31 October 2007

Recorded Maisie Dobbs mystery

A couple weeks ago, I was headed up to the little cabin called Sidetrack for some end of season work. I stopped by the library and checked out the audiobook for Birds of a Feather, a Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear.

Back in August I'd read a couple of Winspear's books and was engrossed in the recreation of 1930 London. I said at that time that Winspear "tells the stories in a plodding, detail-filled way," but the enchanting detail of life over 70 years ago made up for the mundane story telling.

Well, the drives to Sidetrack and back only got me through the first 4 of the 9 CDs in the novel. So, when Nancy and I went back the following weekend to finish closing up the cabin for winter, I listened to the CDs between yard work, window washing, vacuuming, and napping.

The story was interesting. The murders of 3 women who had been friends in a Swiss bording school is central. There are about as many suspects as victims. Winspear does a good job of laying out the clues and allowing red herrings to distract me.

The reading is very well done by Kim Hicks, a radio, stage, and screen actress who personalizes the voices without histrionics.

However, the "plodding, detail-filled" writing is deadly when read. When I was reading, I could easily skip over the fashions of the women characters. But as a listener, it was hard to ignore things without missing something at the beginning of the next paragraph. I also think some things stood out more when recited than when silently read. Maisie Dobbs finally got to the convent where one of the characters was hiding, but I think it was a CD and a half after I'd figured out that's where the missing person was.

I wish I'd read the book. I might go back and read another of Winspear's mysteries. Then I'll be in control of which details to attend to.

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