I know, I know: I’m always waxing enthusiastic over Kobna’s reading of this series, but the audio version of a story set in London, filled with a wide variety of characters, brings a whole new level of appreciation to the story. Kobna’s work on the London stage since 2003 would seem to be ideal preparation for the range of accents, voices and emotions used in the Peter Grant series. One official site lists a dizzying array of accent skills, along with fluency in English, Fanti and Ghanaian, (site: https://www.spotlight.com/interactive…) put to good use on the occasions Peter’s mum makes an appearance.
In this particular book, much of it takes place in the world of the ‘posh’ elite, giving us a chance to appreciate a range of upper-class/highly educated accents. Somehow, Kobna is able to give us the sassy tones of Bev, the clipped tone of Lady Ty controlling her temper, Nightingales’ measured and articulate speech along with the working-class, foul-mouthed drawl of Inspector Seawoll and the swarmy, entendre-laden tones of Reynard the Fox and make me believe each character. That, to me, is flipping ah-maz-ing. For comparison, one of the first audiobooks I listened to was a female reader for Stephanie Plum book, and her voicing of the males in the books felt so false, so awkward, that I was thrown out of the story every time they spoke. Not so here. The only misstep to me is the brief appearance of American Kim Reynolds. Other Americans fair better. I’d also like to remember that one dangerous moment for Peter (oh, shush; there’s many in every book) where Kobna drops his voice nearly to a whisper to read, sending chills up my spine. Just perfect.
To my delight, there’s an interview at the end between Aaronovitch, Holdbrook-Smith and one of the marketers from Gollancz that answers many wonderings. For instance, it seems Ben can’t avoid Kobna’s voice either, and sometimes when he writes he thinks of how the words will sound when read, particularly because Peter is prone to long chunks of distracted thought ‘missing a full stop.’ And, somewhat reassuringly, other listeners would agree with me that the only voice not done wonderfully is the American. Kobna’s mock-outrage at the charge is endearing.
In the interview, Ben mentions that he doesn’t have a ‘meta’ plot all worked out for the series, that his philosophy is ‘take care of the story and the meta will work itself out.’ I think that explains a great deal about the immediate and meta plotting of the books, which might prove unsatisfying for those who look for an explicitly “progressing” arc rather than episodes in the adventures of life (Note: I too wish my own meta-life would make more progress, but my approach to my own life must be something like Ben’s writing). At any rate, my take-away is that Kobna and the series are reassuringly linked. Thank the urban-fantasy audio gods. Or the river ones.