Top critical review
How to Ruin a Good Book
on September 12, 2015
This is a review of the audio book, not the paper copy. The one star is for the audio edition; I give 4 stars to the novel itself.
This book, the sixth of a very good series by David Downing, was spoiled by an inept narration. After struggling for three and a half hours of listening, I finally gave up and ordered a paper copy of the book. Four of the previous five books were narrated by Simon Vance, a top-drawer narrator. When I downloaded this book I knew it would have a different narrator and would take some adjusting on my part. My past experience is that within an hour of listening to a new narrator in a book series, I adjust to the new narrator’s style in 30-40 minutes. I worked at it, but Michael Healy made the experience painful and I found it increasingly difficult to focus on the story and characters. His pace was too slow and deliberate. A narrator of books involving countries and characters whose native language is not English should, at the very least, have a rudimentary knowledge of the pronunciation rules of the native languages (German and Russian in this case). The German “W” gets routinely mangled. A major character through the series is Shchepkin (3 syllables) but Mr. Healy pronounces it “Chepkin”. Even some English words get garbled “father” sounding like “farther”. One would think that a narrator dealing with a book with many Jewish characters set at a time of great migration to Israel would be able to pronounce Haganah correctly. It is difficult to distinguish characters by the narrator’s voicing and the book has many characters
The novel itself is quite good (in paper form) and a fitting conclusion to the Station Series of John Russell.