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Laura Kingsley

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Awful Narrator Of An Excellent Story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-12-2020

The actual story as written by OJ Modjeska is well crafted and researched. The details about the horrifying series of brutal murders whereby first prostitutes then women from all walks of life are expressed with just the right blend of factual details and emotions. Modesta ensures that you travel back in time to those years where an entire city and the women in it were under siege. You feel both the frustration of the homicide detectives involved in trying to make sense of the series of extremely savage murders and the anger of a city under siege. There were many important details that law enforcement ignored and never investigated and at times as you listen to yet another woman's body found you feel a sense of frustration with the police who missed so many chances to locate the killers. The fact the women whose bodies were found were prostitutes meant the police barely investigated. The force at that time had a strong misogynistic streak and most police then felt that prostitutes took the risk of murder when they chose sex work so they essentially blamed those women for being murdered. Listening to these attitudes and how they callously treated and barely investigated those women's murders is frustrating. We learn, however, about a pioneering female academic who had begun studying sex workers for her postgraduate research and, over time, with countless interactions with the workers she had begun to not only know the dynamics that had led them to prostitution - typically a history of both physical and sexual abuse by male relatives - but to get to know the women working the streets and she became an advocate for sex workers at a time when that was unheard of. Modjeska explores how that advocate not only was trusted by the prostitutes but if any went missing she'd be the first to hear of it. When prostitutes began turning up murdered and showing signs of extreme torture, likely by two men, this academic-turned-advocate went to the police and she tried to have them properly investigate the deaths. She also got a good sense of the type of men involved and yet the police ignored her warnings that soon women who weren't sex workers would be next. Modjeska paints a clear picture of the attitudes of society at the time the serial killers were at work and the fears of the women of Las Angeles when it was revealed that not just one but likely two brutal serial killers were targeting females from all walks of life. When it was revealed that these murderers were posing as law enforcement and that no social class, age, occupation or particular physical 'type' was safe from these murderers stalking the streets at night, the pressure on the police to find the killers was tremendous. If you're a woman listening to this book, you'll feel the fear that the women back then when the serial killers dubbed "The Hillside (or Boston) Strangler" were at large and walking anywhere at night, especially without a male companion, was to risk being the next victim of absolutely savage men who physically tortured and sexually assaulted women for hours until eventually murdering them then dumping their bodies by the roadside, typically in sexually suggestive poses that deliberately mocked the victims. The main criticism of this audiobook is the narrator, Diane Box-Worman. After enjoying the e-book, I found the audio version absolutely atrocious. As soon as you hear Box-Worman speak, you're hearing the raspy voice of an old New York woman who can't express emotions convincingly although she tries. Her narration drags down the otherwise excellent book. If the author or publishers had wanted a mature-sounding woman, there's many others they could've chosen who would still have been able to convey gravitas and the serious nature of the often graphic depictions of the torture and murders described. This narrator's raspy and brash voice is sometimes thin and quavery with age and further detracts from the excellent writing. This book needed a narrator that sounded emotionally engaged with the story and able to express emotions of characters, ranging from detectives struggling to find the killers to the victims, and the anguish of the families whose loved ones were savagely tortured and slain by the two murderers. It was not at all enjoyable to listen to this narrator who sounds like a brusque New York pensioner whose smoked too many cigarettes and is struggling to emote whilst heavily medicated for depression or who is bored. The book is a stirring true crime story and one of the worst serial sexually motivated serial killings in U.S. history. To have this narrator is a huge let down and does a disservice to the author and the story. It made listening to this audiobook a slog and unfortunately the same is true for this book's sequel where the same narrator was used. Whilst authors don't always have a say in who'll narrate their books, OJ Modjeska should have this book and its sequel re-done with a narrator who has gravitas, expresses emotions fully, and is genuinely interested in the story.

Excellent Story with a Talented Narrator

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-05-2018

The narrator, Nigel Planer, once again brings Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, in this case "Masquerade", to life with his exquisitely exceptional ability to give each individual character their own unique voice which remains remarkably consistent throughout the novel. In "Masquerade", Pratchett is satirising the storyline and musical of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Phantom of the Opera' and if you haven't seen the film versions - the first with Sarah Brightman as 'Christine' and Michael Crawford as 'the Phantom', and the most recent version with Gerrard Butler as the 'Phantom' - you certainly should watch these. Once you have done so, your familiarity with the general story and the musicals in the films will most certainly be critical to enabling you to understand the nuances in "Masquerade", and to truly appreciate and enjoy Pratchett's sense of irony, dark humour, dry wit, and his satirisation of the plot as well as the central characters. Pratchett manages to effortlessly insert the Lancre witches, Mistress Esmerelda Weatherwax and Nanny Gytha Ogg, as well as Agnes Nitt - who wants to be a professional singer rather than a witch - into the story of the 'Phantom of the Opera'. Nanny Ogg has sent her innovative recipes, ones that spice up the sex lives of those who partake of her unique combination of ingredients, to a Publishing House in Ankh-Morpork, under the pseudonym of "A Lancre Witch." Esme Weatherwax is indignant, realising that not only will she, as the best known witch on the Discworld who lives in Lancre, be thought of as the book's author, but also with the fact that Nanny Ogg paid the Publisher a few dollars to print her book and that they're making thousands of dollars in profit from it without sending any royalties to Nanny Ogg. Combined with this is Nanny Ogg who, when visiting Agnes Nitt's home in the hopes of persuading Agnes to train as a witch, realises that Agnes is walking into great danger in Agnes' involvement as an Opera singer at Ankh-Morpork's Opera House. After seeing this danger in the tea leaves of the cup of Agnes' mother, Nanny Ogg rushes directly to Esme Weatherwax who also recognises that Agnes is walking into a life-threatening situation. Add to this Esme Weatherwax's desire to obtain financial restitution for Nanny Ogg's book of recipes, "The Joy of Snacks", she sets off to Ankh-Morpork with Nanny Ogg. Thus begins an enthralling tale, told with the typical insight into people's minds and behaviours that characterises Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, and with Nigel Planer's gifts as a narrator bringing the story to life. Overall, well worth five stars, and a Discworld audiobook you will enjoy listening to time and again.

Superb story, with excellent narration

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-05-2018

For those who love Pratchett's Discworld, you're in for an absolute treat. Pratchett's theory that humans are not "homo sapiens" but rather "pan narrans" or people who are moved by, and view others and the world around them in terms of, stories is emphasised in "Witches Abroad," perhaps moreso than in other Discworld novels. Certainly, the concept of "narrative causality", in other words the importance of stories and how they drive the actions of individuals - often unknowingly - is central to "Witches Abroad" where we see the three (3) witches that are most emphasised in the adult books of the Discworld - Mistress Esmeralda Weatherwax, 'Nanny' Gytha Ogg, and Magrat Garlick - embark upon a journey to reach the far-away city of Genua in order to locate Emberella (a version of Cinderella) who is being forced to marry a Duke by none other than Esme Weatherwax's sister, Lilly. Lilly Weatherwax is not just a witch but also a fairy godmother who has always lusted for power at any price and insists on putting people - whether they like it or not - into stories, such as the story of 'Cinderella' in the case of Genua. No one has previously been able to effectively oppose let alone defeat her machinations. However, when Esme Weatherwax realises what her sister is up to she is determined to put a stop to it, and so she sets off to Genua, her furthest journey yet in the Discworld series. Along the way to Genua, the three witches encounter many fascinating situations, most of which have been engineered by Lilly Weatherwax who has turned her hand to making well-known fairy tales come true. These include versions of 'Little Red Riding Hood' complete with the Wolf and the old grandmother, and that of the 'wicked' witch - with her red boots - from "The Wizard of Oz" who ends up having an entire house fall on her. Pratchett's writing is, as usual, superb and there are many very funny, laugh-out-loud moments, coupled with the uncanny insight into and commentary upon human nature so typical of Pratchett's works and which is why his writing is so beloved. For anyone who particularly enjoys those Discworld novels in which witches, such as the indomitable Esmeralda Weatherwax, play major roles, "Witches Abroad" is an absolute treat. The narrator, Nigel Planer, is eloquent and enjoyable to listen to. He has a gift for voicing the many diverse characters in the book and remaining consistent with the accents no matter how long since each individual appeared in the novel. This is rare indeed amongst narrators of any audiobooks, and it is an ideal match i.e. a gifted narrator to voice the genius that is Terry Pratchett's works, in this case the fourteenth (14th) book in the Discworld series. In conclusion, this is an audiobook which is a fantastic, fascinating story by the genius that is Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, narrated with unsurpassed eloquence by the extremely gifted Nigel Planer; a truly wonderful combination. Whether you have read "Witches Abroad" before or are a newcomer to the Discworld series by - the late, great (Sir) - Terry Pratchett, this audiobook is an absolute treat, one that you'll want to hear multiple times, and a wonderful addition to your personal Library of audiobooks. Enjoy!

Absolutely Superb and Highly recommended Audiobook

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-05-2018

Superb narration, the accents making each character stand out, and enhancing the humour and irony that are, as ever, found in Pratchett's award winning Discworld novels. Stephen Briggs is my favourite narrator for Pratchett's Discworld; his enunciation is clear, and every one of the characters in "Monstrous Regiment" has their own distinctive voice, with Briggs's talent for accents and dialects creating unique, fully realised characters. If you have read this book before, you are in for a treat with the Audiobook version as the story comes to life with Briggs' skillful storytelling. "Monstrous Regiment" is, in my view, one of Pratchett's best works. During the course of the story one finds that, alongside the many 'laugh out loud' sections of the novel, there's also a rigorous examination of the politics of war, the self-justification and self-righteousness common to most ethnic and cultural groups, gender stereotypes and roles, and the reminder that there are very few 'winners' in war no matter what the outcome of such conflicts. Utterly delightful and incredibly insightful, this book in Pratchett's Discworld series is darkly satirical, and much more mature in its subject matter than some of the earlier Discworld novels. It was an absolute delight to listen to, and one that you'll listen to over again; it's that good! Enjoy!

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