Dead Like You, by Peter James

This is the one with the "shoe man" killer, who murders a series of women in the '90s, taking one of their shoes each time, before disappearing. Then in 2007 a new set of murders starts, which seem to follow a similar pattern. This is the first of the series that I tried an audiobook for.

So perhaps a better way to remind me which this one was is to say that it's the rubbish audiobook, which was performed by one of the worst narrators I've come across.

I enjoyed all the previous books in the series and can't work out whether this one was so bad just because the narrator was dreadful, or whether it was actually a ropey book. But it did feel like James was on autopilot a bit here, and that he'd just chucked this off the production line without without putting much effort into plotting and structuring the story. So I think I would have been disappointed if I'd read the book normally.

Structure-wise, the book switches between perspectives and times, as it revisits the period when the shoe-man was at large. And it was pretty hard keeping track of what time you were in, because the only way these changes were signified was by the chapter titles, which were things like "Now", or "4th January" (occasionally a year was mentioned) and were easy to miss. Because both sets of crimes took place over Christmas, it was no help to be told that there were people on their way to a New Year's party, or trying to flag down a taxi in the snow.

The "then" bits of the story must have happened just before Sandy did her famous disappearing act. From what we've heard of Sandy in previous books, it was quite a shock to find that she actually appears to have no redeeming qualities at all, or none that were on evidence here. It's very hard to understand why Grace is so bothered that she left; on the basis of how she behaves in this book, you'd think it would be a case of good riddance.

But the narrator (David Bauckham) was awful. Maybe the book was a bit of a dud, but this guy had no feel for performance at all. I made a note that I felt like I was being taught the book - the main emotion coming across was one of reproach, as if he were disappointed in me having to be told the story.

Other than that, it might as well have been a computer reading it, given how badly he missed the meaning of the words he was reading. His intonation was misjudged on so many occasions I couldn't keep a list of them; just a couple of examples

There were also places where people said things ironically, and he just read them straight, with no ironic intonation.

The problem with these was that I'd catch myself thinking "that sounds a bit odd, what significance am I missing?" and then I'd mentally replay the sentence and work out how it should have sounded, by which time I'd missed the next sentence.

So this book took a while to get through because I kept turning it off and listening to music instead. I will have a go at the next in the series, but definitely NOT on audiobook (all the books in the series appear to be performed by the same narrator) because, up until now, they've been worthwhile reads.

Completed : 5-February-2016

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