Saturday, December 17, 2011

Audio Book: Parting Breath, by Catherine Aird

Robin Bailey is my favorite audio book reader. He has read several of the books of Catherine Aird, a couple of Agatha Christies, and a few of Ruth Rendell. I have most of his Airds and Christies. Fan though I am of his work, I do not like Ruth Rendell's work, so won't be acquiring those audio books.

I enjoyed Parting Breath, as ready by Robin Bailey, for all that the mystery is slight and "fair play" non-existent. Truth to tell, I still don't know why the first victim was murdered.

But that's the case with all of Catherine Aird's books featuring Detective Inspector C.D. Sloan of the Calleshire Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The mysteries are slight, and there's certainly no opportunity for fair play, guessing the murderer, as there is, for example, with the Agatha Christies.

But they're are fun for all that. They are the type of book one can read in a single sitting. There are no earth-shaking psychological philosophies expounded, just a fun, entertaining read.

Or in my case - listening experience.

Parting Breath
is not available on CD (yet) - I acquired my set from from Amazon's used book/audio book service, and there are 12 cassettes.

The book begins in the dining hall of the University of Calleshire. The dons and the students have just returned from the long vacation, and are discussing various things. This is the 1970s, a time when, in the US, universities were occupied in response to the Vietnam war, and apparently this happened in England, too.

A student has been sent down, and the Student Union is planning a massive sit-in and protest in order to demand that he be reinstated. The school body makes plans for this sit-in.

During the sit-in, a student, Henry Mullins, is murdered, and no one knows why. In his parting breath, he gasps, "Sixty minutes..." (which has to be one of the silliest "last gasp dying breath clues" I have ever heard.

C.D. Sloan and his sergeant are dispatched to the university, and conduct their investigations while the students continue with their sit in and protest.

Then comes another murder...and it is this murder that gives the clue of why the first murder took place...

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