IT ALL BEGAN IN MONTE CARLO
Mac Reilly Series #3
By Elizabeth Adler.
St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin
BBC Audio America/Sound Library
First Publication date: July 6, 2010
Trade Paperback/ebook/Audio (more than one edition) 400 pages
Narrated by Susan Boyce
This audiobook was borrowed and downloaded via Maine-Info.net via Overdrive.com. NO remuneration was exchanged and all opinion expressed herein is my own unless otherwise noted.
Sunny Alvarez and Mac Reilly always seem to find trouble in the south of France. This time, all the trouble began in Monte Carlo. Sunny’s relationship with Mac is in jeopardy and Monte Carlo beckons. Soon Sunny is pulled into a web of intrigue involving a series of robberies of high-end jewelry stores. Then there’s her wanna-be-new-friend, who turns out to be a sociopath, involved in the sale of sex and in blackmail. Plus there’s Sunny’s old friend, movie star Allie Ray, who owns a vineyard in France and who comes to help sort Sunny out, while at the same time sorting out the life and appearance of her old friend, Pru Holster, with a makeover that not only changes her dowdy overweight appearance, but changes Pru into an amateur detective. If Sunny doesn’t untangle this plot, she might end up an unwitting accomplice to theft, blackmail and even murder. When Mac shows up, he’s ready to do anything to get Sunny back, not the least of which is to solve the crimes and save her life. ElizabethAdler.net
I am really coming to appreciate the audio book more and more; this week I got a ton of weeding done with one and I also like them for driving back and forth to town. And, I find I can peruse graphic materials for icons and graphics while listening. I downloaded this on a lark and it sounded so light, didn’t really hold much hope for it.
And it started off unrealistically with Sunny’s dog, Tessoro, out of her carrier during flight in a first class seat on a plane. This might be possible if Tessoro was a “comfort” or “service” animal, but that is not mentioned. I checked online and it’s possible that in the 2009 time period when this was published that was allowed, but I can’t find any evidence of that. But, when I got involved in the story and the many characters of various nationalities and mien, that unrealistic feature was mitigated and I found the book subtle and engrossing even though there wasn’t much in the way of sexy times played out in the pages.
Adler writes an enticing assortment of characters from innocent to depraved, rich to poor, devious to delightful and gives each as much flesh as needed, no more and no less. I like this kind of economy in writing, it’s similar to how my first painting teacher taught us to use an economy of paint and brush stroke to achieve an effect. When well done, there’s more art in an economy of words than there is in florid description. I found the main character in this story, Sunny to be a lost little girl who makes remarkably foolish decisions that put her and others in danger. But everyone still thinks she is wonderful – I have known women like this. It is irritating.
Decisions like meeting a man on a plane and letting him set her up with an hotel room in a city different from her original destination. He is the only person not mentioned in the blurb. But from this one decision, the entire plot flows. STRANGER DANGER! Her friends and her boyfriend are pretty cool, kind and smart, and the guy who tells her to head to Monte Carlo is a big part of the story.
There are no fewer than three villains here. One is an anti-heroine, one is stone-cold but you might feel sympathy for her because she believes herself to be cagier than she is, and one is even colder than stone-cold. I found myself really intrigued by the story, unwilling to believe that the mastermind behind the robberies is who it is although the evidence all points that way.
We don’t really get the motive for the worst villain in the tale, which I guess remains a mystery to keep us thinking after we close the book. There are a good number of twisty elements too; just enough to throw me off balance. Most of the time I really liked the narration; Susan Boyce seems like a mature and experienced narrator who uses just a hint of acting and personality in identifying and voicing characters. She does make one woman, Pru, seem just too dumb to have gotten to adulthood.
The “acting” part of audiobooks is one part that I like for understanding pronunciation and accent (like with a novel about Highlanders, for example), but where too much acting makes it into a radio drama rather than a book. I have now listened to some that were straight reads, and a few like this with some acting, and one that was like listening to parents having sex (Gah!). It is a different experience than reading and something I have had to learn to use.
This story was a good mystery and well read, it would be something I would be comfortable listening to with my eighty-five year old mother (she reads anything but whether I would want to listen to explicitly written sex while sitting with her is another story!). In any event, this was a great story to download from the library and I enjoyed it a lot.
AT Macmillan/St. Martin’s