Audiobook Review: Wild Thing by Josh Bazell

22 02 2012

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell (Dr. Peter Brown Series, Bk. 2)

Read by Robert Petkoff with Stephanie Wolfe

Hachette Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Wild Thing is a fun, twisted, crude thriller that provides some genuine laugh out loud moments. The two main characters are so enjoyably quirky that it makes it easy to look past some of the novel’s flaws and just have fun with it.

Grade: B

One of the problems being someone obsessed with books, and involved in some level in the book blogging community, is I often know too much about books before I even physically have a copy in my greasy hands. I spend a lot of time scanning for new releases, whittling down the many possible choices to a manageable number. This will involve finding out which of my favorite novelist has a new release coming out, and scanning genre lists to find unexpected books of interest. With reading and listening time at a premium for us literary obsessives, we all too often know exactly what a novel is about when we finally begin it. While this makes us more likely to fit in novels we know we’ll enjoy, it can often take some of the magic of discovery out of the experience. Yet, once in a while, a title slips our attention, and when we discover its existence, we rush to find a copy. This is what happened to me with Josh Bazell’s follow up to Beat the Reaper. Despite my religiously checking the Hachette Audio website, for some reason I missed its impending release until release day was almost upon us. In my mad scramble to get my hands on a copy, I never even bothered to check out little things like, what this book was about. After reading the first book in this series, I just expected the same stylistic, ultra violent irreverent thriller that I encountered in beat the Reaper. While Wild Thing did fit some of those adjectives, in many ways this novel is an entirely unique animal.

After barely surviving the events of Beat the Reaper, former mob hitman and current physician Dr. Peter Brown is again in hiding, working as a cruise ship doctor. When an old friend contacts him with potential work for a reclusive billionaire, Peter jumps at the chance to earn some money to help him out of his current situation. Yet, the job presented to him makes his instantly skeptical, despite the beautiful Anthropologist he will be partnered up with. From the first words of this novel, you know you are in for anther crude, rude twisted adventure full of dark comedy, irreverence, and graphic sexuality, yet the underlining mystery involved wasn’t what I expected. Bazell brings together a strange cast of characters worthy of a Carl Hiaasen novel. Yet, beyond Dr. Brown, under the guise of Dr. Lionel Azimuth, and his anthropologist partner, the almost Bond-Girlesque Violet Hurst, these other characters, no matter how quirky, were nothing more than color. Luckily, Peter and Violet were such an outrageous pair, offering us some headshakingly hilarious moments, that it’s easy to overlook the lack of development in the minor characters. Wild Things is quite uneven at times, full of side tangent info dumps, and strange distracting side plots, but the unevenness of the plot was made up for stylistically. In fact, some of the highlights of the novel are the tangents, particularly Violets, when she outlines the inevitability of an ecological apocalypse, or rips into a fundamentalist trying to impose his views on her.  These moments make the novel. Brown is the ultimate example of an unreliable narrator, who takes pride in his ability to mislead while telling truth. He has a strange moral code which combines a desire to make up for his time spent killing people, with his ability to kill anyone who get in his way and, at least for me, I wanted to cheer for him, despite the fact that at times I found him despicable. I think the major problem for this book overall is that people will go in expecting this sequel to Beat the Reaper to be, well, a sequel to Beat the Reaper. In many ways, stylistically and substantively, it’s a departure from the first novel, and that may lead to some disappointment. Yet, Wild Thing is a fun, twisted, crude thriller that provides some genuine laugh out loud moments. The two main characters are so enjoyably quirky that it makes it easy to look past some of the novel’s flaws and just have fun with it.

Wild Thing was narrated by Robert Petkoff, and that is reason alone to listen to this audiobook. Petkoff delivers this twisted tale with almost a jeering frenetic tone that was simply perfect for the reading. Petkoff’s voice just drips with sarcastic wit, which truly brings the character of Peter Brown to life. He also handles the give and take between Peter and Violet flawlessly, giving them a natural flow to their verbal battles. Along with Petkoff, Stephanie Wolfe has a small part in this production, voicing the epilogue and one momentary aside from Violet that delivered a genuinely funny moment and probably my biggest laugh. I should add one note, that will probably make the wonderful people at Hachette Audio shake their heads a bit. I actually, sort of missed the music that many complained about in Beat the Reaper. In Beat the Reaper there were action scenes played out with music, adding to the fast paced nature of the novel. While there wasn’t as much of a place for it here, I did miss it. Overall, I enjoyed the heck out of Wild Thing and Petkoff’s narration makes it a novel that should be listened to.

Note: A special thanks to the good people of Hachette Audio for providing me a copy of this title for review.

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4 responses

22 02 2012
Laurie C

I didn’t expect to like Beat the Reaper as much as I did, but I was going to skip the sequel. It sounds like a good audiobook, though, so I’ll look for it on audio.

22 02 2012
Tanya/ dog eared copy

For some reason, though I kept seeing this book being promoted, I missed the fact that it was a sequel to Beat the Reaper! I will definitely check it out! Oh, as as for the SFX, those things drove me absolutely crazy in the Beat the Reaper, so I’m just as glad that they didn’t include them this time around. In fact, if you hadn’t mentioned that they were absent in Wild Thing, I would have assumed they were included and would have skipped it in favor of print.

22 02 2012
theguildedearlobe

It’s weird, I usually hate music and sfx in audiobooks, but for some reason they didn’t bother me so much in Beat the Reaper. They probably would have been even more out of place in this novel because the action scenes here were not as intense, but I too was expecting them.

22 02 2012
le0pard13

Great review. I have this one already on-deck and am looking forward to it (now more than ever with your look at it). Thanks.

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