Penguin presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel, read by Andy Secombe, including musical interludes recorded by the author himself.
Edinburgh, 1888. A virtuoso violinist is brutally killed in his home. But with no way in or out of the locked practice room, the murder makes no sense. Fearing a national panic over a copycat Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult.
However, Frey's new boss, Detective Nine-Nails McGray, actually believes in such nonsense.
McGray's tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit this case seems beyond reason. And once someone loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next...
©2015 Oscar de Muriel (P)2015 Penguin Books Limited
I review books and audiobooks, mostly mystery, police procedurals, That's about it!
If you want a mystery that's a bit different, a bit dark a tad gory but quite humorous in parts, then this one should fit the bill.
Inspector Ian Frey, being a touch arrogant in nature and supercilious in manner, is not the most likeable of men. To the dismay of his well to do family he had tried and disliked the study of both medicine and law finally deciding on a career as a detective. A job he is actually quite good at and, having solved one high profile case, he is more convinced than ever of his superior intellect.
Everything is going well, until, due to some political manoeuvres, he finds himself on the verge of losing his job unless he agrees to travel to Edinburgh to solve a very strange case. To his chagrin he finds himself subordinate to Detective Nine-Nails McGray. Poor Frey finds everything north of the border to be terribly offensive to his fine sensibilities - and is not afraid to say so. McGray though is having none of his fancy ways, nor are the house servants, in fact not even the dog shows any respect for him or his fine clothes.
The interactions between Frey and McGray provide the humour, yet there is a serious locked room mystery going on here, Frey takes his usual pragmatic and systematic approach to the investigation, at least, he tries to. Yet on more than one occasion he finds McGrays insistence on following a more unusual path to be both enraging and beyond belief. As past tragedies unfold and the present mysteries are revealed, the two men earn the grudging respect of the other.
Despite a bit of a shaky start when I didn't quite understand what was going on, all did become clear and the beginning fitted the end very well. Some of the characters did stretch my credibility a little, but this only added to my overall enjoyment of this entertaining story. The short violin interludes helped create a chilling atmosphere for this thoroughly enjoyable audiobook.
Andy Secombe did a pretty good job of all those accents, the only voice I didn't much care for was that of the crazy girl from the past, I found her just a bit over the top. I loved how he captured the pomposity of some of the political characters and how he somehow managed to seamlessly change those voices from pompous to obsequious when they were in the presence of the Prime Minister. All of the characters were clearly defined, especially enjoyable was the supercilious Frey. The pace and rhythm of the reading matched the story well.
This audiobook was provided by the author, publisher or narrator in return for an honest review.
I have been bingeing on late Victorian murder mysteries lately. This weeks example is Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel. This story concerns disgraced young aristocratic investigator Ian Frey who is assigned to semi-barbarian Edinburgh to investigate the politically sensitive murder of a violin virtuoso. Frey is a bit of an a-hole of the snob variety given to snide comments. He is assigned to work not only with but under Inspector McGray, also an a-hole but of the thug variety given to responding to perceived insults with physical assaults. Worse, McGray is the head of an X Files like department and the clear demonic signs of the instant murder allow him free reign to his superstition, much to the annoyance of Frey. I was a music major as an undergrad and one thing that attracted me to this book is the musical connection. It seems a cursed violin may be responsible for a number of grisly death, the very violin that that Tartini (in real life) used to compose, or more accurately, to transcribe the Devil's Trill Sonata composed by the Devil himself in Tartini's dream and then owned by Paganini who (in real life) was alleged to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his virtuosity. Together they work to solve a grisly locked room murder.
A little heavy on the Scottish accent, made it a little difficult to understand for a hick from the sticks such as yours truly.
Had to get past the over the top speech patterns but after a but you get to enjoy the characters
Enjoyed this title very much. Looked forward to riding in the car for the first time in a while. Great performance, hearing the accents really added to listening experience.
"Good story and funny"
The narrator was my favorite part he did great accents and had great comic timing.
I hope this becomes a series.
Narrator and story absolutely superb, I enjoyed every minute of it (for the third time now, it's that good). I especially appreciate the relationship between the two main and very different characters. I, for one, am tired of buying mysteries only to find them part romance novels. The Strings of Murder is a gem and I sincerely hope that Mr. De Muriel is busy on his next novel!
"What a treat!"
A murder mystery spiced with humor! I enjoyed the story and pace of the narration enormously. The narrator made the story and the humor quite vivid; I could put the book down. I hope to see more from both author and narrator.
"I am ready for the sequel!"
This book was so much fun! It had vivid and likable characters and a intriguing story. Andy Secombe truly brought life to the characters. I cannot wait for a sequel and please please Mr. Secombe narrate more books!
"A good story"
I enjoyed this audiobook. The characters are interesting. The diversity between them excellent. The story line interesting. All this makes the plot hold together well. Andy Secombe does a good job with his narration. The accents are a bit strong for those not used to hearing them. It takes a bit to get your ears trained to understand them. I recommend this book especially for those who like Victorian Era mysteries.
"A really good yarn."
I just loved this novel.
The characters were believable, at times funny, whilst chilling too.
The narration was spot on and really helped to bring a very intriguing story to life.
I hope we shall have many more of these.
I have over 400 titles in my library, this one is easily in the top 10.
For the most part I am grateful if the narration is not too annoying. This is real acting as opposed to just delivery. I just love that it is a Welshman that brings this English dandy, lassy and brusque Scot to life. And what attractive characters they are too, colourfully rendered and multi dimensional. The supporting cast of workman are just as lovable.
Combine these elements with a credible mixture of the occult an engaging mystery and a dash of humour and you have my perfect audio book.
Really enjoyed this book. Was a bit hesitant at first but got into it quickly and really liked it. Story and performance are good. Read if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan.
"I was surprised by how the story keptmy attention."
From the very start I kept thinking "this isn't my thing" but I kept listening any way enjoying the characters and the narrator. He occasionally got the accents a bit muddled but I liked that you always knew who was talking by the voice he used.
"Excellent debut mystery - cannot wait for more"
This book was exactly what I was looking for - a great mystery story full of character, humour and a touch of the occult - think Sherlock Holmes with a lighter tone and an "odd couple" partnership. I particularly enjoyed its grounding in reality - from the use of the legend of Tartini's famous sonata to the authors note explaining the truth behind the revelation of the murderer, great touches that certainly added weight to the story and made its more fantastical parts more believable.
The only fault I had with this production was the obvious re-record of several chapters - the narrator took sometime to pick up the protagonists voice in quite the same way, which led to a few jarring passages that distracted from the story until my ears had adjusted. Not a deal breaker but a little irritating.
Overall a great listen and extremely enjoyable. I was very surprised to find this was the authors debut book and I will certainly purchase the next in the series in 2016.
No, I gave this one a really good "go", I don't know if it was the narrator or the story; a lot of the voices seemed over the top.
About 1/3 of the way through, I realised that I still didn't really know who anyone was or why I should care. I went back to the beginning and tried again, with the same result. This book has good reviews so I'm sure that it's me.
Not one for those who are looking for a subtle story or performance. In fairness, one might well have experienced a similar level of frenzy in productions from the period in which this is set (1888, mid-ripper). The choice of that exact time period will tell the reader a lot about the degree of surprise they may expect from this novel. It is functional but can be a bit wearisome as the performance is fully in keeping with the Grand Guignol plot and at times it is too mannered to be taken seriously. It could be argued that there is not one moment in this novel that is intended to be taken seriously but it is hard to stay with the story at times when the scenery is being chewed.
It is OK but not great.
Do not expect more than 'Alf a Conan Doyle.
They bicker like an old married couple which keeps it light hearted. Well narrated. Kept me engaged.
This an amusing book. Not in a gut-busting way but my lols were definitely audible. The characters are drawn from standard stereotypes but in a jocular enough way for them to be three dimensional and endearing. Even the supporting characters, despite being like villains from fairytales or Oliver Twist, are engaging.
The plot lines are involving and, despite being convoluted, are not frustrating. In general, the writing is not polished but this is a really enjoyable stab at the period detective genre and while derivative is consciously so, and manages to maintain its own identity.
The reading of this book by Andy Secombe, is a particular highlight. It's so spirited that even his slightly dodgy Scottish accent for 'Nine-nails' McGray actively adds to the humour of the novel. I swear to God his rendering of Inspector Frey was based on a cross between Prince Charles and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen - hilarious!
Thoroughly entertaining, witty and humorous - with a ghastly tale alongside. Very pleased I've discovered this series.
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