Category Archives: Audiobook Reviews
I wish to thank the folks at Partners in Crime Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour and I especially wish to thank Stacy Verdick Case for allowing me to not only review the audio version of this book, but also to host a special Guest Post by her tomorrow (April 29) here on the blog! Purrs and tail waves to all of you as the felines would say.
Publisher: Before the Fall Books
Audible.com Release Date: February 5, 2012
Written by Stacy Verdick Case
Narrated by Justine Huxley
Book Synopsis: A Grand Murder is the first book in the Catherine O’Brien mystery series. When a prominent local businessman and friend of the chief of police is murdered on the front steps of his posh Grand Avenue Hill home, Catherine O’Brien a pithy, vertically challenged, St. Paul, Minnesota, homicide detective with a monstrous coffee habit and her partner Louise are given two days to find his killer. They soon discover their victim had a list of people with motives to murder him, including his fashion designer ex-wife, his mistress’s husband, and the chief of police. The only evidence they have to go on is a missing cell phone, a stolen book, the victim’s letter opener, and an ugly pair of Alpaca wool mittens.
When Stacy asked me to review the audio edition of this book for her virtual book tour I will admit to a bit of hesitancy on accepting the task, mostly because it is really easy for me to zone out while listening to an audiobook. However, upon starting the book, I found myself getting wrapped up in both the storyline and the reader herself. Justine Huxley does a fantastic job of grabbing the listener’s attention, giving each character their own tone in the reading, and is the perfect complement to Stacy’s writing!
I loved the sound of Justine’s voice as she was reading. She gave each character a different voice, whether it was through tone, accent, or pitch, and as a result, there was no mistaking who was speaking during each scene. I particularly loved the voices she used for O’Brien and Mel. These two characters were my favorites out of the mix. Though I will admit to having a soft spot for Gavin and Louise as well. Justine brought Stacy’s characters to life for me in a way that I never could if I was reading the book on my own.
I also really enjoyed Justine’s ability to convey the humor and sarcasm within the story. I’ve always felt that it takes a skilled reader to successfully convey humor in a novel and for me Justine is perfect. There were several moments where I had to go back and replay bits of the audio because I could not stop laughing.
As far as pacing goes, again, Justine does a great job. As I said, I got caught up in the story and could not stop listening. There were times where I found myself muttering under my breath at various characters, and yes, at one point I strung a litany of “Put it together O’Brian” towards the end as she started to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Normally I don’t do this while listening to an audiobook, so the fact that I was talking back to my mp3 playing is a testament to Justine’s skills.
I sincerely hope that when the next O’Brien mystery hits shelves, the folks at Before the Falls Books consider having Justine read for the audio again! There’s no question that I would buy it once it was available. 🐱
About the Author:
Stacy Verdick Case was born in Willmar, Minnesota. After a brief stint as a military brat, where she lived in Fort Sill Oklahoma and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, her family moved back to Minnesota.
Stacy currently lives in a suburb of St. Paul with her husband and her daughter. Her Catherine O’Brien mystery, A Grand Murder, is available from Before the Fall Books. Her second Catherine O’Brien mystery Murder is a Family Affair, will be released shortly. Stacy is hard at work on her third book in the series.
This review is a bit different from the ones usually done here on What the Cat Read. Instead of focusing on the actual storyline of Phantom Universe by Laura Kreitzer, I’ll be sharing my thoughts regarding the audio reading of the story instead. If you are interested in an actual review of the story, never fear, I will be posting that sometime tomorrow. Murr!
Karen Savage has a beautiful voice that is both soft and lilting in style. Because of this, while I admit that I enjoyed listening to her, there were several moments where I found myself either adjusting the volume in order to hear her better or nodding off at times. I would not recommend listening to this while driving long distance or in any areas where there is a lot of extraneous background noise. Her voice is very pleasing to the ears, but not that lends itself to audio readings.
As far as character presentation goes, there wasn’t that much distinction between them. Her reading of Jayden and Landon were by far the most unique and consistent of all the characters involved and she did a fair job when it came to providing various accents (Southern, American, etc). But, for the most part, the longer I listened the more everyone blended together and began to sound the same. There were times where I felt that Savage rushed through the reading, which reinforced the blending of unique character voices into one voice and the natural pauses that people take when talking were not consistently there in her reading thus resulting in the dialogue often curtailing into the narrative.
Overall I felt her reading was relatively flat with little to no intensity of emotion. In fact, I had gotten so use to Savage’s reading style that when she got to Summer’s nightmare, I actually jumped in surprise at the change in quality of the reading. Now perhaps some of that had to do with the rapid shift from third person to first person narrative, but some of it was the result of the reading itself. Savage did a great job of conveying the fear that comes with having a nightmare. It was by far one of the few standout moments in the entire reading.
So when all is said and done, while I admitted to liking the sound of Savage’s voice, I would definitely hesitate in buying an audiobook read by her in the future.