(No, I have not missed a book — got my numbering wrong last month, with two numbered 69, and have now corrected.)
Abridged on 2 CDs and read by Anthony Head. This has a slightly complicated pedigree — it’s the abridged audiobook of one of a series of novels about amateur sleuth and crime novelist Paul Temple, which themselves are novelisations of a long-running series of radio plays. The book was published in 1971, but the radio play was first broadcast in 1948-9, and the book has a strong period feel. Great fun.
Abridged on 3 CDs and read by Philip Franks. Albert Campion makes the casual acquaintance of an American judge on board a trans-Atlantic liner, by waffling his way into saving the judge from an unfortunate accident. It’s only the latest of a string of attempts on the judge’s life, and Campion is recruited to help the judge in his quest to stay alive long enough to identify the mastermind behind a ruthless and effective criminal gang. Campion parks Judge Lobbett at a country house, but even that isn’t sufficiently remote to keep the judge safe.
It’s an entertaining enough listen, but the who is so clearly telegraphed that I thought it was a red herring. At the same time, the how is obscured to the point of being irritating. It’s really more of a suspense novel than a mystery. Nevertheless, there are some nice set pieces in this novel, and the final confrontation between Campion and the villain is very atmospheric.
Abridged on three CDs, and read by Nigel Anthony. A famous Poirot story, but one I’d never read before. Beautifully pulled off, although I suspect it suffers a little from the abridgement. Even with the abridgement issues, I loved this. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.
Three of Christie’s short stories, adapted into half hour radio plays and updated to a modern (at the time of broadcast in 2002) setting. I found this volume rather disappointing, and thought that the adaptation of “Philomel Cottage” was very poor. I wasn’t familiar with the stories, and wasn’t sure what was supposed to have happened at the end of Philomel Cottage. Having looked up the story online, I found that my impression of what happened was quite different to the original text story. Having re-listened to the last few minutes, in case I’d simply misunderstood — no, it still gave the impression of the ending having been re-written.
Magnolia Blossom has been updated, but I think has not been greatly changed, going by the plot summaries I’ve found online.
Swan Song has been significantly re-written, but in a way that preserves the basic point of the plot. I suspect that the modernisation is going to annoy a lot of readers, but for me it worked well.
In hindsight, I’d have probably enjoyed this CD set more if Philomel Cottage had been last rather than first of the three plays. It annoyed me so much that it rather put me off the other two. I’m in two minds as to whether the set would have worked better for someone who was already familiar with the stories – I think I would have got on better with Philomel Cottage had I already known the story, but that the alterations to Swan Song might have been irritating. Overall, I don’t really regret spending the time to listen to this set, but I’m glad I only paid remainder price for it. and am disinclined to listen to it again.
Abridged on three CDs, and read by Jenny Funnell. This is a standalone mystery without any of Christie’s regular characters. It features a pair of bright young things who become suspicious about the circumstances of an accident and decide to investigate. Naturally, they don’t take their suspicions to the police, and in various other ways prove themselves too stupid to live, including walking into really obvious traps. None of which actually matters, because it’s very amusing watching them being too stupid to live. Christie very gently sends up her characters while keeping them sympathetic. The dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, but I had a lot of fun picking my way through the red herrings. Not her best work, but still an enjoyable way to pass three hours.
First of the trilogy of BBC Radio 4 plays released in 2009 as a bridge between Series 2 and Children of Earth. I missed this on initial broadcast, and didn’t get around to listening to it until my recent purchase of the CD set. This is pure quill Torchwood — something (or as in this case someone) falls through the rift, and Torchwood has to deal with it. There’s a detailed plot summary on Wikipedia. Good story with some interesting exploration of the Torchwood universe, and mostly well-acted. PC Andy gets a good role.
Audiobook of the second Dalziel and Pascoe, abridged on 3 CDs and read by Warren Clarke, who played Dalziel in the late 90s tv adaptation. I’ve previously reviewed the novel itself here. This is a good abridgement, and Clarke is an excellent reader, but of necessity it does leave out some of the character development. An enjoyable version but probably better for those already familiar with the book.