Audiobook Review: Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf

19 11 2012

Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf

Read by Donald Corren

Blackstone Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 43 Min

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Dead Anyway is an interesting blend of old school revenge thriller, complex confidence game and modern day cyber mystery that while leaning heavily on classic thriller themes creates something quite unique.

Grade: B+

I have a lot of strange fantasies. I think a lot of them come from the variety of books and television shows I enjoy. As a kid, my greatest fantasy was to visit Narnia. I was occasionally known to check the insides of cupboards, wardrobes, closets, and even behind tall bushes for secret entrances to magical lands. Now, as I’m older, my fantasies have taken on a more realistic flavor. In fact, I’m pretty sure if I came across a magical portal to another land, I’d probably choose to stay here with my air-conditioning and high speed internet. Nowadays, my fantasies tend to be about remedying regret, or wiping the slate clean and starting over. I will often read a book where some character, typically due to some bad situation, steals a new identity and gets to reinvent themselves. This is one of my newest fantasies. Being able to step away from all the encumbrances of the decades of decisions I made, and begin fresh someplace else. To make matter even better for me, unlike my fictional cohorts, I am not running from the mafia, or being stalked by some crazy and I don’t have a complex criminal past that will one day show back up at my door. No one would hunt me down, or use my past to blackmail me into helping them with their latest heist. I could just be someone new, maybe style my facial hair differently, wear more khakis and start listening to classical music and jazz fusion. I could wipe the slate clean, maybe take some courses at a community college, study programming, become a paralegal, or even a fry cook. Sadly, I really don’t have the energy to research dead people at the cemetery, forge a birth certificate and create a new identity. And while I wouldn’t mind if the Bob Reiss persona was declared legally dead, I don’t think I would want to be shot in the head to get it done.

After a brutal encounter with shadowy hit man, Arthur Cathcart is left gravely injured, and his beautiful wife dead. Now, basically recovered, but with some lingering physical and mental conditions, Arthur will use his unique skills as an marketing researcher and investigator to get to the bottom of his wife’s death, Yet, with an unknown assassin on the loose, looking to tie up lose ends, Arthur has himself declared legally dead and takes on a new identity to pursue this mystery.  Dead Anyway is an interesting blend of old school revenge thriller, complex confidence game and modern day cyber mystery that while leaning heavily on classic thriller themes creates something quite unique. Dead anyway has a true old school, almost noir feel to it. Arthur is a more mature, cerebral character than what fills most thrillers these days. He’s a careful and meticulous in his investigation. This isn’t some guns blazing, car chasing, action filled blow-em-up thriller. It’s a more intricately plotted novel, with an almost regular joe character who acts like a grown up, I mean, heck, there was even a Michael Landon reference in the novel. Yet, Arthur’s skills are definitely an interesting blend of classic con men yet modern day hacker and info broker. It’s the little modern details that give the classic spin a fresh new feel. The thing I really liked about this novel was the little touches. From Arthur’s meticulous research style, to the effects of his injuries on his process, Knopf does some subtly clever things to this tale that adds depth where you would least expect it. While the plot itself was complex, Knopf’s professorial style made it quite easy to understand, yet still managing to make the story engaging. There are a lot of cookie cutter thrillers out there today, often substituting bells and whistles for characterization and story. Dead Anyway is not cookie cutter in the least. It’s a fun little mystery told from the perspective of a flawed but engaging character.

I personally thought Donald Corren was the perfect choice to bring this mystery to life. Corren has a quirky voice, but a very professional delivery. He brings a very human quality to his reading, while understanding the pace he needs to deliver the action, when it comes. One thing I liked about Dead Anyway was that the main character wasn’t you typical, super sexy, man cupcake. I pictured Arthur as not really ugly, but sort of Hollywood ugly, quirky with character. I think Corren’s voice accentuated this quality. I could actually picture Corren in the role of a visual version of this novel. My only complaint was the audiobook has a few noticeable pick ups, where lines were obviously edited in later, and these lines didn’t match the tone and volume level of the other parts of the production. Other than that, this was a great production for fans looking for a unique stylistic thriller.

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

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