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

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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.