Audiobook Review: Head Wounds by Chris Knopf

7 03 2011

Head Wounds by Chris Knopf (Sam Acquillo, Book 3)

Read by Richard Ferrone

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Quick Thought: An excellent thriller filled with interesting, complicated characters well delivered by the narrator.

Grade: B+

Chris Knopf has created an interesting character in Sam Acquillo. The former boxer, former Executive Mechanical Engineer and not so former drunk, Acquillo is now a refugee in the Hamptons, working as a carpenter, and basically not so successfully trying to stay out of trouble.  Like many of today’s thriller characters, Acquillo is burnt out, hard headed and has questionable taste in women. For those reasons, and many others, I don’t really like Sam Acquillo. He is just a frustrating character. He shuns help when he should be seeking it, he makes numerous questionable decisions, yet often manages to full face first into the truth, and he’s just a bit of a jackass. Yet, I also like him as a character, despite his annoying, almost cliché thriller tendencies, he actually offers a new perspective to solving his various mysteries. As someone who worked as a Mechanical Engineer, he has a fascinating way of piecing things together, that you don’t see in most mysteries. He doesn’t come at it as a detective, but looks for a multitude of possibilities, and sees how the clues fit into his notions. That is why he can often be wrong in his assumptions, but eventually finds his way to the truth.

It’s not just this duality of character that makes Head Wounds, the third Sam Acquillo novel work. Yes, the fascinating main character is important, yet, Knopf has peppered his novels with a menagerie of likable and quirky secondary characters. For all the frustrations that Sam, and his sometimes love interest Amanda causes, readers can’t help but cheer Jackie, Sam’s quirky lawyer and jeer a large group of badies, Even Eddie Van Halen, Sam’s dog, offers great moments for readers. In Head Wounds, the mystery is well developed, with just the right amount of twists and turns. Acquillo stays consistent with his poor taste in women and hardheadedness, but at least it adds to the book here instead of detracts. If there is any negatives to add to the overall story, is the seemingly obsessive revisiting of Sam’s past, but even those sidetracks eventually help flesh out the total novel.

One of my concerns regarding Head Wounds was the change in narrator. I though Stefan Rudnicki, who typically does science fiction work, did an excellent job with the first two books in the series. I have also always had mixed feelings about Richard Ferrone. He has a gruff, older sounding voice that I don’t think always fits well with character and his attempt at voices outside of his breadbasket, mainly female voices and accents, can be tough to listen to. Luckily, Ferrone had an appropriate voice for Acquillo as the main POV. Yes, his female characters were a little disconcerting, but not as glaringly here as I have heard in the past. All together, Head Wounds is an excellent thriller filled with interesting, complicated characters well delivered by the narrator.

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