Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Audiobook Review: The End of Vandalism

The End of Vandalism
Author: Tom Drury
Introduction: Paul Winter
Narrator: Lloyd James
Unabridged, Length 10.5 hrs
Publisher: AudioGo  9/1/13


Publisher's Summary:
Welcome to Grouse County, a fictional Midwest that is at once familiar and amusingly eccentric, where a thief vacuums the church before stealing the chalice, a lonely woman paints her toenails in a drafty farmhouse, and a sleepless man watches his restless bride scatter their bills beneath the stars. At the heart of The End of Vandalism is an unforgettable love triangle set off by a crime: Sheriff Dan Norman arrests Tiny Darling for vandalizing an anti-vandalism dance and then marries the culprit's ex-wife Louise. 

My Thoughts:
When I began listening to Paul Winter's introduction to The End of Vandalism I was impatient and didn't really pay attention.  He was talking about an author I wasn't familiar with and I wanted to get on to the story.  Except, there really wasn't a story.  The characters were engaging (there was around 60) and their details were interesting, but there was no plot.  No clues to pick up on, no exciting action to move it along.  Yet it was one of the best books I've listened to in a long time.  When it ended, I was ready to hear what Paul Winter had to say so I listened to the introduction again.  He described it as "an intelligent and kindhearted examination of a group of economically adrift characters in the modern American Middle West. And it's fucking funny."   He was right. When I heard Mary's description of how her friend Hans Cook took LSD because it made his neck feel better, you could probably hear me laughing in the next county.  I replayed it and laughed again until I had tears in my eyes.   Suddenly I didn't care it lacked plot, clues or exciting action.  I was listening to people such as I've known in my life except they weren't from the south, and well, maybe they were more eccentric. And definitely funnier.  It was like a delightful river of conversations and scenes flowing along with no apparent destination and I never knew where it would take me.  Lloyd James has a wonderful way of carrying you through the river of narrative.  His performance of all the voices was perfect, especially the women and Mary in particular.  I am sure The End of Vandalism is wonderful in print but with Lloyd James, it was absolutely fantastic. 

This was my first experience with Tom Drury's work. I loved it and I'm looking forward to more. I'm also adding Lloyd James to my list of favorite narrators.  I give The End of Vandalism 5 stars and highly recommend it.

Review copy provided by AudioGo. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Audiobook Review: Easy Innocence

 Easy Innocence
Author: Libby Fischer Hellman
Narrator: Beth Richmond
Unabridged, Length: 10 hrs 59 mins
Publisher: Books in Motion 8-7-09


Publisher's Summary
Removed from the gritty streets of Chicago, the residents of the North Shore sleep easily in their million-dollar homes. Easily, that is, until a local girl is discovered bludgeoned to death in the woods. Quick to blame the man with the bat, the North Shore returns to its version of normalcy. But the accused's sister isn't so willing to forget and hires Georgia Davis - former cop and newly-minted PI - to look into the incident.
What Georgia finds hints at a much different, darker answer. It seems that some privileged, preppy schoolgirls on Chicago's North Shore have learned just how much their innocence is worth to hot-under-the-collar businessmen. And while these girls can now pay for Prada, iPhones, and Jimmy Choos with their earnings, they don't realize that their new business venture may end up costing them more than they can afford.
©2008 Libby Fischer Hellmann; (P)2009 Books In Motion   

My Thoughts: 
This was my first experience with Libby Fischer Hellman's work and is the second book in her Georgia Davis series.  There is enough references to the first book in the series to make me want to go back and start the series from the beginning.  I found the story hard to get into at first but did enjoy getting to know Georgia Davis. She's smart and strong but also vulnerable.  She's a former cop who was kicked out of the force and is now earning her living as a private investigator.  Tired of routine cases such as skip traces and cheating spouses, she jumps at the chance to investigate the murder of a school girl in order to prove the innocence of the mentally challenged man accused of the crime.  Soon she is caught up in a world of rich, spoiled teenagers involved in prostitution and the adults who exploit them.  

This was also my first experience with narrator Beth Richmond.  During the first half of the book, her voice and style just didn't work for me.  I don't know if it was because I became accustomed to her voice or she improved that much for the last half, but I ended up enjoying her performance very much and realizing she was perfect for this book. 

It wasn't an "I couldn't put it down" listen but it did have plenty of plot twists and red herrings to keep me interested and the solution was a complete surprise.   I give it 3.5 stars.

Review copy provided by Fischer Hellman Communications.