The Prodigal Son by Colleen McCullough

McCulloughProdigalSonWhy I Read It: I read The Thorn Birds years ago and was impressed with it. It was time to revisit this author.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: This was a great, twisted multiple murder mystery which I think mystery and suspense fans would enjoy.

Narrator: Charles Leggett

Publisher: AudioGo (2012)

Length: 10 CDs

Series: Book 4 Carmine Delmonico

Set in 1969 Holloman, Connecticut, this murder mystery puts Captain Carmine Delmonico on a quest to solve a multiple murder case, featuring plenty of prime suspects. Dr. Millie Hunter and her husband Dr. Jim Hunter are both biochemists; Jim is a star scientist and soon to publish what is commonly believed will be a best seller while his wife is a highly competent lab technician and scientist in her own right. In the course of her neuroscience research, Millie had extracted a deadly toxin, tetrodotoxin, from blowfish, which was mysteriously stolen, and then put to nefarious deeds.

While this is Book 4 in the series, it stands on it’s own quite well. Indeed, I have not read the other books in this series and had no problems at all jumping right into this book. Colleen McCullough managed to intrigue me right away with several points: the class differences between the Hunters and the Tunbulls; Millie and Jim are a long-term white and black couple; there’s a very nasty neurotoxin on the loose! In 1969, there were not that many mixed-race couples, nor too many female scientists. Both points come to bear in the tale and McCullough uses them realistically. Also, Max Tunbull married a Russian woman, Davina, some many years younger than himself, and her mixed heritage comes to play an interesting, yet important, side note in this mystery.

Carmine Delmonico and his crew of investigators are an interesting lot. Carmine himself is very level-headed and often puts Delia, a British woman with one of the oddest dress-sense I have ever seen, on the case. Indeed, because she is a woman, she sometimes has access to certain information that a male investigator would not. Carmine’s wife, Desdemona, is also a source of wisdom and comfort in this murder mystery. How I would love to be invited to Desdemona’s table for dinner!

Throw in a long-lost son, a cruel-tongued cousin, Davina’s maid Uda (spelling?) who may be more than she seems, a New York gangster, and Chubb University Head Scholar and you have a twisty, elegant, and very human mystery on your hands. This book was riveting to listen to, not because of the body count, but because McCullough captures the human nature so well in her motivations.

The narrator, Charles Leggett, was quite excellent. I enjoyed his accents (Russian, British, and New York gangster). His range of voices for ladies and gents was also quite good, giving Millie a distinct voice.

readandreviewbuttonWhat I Liked: Conflict every where!; there were plenty of twists and turns and motivations for killing someone; the gruesome portrayal of death by neurotoxin; Desdemona’s cooking; there were things I hated about Davina and things that I greatly admired about her; watching Delmonico and crew do their magic in catching the killer.

What I Disliked: The ending was a little predictable.

This is part of the weekly Read & Review Hop hosted by Anya over at On Starhips and Dragonwings. Make sure to stop by her blog to read other great reviews.

8 thoughts on “The Prodigal Son by Colleen McCullough”

    1. Even tho I haven’t read McCullough in like 15 years, this recent book of hers shows the same level of detail and plot as The Thorn Birds. I love it when getting reacquainted with an author goes so well.

    1. Audiobook Jukebox has been great. I’ve discovered several new & great authors through them. It was great to get reacquainted with Colleen McCullough’s works through The Prodigal Son.

  1. Interesting review. I have read [Thorn Birds] and think McCullogh is a great writer. Though I DO prefer starting from the beginning of a series, even when books stand well alone. 🙂

    1. Same here – I almost always start a series from the beginning, but every once in a while enthusiasm and a lack of checking before I start, I end up starting a series in the middle. tsk, tsk. The Prodigal Son was quite good, and definitely has me motivated to go back and read the first 3.

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