The SFFaudio Podcast #016

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #016 – is really strange and very good – we talk about Dean Koontz, talking dogs, praise Robert J. Sawyer, his audiobooks and much more! Book covers, cover art, they matter!

Talked about on today’s show:

Audible.com, the new Audible Frontiers new releases, review of The Speed Of Dark, Mary Robinette Kowal, Blackstone Audio, The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick, Star Trek, Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained, Peter F. Hamilton, Star Wars, Mike Resnick, The Last Colony, John Scalzi, Zoe’s Tale, William Dufris, Anathem, Robert J. Sawyer, Flashforward, Tantor Media, A Case Of Conscience, James Blish, 100% FREE Audiobook Black River by Dean Koontz (which is an SF suspense novella), Microsoft’s Zune now compatible with Audible.com, Dean Koontz, Dragon Tears, Jay O. Sanders, talking dogs, our new DEAN KOONTZ author page, Intensity, Seize The Night, Fear Nothing, Dean Koontz short stories that should be audiobooked: Nightmare Gang, Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, RJS’ Flashforward as a TV series? = they’ll do it like the did The 4400, CERN, RJS predicted the current pope!, murder mystery Science Fiction, Illegal Alien, review of Calculating God, Golden Fleece, dinosaurs, Robert J. Sawyer’s weakest novel = End Of An Era (?), review of The Terminal Experiment, Wake, the WWW trilogy, available RJS audiobooks, Shed Skin, BBC Radio documentary on Wikipedia: The Wikipedia Story, Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation, The Wordy Shipmates, Vowelette, what “they” are doing wrong with audiobooks: no table of contents sux! No map sux!, Stefan Rudnicki‘s Skyboat Productions, Resonance, A.J. Scudiere, geology, magnetic polar reversal, review of Posing As People, Orson Scott Card, Mike Resnick’s Audible.com editorial, Stalking The Unicorn, Stalking The Vampire, cover art matters, Total Dick Head’s 2 hour celebration of Philip K. Dick’s 80th birthday.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Third Annual SFFaudio Challenge – make an AUDIOBOOK, get an AUDIOBOOK!

SFFaudio Commentary

The Third Annual SFFaudio ChallengeNovember 11th, that means it’s the time for our Third Annual SFFaudio Challenge! Today is a day of celebration, a party united, throughout the People’s Republic of SFFaudio. Today, we celebrate the collective achievements of our selfless workers and artists, who are working united for the creative common good, or in the public domain. Today is the day we begin making you make new audiobooks.

To that end, we’re got a nice stack of OUT OF PRINT, EXTREMELY HARD TO FIND and UTTERLY AWESOME audiobooks we’d love to give you. But, just like in year one, and year two, we’re going to make you show your loyalty to the medium, by making an audiobook out of one, or more, of the following titles…

SFF Challenge titles:

Atlantida
By Pierre Benoît
From 1919, the classic novel of finding the Lost Atlantis, translated by Mary C. Tongue and Mary Ross. Also titled The Queen of Atlantis. (64,863 words)
|MANYBOOKS.NET|

The Outlaws of Mars
By Otis Adelbert Kline
From 1933! Burroughs inspired Mars fiction. (49,417 words)
This Dateline Jasoom podcast has discussion of the relationship between Burroughs and Kline |MP3|
|MANYBOOKS.net|

***CLAIMED BY Sonny on November 18th 2008***
Attrition
By Jim Wannamaker
“ONE OF OUR STAR SHIPS IS MISSING!” – told in narrator friendly first person! From Analog’s November 1961 issue. (9,679 Words)
|Project Gutenberg|

***CLAIMED BY Carol Newkirk on November 21st 2008***
A World Called Crimson
By Darius John Granger
|Project Gutenberg|
This was the cover story for the September 1956 issue of Amazing Stories! (14,299 words)
|PROJECT GUTENBERG|

***CLAIMED BY David Drage (of the DIAL P FOR PULP Podcast) on November 12th 2008***
Citadel
By Algis Budrys
Space colonies! From the February 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. (8,799 words)
|Project Gutenberg|

***CLAIMED BY Craig Napier on December 7th 2008***
A Question Of Courage
By J. F. Bone
Military SF. The cover story from Amazing Stories December 1960! (8,357 words)
|Project Gutenberg|

The Crowded Earth
By Robert Bloch
From Amazing Science Fiction Stories October 1958. (37,310 words)
|Project Gutenberg|
REMOVED FROM THE CHALLENGE: Because it’s now BEEN DONE

***CLAIMED BY Paul Campbell (of the Cossmass Podcast) on November 14th 2008***
Empire
By Clifford D. Simak
From 1951, “A Powerful Novel of Intrigue and Action in the Not-So-Distant Future.” (49,898 words)
|Project Gutenberg|

***CLAIMED BY Robert Kublawi on March 30th, 2009***
Gold in the Sky
By Alan E. Nourse
From 1958! YOU WILL MEET– Greg Hunter. Test pilot–happy only when his life hung in the balance. Tom Hunter. A pioneer–his frontier was hidden in test tubes. Johnny Coombs. A prospector–he returned from the asteroids too soon. Merrill Tawney. An industrialist–he sought plunder even beyond the stars. Major Briarton. A government man–his creed was law and order. (39,250 words)
|Project Gutenberg|

Operation: Outer Space
By Murray Leinster
From 1958.(Word count 59,589)
|Project Gutenberg|

***CLAIMED BY Diane Severson on November 13th 2008***Project Mastodon
By Clifford D. Simak
“An interesting variation on the standard time-machine theme. No loops encountered. The short story is tersely written and the end, when technicalities clear, abrupt. This makes it an early example of hard SF with a time machine.” From the March 1955 issue of Galaxy. (12,408 words)
|Project Gutenberg|

The Sound of His Horn
By Sarban (aka John William Wall)
From 1952! A young naval lieutenant, is captured by the Germans and wakes up in a hospital bed – more than 100 years later. The Germans have won the war, and the Third Reich stretches from the Urals to the Atlantic. Non Aryans are bred as slaves. Count Hans von Hackelnberg, master of the Reich’s forests, rules his domain with the iron fist of a feudal lord. His passion is hunting. At night the sound of his horn echoes eerily through the moonlit forest as the pack closes in on its prey. A pack of half naked cat girls, their hands sheathed in iron claws and their bellies starved of fresh meat. And their quarry, as Alan discovers too late, is … himself! (40,039 words)
|Project Gutenberg|

Wandl the Invader
By Raymond King Cummings
Originally published in 1932. Later, printed as half of an ace double! A New Planet Menaces the Solar System! (48,181 words)
|Manybooks.net|

Aural Noir Challenge titles:

***CLAIMED BY Damaris Mannering on November 28th 2008***
The Fabulous Clipjoint
By Frederic Brown
“After almost a decade of publishing pulp sci-fi and mystery short stories, Fredric Brown had his first novel published in 1947. Entitled THE FABULOUS CLIPJOINT, it was both a marvelous mystery as well as a superb ‘coming-of-age’ story. The novel was so well received that it won the prestigious Edgar award for the Best First Mystery Novel by an American the following year. Brown would go on to write 6 more novels and at least 2 short stories starring young Ed Hunter and his fraternal uncle Am as they solved mysteries in and around Chicago. All were excellent, but this first one is special.”
|Munseys/Black Mask*|
*One source says this novel is a Creative Commons release (and perhaps a version is). However, I STRONGLY suspect the novel itself is entirely public domain. Either way, this needs to be audiobooked!

***CLAIMED BY Dominic Slyfield on December 12th 2008***
Murder in the Gunroom
By H. Beam Piper
From 1953. The only mystery/crime novel by the famouse Science Fiction author H. Beam Piper! When a gun collector is found dead on the floor of his locked gunroom, the coroner’s verdict is “death by accident.” But the widow has her doubts. She employs a private detective and a pistol-collector himself, to catalogue, appraise, and negotiate the sale of her late husband’s collection – all the while trying to figure out “who-dun-it?” (67,503 words)
|PROJECT GUTENBERG|

Rules:

We’ll be using the same 11 rules from the 2nd SFFaudio Challenge.

Prizes:

DH Audio Mystery Audiobook - This Won’t Kill You by Rex StoutThis Won’t Kill You
By Rex Stout; Read by David Elias
1 Cassette – Approx. 60 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: DH Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0886468655
Nero Wolfe couldn’t care less about baseball, even the World Series final game–until four players are drugged. Now a team’s chances, and maybe their star players, are dead. Evidence is hard to find, so Archie Goodwin dodges fists and acid while the boss keeps one little secret from the police.

DH Audio Mystery Audiobook - Omit Flowers by Rex StoutOmit Flowers
By Rex Stout; Read by
1 Cassette – Approx. 82 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: DH Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0886469767
“In my opinion it was one of Nero Wolfe’s neatest jobs and he never got nicked for it.” Floyd Whitten was stabbed in the back – literally – at a family business meeting. Wolfe has too many relative to pick from. Trickery is called for and no one lies better than ace associate Archie Goodwin.

Durkin Hayes Mystery Audiobook - Invitation to Murder by Rex StoutInvitation to Murder
By Rex Stout; Read by Saul Rubinek
1 Cassette – Approx. 73 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Durkin Hayes Audio
Published: 1996
ISBN: 0886468833
Archie Goodwin gives up a weekend date to ask sharp questions about a poisoning. The case takes a deadly turn that forces the reluctant Nero Wolfe to leave his brownstone house in order to rescue Goodwin from a strange murder scene.

DH Audio Science Fiction Audiobook - Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 6Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 6
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois?
1 Cassette – Approx. 93 Minutes [UNABRIDGED*]
Publisher: DH Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0886469732
Includes:
The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffery
A Spaceship with a woman’s brain is teamed up with a living male partner. His name is Jennan, the ship loves him and if he’s harmed, she could go crazy
Though Dreamers Die” by Lester del Rey
A mutant bacteria, vicious beyond imagination devastates earth. The desperate survivors flee to an unexplored planet where man can start over – if the plague doesn’t sneak along.
*This one says its abridged by I believe that is an error.

DH Audio Science Fiction Audiobook - Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 7Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 7
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois?
1 Cassette – Approx. 104 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: DH Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 088646983X
Includes:
Allamagoosa” by Eric Frank Russell
The Last Monster” by Poul Anderson
Why Johnny Can’t Speed” by Alan Dean Foster

DH Audio Audiobook - Isaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories Volume IIIsaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories Volume II
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois
1 Cassette – Approx. 72 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Durkin Hayes
Published: 1997
ISBN: 0886469481
Includes:
World Of A Thousand Colors” by Robert Silverberg
Impostor” by Philip K. Dick

DH Audio Audiobook - Isaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories Volume IVIsaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories Volume IV
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois
1 Cassette – Approx. 90 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Durkin Hayes
Published: 1997
ISBN: 0886469570
Includes:
The Victim From Space” by Robert Sheckley
Honorable Enemies” by Poul Anderson

The Reel Stuff
Edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Various
6 Cassettes – 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: DH Audio
Published: 2000
ISBN: 0886465745
Includes:
Johnny Mnemonic” by William Gibson, read by Christopher Graybill
Amanda and the Alien” by Robert Silverberg, read by Colleen Delany
Mimic” by Donald A. Wollheim, read by Terence Aselford
The Forbidden” by Clive Barker, read by Vanessa Maroney
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, read by Terence Aselford
Nightflyers” by George R.R. Martin, read by Christopher Graybill
Air Raid” John Varley, read by Nannette Savard
Sandkings” by George R.R. Martin, read by Richard Rohan
|READ OUR REVIEW|

COMPLETED TITLES:

LibriVox Science Fiction Audiobook - Cat And Mouse by Ralph WilliamsCat And Mouse
By Ralph Williams; Read by Betsie Bush
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 3 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: December 5th 2008
This was the cover story for the Astounding Science Fiction issue for June 1959. Set in Alaska, and being a most unusual Science Fiction story – it’s about hunting!

LibirVox Science Fiction - The Creature From Beyond Infinity by Henry KuttnerThe Creature From Beyond Infinity
By Henry Kuttner; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
7 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 31 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 19, 2009
A lone space traveler arrives on Earth seeking a new planet to colonize, his own world dead. At the same time a mysterious plague has infected Earth that will wipe out all life. Can a lone scientist stop the plague and save the world? Or will the alien find himself on another doomed planet?

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/the-creature-from-beyond-infinity.xml

LibriVox Science Fiction - Operation Terror by Murray LeinsterOperation Terror
By Murray Leinster; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
10 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – 5 Hours 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 19, 2009
An unidentified space ship lands in a Colorado lake. Equipped with a paralyzing ray weapon, the creatures begin taking human prisoners. A loan land surveyor and a journalist are trapped inside the Army cordon, which is helpless against the mysterious enemy. Can they stop the aliens before it is too late?

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/operation-terror-by-murray-leinster.xml

Forgotten Classics presents… The Aliens by Murray LeinsterThe Aliens
By Murray Leinster; Read by Julie Davis
2 MP3s – 2 Hours 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Forgotten Classics
Podcast: January 2009
First published in Astounding SF’s August, 1959 issue.
The human race was expanding through the galaxy … and so, they knew, were the Aliens. When two expanding empires meet … war is inevitable. Or is it …?

Part 1 |MP3| and Part 2 |MP3|

LibriVox Science Fiction - The Hunters Out Of Space by Joseph E. KelleamHunters Out of Space
By Joseph E. Kelleam; Read by Elliot Miller
19 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 29 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Publlished: May 7, 2009
Jack Odin has returned to the world of Opal, the world inside our own world, only to find it in ruins. Many of his friends are gone, the world is flooded, and the woman he swore to protect has been taken by Grim Hagen to the stars. Jack must save her, but the difficulties are great and his allies are few.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/hunters-out-of-space-by-joseph-kelleam.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LibriVox - The Pirates Of Ersatz by Murray LeinsterThe Pirates Of Ersatz
By Murray Leinster; Read by Elliott Miller
12 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 6 Hours 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 19, 2009
Bron is the offspring of infamous space pirates but instead of following in the family footsteps he decides to become an electronic engineer. Unfortunately, every time he tries to get out, something pulls him back in. This is a tongue-in-cheek space adventure along the lines of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison. It was originally published in the FEB-APR issues of Astounding Science Fiction in 1959.

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/rss/3120

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Sleeping Beauty by Ross MacDonald

Aural Noir: Review

Mystery Audiobook - Sleeping Beauty by Ross MacDonaldSFFaudio EssentialSleeping Beauty
By Ross MacDonald; Performed by a Full Cast
6 Cassettes – Approx. 7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Partners
Published: 1978
ISBN: 1572700491
Themes: / Mystery / Private Investigator / Dysfunctional Family / Murder / Family Secrets / Missing Person /

When Lew Archer takes home a distressed woman and she disappears with a lethal dose of his sleeping pills, he feels obligated to find her. What he finds is a past of family secrets that has lead the family into a downward spiral. Archer will have to untangle the secrets if he hopes to get the lady back alive.

After an accident from a ruptured oil well off the coast of southern California, Archer finds a beautiful lady crying with an oil-soaked seagull grasped to her breast. He takes her home and finds her disagreeable. After she leaves he notices that she had taken his bottle of prescription sleeping pills with her. Her name is Laurel Lennox Russo, and she is the granddaughter of the man who owns the offshore oil well that has ruptured, literally, in the back of his lakefront house.

This wonderful production offers a rarity in audiobooks; an unabridged full-cast recording for adults all done with impeccable direction. The director of the production and voice of Lew Archer is by Harris Yulin. He offers the right amount of concerned yet disenchantment that Archer feels. The dialogue is snappy and you can feel Archer’s presence as he interviews/interrogates this small family community. The cast, which includes Ed Asner, Richard Masur, Stacy Keech, and Veronica Cartwright, does a great job. There are over 30 people lending their voices to this audiobook.

The direction was handled deftly. The novel is in first person, and Harris Yulin voiced Lew Archer’s inner monologue close to the mike and centered in the stereo field. When Archer was talking to another character, the ambience of the setting came through and the characters were separated in the stereo field. There was also added ambience of the external sounds flowing into the scene. Exterior scenes had traffic noises, seagulls, and jets. In interior scenes you get a sense of the size of the room.

Instead of just a great audiobook, I felt I was listening to an extended, seven-hour radio play. Whether you’re a fan of Ross MacDonald or are new to his writing, this audiobook comes highly recommended.

Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

BBC7: The Scarifyers – The Nazad Conspiracy

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7The Scarifyers: The Nazad Conspiracy (2006)
3 episodes beginning on Sunday, September 7 at 1800GMT
Starring Nicholas Courtney and Terry Molloy
Written and directed by Simon Barnard
Produced by Cosmic Hobo Productions

Detective Inspector Lionheart, veteran (don’t say old!) crime-fighter based at Whitechapel police station, and Edward Dunning, professor of Ancient History at London University (and prolific writer of ghost stories), become, somewhat unwittingly, paranormal investigators for the “very new” MI-13.

Dunning & LionheartAided by, among others, Aleister Crowley, “the wickedest man in the world,” Lionheart and Dunning must follow enigmatic and often ghastly clues, infiltrate mysterious secret cults and foil the darkest of diabolical plots against England and humanity.

But not without a grand sense of British humor. The Scarifyers, set in the late 1930’s, combines deadpan wit and Lovecraftian themes with the result being nothing short of hilarious. The writing is charming, delicious, surprising and never cornball, and the character performances are superb. Indeed, it’s my favorite audio play series in years.

The Nazad Conspiracy is the first Scarifyers adventure.

Christmas 1936.

Professor Dunning (Terry Molloy) doesn’t believe in the supernatural. So he’s more than surprised when an invisible winged demon appears in his drawing room.

The Metropolitan Police’s longest-serving officer, Inspector Lionheart (Nicholas Courtney), doesn’t believe in the supernatural either, wings or no wings. So he’s less than impressed when Russian emigres begin dying impossible deaths all over London.

Together, Lionheart and Dunning must face quarrelsome Generals, sinister clowns and Russian demons as they unravel THE NAZAD CONSPIRACY.

The first episode of The Nazad Conspiracy will air on Sunday, September 7 at 1800GMT in the 7th Dimension time slots. Episodes 2 and 3 will follow on consecutive Sundays. Listen to the trailer for the show here.

The Scarifyers is produced by Cosmic Hobo Productions and stars Nicholas Courtney as Lionheart and Terry Molloy as Dunning. Many will remember Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (The Brigadier), and Molloy as Davros (creator of the evil Daleks), both from the Doctor Who TV series (and the occasional Big Finish production). Also, David Benson, “man of a thousand voices,” appears as the reoccurring character, Aleister Crowley, always giving a memorable and “spirited” performance.

For more information about The Scarifyers, including actor bios, character and story info, announcements, downloadable content, and series ordering info –3 adventures so far: The Nazad Conspiracy, The Devil of Denge Marsh (2007) & For King and Country (2008)– be sure to stop by the Cosmic Hobo Productions website.

And if you want to hear the best radio show theme song since Dick Barton: Special Agent, check out The Scarifyers theme by Edwin Sykes here!

Posted by RC of RTSF

Aural Noir Review of Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E. Westlake

Aural Noir: Review

Somebody Owes Me Money is book number 044 in the Hard Case Crime library.

Audible.com and BBC Audiobooks America audiobook - Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E. WestlakeSFFaudio EssentialHard Case CrimeSomebody Owes Me Money
By Donald E. Westlake; Read by Stephen Thorne
Audible Download (or 6 CDs) – 6 Hours 37 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America / Audible.com
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9780792754534
Themes: / Mystery / Crime / Murder / Humor / Gambling / The Mob / New York /
SAMPLE: |MP3|
Cab driver Chet Conway was hoping for a good tip from his latest fare, the sort he could spend. But what he got was a tip on a horse race; which might have turned out okay, except that when he went to collect his winnings, Chet found his bookie lying dead on the living room floor. Chet knows he had nothing to do with it – but just try explaining that to the cops, to the two rival criminal gangs who each think Chet’s working for the other, and to the dead man’s beautiful sister, who has flown in from Las Vegas to avenge her brother’s murder.

If I’m looking for a fun read, something that entertains on every single page, I can always rely on Donald Westlake. The folks at Hard Case Crime know it too. The only author they’ve published more of than Westlake is Lawrence Block. Like Block, Westlake is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master – and, they’ve both been writing steadily since the 1950s. This particular novel was first published in 1969, and was released in June 2008 by Hard Case Crime, with it’s awesome new cover art. BBC Audiobooks America, as they’ve are doing with far too few of the Hard Case lineup, has released it as an audiobook.

Westlake says he’s “always had a soft spot” for Somebody Owes Me Money, the novel came to him out of the common introductory phrase, “I bet…” – Westlake figured if a guy was going to say that as the opening lines of a novel, he’d be a gambler, and being a gambler, he’d have a tale of woe. Somebody Owes Me Money is the result. And what a result! This is another classic Westlake “nephew” story.

The hero, Chet, is a poker playing New York cab driver who lives with his retired father. Chet’s a little short of cash right now, so when he’s fairly pissed when an uptown fare stiffs him on the tip. The customer instead only drops him a ‘line on a horse.’ Frustrated, but thinking about it on his way home, Chet decides to give his bookie a call and the horse a shot. The next day, to Chet’s surprise, he ends up winning a bundle on the longshot horse! But, when he goes to collect from his bookie, he finds the guy dead, himself without the cash he’d won, and inches away from being charged with the murder. To clear his good name, collect his winnings and recover his money he’ll not only have to find the murderer, but also keep the cops from knowing he’d been illegally gambling. As the mystery progresses Chet finds himself mixed up with a gun toting moll named Abbie, getting shot in the head by persons unknown and playing a few more hands of poker. This is a fast paced, cleverly plotted mystery with an old time New York ambiance. I loved it.

Narrator Stephen Thorne has a voice and range like that of audiobook hero William Dufris. They share an amiable, lighthearted, voice that makes perfect the narration of first-person light comedy mysteries. In other words, this book. This is a letter prefect reading, bright, shiny, fun, solid. SFFaudio Essential listening.

Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E. Westlake
Somebody Owes Me Money - Doug Johnson illustration from Playboy, July and August 1969

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of Grifter’s Game by Lawrence Block

Aural Noir: Review

Grifter’s Game is book number 001 in the Hard Case Crime library.

Crime Fiction Audiobook - Grifter’s Game by Lawrence BlockSFFaudio EssentialHard Case CrimeGrifter’s Game
By Lawrence Block; Read by Alan Sklar
5 CDs – 5 Hours 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Published: 2006
ISBN: 9781602834538
Themes: / Crime / Noir / Femme Fatale / Drugs / Murder / Atlantic City /

Con man Joe Marlin was used to scoring easy cash off of gullible women. But that was before he met Mona Brassard — and found himself holding a stolen stash of raw heroin. Now that Joe has fallen hard for Mona, he’s got to pull off the most dangerous con of his career: one that will leave him either a killer — or a corpse.

Before he settled into the comfortable (and profitable) serial novels, starring the characters you love to love, Lawrence Block was writing crime novels. With every turn of the page, you could almost hear the peeling the wallpaper off of even the swankiest of hotel room walls. These are the gritty, acidic, abrasive early novels of Lawrence Block. The characters in these fifty-thousand worders were hardened criminals. Unrepentant, unlovable, more disposable, but ultimately just as magnetic as those who would come later. Block’s first novel (under his own name) featured just one such criminal. Joe Marlin is smooth and hungry. He’s no ageless, cuddly Bernie Rhodenbarr, solving murders between burglaries. He can’t relate the moral greyness that comes from too many years as a cop, like Matt Scudder. And he doesn’t contemplate the American lifestyle whilst planning murder for hire, like Keller. He’s just one low-down and dirty sonofabitch, telling as compelling a crime tale as you’ll ever likely to hear. Marlin’s story was first published by Gold Medal in 1961 under the title Mona. In 1986, it was released as Sweet Slow Death. And most recently it was republished with a third title: Grifter’s Game, this time by Hard Case Crime. Block himself fancied The Girl on the Beach, as the novel’s title. But no matter what name the novel goes by, it’s a fast and dirty, and shoots a strong enough curve to throw even the most hardened of modern readers off their game. At 47 years old it’s still one of Block’s strongest novels.

Reader Alan Sklar grows into the voice of the narrator as Marlin’s plans turn darker. We like his Joe Marlin, he’s clever and slick, he lingers on the details and teases us. The only thing is that Sklar sees it all coming – he knows, he tells us he knows, but doesn’t telegraph, and so, when the killing blow ultimately comes, it doesn’t hit us until we’re too close, until we can really feel it, until we own it. Until we live it.

Posted by Jesse Willis