Monday, September 28, 2009

Well Worth the Wait: Big City Bad Blood in Audiobook!

First off, having just finished author Sean Chercover's excellent debut novel, Big City Bad Blood, I can finally see what all of the fuss was about. No wonder my friend (and book blogger) Corey has mentioned the author for over a year in various posts. And when reviewers start throwing the likes of Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, and Dennis Lehane about in their pieces and blog posts in regard to crime fiction entrances when talking about SC's inaugural tale, it tends to draw attention. Or, dubious stares from us jaundiced ones. Perhaps, I'm late to this party... but I'm old, have young kids to chase around and have to work till I drop dead to pay for them, so I have an excuse. But, I'm finally there with what this former Chicago P.I./writer brings to the genre and the readers who appreciate a great hardboiled thrown down. Although, I'm also one of those who really appreciates a well produced audiobook (because I have no time to actually read a book due to said age and kids). In my case, this book was well worth the wait till the audio form of this work (and his second novel, Trigger City) arrived.

Luckily, I am an Audible member and could download this great production - though it would be nice if others who aren't members had alternative purchase channels to obtain this audiobook. I know Audible regularly licenses and distributes various audiobooks (via the download route to their members using their proprietary file design) from other audio publishers (who also sell those works in CD, cassette, or MP3 formats). Perchance, Audible will start producing their own productions to other media that they could also sell? I sure hope so. And yes, I realize that it's available through Amazon's site, too. [and now: Sean Chercover] But, you still have to have an MP3 player, iPod, or computer to play it - or take the extra steps to burn it to disc. It's a small (but real) criticism due to that added limitation. And I say this because what the Audible studio managers produced in regard to Mr. Chercover's first book turned out to be one of the best audiobooks I've heard all year. And IMO, it needs wider avenues of distribution because it's that good. I think I've made myself clear in the past to this point: when an audio publisher perfectly matches up a quality and talented narrator to a finely written work of fiction (of any genre), and tops it off with the right bit of direction and production values, it can breathe not just sound but real life into the words of an author. It is simply lightning in a bottle for those of us audiobook enthusiasts. And they did it here [see why I think it shouldn't just be exclusive to Audible members (or iTunes addicts like myself)?].

Narrator Joe Barrett turned in an awesome performance in this production. He made the character of Ray Dudgeon his own. It'll be hard for me to associate anyone else's voice to that particular introspective Chicago P.I. other than this speaker. Much like blogger Jen (and I) can't see anyone else voicing author Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series other than George Guidall, or Jen's Mark Hammer not being the essence of James Lee Burke's Dave Robichheaux, Barrett is Dudgeon. The narrator was pitch perfect in his interpretation of the material. His use of intonation and dialect in his vocal characterizations were spot on, especially in the Chicago and L.A. settings of the book (so sayeth this native Angeleno). Whoever the studio manager was at Audible who came up with this casting should get a medal, IMHO. As well, Audible is to be commended for now offering the higher quality, Enhanced sound option for their audiobook distributions. It is a nice touch and a solid improvement for fans of the form. And when all of this is matched with an author who can really convey not only the landscape of a great city (along with personalities and story), but its gritty heart in words [very much like what the great film director (and fellow Chicagoan) Michael Mann did for The Windy City (Thief) and L.A. (Heat, Collateral)], the reader (or the listener) has another fantastic character in the book to become involved with. This was some combination to come together, and I was lucky enough to catch it. More thanks to my friends and book bloggers for steering it my way. And now I'm off to find and read One Serving of Bad Luck before teeing up the Trigger City audiobook.

And for said author Chercover, who gave his protagonist some excellent, smoking jazz/blues musicians and tracks to keep Ray Dudgeon company (wonderfully cited throughout) in his debut novel, here's a tip of the old hat (in my case a well worn golf cap) to you, my friend. This Dodger fan can't root for the Cubs, but you and the city of Chicago have a new fan.

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  1. Thanks so much for the VERY kind words! You have made my day.

    I'm thrilled with the job that Audible did, and the excellent narration by the talented Joe Barrett.

    Hope you enjoy Trigger City.

  2. I so glad you could drop by and leave a comment, Sean. Both you and Audible are to be commended for publishing such fine work (in book and audio form). I look forward to Trigger City, and whatever you come up with in the future. Thank you.

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did. I want to hear your take on 'One Serving of Bad Luck,' too.

  4. Corey: I sure will. And thanks for your championing this author's work. He writes some exceptional work.

  5. You're not the latest person to the party; I've never read Mr. Chercover's work. If he's being compared to those other authors, I'd be a fool not to.

    Thanks for the tip, lp13 and Corey.

  6. PCN: I think you'll enjoy Mr. Chercover's work. Thanks for your comment.