By Rick R. Reed
Narrated by Taavi Mark
***** Audio book review *****
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Part 1 – 5 hours 13 mins
Part 2 – 4 hours 49 mins
The Internet Is the New Meat Market for Gay Men Now a Killer Is Turning the Meat Market into a Meat Wagon.
One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. He’s just another guy.
They invite him over. He’s just another trick. Harmless. They’re dead wrong.
When the first bloody body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. Sickened by the butchered mess of one of his brothers left on display in a bathtub, he seeks relief outside where the young man who discovered the body waits to tell him the story of how he found his friend. But who is this witness… and did he play a bigger part in the murder than he’s letting on?
For Comparetto, this encounter with a witness is the beginning of a nightmare. Because this witness did more than just show up at the scene of the crime; he set the scene. And maybe, he’s more than just a killer… maybe he’s dead himself.
Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth, a truth that he needs to discover before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity…his life. Because in this killer’s world, IM doesn’t stand for instant message… it stands for instant murder.
So what did I think?
I ‘read’ this book in its audio format so my enjoyment was impacted by a number of factors: the plot, quality of the story, style of the telling, characterisation and finally the narration. Ideally I would like to be able to assess the two components (the story and the narration) separately but actually find the narration has too much direct impact on my views of the story to do this effectively.
This is a mystery/thriller and is a beautifully crafted tale that takes the listener deep into a darker side of the world of internet hook-ups. It plunges straight into a series of brutal murders. It is blunt and graphic and violent and horrific. The murders are descriptive, grossly so, with descriptions of sights, sounds, smells and feelings giving a sense of realism to the scenes. It was almost like being plunged into an episode of Criminal Minds.
During the early part of the story, we are introduced to the various murder victims before they face their final moments. Even though each of these characters only play a short role, the author does a wonderful job of bringing a real personal element to each one. He describes their homes, personal traits and provides an insight into each man’s emotional state. We learn how feel about their online hookups and the men they meet and what they are really looking for in life – and all are looking for love.
Ed Comparetto is the main focus of the story (apart from the killer). He is a cop who gets caught up in the murder investigation but ultimately gets suspended. I am not sure why the killer singled Ed out but contact from the killer and a desire to get his job back gives him no choice but to solve the mystery himself. While going through this really difficult period in his life, Ed meets Peter, which adds a romance element to the story. But mostly this story is focused on Ed’s efforts to catch the killer.
It is difficult to talk about the killer and other characters without giving away the plot so I will keep it short. I thought the character of the killer was brilliant. He was perfectly creepy and his true evil nature was evident. There were some devices used in the story, such as diary entries, which provide a fabulous view into the past and the pyschy of the killer. A word of warning that the story does have some scenes, apart from graphic murder, that could be upsetting to some readers (pedophilia/rape).
Now to the narration which was brilliant! I am not an expert (I’ve only listened to three other audio books) but truly believe this guy (Taavi Mark) got it right. The accents were perfectly suited to each character and he switched effortlessly between them.
He mastered the voice of the killer, truly adding a real sense of creepiness. The voice is breathy but chilling. It was quite clever how the killer’s breathy voice deepened when he was switching into character for his IM hook ups which even included when he was reading them.
This story had large sections of dialogue and switched between different characters points of view so it was even more important to get the voices right – it wasn’t just small sentences here and there but large tracts of narration while in character. One of the significant characters was female and I found her voice (the pitch, tone, accent and inflections) perfect!
It is really hard to make this claim because I hadn’t read the book first but I’m going to put it out there anyway – I think listening to this book actually added to my enjoyment. I felt the use of the voices, particularly the killer and his family member, actually helped immerse me into the story, added to the atmosphere and gave a great sense of the emotion.
In summary, I highly recommend this story for lovers of a good graphic, murder thriller (it’s focus is not romance) and the audio book is excellent.
If you do choose to listen to the audio version then be aware that it is long (you can change the pace of the narration but it does have a big impact on how it sounds – I listened at x1.25). I think this one was nearly 10 hours. I listened to the first half during a weekly commute to and from work and the second half on a 4 hour road trip which made good use of my time!
If you’re not sure if the audio version is for you, you can listen to a sample before completing your purchase. If you already own the Kindle version then the audio version is sometimes cheaper. If you own both, you can switch back and forth using WhisperSync which is brilliant.
Finally I would like to pass on my thanks to the author who provided me with this Audio book in return for an honest review.
For more information on Rick R Reed and his books, visit his website.