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Summary

There were some things about Chief Inspector Wexford's trip to China that he could never have dreamt of: That an old woman would haunt him from one city to the next. That a man would be tragically drowned. Or that, back in England, he would be investigating the murder of one of his fellow tourists.

©2009 Ruth Rendell (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Speaker of Mandarin

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    5 out of 5 stars

Very disappointing- a great story poorly read

This is spoilt by the narrator. His tone is monotonous, the delivery rushed and it is impossible to distinguish between characters. Wexford and Burden are indistinguishable.
I’ve listened to all the previous Wexford’s with enjoyment. This was irritating throughout.
I will not purchase another book read by Michael Bryant

2 people found this helpful

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Great plot

Interesting story and characters as usual - but the narrator just didn’t fit my view of Wexford and Burden.

1 person found this helpful

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well-crafted story, excellent narration

I'm so glad I read beyond the reviews that complained about this narrator and found an alternative view. This is a beautiful, professional narration by someone with serious acting skill. Nothing is overplayed, just pitch perfect subtle renderings of the different characters. People who are Wexford fans would probably expect him to have a Sussex accent, but actually there's nothing jn this book to indicate that (OK, I might have missed an indication) and much more importantly, the narrator captures his character perfectly, as far as I'm concerned. One or at most two tiny pronunciation quibbles, but I've yet to find a narrator apart from Timothy West and Miriam Margolyes that I don't find the odd quibble with.

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Good story poor execution

This book is a good, typical Ruth Rendell story. However the narration is fast, monotone, and poor.

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ok story

Story took a bit of a time to get going. Started in China and moved back to England. Narration not what we are used to, no gruff Wexford and though a bit shorter than usual it felt a bit convuluted.

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The worse ever

whilst decorating, I've been listing to all the Wexford books and then I got to this one. I couldn't even get through one chapter. Is it a robot. I'll skip this one

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Different reader, same quality

I'm not sure why some reviewers don't like the actor reading this. Sure, it's a bit disorientating when there are at least three different performers reading the available Wexford range; but this was as well done as the rest, merely different.

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Not that great

This book was kinda boring actually I struggled to finish it if I had paid for it I would have got a refund

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awful narrator

Great book, ruined by the narrator who rushed through the narration and halfway through switched the accents of two main characters, got quite confusing since Wexford has had the same lovely burr throughout the series thus far, but suddenly he lost it completely and passed it to Burden.

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Bizzare! Wexford and Burden have swapped accents!

I have listened to every one of Wexford audibles, but I actualIy wasn't inspired to read this because the title put me off! However, this being the only Wexford book remaining that I hadn't listened to, I decided to give it a go. Surprisingly though and inspite of my reticence I actually enjoyed the story, and the beginning being located in China was a welcome and unusual start. HOWEVER, Wexford and Burden seem to have exchanged accents!! Burden is the one with the local dialect and Wexford with the more refined tones. I don't know if the narrator had been told who to cast in which part, but he got this very wrong. Sadly, the narrator has since passed away and this faux pas makes no difference to him - so this is just a heads up to anyone who reads my review.

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  • Constance
  • 16-05-15

Under-appreciated gem of mystery writing

Any additional comments?

This is one of Rendell's very best, in my opinion. Wexford goes on a trip through China. This is the China of the 1980's--tourists have minders and travel conditions are far from luxurious. Wexford experiences the journey almost as a dream. The heat, the long hours on trains, the unfamiliar food, the complete dislocation from his ordinary life, and most of all the repeated glimpses of an old woman with bound feet--combine to create a sense of being in a hallucinatory haze. Back from his journey, he gets involved in a murder connected with one of the people on his tour. Rendell succeeds brilliantly in creating an unforgettable and spellbinding atmosphere.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-04-21

GOOD STORY

This is an interesting story. I enjoyed the mingling of the cultures, and the performance.

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  • katattack
  • 24-11-19

Quite dated but good suspense

Ruth Rendell was obviously an educated and widely read author, as authors need be. I so enjoy her quotes from esoteric poets and references to other authors, and learn something from each book of hers that I've listened to, which by now is quite a few. It is disappointing, though, when educated people resort to racial epithets, and it's difficult to live in these times and not feel strongly about her casual use of them. I think it's safe to suggest that novelists in whatever genre should assiduously avoid talking about any culture not their own with any kind of disdain. These days, it seems to reveal in the speaker or author a small mind, however many books they might have read.
Still, the book is well done, with a good plot twist that isn't out of left field. I did think that I should have seen it coming.
The performance suffered a bit from unevenness of accents for each of the two main Inspectors, the voices for whom the actor barely changed inflection, cadence, or tone, so it was almost impossible to sort out who was saying what at any point, but luckily there wasn't much conversation between the two men so it didn't ruin the listening experience.