Friday, November 14, 2008

"The Absent Minded Coterie" by Robert Barr

Source: Librivox (Part 1) (Part 2)
Length: 1 hr, 27 min
Reader: Czechchris

The story: French detective Eugene Valmont is approached by Spenser Hale of Scotland Yard concerning a case which is frustrating the London police. Because of a decline in the price of silver, a band of counterfeiters have begun producing British silver coins in actual silver, making the phonies difficult to identify (historical note: because Britain at the time was on the gold standard, the value of the silver in a coin did not equal its face value). Suspicion falls on a Mr. Summertree who appears to be the one distributing the false coins, but the police need Valmont, as a Frenchman not under English police procedure, to perform a warrantless search to find out who is actually making the coinage. Valmont agrees to take the case, but finds a much more ingenious conspiracy than counterfeiting.

The mystery presented here is both interesting and surprising, with plenty of plot twists that left me shaking my head and chuckling. The entertainment is magnified by the confident figure of Eugene Valmont as a slyly funny narrator. Although the story is set in 1896, modern readers will recognize some features of the story are current in the news: warrantless searches, the use of foreign operatives to avoid national laws, and the election of a new American President in a time of economic crisis.

Rating: 8 / 10

The reader: Czechchris, despite his Slavic username, has a British accent that sounds wonderful, though it jars somewhat with the French identity of the narrator of this particular story. I, however, am not of the opinion that a reader's accent must match the character, since it would be a pity to deny such a good reader as this one the chance to perform this story. The reader does not "do voices" but his reading of the different characters lines are true to the emotions that the characters are expressing. The sound quality of this recording is superb.

No comments: