Review of Cool for Cats by Andrew Ordover

January 3, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Cool for Cats by Andrew OrdoverCool for Cats
By Andrew Ordover; Read by Andrew Ordover
7 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Andrew Ordover
Published: 2012
Themes: / Mystery / Private Eye / Jazz /

And I didn’t want to rely on Internet archives. First of all, our local paper is crap, and it keeps crap archives online. But more importantly, when they do archive stories, they do what everyone else does–they reformat them into a computer-friendly layout. Well, I didn’t want that. I wanted to see the paper, the way the paper looked back then. I wanted the articles, sure, but I also wanted the short items, the calendar listings, the classified ads–the whole newsprint enchilada. As a professional snoop, I’ve found that not everything of importance comes with a byline, or over the fold.

Jordan Greenblatt is a small-time detective. He drifted into detective work the way he drifted into playing bass with a local jazz combo. He does both ok, but he’s never going to hit the bigtime with an attitude like that. And that’s ok with Jordan. He doesn’t mind being a supporting player.

Until his phone rings with a request to look into an old hit-and-run case … and Jordan realizes that he knows the victim. He had a big crush on Giselle Palmer and never even knew she was also in Atlanta. So he takes the case, even though it is completely unlike his usual work trailing cheating husbands. What Jordan uncovers is not only a murder but the key to his own future.

I liked this book a lot. Andrew Ordover gives readers a slacker detective who just needed the right motivation to stand up and move in a new direction. We follow Jordan as he figures out how to look at more than one clue, how to think like a real detective, and how to put together the puzzle pieces of an important case that is getting attention from the authorities.

This is Ordover’s first book but it only shows in the lack of layers (for want of a better term). Part of the lack of complexity is due to Jordan’s slacker personality, part may be because until Jordan deals with his own past he can’t move forward. Also, I wished for more depth from Jordan’s wife, Susannah. She objects when threats arise after Jordan’s digging gets him close to the heart of the mystery. However, those objections do not seem fierce enough and she forgives extremely easily. Or perhaps that is how Susannah is wired. I never felt that I got enough about her to know one way or the other. However, that is a small point overall.

Originally I read Cool for Cats in paperback. However, Ordover has now released the audiobook on his website, which he reads himself, and it works spectacularly. As in the best cases, where the author knows the character inside and out, he brings Jordan to life in a way I didn’t experience when simply reading to myself. Because of this, I genuinely understood Jordan’s growth both as a detective and as a human being on a deeper level. At $5.00 for the entire book, it is a steal.

Another nice little riff is the connection with a playlist, if you like, of albums referenced in the book, via a widget in Ordover’s website sidebar. Jazz is integral to Jordan’s character and is referenced frequently. If you’re a jazz fan, the playlist idea is a great one for hearing the music that’s playing in his head.

Quibbles aside, Cool for Cats is a solid, entertaining mystery from this new author. It is one that left me hoping there would be a sequel.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Andrew Ordover narrated the first chapter for me over at Forgotten Classics. Go listen for free.

(Full disclosure – I am email pals with Ordover’s wife Heather who is the podcaster at CraftLit … and who provided me with a review copy. I’d have liked it anyway.)

Posted by Julie D.

New Releases: iambik audio

July 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, New Releases 

Aural Noir: New Releases

Iambik AudiobooksHere’s the latest crime collection from iambik audio. And while imabik offers excellent DRM free versions of their titles on their easy to use website you may also be interested to know that more than thirty titles are now available through Audible.com too.

The pick of the bunch, just going by the descriptions, appears to be The Vaults by Toby Ball. And based on the reviews of the print edition, which came out last September, it seems this debut novel is rather well regarded!

iambik audio - Hard Cold Whisper by Michael HemmingsonHard Cold Whisper
By Michael Hemmingson; Read by Adam Verner
MP3 Download – Approx. 2 Hours 56 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
David Kellgren is a process server, a job where everyone wants to kill the messenger and things can get a little bit dangerous and out of hand. David is attacked when trying to serve legal papers to a gang member and an angel comes to his rescue: nineteen-year-old Gabriella Amaya, trapped in a large dilapidated house, caring for her dying aunt. This elderly aunt has money, diamonds, and real estate, promised to Gabriella when the aunt dies. Is there any way the sultry caregiver can get her crafty hands on that wealth sooner? And share it with her new lover, the unsuspecting process server who starts to wonder if he’s become a patsy in an elaborate murder plot, or if he simply cannot allow himself to truest any woman who says, “I love you.” Set in San Diego, Chula Vista, and Tijuana, Hard Cold Whisper is Michael Hemmingson at his finest, most terse and torqued prose in the crime genre. — Hemmingson wrote Hard Cold Whisper as an experiment during the 2010 3 Day Novel Challenge during Labor Day Weekend, a concerted event where writers all over the world participate. The method here pays homage to hardboiled noir master Gil Brewer, who wrote many of his finest Fawcett Gold Medal titles in a possessed, white hot flash fury of several days or a week. Hard Cold Whisper is Hemmingson’s nod to the feel and atmosphere of the Gold Medal paperback.

iambik audio - Listen To The Dead by Randall PefferListen To The Dead
By Randall Peffer; Read by Art Carlson
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
Inspired by one of the largest unsolved cases of serial killings in the United States, the New Bedford Serial Killings of 1988. Harbormaster Corby Church finds the bones of a human body on Bird Island off Cape Cod. As brassy, young police detective Yemanjá Colón struggles with the case, she realizes that Church may know more than he’s letting on, and a trip he took to the Bahamas in the ’80s may prove the key.

iambik audio - Richmond Noir by variousRichmond Noir
Edited by Andrew Blossom, Brian Castleberry and Tom De Haven; Read by Charles Bice
MP3 or M4B – Approx. 7 Hours 51 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
Collection edited by Andrew Blossom, Brian Castleberry and Tom De Haven. “In The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller tosses off a hard-bitten assessment of the City on the James: ‘I would rather die in Richmond somehow,’ he writes, ‘though God knows Richmond has little enough to offer.’ As editors, we like the dying part, and might point out that in its long history, Richmond, Virginia has offered up many of the disparate elements crucial to meaty noir. The city was born amid deception, conspiracy, and violence…

imabik audio - The Painted Messiah by Craig SmithThe Painted Messiah
By Craig Smith; Read by Clive Catterall
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 54 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
The Painted Messiah combines a blistering action thriller set in the streets of Zurich and on the lakes and wooded slopes of Switzerland with a compulsive and convincing account of first century Romano-Judaean politics and the real reason for Pontius Pilate’s condemnation and execution of Christ. A legend persists that, after the ‘scourging’, Pilate commanded that his victim be painted from life. Somewhere, the painting survives, the only true image of Christ, granting the gift of everlasting life to whoever possesses it. Kate Kenyon, the wealthy young widow of an English aristocrat killed on a Swiss mountain, has an addiction to mortal risk. She feeds it by engaging in the armed robbery of priceless artefacts with her accomplice and lover Ethan Brand, a Tennessean who owns a bookshop in Zurich. Their latest target is a priceless ‘Byzantine’ icon hidden in the tower of a chateau by Lake Lucerne. So far they have never had to shoot anyone. This time will be different.

iambik audio - Thought You Were Dead by Terry GriggsThought You Were Dead
By Terry Griggs; Read by Gregg Margarite
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 7 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
Meet the Perfect Man… no, no he’s not the hero of Thought You Were Dead. That would be Chellis Beith, literary researcher, slacker, reluctant detective, and a man bedeviled by every woman in his life. There’s his lost love, Elaine Champion, a now happily married inventor who uses him for market research, his best friend’s dotty ex-wife, Moe, his two vanished mothers, and his menacing boss, Athena Havlock, a celebrated writer who herself becomes embroiled in the dark side of fiction. The humour is wild, the language a thrill, the mystery within marvelously deft and daft. And as for the Perfect Man… well, nothing is as it seems. Is it? Thought You Were Dead is the most unconventional of all murder mysteries, turning the genre completely on its head, by bludgeoning flat language and Puritanical sensibilities with evident glee. This is further evidence that Terry Griggs is sui generis: an original and completely inimitable literary voice, with an eye for the cinematic.

iambik audio - The Vaults by Toby BallThe Vaults
By Toby Ball; Read by Michael Agostini
MP3 or M4B Download – Approx. 9 Hours 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: iambik audio
Published: July 15, 2011
Sample |MP3|
In a dystopian 1930s America, a chilling series of events leads three men down a path to uncover their city’s darkest secret. At the height of the most corrupt administration in the City’s history, a mysterious duplicate file is discovered deep within the Vaults—a cavernous hall containing all of the municipal criminal justice records of the last seventy years. From here, the story follows: Arthur Puskis, the Vault’s sole, hermit-like archivist with an almost mystical faith in a system to which he has devoted his life; Frank Frings, a high-profile investigative journalist with a self-medicating reefer habit; and Ethan Poole, a socialist private eye with a penchant for blackmail. All three men will undertake their own investigations into the dark past and uncertain future of the City—calling into question whether their most basic beliefs can be maintained in a climate of overwhelming corruption and conspiracy.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Anne Manx and the Empress Blair Project

July 6, 2009 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Anne Manx and the Empress Blair Project - RRCAAnne Manx and the Empress Blair Project
Starring Claudia Christian, Ellen Muth, and Robin Atkin Downes
2 CDs – 2 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: RRCA (Radio Repertory Company of America)
Published: 2009
ISBN: 0977134210
Themes: / Science Fiction / Humor / Private Eye / Government / War /

Before she meets the Empress Blair, Anne Manx (Claudia Christian) wants nothing more than to spend her quiet vacation getting a tan. Empress Blair (Ellen Muth), though, has a compelling problem. Her father has been killed, and she fears she’s next. If Anne Manx can keep the Empress alive for a mere two months, she’ll reach her eighteenth birthday and take over for her father. Complicating things is Mr. Logan (Robin Atkin Downes), who shows up just in time – but whose side is he on? Nothing is ever easy for Anne Manx, and she’s rapidly running out of lives.
|MP3 SAMPLE|

This is the fifth installment of the Anne Manx audio drama series from Angelo Panetta and the good folks over at The Radio Repertory Company of America. Anne Manx is a superhero of sorts in this series, which can best be described as a comic book for audio. What’s special about Anne Manx? She doesn’t stay dead, but the number of her lives are limited. She’s got a job that requires those lives, too – she’s a planet-hopping private eye, and each episode presents new problems. In Anne Manx and the Empress Blair Project we find her on vacation at the Caraboo Islands, but the Empress Blair (of the planet Eranix), who’s sure she is a target for murder, interrupts Anne’s holiday. It takes a little convincing, but Manx agrees to help, and we’re caught up in another entertaining episode.

There are several things that set these RRCA productions apart from others. The quality of the actors is the most obvious. In this episode: Claudia Christian (Babylon 5), Ellen Muth (Dead Like Me), and Robin Atkin Downes, who is is a superior and popular voice actor that we’ve also seen on a B5 episode or two. I’ve enjoyed Claudia Christian as Anne Manx since the first episode (Anne Manx in Lives of the Cat). She’s tough, sexy, and I can’t imagine another actress in this role. Her co-stars in this one make the production an all-around joy to hear.

Another thing that I’ve mentioned in previous reviews is the script. This is a smart script that, though it doesn’t miss too many chances for sexual innuendo, is really funny at just the right places. Kudos to Larry Weiner for another job well done.

And lastly, the quality of the sound. Effects, music, and words combine in a way that I never wonder what the setting is, never wonder who is speaking, and I never lose the story. It’s easy to become completely immersed as a listener. My mind fills in the pictures, and I thoroughly enjoy listening.

So much so that I may just go find the first one and start over… back soon.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Anne Manx on Amazonia

January 30, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Anne Manx on AmazoniaAnne Manx on Amazonia
By Larry Weiner; Performed by a Full Cast
2 CD’s – 2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Radio Repertory Company of America
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0977134202
Themes: / Science Fiction / Private Eye / Cloning /

Anne Manx on Amazonia is the fourth installment in the Radio Repertory Company of America’s ongoing Anne Manx series. All four titles are available on their website, but don’t worry if you haven’t heard them. You’ll probably want to hear the other three after hearing this one, but you won’t have to to understand what’s happening.

In a nutshell, here’s the plot:
On Amazonia, they have a very unique way of replacing their queen. They clone her. The first attempt to clone the current queen fails, so they toss the baby out and try again… only the clone survives. Fast forward several years, and the flawed clone (who obviously survives) gets Anne Manx to help her get back to Amazonia. Woven throughout this is the rich, ongoing story of the conflict between Anne Manx and Richmond, her evil nemesis.

Anne Manx is played by Claudia Christian, of Babylon 5 fame. Richmond is played by Patricia Tallman, who was also on Babylon 5. Both of these actresses succeed in bringing their characters to vibrant life. The queen and her two clones were played by Barbara Harris, who was simply wonderful. I never had a problem distinguishing which character was speaking – they were three distinct people. I don’t doubt that Barbara Harris would make a superior audiobook narrator if she ever chose to try it.

To the great performances and excellent script add the sheer quality of production. RRCA is producing quality entertainment.

Anne Manx on Amazonia is funny, action-packed, and touching. Fine writing, a wonderful cast, and first-rate production make this the best installment in the Anne Manx series. Don’t miss it!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Anne Manx and the Trouble on Chromius

December 5, 2003 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Anne Manx and the Trouble on ChromiusAnne Manx and the Trouble on Chromius
Starring Claudia Christian, Andy Hallet, and Paris Jefferson
Written by Larry Weiner
Duration: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Format: 2 Audio CD’s, also available at Audible.com
ISBN: 0966039289
Producer: The Radio Repertory Company of America
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mystery / Private Eye /

You know the story. Smart-ass female private eye gets embroiled in something that’s more than she bargained for. Using her brains, attitude, and savvy, she saves the day. Think V.I. Warshawski or Kinsey Milhone. The difference here is that we’re talking science fiction and the setting is somewhere like the planet Chromius instead of New York or Chicago. But still… familiar territory.

Though the plot elements aren’t uncommon, the overall production certainly is. Claudia Christian heads a very good cast in this well-produced satirical radio drama that reminds me how entertaining radio drama can be. This is real radio drama that pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

Whether Claudia Christian is trading barbs with another character or questioning an informant, she presents a believable and hilarious main character. Her sidekick, played by Andy Hallet, made me laugh out loud more than once. The original music was also quite good, as were the sound effects. Through good headphones, I was fully immersed in the action-packed story.

Anne Manx and the Trouble on Chromius won the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio of the year 2002. Story by Larry Weiner, produced by Angelo Panetta for the Radio Repertory Company of America. Find the entire credit list here, and LISTEN TO A SAMPLE here.