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Mystery

The Lesson Plan – G J Prager (Audio Version)

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3 Stars (3 / 5)

I enjoyed the audio version of The Lesson Plan, a debut by G J Prager.

Robert Klayton is a substitute high school teacher by day and a trainee private detective by night. When he meets Sheila, a fellow substitute teacher who is in need of a private eye, he gets excited at the prospect of having enough money to actually pay his rent. However getting involved with Sheila inevitably gets him into trouble… A LOT of trouble. He has to try and find a killer while keeping a bunch of bad guys and the cops off his tail.

Overall I found it to be quite well written, the story was engaging and it held my interest quite well.

However, the characters were a bit of a let down for me. In particular Robert, the main character. I just had a hard time reading (or listening in this case) about a character who made such absolutely stupid decisions at every point and had such minimal personal growth. Just when I thought I was gaining a little bit of respect for him, off he goes again and does something even more stupid and It frustrated me a lot. I understand that this was the way he was supposed to be, it was his personality, he isn’t a typical “good guy”. But it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t find his character very likeable. The female characters that Robert was associated with were all pretty shady also. As were his interactions with them. I hope that substitute teachers are not all like that!

I felt the plot opened with a bang, and then moved quite slowly until about half way when it picked up again. There was a lot of intricate description of non significant aspects of the story, which was not necessarily a bad thing, but I felt at times it was slightly overdone. I loved the old school ‘Rockford files’ type vibe going on. It was engaging and I wanted to know how the story developed and what happened to Robert and if he ever sorted himself out.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the places in the novel. Las Vegas, the desert, Los Angeles… All places I have never been but were well described in the novel.

Audio Version: The author narrated the book himself and I love that! Who better than to emphasise key points and phrases than the person who wrote it originally. I wish more authors would narrate their own books! G J Prager has a lovely accent and I really enjoyed listening to him narrate as Robert. However, at times I got a little confused about who was who and who was saying what because it was hard to differentiate between characters. Every character sounded the same, even the females. I think more of an emphasised change of key or roughness to his voice would have made a world of difference to the listener. However it was by no means a bad narration, I quite enjoyed it.

Overall thoughts:

It was a good mystery, and I enjoyed the audio version. I would be interested to read other books by this author.

Thanks to the author via Word Slinger Publicity for a copy of this audio book in exchange for my honest review.

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The Red Door – Rosa Fedele

the red door

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Glad to have found another Aussie book by an Aussie author to add to the list! I have been extremely unpatriotic through my life and have avoided Australian books. Only recently am I beginning to hugely regret this, as I have found some incredible books. I have wasted a lot of my life not reading Aussie books!!  I am really enjoying the Australian settings, especially in my home city Sydney – So I was glad to review this book as it is set in Glebe.

The main character (who we don’t know by name until the very end), bought the mansion “Rosalind” after a troubling event from her past. She is in the process of renovating and refurbishing the whole place. Its going smoothly with exception of some strange events on the upper level, and the fact that the tenant in number three wont let her in, and she begins to suspect he may be watching her. She does a little digging only to find her tenant may be connected in some way to the vicious murders of two teenage girls that occurred twenty years prior. Her quest to find out what happened leads her to some stunning realisations that will shake up the comfortable life she has created for herself, and her new friends. Has she found a killer? What happened in her past to make her run away to Rosalind? And why is it so cold upstairs?

I must be honest. When I first started reading this I didn’t think it was going anywhere. It felt quite disjointed, went around everywhere and I was a bit confused about who was who. I failed to see the significance of all the characters and parallel storylines. And the writing, with the small sections that ended without an explanation, began to frustrate me.  However I stuck with it and was extremely pleasantly surprised as the story began to unfold and I couldn’t put it down! Having finished it now I can appreciate how cleverly refreshing the writing was.

I loved the characters, especially Monique and Claudia. The main character and Anne annoyed me at times, but overall all the characters had their appealing qualities. I liked the main character a lot more after we learn of her back story. I enjoyed the romances and especially the complex – sometimes destructive friendships in the novel. And there were quite a few character twists to keep me satisfied! Especially towards the end of the book.

 I would call this novel more of a mystery than a thriller, although it did have a few thrilling moments. However it was completely engrossing, especially in the last two thirds of the novel. The author also did the illustrations throughout the book which are beautiful, and definitely give the novel more character and texture. I only wish there was more of them, as they seemed to randomly appear at the beginning of some chapters but not others.

It was set in 1983, the year I was born, so perhaps I’m a bit too young to appreciate a lot of the early 80’s references, however this didn’t matter in the slightest. I have seen Duran Duran live (admittedly only because they were opening for Robbie Williams), so at least I wasn’t completely clueless!

Would I recommend it?

Yes for any mystery and thriller lovers and fans of 1980’s Sydney.

Many thanks to author Rosa Fedele for a copy of The Red Door, in exchange for my review.

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