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  • gilwilson 3:16 PM on October 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alex grecian murder squad, , , , , , scotland yard, toby leonard moore   

    Audiobook Review: “The Black Country” By Alex Grecian 


    Audiobook Review: “The Black Country”

    By Alex Grecian

    Read by  Toby Leonard Moore

    Published by Penguin Audio

    Approx 10 hours


    Once in a while you just have to dive into a book regardless of whether you know the author or the subject matter.  That Is precisely what I did with this book.  I was not aware of the author and the subject matter is somewhat up my alley, but not in this format.  The story revolves around a missing family and possibly a murder.  The thing that makes this story different from what I would have normally listened to or read is that it is set in nineteenth-century rural England.


    Take a little Dickens, mix well with some Dean Koontz and sprinkle in some John Sandford and you have this tale of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad investigating the disappearance and most likely death of a coal-mining town family.   The town’s constable calls for help from Scotland Yard and receive that assistance in the form of Inspector Walter Day and Sargeant Nevil Hammersmith.  Day and Hammersmith soon find out that the town is full of secrets and superstitions and the townspeople may not want their secrets uncovered.


    Upon arrival in the town Day and Hammersmith learn that the town’s constable has been the only person in town concerned with finding the father, stepmother and son missing.  He has searched some of the mines and the outlying woods on his own but to no avail.  Hammersmith and Day wish to search the woods after they get settled into their rooms at the inn.  They are poisoned or rather drugged to keep them from going back out and from that moment they find the mystery goes deep.


    Due to the mining under the town many houses, in fact nearly the entire town is sinking into the Earth.  The citizens are all falling ill to a mysterious disease and Hammersmith and Day bring in Dr. Bernard Kingsly to at first perform his forensics expertise on a mysterious eyball, but soon the doctor is treating the town’s dying people.  Finally a mysterious man in the woods with the skin stripped away from his jaw is seen by one of the inspectors.  Mystery upon mystery adds up to a book that will keep you enthralled until the exciting and action-packed end.


    The book’s reader, Toby Leonard Moore, does an excellent job at keeping up the mystery by creating an aura of horror and excitement with his delivery.  He is able to bring the characters to life with subtle voice changes.  Most of the accents are nineteenth century British rural folk but throw in an escaped American Prisoner of war from the Southern U.S. and Moore has to manage another accent to throw in, which he does well.


    This book just oozes horror and mystery from beginning to end.



  • gilwilson 8:03 PM on October 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: allen orloff, audiobook. audiobook review, bob dunsworth, first time killer, independent, , , radio broadcasting, zak allen   

    Audiobook Review: “First Time Killer” By Allen Orloff writing as Zak Allen 

    I use Grammarly’s free plagiarism checker because I need to make sure all my genius is original.




    Audiobook Review: “First Time Killer”

    By Allen Orloff writing as Zak Allen

    Read by Bob Dunsworth

    Published by Allen Orloff

    Approx. 10 hours.



    This audiobook was a bittersweet experience for me.  From beginning to the very last word, every aspect of this book was bittersweet.  Throughout this review I will point out the bitter and the sweet aspects.  I can’t say which side won out, but I will say that the writing and narration kept me going but some of the details and facts made me want to put the book down.  I just couldn’t put it down though, the author kept me guessing and wanting to know how it all would end, so maybe the sweet won out.


    Before I go too much further I have to give a little bit of a background on myself due to the subject matter of this book and some explanations of the bitter aspects of the book.  I have been working in radio broadcasting for 25+ years.  The subject of this book is of a serial killer that uses a radio station (more specifically, an afternoon programming block) to boast on his kills and to taunt the police.  When I first became aware of the book, I so badly wanted it to be an awesome book.  It would be so awesome to have a book about my profession to be a bestseller.  Combine that expectation and some of the details that are technically incorrect and I just couldn’t recommend the book to any of my radio colleagues.


    So, my background puts up some barriers on the book, but the writing and the narration were strong enough for me to recommend to anyone not in radio.  All in all it is a great mystery novel that will keep you guessing until the very end.  In fact, the twist at the end still has me saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.”


    The book’s reader, Bob Dunsworth, does an excellent job in the delivery of this audiobook.  He is able to not only deliver the book in a style that keeps the mystery flowing but is also able to make his voice twist around and capture the vocal characteristics of the characters.  The one thing I loved was that he was able to capture the veteran radio man’s voice so perfectly that I could place a face, in my mind, to the character.  Actually he reminded me of several radio news guys I’ve worked with.  Definitely high accolades go out to Bob Dunsworth on his work in this book.


    “First Time Killer” in a nutshell, is the story of an afternoon block of shock-jocks trying to recover from the death of a former host and seeking out the all-important ratings in order to transfer their programming block to satellite broadcasting.   This could mean a huge payday for “Ringmaster” Rick Jennings and the rest of the “Afternoon Circus.”  The problem is that the former host “The Rhino” overdosed and was found dead just as the ratings were rising.  The loss of the host could mean falling ratings, the stations Program Director, Sylvia, will do just about anything to keep the ratings rising and make the deal with satellite go through.


    One afternoon Rick gets a call from a “long time listener,” who tells Rick and his audience on live radio where to find a body part of his first victim.  This caller is soon dubbed “First Time Killer.”  Rick sends out an intern to the location revealed and finds a human arm in a trash can.  Thus the mystery begins and “First Time” calls in with further information on other victims.  When the victims are discovered to be employees and former employees of the radio station, Rick fears for his friends and family, and must battle his PD who wants to give “First Time” the airtime to boost ratings, where Rick just wants the madman caught.


    The twists and turns in the story will keep you curious and wanting to know who the killer really is.  Just when you think you’ve figured it out, keep listening because it only gets better.  The biggest part that made for the bitter aspect of the story lived mainly within the premise of the program director getting daily ratings.  Radio ratings are measured quarterly.  With the program director coming in every day telling the jocks that the ratings are jumping due to “First Time” calling in.  I could understand once or twice but the book’s premise seemed to rely on the daily ratings coming in.  This really threw me off the track a few times, but once again I was lured by the sweetness of the mystery of who is doing the killing.


    Another aspect that pretty much irked me was the idea that a radio person would seek to jump from terrestrial unlimited audience broadcast market to a satellite limited audience broadcast market.  I know the “King of all Media” Howard Stern made this move, but that was due to the limitations of decency on public airwaves and not for a larger audience.


    So aside from the author not understanding some aspects of the radio-broadcasting world, the story was good and the mystery better.  The characters were believable to some extent, but I believe this was mainly due to the excellent delivery of this audiobook’s reader.

  • gilwilson 3:45 PM on October 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: augustus gloop, , charlie bucket, , , douglas hodge, gene wilder, , mike teavee, , , veruca salt, violet beauregarde, ,   

    Audiobook Review: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” By Roald Dahl 


    Audiobook Review: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

    By Roald Dahl

    Read by Douglas Hodge

    Published 2013 by Penguin Audio

    Approx. 3.5 hours


    I think it is pretty safe to say that we have all seen the movie based on this book.  Whether it was the 70s movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, or the recent “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, this book launched two movies that have become hits.  The Gene Wilder version was a box office flop but has become a cult favorite and pictures of the Wilder Wonka as a recent internet meme.  The Johnny Depp version was a box office hit.   As a side note, the Johnny Depp version is the one that stayed closest to the book’s plot and actions.


    No matter which version you prefer, you should make sure and read the book for yourself and to your kids.  This book is just plain fun and with just as much non-sensical moments as Lewis Carroll’s adventures with Alice through Wonderland books.  Roald Dahl had such a great way of playing with words and sounds and they come out even more so in this audiobook production.


    The narrator, Douglas Hodge, recently portrayed Willy Wonka in the stage musical at the West End’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in England.  His narration of this book is pure magic.  The words, story and characters all gently roll into the ears and through the brainspace creating a magical audiobook adventure.  His vocal characterizations of all the fun people in the story are spot on and his portrayal of Willy Wonka will have you laughing out loud and even cheering out loud.


    The gist of this story is that Willy Wonka has not allowed anyone in or out of his chocolate factory in years.  When it is time to find someone to replace him he devises a contest to find the most imaginative child to take over running the factory.  The contest first involves five golden tickets distributed with his candy and the five lucky winners get a tour of the factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate.


    The five winners consist of: Augustus Gloop, a fat boy whose hobby is eating, Veruca Salt, a spoiled rotten brat, Violet Beauregard, a dim-witted gum-chewer who talks more than she listens, Mike Teavee, a boy obsessed with television and Charlie Bucket, the hero of the story and who seems to be the world’s only honest, kind and brave child.


    The children are each swept away due to their own short-comings and the adventures along the way are narrated with musical numbers from the Oompah Loompahs, the true labor force in the chocolate factory.


    Sit back and enjoy this great audiobook with great narration and even a few fun sound effects to keep the fun rolling.



  • gilwilson 3:46 PM on October 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dirty politics, , , , , , , , richard ferrone, silken prey   

    Audiobook Review: “Silken Prey” By John Sandford 


    Audiobook Review: “Silken Prey”

    By John Sandford

    Ready by Richard Ferrone

    Published by Penguin Audio

    Approx. 12.5 hours


    Once again John Sandford intrigued me through a 12.5 hour mystery.  I was eager to hear what happened next all the way to the very last word.  This book is another Lucas Davenport mystery filled with murders, lies, politics and shady characters.


    One thing I have noticed when listening to the Lucas Davenport novels is that every character has such depth and realism written into the character that no matter how extreme the circumstances their reactions make the situation real and surrounds the listener/reader in the story.  This realism makes the listener/reader unable to stop the story until the very end.


    The reader, Richard Ferrone, has a vocal delivery that is able to interpret the words of Sandford and make the story come alive.  While he doesn’t perform major vocal gymnastics to give each character a different voice, the listener has no problem differentiating each character’s voice and actions.  Ferrone’s voice perfectly matches what would be expected to be the voice of Lucas Davenport.  Mark Harmon should take heed.


    The book opens with a Minnesota political fixer answering his doorbell. The next thing he knows, he’s waking up on the floor of a moving car, lying on a plastic sheet, his body wet with blood. When the car stops, a voice says, “Hey, I think he’s breathing,” and another voice says, “Yeah? Give me the bat.” And that’s the last thing he knows.


    The main story then opens with the Minnesota Governor (a Democrat) calling Lucas Davenport and requesting he investigate what is an obvious smear campaign of  Republican Senator, Porter Smalls.  The Governor fears that this smear could completely rock the Minnesota political scene.  Smalls computer was discovered to have kiddie porn by one of his aides, but the means of discovery seems just too easy.


    During the investigation a missing political fixer’s name keeps coming up and the finger seems to not only point at him but also at the Democratic Senatorial candidate Taryn Grant.  Grant, is a super wealthy heiress who seems to let nothing stand in between her and the Senate seat.


    As Davenport uncovers others involved they end up dead and Davenport has to solve this politically tied murder and setup before any more people die.


    A thriller to the very end and with action that will put the listener/reader on the edge of their seat, this John Sandford novel is perfect for any mystery lover.

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