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 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.
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 is fascinating to me, and the characters well drawn. I have a long commute, and find myself hurrying to get in the car to be on my way so I can continue to listen. The story is so good that it almost manages to overcome the bizarre narration. The narrator pronounces "the" as "thee", "a" as "ae", and doesn't elide the words in a sentence. He pronounces every word, every final consonant clearly and distinctly, even when it isn't natural to do so. It's sure not a Carolina accent, but it is so distracting I'm considering buying the paper edition so I don't have to hear it anymore.
I am just halfway through this book, and I will continue only because John Hart has written a very good story and I am hooked on it. However, I agree with others who say the narration is absolutely terrible. I'm not sure what Sowers was trying to accomplish, but it almost ruins the book. My 6-year-old grandson could do a better job!! I will avoid other books narrated by Scott Sowers, and that's a shame since Hart's book is good and perhaps I will avoid other good books simply because I fear the narration will be as painful as this!
There are books to actually read and some to listen to. This one was certainly one to read and not to listen to. The narration drove me crazy. I will not listen to another book by the narrator unless he completely loses that accent. I've listened to other books about the south with other narrators and have enjoyed them, but this one hurt. I did get through the book and actually enjoyed the story, so I'll perhaps try another by this same author.
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!
I think I was more self-conscious about the slow talking because of reading the reviews. It's not really that bad. The story more than makes up for any slow narration. I really didn't notice it after I got into the story..which happened quickly.
I've listened to over 100 books at audible, and this is one of the better ones for sure!