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After promoting the first book some time ago, I got my first introduction to Covey Jencks when I read this one in its physical format last year. While I don’t usually choose audio books as a format to read, I’m always looking for chances to check them out. I used them a lot while traveling back and forth in the Army, but it really doesn’t work out well for me now. With three young children at home, it’s difficult to listen to audio books without being interrupted. Completing this one took a long time despite its short length, so I’m glad that I had already read it with my eyes last year. Everything was still so familiar, making it an enjoyable experience to return to it as someone else read it to me. I’m not completely ready to incorporate more audio books into my life right now, but I’m certainly happy that I had the opportunity to do so for a little while with this book.
“‘What is it with you, Covey Jencks? Does everyone you know get murdered?'”
Though this is the second book, I never felt that I was missing anything. The author has created a richly drawn cast of characters that truly comes to life off the page. Whether you end up liking them or not, each character is so well developed that personalities and idiosyncrasies shine through. Alternating chapters give readers insight into both Covey and JayJay’s frame of minds, while adding many layers to the evolving mystery surrounding multiple murders. Offering perspectives of life within Odessa in the 1990s, a wealthy liberal arts college on the cusp of welcoming diversity is certainly at odds with much of the small-mindedness and extremism found within its rural West Texas residents. But as the author reminds us, universities are not ivory towers, and they are also ripe with negativity within their own spheres of influence. It was entertaining to see just how corrupt and damaging these forces became and definitely not something that I saw coming!
“‘Bitter almonds, Covey. Bitter almonds! It’s like a friggin’ Agatha Christie novel. Can you believe it?'”
The author’s storytelling paints a vivid tale that is both compelling and relevant, yet calls to mind the classic murder mysteries that it references. So many interesting twists shift the direction of the case and provide Covey and JayJay with the ability to use their strengths to home in on making the connections that lead them to such surprising revelations. While their passionate pursuit to solve these cases drives the story, this is very much an engaging character study focusing on a time not too far removed from our own social and political climate.
Overall, this is a tightly woven tale that packs a powerful punch and highlights just how much our past is often our future.
In terms of the audio book experience, the same narrator is used from the previous installment of the series. Despite this book being told largely from a male’s perspective, the choice of a female narrator never bothered me. I thought perhaps there would be some distinction when genders switched; however, that really didn’t happen. I don’t go into audio books with a performance in mind, but had I not read this one before, I would have had a difficult time understanding the nuances of all the dynamic characters captured within the text. There were some slight and subtle inflections, but this wasn’t enough in my opinion especially with some of the more intense and engaging scenes. The rhythm of the reading maintained a similar cadence throughout that just didn’t work when the energy picked up. Whether detailing description, being in the middle of a protest, or witnessing the murder reveal, the tone always felt the same. The sarcasm was never lost; however, I wanted more emotion to express the more spirited and singular moments featured in the text.
The sound quality is great. I listened at 1.25 speed because anything lower seemed a bit too slow, while anything higher came across as too frenetic. I would like to see file naming conventions match the actual chapter titles in order to make linking up much easier if you to pick up the book to read on your own,but that’s completely a personal preference given my situation and is most likely not an issue for readers who are audio book aficionados.
From my review of the print edition, I noted that though I am not one who is overly bothered by editing and formatting issues, I would be remiss to not mention that the print edition failed to provide distinction to a few chapter headings as the novel came to completion. Even the table of contents provided at the beginning makes these same mistakes. While I can look past this even within a final copy, this will definitely be a problem for other readers, which I can appreciate and understand. The audio book eliminates this issue completely, as the narrator states each chapter heading and title. You can’t go wrong with either, so choose what works best for your reading pleasure and pick one up today!
Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for providing me with a free copy of both the physical book and the audio book. This is my honest and thoughtful review.