So what wonderful audiobook do I have to introduce to you today?
On a cold October night, five people gather in a run-down motel on the Jersey shore and begin preparations to break into the Paragon Hotel. Built in the glory days of Asbury Park by a reclusive millionaire, the magnificent structure – which foreshadowed the beauties of art deco architecture – is now boarded up and marked for demolition. The five people are “creepers,” the slang term for urban explorers: city archeologists with a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their dying secrets. On this evening, they are joined by a reporter who wants to profile them – anonymously, as this is highly illegal activity – for a New York Times article. Frank Balenger, a sandy-haired, broad-shouldered reporter with a decided air of mystery about him, isn’t looking for just a story, however. And after the group enters the rat-infested tunnel leading to the hotel, it becomes clear that he will get much more than he bargained for. Danger, terror, and death await the creepers in a place ravaged by time and redolent of evil.
After reading the synopsis of this one, I had to give it a try. While I’m not technically brave enough to become a creeper, the idea of investigating derelict buildings is fascinating to me. You never know what you’re going to find and without giving the plot away too much, there’s nothing about the Paragon Hotel that I’d want to get mixed up in. Definitely worth the listen.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Okay so what happens to the audiobooks I can’t finish?
I return them to the library and think of how to best portray what I actually did listen to. This is going to be one of those reviews and admittedly there are a few that are going to end up like this. The reason could be something as simple as the voice of the reader just didn’t gel with me or I didn’t find the story itself particularly interesting.
One of those books is Think of a Numb3r by John Verdon. Based on the reviews, it seems to have been a great read for many. Here’s the synopsis so you can see why I was first interested in reading it…
An extraordinary fiction debut, Think of a Number is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates, forcing its deeply troubled characters to moments of startling self-revelation.
Arriving in the mail over a period of weeks are taunting letters that end with a simple declaration, “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” Amazingly, those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. For Dave Gurney, just retired as the NYPD’s top homicide investigator and forging a new life with his wife, Madeleine, in upstate New York, the letters are oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle but quickly ignite a massive serial murder investigation.
What police are confronted with is a completely baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air. Even more disturbing, the scale of his ambition seems to widen as events unfold.
Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe. Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and finally, a dark, cold fear builds that he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.
In the end, fighting to keep his bearings amid a whirlwind of menace and destruction, Gurney sees the truth of what he’s become – what we all become when guilty memories fester – and how his wife Madeleine’s clear-eyed advice may be the only answer that makes sense.
A work that defies easy labels — at once a propulsive masterpiece of suspense and an absorbing immersion in the lives of characters so real we seem to hear their heartbeats – Think of a Number is a novel you’ll not soon forget.
I really wanted to give this audiobook a chance. The synopsis sounded interesting as you can tell from this post but when I got into it, the word choices of the author seemed strained to me, almost as if he searched a thesaurus to suss out the $100 dollar words when a $5 word would have worked just as well. In the audiobook treatment this doesn’t translate well — trust me, you don’t really want to have to think about what each word means as you listen. You just want to sit back and enjoy the story as it unfolds. This will be a book I will likely read instead of listen to, but I had to give up when I found myself concentrating more on the story to be sure I didn’t miss an important word than the road around me.
Rating: DNF (yet)
So what book will I be reviewing for you today?
The Dead Hour
Paddy Meehan returns in Denise Mina’s most powerful mystery yet, nominated for a 2007 Edgar Award.
When journalist Paddy Meehan investigates a domestic dispute, the well-dressed man who answers the door assures her the blonde in the shadows behind him is fine, and slips her money before he closes the door. In fact, the woman was tortured and left to die later that night, and Paddy has only days to uncover the truth before the newspaper learns of her bribe and the police close the case for reasons of their own. Only Paddy cares enough to pursue a dark and brutal story that could make her career-or kill her, in a novel that proves why Denise Mina is “some kind of magnificent” (Wall Street Journal).
So what are my thoughts on The Dead Hour?
I picked this one up after listening to Field of Blood and enjoying it so much. I was not disappointed. It’s the second in a trilogy and I plan on picking up the last installment on audiobook once I can find it. Read by the same actress who has become the voice of Paddy ‘Patricia’ Meehan in my mind, it’s just as fantastic as the first book.
The story took off after the conclusion of Field of Blood and Paddy’s got a new position at the paper that allows her to follow and report on the crimes that occur overnight. The Dead Hour was filled with alternate moments of terror and dark humour that made it an easy listen and an engaging tale. I definitely recommend this one as well.
Rating: 5 out of 5
So in keeping with my promise to get these reviews out to the world at large, I’m back with another installment of A Review from my Commute. Today I’ll be sharing with you my thoughts on:
Field of Blood
Here’s the synopsis so that you’ve got a little context…
A sensational murder provides the young journalist Paddy Meehan with her big professional break when she realizes that she has a personal connection to one of the suspects. Launching her own investigation, Paddy uncovers lines of deception that go deep into the past – and that could spell even more horrible crimes in the future if she doesn’t get the story right.
So what are my thoughts on Field of Blood?
Delightful and devilish.
I believe that about sums it up! I’m a huge sucker for crime drama and this one delivered from a wholly different perspective. The book itself is set in Scotland and the actress who read the story was Scottish so if the idea of an accent turns you off, don’t consider listening to this one – read it instead.
The plot itself was full of twists and turns, along with characters that were interesting and multidimensional. It also gave a glimpse into the cultural landscape of Scotland in the 1970s which felt like a character in and of itself. I loved every minute of it. Oh and I just discovered that it was adapted to a television series by the BBC so I’m definitely going to search it out.
Rating: 5 out of 5