What A Difference A Voice Makes
Before I get going, I need to say how much I’ve enjoyed the comment section of my last post. There were quite a few groans and I almost spurted tea on my keyboard more than once - absolutely made my day(s)!
And now to something completely different...
There's a handful of authors who I'll read even if they've just published their grocery list and Jeffery Deaver is one of them. The first time I read The Bone Collector, it blew me away. Not only is it wonderfully geeky with all the forensics, but Lincoln Rhyme, the hero of the story, is a wheelchair user and the second hero of the story, his partner in solving crime (and eventually romance, as well) Amelia Sachs, has rheumatoid arthritis. And they catch bad guys using forensics, knowledge and vast brainpower. What's not to love? So every time Deaver comes out with a new book, I'm first in line to get it. And when I discovered Audible, he was naturally on my short list.
There I was, The Twelfth Card metaphorically in my hands (okay, on my iPod), so excited to dive into a new Rhyme novel and I clicked play and… well, that's not very good, but maybe I'll get used to it. I'll keep reading and besides, it's more about the story than the narrator, isn't it and I kept telling myself that, but it wasn't working. Because that's what was wrong with it. The narrator was Dennis Boutsikaris and he read that book as if he was reciting a phone book reading phonetically in a different language - wooden, dry and with no inflection at all and it was so awful that I renamed the man Dennis Butcherkaris. Yes, I know that's not nice, but neither was his narration.
Luckily, The Cold Moon - the next in the series – switched narrators and Joe Mantegna was much better. Still a bit dry, but even when I read the books myself, I occasionally found them a bit dry - the words didn't exactly sing like some other novels can do, but it was okay. It's a procedural, I don't expect the world from it, just entertain me with twists and turns and forensics. It certainly delivered that and Mantegna’s narration was if not five star, then a major improvement.
Last year, when The Broken Window came out, I rushed to see the description of it at Audible and was crushed to discover that they had returned to Mr. Butcherkaris. My previous encounter with his reading was so bad that that I didn't get the book. This is fairly monumental - it takes a lot for me to not get a book by an author I love, but with this guy, there is no focusing on the words, letting the narration be merely a delivery system. I've gone back several times, trying to persuade myself that I can handle it, but in the end, not being able to. And then, a week ago or so when the second book in the spin-off Kathryn Dance series by Deaver came out and I was looking at it on the list of books by him on Audible, I discovered that there was a second version of The Broken Window. Read by George Guidall, who I thoroughly enjoy. So I got it and an entirely new world has opened up to me.
Guidall reads so skillfully, with such mastery of storytelling that the novel comes alive. Not only is this better than Mantegna, light years better than He Who Shall Not Be Named., but it is better than reading it myself. Guidall makes this sing and I didn't think Deaver could sing, but in a perfect matchup between story and narrator, this book has me hooked to the point that I can't wait to read more. I normally have a couple times during the day set aside to read - after lunch and before bedtime - and normally, I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing the activities of the day that I don't long to read at times where I should be e.g., working. But now I am. I get up in the morning and want to read at breakfast. W hile working, I get distracted for a minute and immediately want to pick up the book and the entire day goes like that, with me fighting down the urge to pick up the book again and I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be that captured by a story again and I'm only about three hours into a 14-hour book. The temptation to take a week off and do nothing but read is overwhelming and the reason I actually say that out loud is so I won't.
There are a handful of narrators who I'd pay to listen to, even if they just read the phonebook and George Guidall is one of them.