Audiobook Review: Act of Deceit by Steven Gore

21 09 2011

Act of Deceit by Steven Gore (Harlan Donnally, Book 1)

Read by John DeMita

Harper Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 19 Mins

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The start of a new series, Act of Deceit is a well plotted mystery with a complicated new character. John DeMita does a solid job as narrator, bringing an almost noir feeling to the reading.

Grade: B+

I love mystery series. In fact, I tend to choose my mystery/thriller reads based on author and series. When it comes to fantasy or science fiction, I tend to choose my reads based on the description and reviews I read, yet for mysteries, a long running series featuring a main character is what I look for. I think that the main reason behind this is that I enjoy the development of a character over a long period of time, and even if the actual mystery isn’t hard to figure out, at least I will be able to enjoy that particular character’s style in revealing the truth. One of the problems though with audiobooks is that often, a popular series has a rough history of audio production. You find things like multiple narrator changes, abridged earlier editions and out of print issues while trying to put together an entire series. It can get frustrating for someone like me who enjoys reading a series in order.  For this reason, I enjoy searching out new series, getting in on the ground floor. Act of Deceit is a new mystery series by Steven Gore revolving around former Police officer, now diner owner Harlan Donnally.

It starts pretty simply for Harlan Donnally. Still recovering from the incident that ended his career as a San Francisco Police Officer, Harry is living a quiet existence with his sorta girlfriend, running a small diner in Mt. Shasta, California. When a dying friend asks Harry to try to find his long lost sister and deliver her letter from him, Harry felt it was nothing more than a messenger job. He was wrong. Act of Deceit is a well plotted mystery with an interesting new character. The plot moves like a dark country road, full of twists and turns with the reader never quite sure where they will end up. Whenever you thought you had a grasp on just exactly where the story was taking you, it veered in another unexpected direction. This mystery had everything, legal twists, dark family secrets, conspiracies and corruption. Yet, it all worked together well, never becoming too convoluted. Harry Donnally will make a good series character, but in Act of Deceit, I had a hard time really connecting with him. I think Donnally was in a sort of moral and ethical purgatory in this book. With all the changes in his life, he came off as unsure of himself on many levels. While this was well done, I found it hard to truly get a grasp on where the author was taking his character. At times, Donnally seemed like an anti-hero willing to go vigilante, while at other times, he seemed to be the brisk by the book type, and there was a sort of struggle to bring these two sides of his persona together. By the end of the book, you could feel him becoming more grounded, more comfortable in his new existence, and it will be interesting to see how Gore handles his developing personality in the next book. All together, Act of Deceit works well as a series opener, and fans of Michael Connelly and David Levien should add Steven Gore to their lists of must read authors. 

John DeMita was the narrator for Act of Deceit and I thought he did a solid job. His slow, steady reading brought an almost noir feel to the book. DeMita was a good choice to voice the seemingly stolid, yet uncertain Harry Donnally. He voiced Donnally in a steady voice, which allowed the character’s moments of near breakdown to have that much more impact on the listener. His other characterizations were well done as well, using subtle tone changes and proper accents in place of over the top vocal gymnastics. This was my first experience with DeMita as a narrator, and while I wasn’t blown away, I enjoyed his reading and will be looking for more of his work. Act of Deceit is a solid audiobook production and highly recommended for fans of mystery series. 

Note: A special thanks to the good people of Harper Audio for providing me with a copy of this title to review. You can purchase Act of Deceit through



One response

26 09 2011
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I love audios with a noir kick! I may have to look for this one.

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