I have always found audio books to be difficult to dismiss or love unconditionally. On one hand, I grew up on storytelling tapes and I would never have even bothered with the Discworld books if I hadn’t loved the cassette tapes I found for Guards! Guards! On the other, I can read faster on my own and I can get distracted very, very easily if I listen to them anywhere that isn’t a car or train.
But for me the key difference between a book and an audio book is that genre holds no real sway when I’m listening to something. What influences my enjoyment more than anything else is the narrator who has been charged, for better or for worse, with bringing any given book or series to life.
In the case of these three audio books, I’ve really lucked out. I’m a huge fan of Robert B. Parker, I like Spenser as a noir-ish PI, I miss Boston at times but I don’t want to go back there, and Joe Mantegna* is an incredibly gifted narrator. He really just sounds right, does decent voices, and really breathes life into the story. Is his attempt at female voices flawless? No, but I think it works since it is all being filtered through Spenser’s very male and noir POV.
Sixkill – 4 stars. The last of the series written by Robert B. Parker. I could have done with less of the he said, she said, which I didn’t notice as much in earlier books and I sort of felt slightly let down by the mystery’s conclusion… But I enjoyed Spenser as per usual and I really liked Zebulon Sixkill too.
Hundred-Dollar Baby – 4 stars. While a reader might benefit from reading or glancing at Ceremony in terms of knowing more about April Kyle, this was a really engaging listen. It took a while to figure out most of what was going on. Even after I figured out what was going on, I really liked watching Spenser going about proving it and trying to come to terms with what his discoveries would ultimately mean.
Rough Weather – 4 stars. A very strange case this time involving a bride being kidnapped right after getting married on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. This one really kept me guessing and I loved the end result as well as Spenser irritating the heck out of people. And, of course, his issues with the Gray Man and his relationship with Susan and Hawk. The Thanksgiving scene and the scene where Susan makes them both a meal were wonderful.
I would highly suggest taking a few of these or any of the others out for a spin sometime. I don’t know how much order matters either because I totally didn’t bother trying to listen to these books in a chronological fashion. Over all, the experiences I had with all three were very entertaining and enjoyable. And probably saved me from a lot of road rage given the amount of road construction going on in my area.
* AKA David Rossi from Criminal Minds.