I don't usually praise an audio rendition of a book over reading the written word, but in the case of the Crime Cabal, the chance to hear Gregg Taylor's performance is a real highlight and not to be missed.
Gregg Taylor, the writer and lead actor in the "Tales of the Red Panda" online knows how to deliver an action packed and extremely entertaining story. His love of the genre shines through and in the reading of this, his first book, he brings his characters to life with as much enthusiasm and skill as he does in any of his excellent radio play performances. I've given this first effort a sold four stars. It's a genre piece, so expect cheesy villains and high heroics... and it's a shame his wife and co-star from the radio series was not available to voice the Flying Squirrel. Despite this, Gregg's excellent delivery demonstrates the depth of his understanding of his characters (and no small amount of his skill as an actor).This is old-time pulp adventure for a modern audience and it does its job beautifully. I can't recommend it enough.For fans of the podcast, this book gives us a great look at the origin story of one the show's more enduring recurring characters as well; agent Andie Parker.If you haven't given Gregg Taylor's work a try before now (and seriously, what have you been waiting for?) then you could do little better than grabbing a copy of "The Crime Cabal".
This is Gregg Taylor's third Red Panda novel and sees the return of Captain Clockwork, a villain from his outstanding ongoing audio drama series, take center stage. As usual the performance that Gregg provides is a highlight. He knows these characters so well that they leap out at you as fully living entities. The action scenes were some of the best yet, with a few genuinely heart stopping moments along the way. Kit Baxter, the Red Panda's partner in crime-fighting also gets her own moment in the sun as she seeks to stem the tide of terror in the city with the help of a handful of agents after the Red Panda is taken out of the picture for a while. While still an entertaining and well produced listen I couldn't give this one more than three stars for the story. While the ending satisfies the logic of the story it felt a little too abrupt. I'm a huge fan of Gregg's work, but I almost felt there needed to be another chapter in there at the end (and perhaps a chase) to give it that four or five star rating. That said, don't be put off. It seems to me that the sign of a genuinely gifted writer is the capacity to leave the reader/listener wanting more. I definitely want more and hope Gregg sees his way clear to write another novel some time soon. In the mean time I'll be tuning in to decoder ring theatre to catch the masked marvel's latest adventures and (of course recommending these books to all my friends).
This book is not an origin story per-se, but nonetheless (through the deft use of flashback) it delivers an entertaining examination of an important piece of the Red Panda's hidden past. Gregg Taylor's performance as he reads this, his second book, is pitch perfect. The Flying Squirrel, Andie Parker, Mother Hen, Spiro, and Peters are all beautifully realized in this audio book. Those who are not familiar with Taylor's long running and extremely well realized radio plays about the protagonist will receive as good an introduction to them here as one could wish, while long time fans are well served with the kind of action and daring we've come to expect.
As usual Taylor's love of the pulp genre shines through but, where the radio format provides little time for character development with regard to his usual villains, we have in this work a fully three dimensional evil-doer - one who is as intriguing and driven as the main characters themselves.
As the story builds to its climax you can't help but be caught up in the real sense of jeopardy and suspense that Taylor creates around the conflict between his villain and protagonists. The book left me wanting more in all the right ways and I recommend it highly. This is a hugely entertaining homage to Doc Savage, the Shadow, and the other heroes of Thirties pulp fiction. Those who enjoy the high heroics of a more innocent age shouldn't let this one pass them by.
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