Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: Barking Mad by Jamieson Ridenhour

Title: Barking Mad
Author: Jamieson Ridenhour
Series: Reginald Spiffington Mysteries #1
Publisher: Typecast Publishing
Format: Audio book
Genre: Mystery
Source: Provided by author for touring purposes

The year is 1931. The scene is werewolfishly classic English fare. And tonight the moon hangs as full as a royal pie plate in this inaugural Reginald Spiffington mystery when the none too obsequious playboy, Reggie, sets out for a delectably long weekend at Huffsworthy Hall to assist his dear friend, Moony, in his failing endeavor to take the hand of his lady-love. Reggie's itinerary for the weekend turns abruptly less toothsome when he decides to solve the unexpected murder of another of the Hall's guests, a guest whose luggage is secretly packed full of nefarious plans. Soon, all Huffsworthy's inhabitants are potential suspects, including Reggie's saucy, quick-witted love-interest, Mimsy Borogrove. Aided by his invaluable valet, Pelham, and armed only with his knowledge of detective novels and a newly acquired set of keener, canine senses, Reggie sets out to find the killer before another meal falls to ruin.

My Review:
Oh the Hilarity...Before I begin my review, I ask for you all to picture this if you will: A slightly chubby Blond girl running on a treadmill, wearing leggings and short-shorts because her sweatpants were still in the laundry basket from the last time she attempted to work out. Now this blond girl continues to spontaneously crack up every few minutes at whatever it is she is listening to whilst on said treadmill, and at one point has to get off the treadmill, catch her breath, and go compose herself somewhere else due to the apparent hilarity of what she had been listening to. Yes my dear followers, that girl was me as I was listening to the audio book of Barking Mad. I'm pretty sure that the hot guy who works the counter at my gym now thinks I'm certifiably nuts...which is regrettable because he is VERY hot...but it was worth it I suppose to be listening to such a great book :)

Barking Mad is a hilarious combination of a Sherlock Holmes novel and the board game Clue. I half expected someone to should "Col. Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick!" or something at some point. The setting is England, and the accents and eccentricities are what can be expected from a gaggle of Brits of different classes. There are brisk, gigantic Swedes, griping and devious social-ladder climbers, and of course, the highest level of classy ladies that etiquette demands. It's a wonderful story of suspense and intrigue and it was definitely a fun read. I haven't read/listened to a good, classic, "who-done-it" mystery in AGES and I was very pleased to be invited on this tour so I could experience the joys, the sorrows, and the confusion of poor Mr. Reginald Spiffington. 

Mr. Reginald Spiffington was the most delightfully pompous and cheerfully pretentious son-of-a-pig you could ever hope was your narrator. He drove you absolutely mad with his completely off the wall theories and presumptuous manner. His poor valet Pelham has to put up with so much. Pelham was actually one of my favorite characters. His constant loyalty and service in the face of Spiffington's ridiculousness is admirable. His somber and straight-faced acceptance of all kinds of trouble just amps up the hilarity to a whole new level. Pelham may be my favorite, but you definitely have to like good old Reggie as well. He's the guy that exasperates the heck out of you, but makes you laugh your ass off while doing it. Reggie actually ends up being a combination of idiot and genius, pairing witty and hilarious descriptions with completely baffling and incorrect assumptions about the murders occurring.

I absolutely loved listening to Jamieson Ridenhour as the narrator.  He made the story come to life in a way that I have rarely seen. Some of the writing could have been construed as annoying or ridiculous, but Ridenhour made the ridiculousness seem perfect for both the story and the character. He took the overbearing personality that is Reginald Spiffington and turned him into someone jaunty and lighthearted enough to see the humor and romance in becoming a werewolf. I think that when an author narrates their own work, there can be pros and cons. It's definitely a plus to have the author read because they know exactly what they meant when they wrote a particular page. They know all the implications, the voice changes, the inflections that should occur, because they wrote it. Also...they pronounce the names correctly. It drives me absolutely crazy when an audio book narrator mispronounces a name that the author themselves has pronounced differently. When the author IS the narrator, there is absolutely no chance of those kinds of stupid mistakes.  A potential con is that the author won't have the voice training or quality to make a successful audio book. Well, rest assured that Jamieson is both a fantastic narrator and writer.

The "supernatural" part of the plot was interesting. It didn't seem very necessary. Maybe like it was added in to make the mystery more...mysterious...but it was well written and believable so I did enjoy it. I will say that for the most part, the plot was pretty easy to predict. I had my suspicions about every single aspect of the mystery, from the perpetrator of the murder, to the identity of the werewolf.  And indeed, I found myself to be correct for nearly every single suspicion. I would go as far as to say that I could tell you exactly what was about to happen before it happened...all the way until the last...quarter of the book I would say. After that, everything just gets thrown out the window. Twists and turns come at you constantly and you can barely keep your wits about you as you finally figure out who the murderer is. So overall-I found the book to be a  fun, quick, and definitely entertaining read.
I give Barking Mad 4 Keys! Though it was a tad short, and a bit predictable, it was definitely a very fun story to listen to. It's a nice one to get for your commute home or even to work out to. But then again if you are prone to laughing uncontrollably at funny things then you might not want to work out to it...because you will end up freaking out the hot gym-attendant and ruin your chances at getting a date..but I really do think it was worth it :)  Barking Mad is fast-paced, funny, and is exactly what you think of when you think of traditional mysteries....well...if you throw in werewolves, murderous vegetables, and oafish Swedes...


  1. I have never listened to an audio book before, but this review might change my mind.

    P.S. I loved your "imagine this." I didn't realize where you were going with this and then I had a hilarious mental image of you walking back and forth between the workout equipment and trying to compose yourself. It made my day. Lol.

  2. I love this review! It's been forever since a book made me laugh out loud and I love your description of you cracking up on the treadmill! The combination of a Sherlock Holmes mystery and the Clue game sounds original. This is definately one I'd like to listen to on audio so I can get the same experience you did! Thanks for sharing :)