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

The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie being podcast

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Maureen O’Brien, of the Maria Lectrix podcast is reading Agatha Christie! While World War I rages on, an English country town’s peace is broken by murder. So a wounded officer named Hastings asks for help from a Belgian refugee name Poirot! The podcast has just begun (Maureen’s only on Chapter 2). This is pretty exciting stuff my friends…

Here’s the blurb as it appeared on the original 1920 dustjacket:

“This novel was originally written as the result of a bet, that the author, who had previously never written a book could not compose a detective novel in which the reader would not be able to ‘spot’ the murderer, although having access to the same clues as the detective. The author has certainly won her bet, and in addition to a most ingenious plot of the best detective type she has introduced a new type of detective in the shape of a Belgian. This novel has had the unique distinction for a first book of being accepted by the Times as a serial for its weekly edition”.

Mystery Audiobook - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha ChristieThe Mysterious Affair At Styles
By Agatha Christie; Read by Maureen O’Brien
Podcast – [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Maria Lectrix
Podcast: August 2008 –
Join Hercule Poirot, Hastings and Inspector Japp in Christie’s first published novel! Told in first person, by Hastings, it features many of the elements that have become icons of the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction.” It is set in a large, isolated country manor; there are a half-dozen suspects, most of whom are hiding facts about themselves; the book includes maps of the house, the murder scene and a drawing of a fragment of a will; and there are a number of red herrings and surprise plot twists.

Subscribe to the podcast via this feed:

http://marialectrix.wordpress.com/category/mysteries/feed

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Nightmares on Congress Street, Part 5

SFFaudio Review

Nightmares on Congress Street 5Nightmares on Congress Street – Part 5
By Rocky Coast Radio Theatre; Performed by a Full Cast
2 CD’s – 2 hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Rocky Coast Radio Theatre
Published: 2005
Themes: / Horror / Science Fiction / Murder / Government / Spirits /

Here’s another top-notch title from Rocky Coast Radio Theatre out of Maine. It contains seven dramatized horror tales:

The Demon of the Gibbet by Fitz-James O’Brien
A horror poem, very nicely rendered.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, adapted by Patrick Bradley
A modern adaptation of Poe’s classic story. Nightmares on Congress Street, Part IV contained Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado” presented traditionally – this one is also excellent, but the script updates the story to a modern setting.

Retroactive Anti-Terror by Alex Irvine, adapted by William Dufris
This science fiction story portrays a different type of horror – a future where people are prosecuted for what they might do. Alex Irvine’s original story appeared in Salon.com in 2004. The story makes a clear political statement which people from all viewpoints would benefit from hearing.

Much A-Zoo About Nothing written and performed by Michael Duffy
A humorous song in which a guy goes to a zoo and encounters “ten green men with super suits on”.

The Wind by Ray Bradbury, adapted by William Dufris
It starts when Alan calls Herb on the phone obviously very nervous. After a little prodding by Herb, Alan reveals that it’s the wind he’s so worried about, and the tense story takes off from there. Bradbury probably has more stories available as audio drama than any other author, and this wonderful adaptation has me hunting for more.

The Door Below by Hugh B. Cave, adapted by William Dufris
Another good horror story that takes place mostly in a lighthouse… ghosts, anyone?

The Statement of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft, adapted by William Dufris
This is my favorite of the collection. Dufris and crew perfectly capture the creepy horror of Lovecraft’s original story.

Nightmares on Congress Street V is the second title I’ve heard from Rocky Coast, and I’m convinced that they are one of the top current producers of audio drama. With first-rate acting, the careful placing of sound effects, very good music, and fantastic scripts, these stories capture and hold tight. I can’t recommend this title highly enough for fans of audio drama and horror.

You can get this title from Paperback Digital, Tantor Media, Amazon, and Audible.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Consciousness Plague by Paul Levinson

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Consciousness Plague by Paul LevinsonThe Consciousness Plague
by Paul Levinson, read by Mark Shanahan
7 CD’s – 9 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listen & Live Audio
Published: 2003
ISBN: 1593160380
Themes: / Murder / Memory / Mystery / Cognitive Anthropology /

Detective Phil D’Amato has to solve a series of murders, but he and many others begin losing chunks of their memory. It turns out a functioning memory is quite helpful when trying to solve crimes, but D’Amato manages anyway. Levinson wrote it in first-person, so when D’Amato realizes there is important information he had forgotten, you don’t know it until he knows it. That really worked well for me, giving me that startled, disconcerted feeling one would actually have in that situation.

Early in the book Phil D’Amato declares himself a “lone wolf” and immediately begins butting heads with shortsighted superiors. But if the book promises at the beginning to be cliché, don’t believe it. Detective
D’Amato brings aboard a number of collaborators as he gets the bad guy.

There are a few unbelievable moments. For example, Dr. D’Amato decides to fly to Scotland to speak with a man face to face because he is warned that the man is “really monotone” when talking over the phone. Perhaps I lack the proper empathy, not having previously been subjected to such a monotone telephone conversation that I’d rather cross an ocean just to have a face-to-face conversation, but I found the few moments like this distracting.

On the other hand, what do I know? Levinson won the Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work in 2003 for this novel. The plot is really quite intriguing, and pulled in credible ideas from a number of fields such as Cognitive Anthropology. (I get the feeling he googled some other areas of expertise for enough information to throw them in the mix, but let a non-googler cast the first stone.)

Mark Shanahan does different voices for over a dozen characters. How well does he do? With that many voices it depends on whether you’re a glass-is-half-full or half-empty kind of person. He actually has the perfect voice for a New York forensic detective and even the silliest voice was attached to one of the more endearing characters, so it worked for me.

Posted by Mike