- helpful votes
Dull dull and yet more dull
Ian Ogilvy gives a one-dimensional and very dull reading of this rather trite and predictable story which will only really appeal to someone who's hooked on one- and two-engine planes. Yet another worthy but misunderstood hero who keeps coming to the rescue but rarely gets the credit. Where are all the interesting and entertaining characters who inhabited Francis' earlier novels? Not here, that's for sure. Not recommended.
Slow cooking not worth the wait
Sounds like an interesting scenario, but witten without any depth of insight into the restaurant business, and far far too slow in getting anywhere. Also Tony Britton is far too old to take on this role of a late-20s energetic chef. Gone are the amusing and entertaining characterisations of earlier Francis readings, and instead we're given a very downbeat exhausted rendering. I managed just over 2 hours of it before returning the title. Not recommended.
Too short and (sorry) too old
I came away from this with two impressions. Firstly, that this Abridged version has cut Mr Moore's life story down to the bare minimum in order not to strain his voice during the recordings. It just left too much out of what's been an interesting life. It doesn't help that a big chunk at the end is devoted to his work for UNICEF - a charity that he is deservedly passionate about, but for the listener it means even less of his film career is covered in this brief 2hrs 40mins. My second impression was (sorry to be cruel) that at 80 years old Mr Moore's voice is too far gone to bring the necessary energy to the telling. He starts with a bounce at each new section but then quickly dies away into a slowish slur. The same fault applies to his 'Bond on Bond' recording.
For those who want a slice of Roger Moore's wonderful wit and bonhomie, I recommend instead 'Last Man Standing' - interesting and funny tales from his movie and TV career - which is both Unabridged and read in a decent Moore--ish drawl by the excellent Jonathan Keeble.
Depression makes for a depressing story
What becomes clear very early on is that the protagonist suffers from clinical depression. So this interesting tale of tracking down stolen horses in the U.S keeps taking sudden and unexpected downturns as Hawkins contemplates for the nth time whether to top himself. Approaching 40, our depressed hero falls in love with an 18 year old girl who returns his feelings with interest (a bit of wishful thinking on the author's part, I felt). Together with some absurdly good fortune in tracing the thieves, this is a roller-coaster of an uneven ride. By no means one of Dick Francis' best. Good audio quality throughout.
Surprisingly unpleasant hero and poor sound
This is the first Dick Francis novel that I've actively disliked, mainly because the hero is rather unpleasant, and as much of a blackmailer in his way as his enemies are. I had no empathy for him, nor for his rather privileged girlfriend.
The recording has obviously been taken from worn-out audiotape - fuzzy, muddy, changing volume and clarity at virtually every chapter, and with a massive speeded-up chunk in the middle. Recordings of this poor quality really shouldn't be offered on Audible at standard prices! The final thing that wrecked this one for me is Tony Britton's utter inability to do convincing female voices, especially his falsetto American gal accent (exactly the same failing that spoilt the otherwise excellent 'High Stakes').
When bankers used to be the good guys
Written long before lax regulations and greed put bankers beyond the pale, this is an interesting tale of a stud farm whose future hangs on the purchase of a £5m horse to improve the quality of its foals. But as usual dark deeds are afoot to scupper their new acquisition, and it's up to our likeable hero banker to delve the depths and sort it out. It plods along at a reasonable pace, though after the initial action at Ascot there are no helter-skelter racing scenes nor much scent of the turf, so it lacks the spills and thrills of other Francis novels. It's a fairly strong detective story with numerous strands that are neatly tied up by the end.
Like many of these old Dick Francis/Tony Britton recordings, the overall sound quality drags this title down into 3* territory. It's just about tolerable as there's no obvious background hiss (unlike 'Straight'), but the sound leaps around all over the place with blurry, muddied sections, some over-fast bits, and a general 'copied from worn audiotapes' nastiness. A pity.
Strong and believable storyline
The set-up for this story seems a bit outlandish at first, with the hero being blackmailed and brutalised into taking on a relative amateur to his father's training stables. But the characters are very well-drawn and the motivations believable. The novel becomes both an insider's view of the relentless training regimes and a thrilling journey into independence for the likeable and courageous hero. I enjoyed this novel tremendously, as well as the expert narration by Tony Britton. Good sound quality throughout.
More flying than riding
This story is based almost completely in the air transportation of horses, so don't expect much action on the turf. It's got a decent storyline of shady dealings in horseflesh trading, with interesting characters and lurking menace. And for once the narrator makes a pretty good fist of the principal female voice (the hero's Italian love interest). What rather spoilt it for me was the complicated, puzzling motives behind the final violent confrontation, which involves some sort of Cold War defection, which I still can't figure out in how it relates to the general plot!
Good sound quality throughout. Altogether, this is one for holding in reserve until you've worked your way through the best of Francis' novels, unless you're particularly gripped by novels set in the skies..
Good sound & story but awful woman's voice
Happily the publishers have cleaned up this recording so as at April 2017 it's fairly flawless.
'High Stakes' is a pretty good story of a rich toymaker who's invested in horseflesh but has finally realised that his trainer has been fleecing him for years. The racing world turns against him when he sacks the trainer, and he finds it difficult to fight back against the ensuing slander and subsequent crooked dealings. The storyline is fairly gripping with interesting characters, although the final twists and turns are a bit predictable.
What spoils this reading is Tony Britton's utter inability to do women's voices - they're always delivered in an alarming falsetto which breaks the concentration. Luckily in this story there's only one woman (the love interest), who's absent for much of the time, so if you can grind your teeth and put up with it then this recording is bearable. It would be better, though, if the publisher could find a much younger voice actor to re-record the Francis canon - and one who can do women's voices too!
Unlikeable characters make for a looooong listen
There's just one problem with this follow-up to the excellent 'Cuckoo's Calling' - its characters from the world of publishing are just so unlikeable and unpleasant. To find no empathy with any of them (except of course for the very human Cormoran Strike, his partner and friends) makes for an extremely long and unenjoyable listen. I heard it through to the end but with wilting enthusiasm. I'd recommend skipping this one and moving on to novel #3: Career of Evil, which is grimmer but far more gripping.
Robert Glenister does another first rate job with his reading - full of character and nuances.