The SFFaudio Podcast #351 – READALONG: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

January 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

TheSFFaudioPodcast600The SFFaudio Podcast #351 – Jesse, Julie Davis, Seth, and Maissa talk about The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler.

Talked about on today’s show:
1953, Philip Marlowe, the long answer is no, The Big Sleep, “noir”, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder, Elliot Gould, abridgements, long or too long, spending time with the detective, forgetting about plot, Ray Porter, The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett, The Big Sleep, the book, the 1978 audio drama (90 minute), the Japanese 5-part miniseries, the recent BBC audio drama, the 1973 movie, overdosed on goodbyes, this is not a noir book, typically hardboiled is with detectives, noir is typically not with detectives, hardboiled vs. noir, Greek tragedy, a basic distinction, poisonville, a certain lack of hope, the detective with a heart of gold, Mickey Spillane, the anti-Philip Marlowe, being more cynical, more punchy, twisted, he’s hitty, Chandler’s best lines, how many times “goodbye” comes up, see you in a line-up, you never say goodbye to the cops, this is just quiet enough, cynicism, he cares too much, do you ever get paid?, $1,200 in the bank, he’s got a portrait of Madison, “I’m a romantic Bernie”, “the smear”, coffee, the little wake, a mystery, remember that pigskin suitcase?, pigskin gloves, the central mystery, who murdered Terry Lennox’s wife, Wade’s wife, his test, I wish I could have killed them both at once, Sylvia, he couldn’t perform?, a more successful version of herself, femme fatale, muddled by drugs, a Linda Loring, throwing the suitcase, that’s the suitcase, Sylvia’s face, is that something Eileen could do?, she’s like the worst thing in her life, when you go crazy mad, caught in a lie, what about the blood?, we infer she beat Sylvia to a bloody pulp, why would she lie?, she wants to make it seem more real, my husband shot her then beat her, emotion and drugs, the 1973 movie, the Elliot Gould movie, the Q&A with Elliot Gould, diverged, plot and tone, weird and good, lighthearted and noir, script by Leigh Brackett (of Empire Strikes Back), a return to Los Angeles, Eileen is still alive in the movie, a conspiracy, Mrs. Wade is in love with Terry Lennox (and married to him as well), she despises him (or is she lying?), Eileen blames Sylvia for everything, the cool thing about this book is that it is very open, experiencing the mystery (rather than solving), just supposition, the mailbox, its almost as if the Mexican Terry Lennox doesn’t know what’s going on, a rotter from the beginning, what we read a lot of these books for, the mystery as the vehicle, Derek Jacobi reading The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, there’s a humanity to this, making different choices when in custody, Marlowe saw something in Lennox worth redeeming, if Bryan Alexander were here…, because it is a war book, huuuuhhhn, 1920s book by authors who survived WWI, which regiment was Lennox in?, the SAS in 1942 in Norway, taxi drivers and cops are vets, Chandler’s Marlowe is a vet, using the terminology, the one thing that is left unsaid, why is Terry Lennox acting this way?, his wife, he’s a wastrel, how the other characters react to Terry Lennox, the criminal in Los Vegas, Randy Starr, Manny Menendez, there’s no need, why didn’t you call sooner?, the reason he’s got those scars on his face, against my better judgement, picking up a wounded warrior, he does that for all kinds of people, Double Indemnity wasn’t fueled by war, where does that go into Some Like It Hot?, Terry Lennox is a bookend, pointing fingers and taking names, drugs and partying and corrupt police, why the analogy doesn’t work, the guy who’s not fighting during the war, James M. Cain, about rich selfish people who are wasting their lives, the plot, throwing them into relief, the contrast, seeing Terry Lennox lying on the road, what Terry Lennox has those scars for, the Japanese version, everything is inverted, he can’t be an American soldier, the enemy is the Russians, a different spin on it, dealing in the results of war, post-traumatic stress syndrome, over-the-top, over-saturated lighting, a lot of coffee, a comic book adaptation, answering unanswered questions, sympathetic, Candy is Julie’s favorite character, the war is central to the Japanese adaptation, reading it now, the first four or five Robert B. Parker Spencer books, The Godwulf Manuscript, a war novel, The Guns Of Navarone, The Lord Of The Rings as a way of dealing with WWI, talking about other things, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, what it was like to be in the Ardennes in the winter of 1944, it was like being homeless, hoping the supply train is going to come through, why is he getting drunk all the time, hidden secrets and identities, there’s something about Marlowe, a survivor of the war of life, the drunk tank, the POW camp, Chandler thinks this is his best book, taxi drivers reading escapist science fiction magazines, if I was in that kind of condition…, we’re all in the same army, just want to make things right, to try and set some sort of reset, fix things, once in a long while you get dead, a load of grief and a bit of money, stopping the entropy, why can he not have a normal life any more, it’d be reductionist to say it was about war, post-war USA had a hell of a lot of drinking, half gin and half Rose’s lime juice will still get you soused (a gimlet), autobiographical (Chandler’s wife was dying while he was writing The Long Goodbye), author talks, Chandler is showing us a complete look at detective work and all that it takes, they’ve all got a scam going, sold his soul to the company store, his journalist friend, working the problem, Idle Valley (where the rich people live), Marlowe as an ex-drunk, what the drunk-tank is like, the life of an alcoholic, Chandler had drinking issues, a recovering alcoholic, more coffee than gin, the 1973 movie scene, “let’s get drunk”, trying to find the truth, the F. Scott Fitzgerald connection, The Last Tycoon, more idle rich, Wade writes historical romance (instead of detective fiction), translating to Japanese culture, hentai, taking off the layers of dresses (a woman who has never taking a bath), hanging out with Wade, self-destructive not wife-destructive, he didn’t kill that woman, an incompetent femme fatale, might-have been sort of a hooker, Wade brought her out of the gutter, their Mexico is Taiwan, a period piece, he was driving an American car (left hand drive), they must have had fedoras and gimlets, a jazz version of, “it’s okay with me”, hash-brownies, Arnold Schwarzenegger with a mustache, it WASN’T okay with him, justice, Eileen Wade got to sit with it, dispensing justice, somehow it is the same story, in cahoots with the gangsters, political gain, why did Marlowe abandon Terry at the very end, re-question, red-herrings (or not red-herrings), re-framing everything, that’s how we actually live (unlike a Scooby Doo ending), I would never have come out had you not smoked me out, he puts stuff out there, I was in the commandos, you’re not hear anymore, as elegant as a fifty-dollar whore, prove to me you’re not that way, “that was the last I saw of him”, he had a chance to become better, wanting to see the truth done and the innocent people taken care of, detectives poke at things, there’s nothing inside, two empty people, one filling with alcohol one filling with drugs, both ruined by the war (or whatever), the perpetual human problem, what’s the hole that’s left inside, ya ya ya ya ya ya, full of really good quotes, Chapters (Canadian book store), this book is so much fun, [we quote from the book], one for Julie, one for Seth, a briefcase one, at the bar it was always five in the afternoon, Terry Lennox became a Mexican, a Mexican syncopation to his speech, how refreshingly unconcerned about political correctness, when a Mexican…, sooo racist, sooo genderist, it’s of the the time, the fact that he’s got a knife, a little more granular sense that he’s a little person, there’s no fake characters, heart of gold vs. cynicism, how far am I gonna go with this?, the way they dealt with each other (in the Japanese adaption), you would clean the war off me, a relationship of debt, subtitles with footnotes, the second time through, little bits of description, a bird chirping, the car was gone, a red oleander bush, a baby mockingbird, a single harsh warning chirp, birds have to learn too, priming you for all sorts of things, it’s rich, it works on more than one level, so much of their time, how much is a sandwich, drinking their night away, they didn’t think about it the way they do now, the movie Airplane!, he has a drinking problem, flashbacks to the war (WWII), out of context it’s hilarious, it still sort of true, we’re always going to have the cultural baggage, none of Jesse’s students know who the Flintstones are, Flitstone vitamins is an echo of The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, reading a book like this is kind of like time travel, tiny houses with orange trees in Los Angeles, L.A. Noire (PC game), the game reconstructs a huge part of Los Angeles, the Grand Theft Auto games, Chinatown, The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, playing the game is kind of like revisiting that period, oh hey I’m in the middle of an investigation here, games vs. books, Robert B. Parker co-wrote the final Marlowe book Poodle Springs, Ray Porter’s narration, female voices, the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry, the Mexican characters, Elliot Gould’s narrations, nicely abridged, he’s a weird speaker, a Robert Altman movie, what is lost was all those Chandlerisms, a collapse of characters, well what have you got now, the movie starts with a cat, Michael Connelly, there’s something cool happening in that 3 o’clock in the morning, the cat abandons him, the cat is Sylvia Lennox, you can’t lie to a cat, they demand truth, the sunrises and the sunsets in the Japanese version, the colour of a sunset and a Japanese print, the things that they take, two BBC radio adaptations, a LIVE TV movie in 1954 (now lost).

Pocket Books - The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler - Illustrated by Tom Dunn

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #322 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #322 – Jesse and Jenny talk about new audiobook releases and recent audiobook arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
many sins, paperbooks, The Architect Of Aeons by John C. Wright, Tor Books, The Voyage Of The Basilisk by Marie Brennan, beautiful illustrations and blue text, cover art, a bias against bad art, the way kids talk about book covers, fonts and graphic design, stock photos, don’t mix serif’d fonts, use classic art in the public domain, don’t muddy it up, Graysun Press Class M Exile by Raven Oak, Star Trek, Self Made Hero, I.N.J. Culbard, The Shadow Out Of Time, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, the difficulty of promotion for small press publishers, Horror!, The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker, John Lee, Macmillan Audio, Pinhead, Hellraiser, random bloody body horror, The Midnight Meat Train, Bradley Cooper, the way Clive Barker’s stuff works, Audio Realms, Limbus, Inc. Book 2, a shared world anthology by Jonathan Maberry, Joe R. Lansdale, Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe McKinney, Harry Shannon edited by Brett J. Talley, space for creativity, David Stifel’s narration of The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Island Of Doctor Moreau meets Frankenstein done Burroughs style, The Man Without A Soul, David Stifel knows everything about Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, read by Scott Brick, Mad Max: Fury Road, 3D is a gimmick, Vampire Horror! by M.R. James, John Polidori, F. Marion Crawford, Anthony Head, M.R. James is the country churchyard ghost story guy, John Polidori was Byron’s Doctor, Mary Shelley won the contest, The Vampyre by John Polidori, Lord Ruthven is kind of based on Lord Byron, an autobiographical fantasy horror, music!, all the good D words, Survivors by Terry Nation, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, who wrote House, M.D.?, writing credit in the UK, a familiar premise, the original TV series and the remake, The Walking Dead, all the fun stuff we like about post-apocalyptic storytelling, simultaneous existence, The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, A History Of The World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage, our dependence on grasses, The Road, canned food isn’t a long term plan, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, deer in the woods, the high price put on poaching, the other solution is cannibalism (also not very sustainable), The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, cutting water, this is already how things are, the atomic bomb scenarios are played out, the water problem, the new dust bowl, North Carolina and South Carolina, Seattle and Vancouver, Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick, read by Phil Gigante, a comic version of Doctor Strangelove, Marissa Vu, Paul Weimer, The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, Luke Burrage’s reviews of the Orange County books, Find Me by Laura van den Berg, silver blisters?, Guy de Maupassant style, The End Has Come edited by Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams, Carrie Vaughn, Megan Arkenberg, Will McIntosh, Scott Sigler, Sarah Langan, Chris Avellone, Seanan McGuire, Leife Shallcross, Ben H. Winters, David Wellington, Annie Bellet, Tananarive Due, Robin Wasserman, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth Bear, Jonathan Maberry, Charlie Jane Anders, Jake Kerr, Ken Liu, Mira Grant, Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Margaret Atwood’s serial, Science Fiction in Space and the Desert, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, read by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron, very sciencey, too many Jesses, Rob’s commute, Nova by Margaret Fortune, read by Jorjeana Marie, a human bomb, Imposter by Philip K. Dick, The Fold by Peter Clines, read by Ray Porter, another Philip K. Dick story called Prominent Author, a joke story, 14 by Peter Clines, Expanded Universe, Vol. 1 by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Bronson Pinchot, Blackstone Audio, Robert A. Heinlein is a weird idea man, Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey, Hachette Audio, Sword & Laser, The Darkling Child (The Defenders of Shannara) by Terry Brooks, read by Simon Vance, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, larger than life voices, The Red Room by H.G. Wells, the accents, BBC audio dramas of James Bond books, the David Niven Casino Royale, The Brenda & Effie Mysteries: Brenda Has Risen From the Grave! (4), Bafflegab, Darwin’s Watch: The Science of Discworld III: A Novel by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, read by Michael Fenton Stevens and Stephen Briggs, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, read by Julia Emelin, The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, read by Davina Porter, Sarah Monette’s The Goblin Emperor, coming of age in a fantasy world, librarians recommend!

The Brenda And Effie Mysteries (4) Brenda Has Risen From The Grave by Paul Magrs

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #297 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

December 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #297 – Jesse, Jenny, and Tamahome talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:

Lowball : A Wild Cards Novel edited by George R. R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft edited by Leslie S. Klinger, a reference book readalong?, Marked: Servants Of Fate, Book 1 by Sarah Fine, conflict of interest, Until The End Of The World by Sarah Lyons Fleming, Until The End Of The World (movie), The Dark Thorn by Shawn Speakman, the Seattle underground, Entangled: The Eater of Souls by Graham Hancock, lots of research, Half-Off Ragnarok (InCrytpID Book #3) by Seanan McGuire, V Wars: Blood and Fire: New Stories of the Vampire Wars edited by Jonathan Maberry, a dime a dozen, Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova, At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft, didn’t Southpark adapt this?, annotations, pdf of original story with illustrations hosted by SffaudioKaiju Rising: Age of Monsters (editor?)not inspired by Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, similar short story overdose, The Playground and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, killer baby, Tam remembers the Good Story Episode (#21) on Something Wicked, Ray Bradbury storytelling festival, Something Wicked vs The Night Circus, or maybe Good Omens (which is a BBC radio audiodrama now), “@DirkMaggs:  we are thrilled that the series has been so enjoyed. The CD/Download version released in January runs nearly 50mins longer in all” (RT’d by @SDDanielson), British tests, Hypnobobs podcast on Christmas AnnualsThe Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, The Maker Of Moons by Robert W. Chambers, The True Detective tv series, The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith, the picture of the navy guy kissing the woman, ATLAS by Peter Berkrot, Mech Warrior game, The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu and translated by Ken Liu, the three-body problem explained, (Ken Liu is a lawyer and programmer, Jenny), David Brin gave it 5 stars on GoodreadsThe Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom, Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales Of Hard Science Fiction edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi, that’s hard!, The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction 6 edited by Allan Kaster, The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick, Lock In by John Scalzi, why two audio versions??, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, |Listen to our readalong|, Proxima by Stephen Baxter, but Jenny wants to know the plot, Fahrenheit 451 (narrated by Tim Robbins), Plague Year by Jeff Carlson, The Long Dark game, two more quickly, WHITE PLAGUE: A Joe Rush Novel by James Abel, and Near Enemy: A Spademan Novel by Adam Sternbergh

thelastamericanvampire

Posted by Tamahome

Review of The End is Nigh

June 2, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The End is NighThe End is Nigh (Apocalypse Triptych #1)
Edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey (full author and performer list below)
Publisher: Broad Reach Publishing
Publication Date: 8 April 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 15 hours, 8 minutes

Themes: / apocalypse / destruction / short stories /

Publisher summary:

Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm.

But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild.

Table of contents and audiobook narrator listings copied directly from John Joseph Adams’ website. If you want more detailed summaries of each story, I found the review at Tangent very good, particularly because it is so hard to keep track of short stories when you are listening instead of reading!

The audio was an incredible asset to this anthology, although I will probably also need to buy this for my shelf o’ anthologies. The best in audio are Removal Order, BRING HER TO ME, and The Fifth Day of Deer Camp.

My favorite stories were BRING HER TO ME and Goodnight Moon.

I’m most interested in the next installment (so please let there be a next installment) of Removal Order, Pretty Soon the Four Horsemen are Going to Come Riding Through, and Spores.

What do I mean by next installment? The End is Nigh is the first volume of a triptych. It will be followed by The End is Now and The End Has Come, with some authors contributing linked stories. Very exciting concept, and as the Queen of Apocalypse there is no way I couldn’t read this.

Here are my more detailed impressions, story by story!

Read more

Review of Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

April 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Code Zero by Jonathan MaberryCode Zero (Joe Ledger #6)
By Jonathan Maberry; Read by Ray Porter
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: 25 March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 16 hours

Themes:  / Horror / Zombies / Terrorists / Covert Intelligence /

Publisher summary:

For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons—designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead? 

Code Zero, a Joe Ledger novel from Jonathan Maberry, is the exciting direct sequel to Patient Zero.

This is the worthy sequel to Patient Zero.

At one point, Rudy Sanchez says that “this has done something fundamental to the American people.”

I’ll tell you this. It did something fundamental to me.

It was exciting, suspenseful, terrifying, and haunted me in my dreams and at random moments in my day.

And it was satisfying. Very satisfying.

I’m not sure Maberry can top this. Though I’m already looking forward to his next attempt to try.

It’s been six years since Joe Ledger was secretly recruited by the government to lead a combat team for the DMS,  a taskforce created to deal with problems that Homeland Security can’t handle. That story was told in Patient Zero. This was where we met a group of terrorists who had developed a bio-weapon that turned people into zombies.

Every year since then, like clockwork, Joe and Echo Team have returned to battle a variety of seemingly supernatural foes, all developed by villains who are somehow going to make boatloads of cash off of the terror.

The action-packed stories are full of evil super-villains, noble heroes, smart mouthed quips, a smattering of philosophy about “good guys and bad guys” and heart. Lots of heart. All this is told at a roller coaster pace that barely allows you to breathe until you get to the end.

I love them.

In many ways, this book is similar to the rest of the series. Mother Night, a villain you love to hate, is a super-genius anarchist who’s strewing chaos throughout the country over Labor Day weekend. She’s got the DMS’s computer tied up in knots and old evils that were defeated in previous books are now popping their heads up all over the country. Losses are high and the odds are very much against Ledger and his team. We know Joe will win. It’s watching it happen that makes it fun.

It is superior to the other books, I think, because the pacing is more measured and there is more character development. I also enjoyed the flashbacks into the DMS’s years before Joe joined them.

But in one very important way Code Zero was very different for me.

I felt a level of anxiety that was all out of proportion. Maberry is an expert at ratcheting up the stakes until you just can’t see how anyone decent is going to survive the maelstrom. I was used to that. But somehow this felt different. I got a bit jumpy. I couldn’t quit thinking about the horrific chaos during the day when I had to put the book down. Maberry has his finger on the pulse of the evil that Americans today know all too well … that lurks below the conscious level of our lives … violent chaos that can strike without a moment’s notice. Shootings at Fort Hood, restaurants, schools, and more have changed the mood of our country and made Mother Night’s chaos resonate more deeply than usual.

Along the way, he looks at why people choose good or evil. Code Zero is full of people choosing to save the world or burn it down. In most of the cases, the motivation comes down to something that Maberry does not name, but which I will make bold to label: love. We want to know we matter, that we make a difference, that someone “knows” us. Not for our accomplishments but simply because our “selves” matter.

Mother Night gives it a different name, and she may not tidily fall into this definition but, let’s face it, she’s super-villain crazy. I believe that her ultimate fate bears me out. It shows most in Maberry’s final scenario at the end of the book as the answer to Rudy’s statement that the chaos “has done something fundamental to the American people.

Truly this is a great book, especially for the shoot-em-up genre. It is also probably one that can be read as a stand alone without reading the others that came before.

I listened to the audiobook read by Ray Porter who was superb, as usual, at portraying Joe and every other character along the way. In this book Porter dialed his urgent, driving, delivery down some and thank goodness for that. The action was intense enough without being shoved over the edge of the cliff by a continually urgent tone. Porter also was more nuanced and thoughtful in his reading than I recall in previous Joe Ledger books. If this sounds odd when considering our heroes are fighting off zombies, it actually worked to make me consider the full horror being faced. Once again, kudos to Ray Porter. He’s the reason I always choose audio for the Joe Ledger books.

Posted by Julie D.

Review of Assassin’s Code by Jonathan Maberry

March 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Assassin’s Code: Book 4 of The Joe Ledger Novels
By Jonathan Maberry; Read by Ray Porter
15.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / Horror / Supernatural / Military /

In my trade, confidence is built on a platform whose legs are made up of good intelligence, continuous training, proper equipment, and field support. I had a sick dog, a dead man’s gun, a stolen briefcase, a vampire hunter’s stake in my belt, and a cell phone…

Joe’s dealt with zombies, the island of Dr. Moreau, and the Seven Plagues of Egypt. Surely nothing can surprise him now. At least that’s what he thinks.

After rescuing American college students held hostage in Iran, Joe is contacted with the alarming news that the Iranians want his help in locating six stolen nuclear bombs. Nukes are soon the least of Joe’s problems when he’s attacked by super-powered killers who are probably genetically engineered and may actually be unbeatable. Certainly, it’s the first time he’s been told to “run away” when he calls Mr. Church for orders. The mysterious assassin Violin, with her mommy issues, adds an intriguing element that I liked, although her name made me snicker. Whose side is she really on? Toss in the mysterious Book of Shadows together with an age-old Holy Inquisition* that’s gone off the rails and you’ve got a fast-paced thriller with the usual slight touch of science needed to make us wonder “could it happen…” As usual Joe is sarcastic but has the heart of a warrior so he never quits.

As always, Ray Porter IS Joe Ledger. As I’ve said before, his narration is the reason I wait for the audio books instead of snapping up the printed versions. He’s got a direct, blunt delivery that can go from sarcastic to heart-felt to outraged in 60 seconds. Believably. That’s good because sometimes that’s the way Joe’s day goes.

The fourth entry to the Joe Ledger series piles surprise upon surprise until there are so many moving parts you need a score card to keep up. That’s ok. The ride is most of the fun anyway. It was refreshing to see Echo Team on an assignment that didn’t involve anything supernatural or genetically engineered. It also explained why Joe is sometimes incredulous about the strange situations in which he becomes embroiled. He’s so deep into rescuing college kids that he just plain forgets about his first zombie killing assignment.

Yeah right.

That excuse doesn’t really work for the many times that people who should know better protest, “What? Supernatural? That’s just crazy!” That really is the weakest part of these stories. Shouldn’t Echo Team be surprised if there isn’t a monster or super-villain somewhere in the shadows?

This was a return to the Joe Ledger adventure style of the first book in a way, which I liked very much. It also satisfactorily tied up some loose ends that had been accumulating through the last book or two. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed the previous books.

* Catholics needn’t worry. Maberry plays fast and loose with elements but he’s generally respectful of religions. Any Catholics involved in this were lied to, folks. Lied to!

Posted by Julie D.

Next Page »