Audiobook Review: A Simple Act of Violence by R. J. Ellory

7 09 2011

A Simple Act of Violence by R. J. Ellory

Read by Kevin Kenerly

Blackstone Audio

Length: 18 hrs 29 min

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Listeners who enjoy complex conspiracies tales, with a lot of historical background will find much to enjoy in A Simple Act of Violence. For everyone else, Ellory’s intriguing characters and Kenerly’s excellent narration makes this worth a listen.

Grade: B

Sometimes, I think it’s a bad thing for my first experience with an author to be amazing. You see, I’m human, and if I have this awesome reading experience, I begin to expect things. I expect an equally amazing experience every time I decide to read or listen to a book from the same author. Heck, sometimes I expect something even better. Yet, I know the let down will come. I know that every author, no matter how mind blowing a previous work was, would eventually put out something that is merely good. Or, perhaps, if you can truly believe it, average. I recently listened to RJ Ellory’s novel, A Quiet Belief in Angels, and I loved it. Luckily, I also had two other of his audiobooks ready to be listened to. Of course, I really wanted another amazing listening experience to rival that of A Quiet Belief in Angels. So, I took my unrealistic expectations and pointed them squarely at A Simple Act of Violence, RJ Ellory’s latest audiobook. To add to the fun, the narrator was Kevin Kenerly, who is a narrator I really enjoyed in the past. So, with all this in place, I was ready to take on A Simple Act of Violence.

A Simple Act of Violence is a complex tale dealing with political intrigue, corruption and murder. At its core, it involves a series of brutal murders of women, who were beaten, killed, and wrapped with a ribbon. As the media will do, they dubbed the unknown perpetrator The Ribbon Killer. Detective Robert Miller, fresh off an Internal Affairs Investigation which received heavy media play itself, is given the investigation after a fourth women’s body is found. All this sounds like a typically police procedural, but it is far from that. Alternating with the tale of the investigation is a first person account of a CIA assassin working in Latin America. From training to operations, the tale lays out the power of the CIA to act as it sees fit. A Simple Act of Violence does not suck you in instantly like A Quiet Belief in Angels did. In fact, it takes a while for the book to really snag the listener. Ellory creates fascinating characters, and develops well textured competing storylines, but it is not until about halfway into the book when the two stories merge that I found myself fully engaging with the story. Ellory has created a unique type of crime tale. This is not your typical cat and mouse serial killer tale, nor is it an expose’ on brilliant detective work complete with car chases and gun battles. A Simple Act of Violence is a cerebral tale, where the answers come more from revelatory speeches than pieced together puzzles. So while I didn’t find the utterly engaging tale I had previously experienced with Ellory’s work, I did find a complex story of conspiracy and murder that left me with a lot to think about.  

This is only my second experience with Kevin Kenerly as a narrator, but I definitely will be seeking out more of his work in the future.  Kenerly’s voice is windy smooth, moving the tale along with a breathy pace and style. Kenerly finds way to create tension throughout the book, even at some of the drier moments, I was riveted to the sound of his voice. Kenerly’s voicing of Detective Robert Miller, was a highlight of the novel to me, giving his inner voice a true feeling of depth, while providing an almost urban mellowness to his external dialogue. Kenerly’s performance enhanced the listen for me, allowing me to truly follow the many expositional moments without feeling like I am being lectured at by my Political Science Professor. Listeners who enjoy complex conspiracies tales, with a lot of historical background will find much to enjoy in A Simple Act of Violence. For everyone else, Ellory’s intriguing characters and Kenerly’s excellent narration makes this worth a listen.

 

Note: Thanks to the wonderful people at Blackstone Audio for proving me with a review copy of this title.

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2 responses

7 09 2011
dogearedcopy

I don’t know that A Simple Act of Violence is better or worse than A Quiet Belief in Angels in Ellory’s oeuvre so much that it is very different. I was at first hesitant to read A Simple Act of Violence after listening to A Quiet Belief in Angels because I thought it might be more of the same (and quite honestly, I found, as a mother of a elementary school-aged daughter, that “A Quiet Belief” pushed my limits.) “A Simple Act” though, reads more like a thriller and I found it easier to take in. Okay, it was easier to handle from the safety of my couch in broad daylight; but when you have Kevin Kenerly murmuring the words of a serial killer in your ear, that’s something else! Still, I get what you mean: “A Simple Act” just didn’t have the same punch as “A Quiet Belief;” but I don’t think it was meant to be either. AQBIA was very much about “The Who” whereas ASOV was very much about The Why, if that makes any sense.

9 09 2011
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

You pretty much sold me on this from your ‘quick thoughts,’ even though it didn’t quite measure up to QUIET BELIEF for you.

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