Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley and narrated by Anne Flosnik (2013, 2014)

I listened to this on streaming audio.

I love Lucy Worsley.  She is one of my favorite people on television. Wikipedia calls her "an English historian, author, curator, and television presenter."  She's charming, smart (in the sense of her clothing and style), intelligent, funny, and quite beautiful.  We are only able to watch her on YouTube (I think they are all bootleg too - bad us).

I loved her book, particularly the last half or so, which was about detective novels and murder mysteries.  I have so many things I want to read in the future, and listening to all of these great murder mysteries, made me want to read even more.  Sigh.  So many books, so little time.

I did not like the narrator; she sounded like Siri, which was annoying.  But even she could not mar Lucy Worsley's great writing.  This is pop history at it's very, very best.  Lots of scandal, plenty of trivia, famous people sprinkled throughout.
I don't know if the English have the monopoly on murder, but Worsley certainly made the case.  I thought Poe invented the murder mystery, but he was not to be found in this book!

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred HitchcockThe Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think if I were reading this the good old fashioned way, I would have given the book five stars, but because disliked Anne Flosnik's narrative style (she sounded an awful lot like Siri with an English accent), I'm going to go with Four. I love Lucy Worsley (I watch her on YouTube in America), and I think her writing style is great. This is what I call pop history, and pop history at its very, very best - great, accessible, smart writing that is not so academic to make you fall asleep while driving, but also not so dumbed down that you feel like an idiot even reading (or listening) to it; famous people sprinkled throughout (Agatha Christie) but enough new facts and stories to keep you engaged (all of those delicious old murders from the 1800s), lots of scandals, plenty of trivia, but all strung together like Christmas lights, bright and fun - and such a heavy subject too. My only quibble - I thought Poe invented the murder mystery; I know he's not English, but still. That's a minor quibble in a really fun book. The last half of this book is about the golden age of detective novels - I dare you to come away without at least adding one old fashioned mystery to your reading pile!


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