Audiobook Review: The Commission by Michael Norman

17 10 2012

The Commission by Michael Norman (Sam Kincaid, Bk. 1)

Read by William Dufris

Blackstone Audio

Length: 6 Hrs 58 Min

Genre: Police Procedural

Quick Thoughts: The Commission isn’t going to floor you as a mystery. Norman tells a straight forward tale in workmanlike prose with realistic and likeable characters. Despite its heavy use of Procedural clichés, The Commission is a lot of fun and should provide a quick fix for mystery and detective thriller fans.

Grade: B

So, all month long I have been participating in Jenn’s Bookshelves annual October Murder, Monsters, Mayhem blog event. So far, we have had a lot of monsters and plenty of mayhem, but we’ve been pretty light on the Murder. I have always liked a good murder mystery. OK, maybe not always. There was a time where I liked Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, and at no time did I worry about whether Sam was killed by a goat, on a boat in a moat for his oats, but pretty early in junior high school I met Dame Agatha Christies, and I became a murder mystery fan for life. In October, we spend a lot of time preparing ourselves for the monsters that come out at night, and try to steal our souls dragging us down into the great abyss. Yet, so much of the mythology behind our monsters is based on the evils that humans do. So, I wanted to squeeze in at least one murder mystery this year for Murder, Monsters, Mayhem. One of the big reasons I wanted to do this is it provides me a bit of a break during the event. Back when I did my Zombie Event, and I listened to nearly 20 Zombie Audiobooks in a single month, I realized that in future events, I would need a buffer. This is why I specifically looked for a Police Procedural instead of some other type of murder thriller, so I could get away from the horror genre just a bit, before jumping back head first into the zombie hordes.

When a member of Utah’s Parole Board is gunned down in the driveway of his home, Sam Kincaid, the chief detective in the Investigative Branch of the Utah Department of Correction Department is called in to act as a liaison with the Salt Lake City Police Department. Teamed up with Kate McDermott, a fast rising detective known for her handling of high profile cases, Sam investigation leads him to kinky sex, public corruption and puts him and those he loves in danger. The Commission is a pretty straight forward, by-the-numbers police procedural. It is full of situations that border on clichés of the genre. While very little in the book will surprise seasoned mystery reader, it has the feel of a warm jacket, or comfy blanket. You know what to expect, and that is exactly what is delivered. I actually really enjoyed The Commission. I liked the characters, and Norman does a good job walking you through the process of the investigation. This isn’t one of those stories that will floor you with a big twist, or shock you with an intimate betrayal, but simply competent professionals doing their job well, despite political pressures. Even the bit of romantic tension between the main characters is done in a workmanlike way that feels realistic. The Commission isn’t going to floor you as a mystery. Norman tells a straight forward tale in workmanlike prose with realistic and likeable characters. Despite its heavy use of Procedural clichés, The Commission is a lot of fun and should provide a quick fix for mystery and detective thriller fans.

It took me a while to get into Dufris reading, not because there was anything wrong with it, but because I’m most familiar with Dufris in his narrations of Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series, and I couldn’t help but wonder when the lizard like Grik were going to show up. Yet, before too long, Dufris pulled me into the world and kept me there for the rest of the book. Dufris really shines during the first person POV readings of Sam Kincaid. He brings a natural humor to his reading that added personality to the clever but serious main character. He gave Kincaid a real feel, never making him sound like a professional voice over actor pretending to be a cop. Dufris gives the investigation a sort of quirky pacing that kept it lively, even during the longish expositional segments where Kincaid is describing his thought process. While The Commission is a pretty straight forward procedural, Dufris does a great job bringing the story to life.

Note: Thanks to Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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