mystery

Hallowed Murder – audiobook spotlight

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The Mystery Writers of America recently bestowed the title of Grand Master upon Ellen Hart, author of the Jane Lawless and the Sophie Greenway mystery series. Grand Master is bestowed upon writers who have made outstanding contributions to the genre. My first introduction to Hart was when I happened upon Hart’s long running mystery series, stars Minneapolis restaurateur, Jane Lawless, on the shelf at my local public library. The amateur sleuth has languished in my TBR pile ever since. When I read about Hart’s literary distinction on Women and Words, last week, I put most of my other in-progress books aside and bought an Audible copy of the series first installment, Hallowed Murder (1989).  

The series introduction finds Jane volunteering as an alumnae advisor at her old sorority house at the University of Minnesota. On a morning walk along the river, Jane and her longtime pal, Cordelia, stumble upon the drowned body of the sorority’s social chair, Allison Lord. The police readily dismiss the young woman’s death as a suicide, because in their dim view lesbians are all suicidal and otherwise loathsome creatures. Jane, however, believes that something foul is afoot and pursues a twisting road of secrets, prejudice, homophobia, loaded motives, and more, in order to learn the truth. 

A few days prior to hearing about the award, I finally acted on my longstanding desire to learn how to play chess. Grand Master in mystery and in chess are two different things, but they do share commonalities. Both require plotting several moves ahead, taking into account as many outcomes as possible. As a new piece of potentially vital intel came into play in the story, I mentally moved another chess piece ahead. Sometimes a piece was removed from play; other times, a piece made an unexpected move. He did what? She spoke with so-and-so? Someone wasn’t where they said they’d be? Hmm… It was fun to try and figure out the murderer’s identity. I loved finding plausible motives for several characters, too. There are twenty-three additional novels in the series and many of them are available on audiobook. 

I enjoyed Aimee Jolson’s narration. In Hallowed Murder, she adopts a straightforward style suited to Jane Lawless’s pragmatic personality and understated sense of humor. Even with a maelstrom of emotion (confusion, anger, fear, love, etc.) swirling around her, even when her own life comes into the culprit’s cross-hairs, Jane never loses her cool. Jolson also infuses her narration with subtle characterization of the sorority sisters and household staff. Cordelia, on the other hand, is a woman who abides no subtlety. There are a few minor points that, while not detracting from my enjoyment of the story and narration, could enhance the audiobook. I would like a beat more spacing between sections, to better differentiate a change of scene. Jane’s vocal nuances were underrepresented. Her formative years were spent in England with her American father and British mother. Later, in high school, Jane moved to the United States, remaining a resident afterwards. I did not detect the accent blend, though it is mentioned early on in the novel.

This has nothing to do with the storytelling or narration, but I’ve never listened to an audiobook that gave me a 30 minute preview of the next book in the series, Vital Lies (1991). That was a very pleasant surprise! Bonus points to Griffindor!

Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart
Narrator: Aimee Jolson (Goodreads and a few other places online list Carol Jordan Stewart as narrator. She seems to be the narrator of the 1995 release. The Audible copy I have is narrated by Jolson. Maybe someday I’ll be able to compare their performances.)
Original print edition released in 1989 by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House
Length: 8 hours, 25 minutes
Audiobook release date: 2014

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/AudibleiTunes, and other retailers. Check your local public library for availability in print and/or audio.

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Categories: audiobooks, lgbt, mystery, series | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LGBT Audiobooks 2016 Listen List

I’m just a tad late in posting all of the glorious audiobooks that I listened to in 2016 (though they did make it into my year-end-stravaganza posting). Compared with 2015, there was an aural explosion! I think this in part because I had more options as far as buying and borrowing audiobooks (Overdrive, OneClick Digital, Audible). I’ve also spent more time perusing audiobook reviews on sites such as AudioFile Magazine and participating in a fantastic Facebook group, Lesbian Audiobooks

Now when I find an interesting book, I ask myself “is there an audiobook version?” Publishers seem to produce more and more audiobook versions these days, as opposed to limiting the production to “big” names and blockbuster series. What a time to be a listener!

My taste in listening varies from one day to the next. Below you’ll find my moods and interests reflected in the covers below. I enjoy literary fiction, modern-day retellings of Shakespeare plays, memoirs, YA, fantasy adventure, contemporary romance, far-flung settings, and historical fiction.

However, if I don’t enjoy the narrator, no matter how good the storytelling, I stop listening. And that’s just me; other listeners might find the narrator is a great fit for their ears. Some new-to-me narrators that I really enjoyed in 2016 include Laural Merlington and Kate Rudd (The Language of Hoofbeats); Amielynn Abellera (As I Descended); Sarah Grace Wright (Fallen Elements); and Bahni Turpin (Here Comes the Sun). These narrators deliver immersive experiences with wonderful pacing, tone, and excellent characterization.

As for 2017? Well, I’ve already listened to a contemporary romance and a fantasy-adventure! My Audible wishlist is long and getting longer. What LGBT+ fiction and/or non-fiction audiobooks did you listen to last year?  

The book covers are linked to either a review I posted or to a related external site (like Overdrive, AudioFile, publishers, etc.).

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully LoadedSaving Montgomery SoleAs I DescendedHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-BennYou Know Me Well by David LevithanThe Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson CooperHit by a Farm by Catherine FriendThe Warrior's Path (When Women Were Warriors, #1)Being Jazz Audiobook2497445115726317327959Image result for if i was your girl audiobook207637391582434313587076937547633163705232513262325817288219421892292974125893681

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, mystery, nonfiction, paranormal, romance, suspense, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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