📚 Cherringham by Matthew Costello & Neil Richards

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Cherringham Compilations #1-3

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Sep. 2017

Narrator: Neil Dudgeon
Length7 hrs and 48 mins
Publisher: Lübbe Audio⎮2017

Synopsis:

Jack’s a retired ex-cop from New York, seeking the simple life in Cherringham. Sarah’s a Web designer who’s moved back to the village find herself. But their lives are anything but quiet as the two team up to solve Cherringham’s criminal mysteries.

This compilation contains episodes 1 – 3: MURDER ON THAMES, MYSTERY AT THE MANOR and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT.

Here Jack and Sarah investigate a suicide in the River Thames – or was it murder? They investigate an “accidental” fire with deadly consequences, and they nab the culprit behind the Rotary Club choir poisoning.

Cherringham is a series à la Charles Dickens, with a new mystery thriller released each month. Set in the sleepy English village of Cherringham, the detective series brings together an unlikely sleuthing duo: English web designer Sarah and American ex-cop Jack. Thrilling and deadly – but with a spot of tea – it’s like Rosamunde Pilcher meets Inspector Barnaby. Each of the self-contained episodes is a quick listen for the morning commute, while waiting for the doctor, or when curling up with a hot cuppa.

For fans of Agatha Christie’s “Miss Marple series”, Lilian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who series”, Caroline Graham’s “Midsomer Murders”, and the American TV series “Murder She Wrote”, starring Angela Lansbury.

Co-authors Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US), have been writing together since the mid 90’s, creating content and working on projects for the BBC, Disney Channel, Sony, ABC, Eidos, and Nintendo to name but a few. Their transatlantic collaboration has underpinned scores of TV drama scripts, computer games, radio shows, and – most recently – the successful crime fiction series Cherringham.

The narrator of the audiobook, Neil Dudgeon, has been in many British television programmes including the roles of “DCI John Barnaby” in “Midsomer Murders” and “Jim Riley” in “The Life of Riley”.


3.5 ★ Audiobook⎮The snobby little Anglophile within me has been rearing its head lately, causing me to turn up my nose at all things American and crave BBC TV Dramas and cozy village mysteries. I decided to pick up the first Cherringham compilation because it consists of three separate mystery stories, called “episodes”, each one only being a couple of hours long.

My thinking was that if I didn’t enjoy the first mystery, I would have only wasted a couple of hours of my time and still completed an episode. That wound up being my favorite thing about the Cherringham mysteries, their brevity. Each episode was the literary equivalent of a single serving dish. What was lacking in coziness and intrigue was made up for in succinctness.

The overall character of the village of Cherringham fell a little flat, as did its main character. Though, not for a lack of potential. I actually think the short length of each episode harmed the series by stunting its growth potential. I wouldn’t have a minded an extra hour or so of listening if it had been devoted to more development, outside of each mystery.

As it was, I can’t complain too much, because I was interested (or just bored) enough to continue listening to the remaining two episodes in the compilation. I happen to have been also watching the BBC series Midsomer Murders on Netflix around the same time I was listening to this series and the comparison of American ex-cop Jack (from the stories) to Chief Inspector Barnaby (from Midsomer Murders) is a significant stretch. I can see how the authors would have wanted to re-create the appeal of Midsomer Murders, but they were missing a certain je ne sais quois.

If you’re looking for an “edge of your seat” mystery or a “cozy night in” series, this probably isn’t it. However, if you’re looking to pass a few hours of time, have at it. This compilation was far from terrible, but it wasn’t exactly memorable it either. It’s not really something I see myself returning to in the future.
Narration review: The authors were pushing for a Midsomer Murders vibe hard. So hard that they actually hired the actor who plays Chief Inspector Barnaby to narrate the audiobooks. Aside from the brevity, Neil Dudgeon’s performance was my favorite thing about listening to Cherringham. His performance did more to imbue the series with a feeling of coziness than the stories themselves. If I were to ever pick up another Cherringham episode, it would be to hear him narrate. ♣︎
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