ice. Prebble's voice is so warm and reassuring sounding, you just know that it will all work out just fine.

Peter Robinson is an awesome writer, no doubt about it. He knows how to build up tension, fear, and anticipation. He is skilled at turning a sentence or a phrase into a complete scene,  paired with a skilled narrator like Simon Prebble, you have an engrossing, sit on the edge of your seat, page turner. I especially liked the short music lead in's. They sounded haunting and enhanced the overall tone of the book. Friend of the Devil, is an excellent book, read by a truly professional narrator.

Book Review of:  Friend of the Devil, written by Peter Robinson

Friend of the Devil Author Peter Robinson
Author: Peter Robinson  

When Inspector Banks's Ex-lover D.I., Annie Cabbot, awakens with a young twenty something,  lover, in bed next to her, she vaguely remembers a night out of drinking and dancing and doesn't know whether or not to be pleased about it or not. Later when he starts to stalk her, she is decidedly not pleased at all. Her hangover is not improved when she's called in to investigate the murder of a young woman, a paraplegic, found sitting alone at the edge of a cliff, dead in her wheelchair. With head propped up and blood dripping from her slashed throat. Who would slash the throat of a seemingly innocent woman, who can neither move nor speak?

As D.I. Cabbot, delves into her history for clues, she discovers the woman is using an alias and her real name is Lucy Payne, a notorious, and alleged murderess, or, who at least had a hand in the torture and murders her husband had committed. A cage full of angry, bitter people burst to the surface giving Annie Cabbot, more suspects than expected, all who, have good reason to want to see Lucy Payne dead. Although Lucy, participated along with her husband in the torture of many young women, there was never enough proof that she committed any murders. Any crimes against her are dropped, when she is involved in an accident that leaves her a paraplegic.

On the same day, Chief Inspector Alan Banks is called in to investigate the rape and murder of a nineteen year old  college student, Hayley Daniels, whose body is found inside a shop, in the maze. The maze itself is intriguing with it's dilapidated Victorian buildings and winding, narrow streets. It's a popular shortcut to the parking garage, that many of the young people who go out clubbing on the weekends use. At the same time, Inspector Banks is solving the Hayley murder, D.I. Annie Cabbot is working on solving the murder of Lucy Payne.

Their paths intertwine and become involved when the two murders seem to cross paths. While they are unraveling and solving  the cases, another murder is committed, it's one of their own, a fellow policeman. This puts the pressure on Banks and Cabbot to solve the mystery before anyone else is killed. Prebbles's dialog, of the, murdered girls stepmother, sounds so authentic, grief stricken, cracked and with a quivering voice when answering Banks's questions, is so wonderful, and realistic, an award winning performance.

Friend of the Devil,  is a big jump from some of Peter Robinson's first books in this series, which bordered on being a notch or two above cozies. There are scenes of gore and blood, torture and some sex scenarios. All things that I don't listen too, rape, abuse of women, child abuse, you name it, this book covers it. Since I just listened to A Necessary End, book 3, The Hanging Valley, book 4, both seen tame in comparison. Simon Prebble, with his warm, and reassuring voice, made it possible to listen to this particular book.