This is a good mystery about a very brave 13 year old boy and his missing sister. He continues to look for her throughout the book but you know there is little chance she is not dead already. This book takes more twists and turns than that funny street in San Francisco, and that is the difference. It is well written and why anyone would complain about the narrator, I will never know. Worth a credit if you like mysteries. I sure wish all my downloads were this good.
There was a point when I started to toss this book in my digital DNF file. It was a little over six hours into Part 1, about the time when Johnny was having a dream about his sister and snakes. No, not because snakes are creepy, but this was when I first started to hear Scott Sowers going way overboard with his enunciation. All of a sudden I noticed that every syllable of every word was spoken distinctly, dipthongs became two syllables, and normally elided letter sequences were broken into their component parts. The was never a thu and never an uh.
It started distracting me more and more. I went back and listened again to early parts of the book and heard a trace of the odd speech, but nowhere near as overwhelming.
I soldiered on, trying to keep up with the story. But I was paying more attention to Sowers' narration than to the book. In fact, there was one body unearthed during that odd period of narration, and I have no idea how the guy was killed, so distracting was Sowers' performance. I looked for some sort of explanation for this curious change in narration. Something in the story line, requiring special pronunciation? Something about the characters, maybe an astral influence? No. Nothing.
From somewhere early in Part 2 onwards, Sowers' accent started sounding more and more normal, or normal for one doing North Carolina. By the end Sowers was back to form. In fact, he did a superb job capturing the despair of one of the young boys in the story, as he pleads with his friend for understanding.
I thought Sowers did an excellent job of capturing North Carolina in "Down River", and said so. Since that book was released two years before this one, I assume it was produced first, so I have no idea why Sowers would still be messing around with an accent he had apparently mastered.
Anyhow, was the book good? You bet. I started off prepared to not like it when I discovered the protagonist was a 13 year old boy, thinking this would wind up a modern-day Hardy Boys treatment. Time went by, however, and I started getting into it. Yes, you have to suspend disbelief to buy into some of the things Johnnie does, but in the end it all works very well.
I do wonder if John Hart has read much of Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan ("Bones") series? If I remember correctly, it sometimes takes Tempe hours to determine just the sex of a body that's been buried for a few years. John Hart's medical examiner does sex, age, and maybe cause of death, all at a glance.
I started reading John Hart with "Down River" because it won an Edgar. That was one of the best books I have ever read. This one had the potential, but Scott Sowers' strange changes in accent and enunciation dragged it down for me.
In all the years I've been listening to books, I have never stopped in the middle due to the narration. However, in this case I had no choice. This is by far the most ridiculous and annoying narration I have come across. I found the story somewhat depressing, but certainly would have finished otherwise.
I am always pleasantly surprised to read a new author based on reader's reviews to find out it is even better than described. Loved the characters, the twisting plot, the determination of a young character and the suspense. I could not stop listening !!! I am downloading another of this author's books because this one was just that good !
The story took me with it before the so-so narration had a chance to skew the experience for me.
I listen while at work and I found myself anxious to get to work so I could listen to more.
This is one that I will put into my 'listen to again' folder.
I have been a member of Audible since 1991... and have listened to hundreds of books. This is one of the best... and the first one I've listened to twice. I am from eastern North Carolina and Hart's dialect and Sowers accent are spot on. I was dumbfounded by reviewers who said the story was slow to develop and the narrator inappropriate. This is how many people speak here!
Hart's colorful writing helped set the backdrop for characters I was immediately drawn to (either to hug or to strangle!) and that really made the book for me. The never-saw-it-coming plot twists and excellent narration was just a bonus. 4+ stars.
This book took a long time to get started -- about six hours. If you're patient enough to wait that long the story eventually zips along with interesting twists and turns.
About the reader -- yikes! I'm a lifelong North Carolinian and no one talks that way. If they did, I would move to Tennessee.
This was a first for me; first John Hart and first Scott Sowers. I was pleasantly pleased with both. Scott Sowers may move into my 2nd favorite reader spot behind Will Patton! While I had ideas about the outcome, I wasn't sure, and even though I was on target, I didn't hit a bullseye. That is always a bonus for me, when the book actually does supply clues to work with, and have them difficult enough that I don't always get "who dun'it". I was very involved with so many of the characters, I can almost give a visual description of them from my own perception. Even the detailed subplots were valid and important to the theme. I really love it when that happens, too often subplots seem like "filler". The message of redemption is there and not preachy; almost not there. I look forward to reading more John Hart, and will look for Sowers to read in other books. I do wish I knew for sure what happens next, but probably not enough for a serial, I'm getting a little tired of writers getting rich off my addiction to find out what happens to so&so next. Now I just wish it was easier to fix my typos in these reviews!
A four star story corrupted by a narrator who decided to pronounce the articles "a" and "the", "aay" and "thee". Bad enough he did it while narrating in the third person, but when he used it while portraying someone speaking in native back country Carolina dialect, it was too much. It was so annoying I had to take the story in spurts. He slipped at times and pronounced "the" correctly and just as I started to get lost in the story he would come back with something like "aay cat jumped from thee wall onto thee floor". It was like listening to a first grader read see spot run. The article "a" is pronounced "uh". The word "decide" is pronounced "dehcide", not "deecide". It was worse than saying "nucular" instead of nuclear. It was so blatantly forced that I can't help but wonder if he was made to do it, as I have listed to other narrations by Scott Sowers and enjoyed them very much. This is a very good story and a very good author, but I would recommend the hard copy over this childish attempt at literacy.
This dark and sad tale was a little slow to get started and somewhat overlong. I am glad I stayed with it - the pace picked up in the last third.
Johnny Merriman is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to his twin sister Alyssa. Her disappearance destroyed their family unit and his mother has sunk into depression, exacerbated by her relationship with abusive Ken Holloway. Johnny has had to grow up fast - he takes care of the home and his mother. Nevertheless, his thinking is too mature for a thirteen year old.
I agree with many reviewers that Scott Sowers narration was appalling. His accent complemented the Southern style and vernacular, but his enunciation was uneven. Within a single paragraph, he would alternate between pronouncing "a" and "the" as "ah" and "thuh", then switch to "ay" and "thee" sounding like a 3rd grader, breaking words into too many syllables. I was so irritated by this that I had to replay sections, because I lost the thread of the story.
I would not have cut out scenes, per se, just shortened them. Without giving too much away, there is a scene where Hart tries to intervene in the arrest if his partner. This went on and on, with repeated "Step asides", followed by "No" from Hart, to the point where I could happily have thrown it in the bin.
I will read more of John Hart, but will avoid Scott Sowers at all costs.