Audiobook Review: Immoral by Brian Freeman

2 04 2011

Immoral by Brian Freeman (Jonathan Stride, Book1)

Read by Joe Barrett

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Mystery

Quick Thoughts: This surprisingly satisfying thriller holds up well despite some minor issues with the narration.

Grade: B

A few reviews ago, I sort of complained about a book that wasn’t what I expected to be. The author of that book, who I expected to write one style of book, went and wrote another (I know, how dare he!). My major complaint was not that the book in itself was bad, but, I was hoping for something else, something more along the lines of what I expected from the author, and he gave me something so completely different, that I was disappointed. Now, listening to Immoral by Brian Freeman, I really can’t make the same complaint, mostly because I never read one of Mr. Freeman’s novels before, and, well, I choose to start with the first novel in his Jonathan Stride series. Yet, I did go into the novel with some expectations. I expected a grumpy, scruffy cop, constantly fighting against the brass, get’s involved in a case he just can’t let go of. Typical police procedural stuff, with maybe some betrayals, and a final gun battle at the end. Well, Immoral had a few of the elements I expected, but, it was packed with a whole lot more.

From almost the first scene, with a teenage girl describing the missing teenage girl as a major slut, I thought there was something different about this novel. Freeman takes a lot of risks in the novel, the biggest being making the young victim/missing person as unlikable as possible. From there, I was constantly surprised, not so much by the plot, but by where the author was taking us. The novel included the investigation, then an actually trial, better written than many lawyer/authors we see today. Finally, he moves us away from Duluth, where the whole plot had developed to that point. Eventually, he pulls it together with a decent ending that doesn’t rely on a stupid car chase, or predictable gun battles. Freeman also takes some unusual steps in character development, with strange romantic situations for the hero. He also provided us with one twisted family at the center of all the mystery. All in all, I enjoyed the novel, and believe the author did pull everything together well. At points, it did drag, especially in the last third of the book, but the payoff made some the dragging worthwhile.

Joe Barrett narrated the novel. At first I had trouble buying into his narration, but eventually his narrative voice grew on me, and I could match it with the main character. What I did have trouble with was some of his other voices. Some of his female voices were grating on the nerves, especially those of the younger women. What confused me was some of the females came off just fine, while others ended up sounding like Maude beating a cat. While the majority of the book took place in Minnesota, I didn’t get much of a Midwest vibe, and his one Hispanic character I expected to start yelling “Arriba! Arriba!” and begin running around a big yellow sombrero. Yet, despite my complaints, most of the moments of annoyance came with minor characters and didn’t detract from the overall experience. I definitely will be checking out the next novel in this series.



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