I'm very familiar with the Robin Sach narrations of Nesbo's Harry Hole books, and really miss his narrative interpretation. Sach brought each character to life with distinctive voices and well-paced phrasing so you could believe that Harry, as the main character, actually spoke and thought in this manner. The new narrator, John Lee, defaults to the same intonation, pacing, and somewhat brusque, metronomic voice for each character. When the names and places are unfamiliar (as are Norwegian for Americans), it's critical that the listener be able to distinguish, at the very least, between male and female characters. Initially, it took me several listenings before I figured out that Nesbo was also shifting between two or more parallel plots, time periods, and characters without warning. These parallel stories sometimes merge seamlessly into one another, so it's critical that the narrator help listeners make these transitions by providing long pauses and very different voices since we don't have the benefit of seeing the transitions on a printed page.
This is one of those stories that, like most things that are bad for us, appeals to our baser instincts. Its only saving grace is the narration. Whelan and Heborne capture the paranoid delusions of the two main characters, their mean, selfish, petty, sickeningly narcissistic self-love, with amazing range and authenticity. You will get to the end and hate yourself for slogging through the mud with these two people with the hope that you will have earned or learned something of value. But in this story, no one pays the price of his or her immoral, unethical, and illegal actions. Moreover, Flynn's ending is cowardly. Along with the allegiance of her reader, she looses control of her characters. I was left begging for Nick and Amy simply to shut the hell up.
After this, a cleansing listen is in order. Perhaps Henry James.
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