Monday, October 4, 2021

1979 (Allie Burns #1)


1979 is the first book in a new series by Val McDermid. Due out 5th Oct 2021 from Atlantic Monthly Press, it's 320 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is an engaging and very fast paced start to a new murder mystery series featuring a young female reporter in Scotland at the end of the 70s. McDermid is one of the best living writers of crime fiction in English and this novel (although a little different than her other series) is both technically brilliant and very very well written. I have read most of the author's oeuvre, and I was pleased that this book at least isn't nearly as graphic/grisly as some of her other books (the Hill & Jordan books for example). Protagonist Allie is intelligent and driven and that translates well into her inevitable clashes with patriarchal and classist society at large and the men with whom she works. This is a milieu the author is intimately familiar with, having worked as a reporter herself for a number of years in the same time period as the book. It has bone-deep verisimilitude and I enjoyed reading about the fact finding and investigation in the pre-internet "dark ages". The tension arc, denouement, and resolution are up to McDermid's high standards. The read was very satisfying and I'll definitely be seeking out future installments of this promising series.

The audiobook is unabridged, has a run time of slightly over 11 hours, and is most expertly narrated by Katie Leung. She has a pleasantly nuanced voice and manages the characters with widely divergent accents (and ages, and both sexes) impressively well. The accents are as disparate as Scotland, various English accents, to the Southwest and points in between (even American/Caribbean), and she manages all of them with expertise and precision. To be honest, there aren't very many UK/Scottish narrators/voice actors who can manage American accents (or the opposite) without being truly painful to listen to. I've from the USA but have lived in the UK and Europe for a long time and Ms. Leung's command of accents is virtuoso.  Sound quality and production values are high throughout. 

Four and a half stars for the text, five stars for the narration. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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