More podcast talk! I have a feeling this is an expression of my sublimated guilt for not having edited the podcast I recorded with comrades S Wilson and J Lambert last week. Anyway, today’s podcast recommendation is different to yesterday’s – different to most – in fact, it’s not really a podcast at all, more of a serialised audiobook. Turns out.
Valentin and the Widow, by Andrew Wheeler is a period-set action-adventure series about Eleanora Rosewood, a recently widowed young aristo, and Sacha Valentin, a Russian sailor and former soldier. After her husband’s death in an aeroplane accident, Eleanora discovers he was part of an Evil Secret Society and had designed a machine which could cause earthquakes, which is going to be deployed in Shanghai, and in only a few days time, and only she, with the help of her doughty valet* Sacha Valentin, can stop them. It might sound a little cliched – and OK, it is a little cliched – but that’s not always a bad thing, and in this case, trust me, it works. It’s enjoyable and fun, the writing is good enough to keep it going, and manages to conjure up a splendid evocation of place – the grimy streets of Shanghai are brought to life
The effect is also enhanced immeasurably by its delivery. I note on the site that the whole adventure is soon going to be made available as an ebook on Amazon, and I’ve enjoyed the story so much I’ll probably buy it. However, I would say, having listened to the audio version first, that this would deprive the reader of one of the best parts of the experience. It’s read by the author, who not only has a nice voice, but gives each of the characters their own voices, and really sells the delivery. In the first episode, when Eleanora is assaulted by the thugs, her lines are delivered with a pitch-perfect note of terror. It’s professional-sounding stuff, seriously excellent.
An exciting, well-written, well-read audio adventure, then, and clearly worth your time. It’s also got a brilliant theme tune – Wild Cherries Rag** (big ups to Mr Wheeler himself for answering that question for me) which actually delayed my listening to the story as I spent quite a while listening to the opening over and over, and then once informed what the tune was, listening to the whole thing. I’m a sucker for ragtime.
The first story, The Mandrake Machine, is complete, and Wheeler has promised that the second, The Flowers of Mrs Moore, will be starting soon. Having followed the series for the last few weeks, I’ve become rather fond of Valentin and Eleanora, and I’m really rather looking forward to the next instalment. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it too.
*yes, his services are only retained in the first episode after he saves her from assassins. I KNOW.
**my friend Rachel said that the title ‘sounds like a period euphemism’. Thanks for that.