The winner of the $50,000 Seal First Novel Award for 1979...
The unanimous and enthusiastic first choice of an international panel of judges for the Seal First Novel Award is a tense and thrilling courtroom drama, exposing some of the most brutal aspects of Vancouver's heroin trade.
Deverell's powerful novel centers on the harrowing confrontation between a brilliant prosecutor on the edge of pesonal disaster, and his quarry, Dr. Au, a man whose bizarre and bloody acts are the ultimate expression of evil. Here are the people connected with Vancouver's criminal world - the prostitutes, pushers, hit-men, and the undercover police. In pursuit of survival in a world pervaded by corruption, they are motivated by their own private obsessions, and find themselves linked in unusual and unexpected ways.
Imbued with the raw sensuality of the street, Needles is a fast-paced and exciting narrative, which carries the listener to a sudden and terrifying climax.
©1979 William Deverell (P)2012 Steve Scherf Audiobooks
"Spellbinding, first rate...[a] brilliant craftsman..." (Buffalo News)
"Deverell has a narrative style so lean that scenes and characters seem to explode on the page. He makes the evil of his plot breathtaking and his surprises like shattering glass." (Philadelphia Bulletin)
"Needles is a crime masterpiece!... Needles in audio format is an auditory and literary treasure. I mark it as such for its masterful compilation of acerbic and witty narration, clean, quick and gripping storyline, and subtle yet enhancing sound effects such as gun shots and train whistles…Needles was, simply, fantastic…" (AudiobookMonthly.com)
This is such an original approach to audible books that it could shake up the market. Steve Scherf is a man of many voices, all of which come to life, and he shows a deep understanding of Needles, a thriller that launched my career with a $50,000 first novel award. I have immodestly given the story a five-star rating, but what else can you expect from its author?
During my over 40 years of teaching English at university, I must admit I was rather dismissive of the whole idea of audio texts. Most that I had heard were absurdly abridged, rather poorly read and totally incapable of creating the atmosphere and aura of the original text.
Retirement and the long car trips that ensued forced me to reconsider my initial reaction. I had once adored radio dramas, so could an audio text provide the same excitement? Most did not. Happily, however, I have found one remarkable exception, Steven and Maggie Scherf's reading of William Deverell's breakout novel, "Needles." Mr. Scherf has a wonderful knack for individualizing voices while, at the same time, through the careful use of minimal sound effects and having his sister do the female voices, he is able to faithfully recreate Deverell's frightening world. Being a Vancouverite, I was thoroughly engrossed by Deverell's depiction of Vancouver in the 1970s, a city defined by its notorious drug trade and corruptible police force. But Mr. Scherf's most notable achievement in his ability to make each character come alive, most particularly the monstrous Dr. Au, whose very voice inspires fear. So too does Scherf provide both breadth and complexity to the character of Deverell's less than perfect hero, the tormented, drug-addicted lawyer, Foster Cobb.
Mr. Deverell's book was initially reviewed as quite a page-turner. Scherf provides an audio counterpart, a story you just don't want to end. I thoroughly recommend it, and, perhaps even more, Mr. Scherf's superb recreation.
I understand that Mr. Scherf is doing or has done more of Deverell's work and I certainly look forward to hearing them.
Needles has been around for almost thirty-five years. In 1979, it was the winner of the $50,000 Seal First Novel Award. And justly so. Characterisation and plotting are original and gripping: the novel is brim full of bizarre, twisted unforgettable characters and the storyline is a stylised satire.
There is so much to admire in this that it repays more than a single listen. And you will find yourself looking forward to returning to such a fine piece of audio theatre. The dramatised performance of the book by Steve Scherf and Maggie Scherf is simply spectacular. When great actors come to a great narrative the results are unforgettable.
The plot centres on the heroin trade in Vancouver and a legal fight between the failing, drug-addicted lawyer Foster Cobb and the sadistic Dr Au, head of the Chinese drug trade in the Canadian city and its murky hinterland. Au has always in the past managed to avoid prosecution, mainly through blackmail, torture and murder. He is unswervingly cruel: a vindictive and despicable nemesis. Peopled by bent cops, criminals, hoodlums, pushers and prostitutes, Needles is tough, uncompromising, and brutal with a thoroughly unsavoury world view.
No one can escape from his or her flaws and peccadilloes, which stalk and haunt everyone, and provide evidence to threaten and to undermine surface respectability. Will Cobb’s marriage survive his job and its lifestyle? Can the justice system finally nail the recalcitrant hoodlum? Will justice be done and be seen to be done?
Unrelenting and dramatic, this is postmodern crime writing at its best.
I'd recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good legal thriller. It was a great experience.
I’ve been meaning to try a Deverell book for a couple of years. I’m always on the lookout for new Canadian authors to try, and Deverell was highly recommended by a good friend. I decided to give “Needles” a try, and I am extremely happy that I did. I will be picking up more of his books.
“Needles” is a legal thriller that takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Foster Cobb is a former prosecutor, trying to start up his own law firm. In his youth he overcame heroin addiction, put himself through law school, passed the bar, became a successful prosecutor and married the ski-instructor daughter of a high profile lawyer. Now, with his marriage failing, and without enough clients to sustain his practice, he again finds himself turning to, and once again becoming addicted to heroin.
His best friend, currently chief prosecutor, throws a case his way: prosecuting Dr. Au, well known as the head of the Chinese drug trade in Vancouver, but someone that the government has never been able to convict. Witnesses tend to recant their stories, or disappear, whenever Au is brought to trial. Cobb needs the money, and takes the job.
“Needles” is a story that takes place in the courtrooms and back alleys of Vancouver. It is well written (I was very surprised to find it was Deverell’s first novel), fast paced and action filled. It’s full of plot twists and has its share of gritty back-room violence, corruption and action. The characters feel real; Cobb knows that he shouldn’t be on heroin, but you can feel his helplessness to the addiction, and his guilt/relief when he takes a hit.
Overall this was a great book. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys legal-thrillers.
The audiobook was read by Steve and Maggie Scherf, and they did an amazing job. I listen to audiobooks in the car, and the narrators made it so easy to keep track of what characters were speaking. It was quite amazing to listen to the different characters in their distinctive voices. In many audiobooks it is quite obvious that there is one person reading, with very slight differences in tone to indicate different characters. In this book it was difficult to believe that all the characters were coming from these two narrators; the voice was very different, and very believable in terms of the character being portrayed.
Five stars for the book.
Five stars for the narration.
It has been a long time since I read "Needles", William Deverell's first book. It was considered a sensation at the time, particularly in Vancouver legal circles, given its milieu and Mr. Deverell's former profession. I have much enjoyed "rereading" the book via the audio version as produced by Steve Scherf. He has an amazing knack for voices, and carries off the narrative in a seamless and interesting fashion. Courtroom and back-alley scenes alike come alive. Highly recommended.
The narrator really brought the personalities of all the characters; no need of “he said / she said” in this book to figure out who’s speaking. The tone and delivery were on target. I listened to the book during a long 7 hours drive to Halifax and didn’t get tired of listening, just got lost in the book.
No, this was my first listen of a police or crime novel. Being new to the genre I don’t much reference material but I have to say that the ending caught me a bit by surprise which is a good sign. It was good entertainment on a long drive!
Excellent rendering of the characters, I could imagine their faces and postures just by the characterizations of their voices.
No laugh or cry from this book, just good entertainment and a bit of a surprise at the end.
A faithful reader
I listened to Needles on my daily walk and I admit that it was a great motivator. I didn't want to end my walk each day, and it kept me motivated to tie my walking shoes on and head for the pavement.While I haven't listened to a lot of audiobooks, I am a new fan of William Deverell. If you like John Grisholm you'll like this book.
It kept me walking each day to continue to listen to the book.
I was so surprised when Alice turned out to be an undercover agent. How unsettling for the defense!
Needles.....twists, turns and intrigue from the bedroom to the courtroom.
I enjoyed the visual experience playing in own mind.
Needles makes me want to read other stories by William Deverell.
This story captures a time and a place, Vancouver's east side in the late 1970's, and provides insights into a scourge that still haunts the city, the trafficking of heroin.
No, this is my first.
There are many different kinds of pain.
This audiobook has great music and great production values.
Do you like exciting, captivating audible books while you’re on the road? The kind of “page turner” that entices, or even forces you to drive around the town you have just entered until you get to the end of the chapter? Yes? Then you know what I am talking about and you need to get yourself a copy of Needles. Each character in this thriller and court room drama is brought to real life by the superb performances of Steve & Maggie Scherf. Be warned: the final chapters and plot twist may keep you driving & listening beyond your ETA.
Needles in audio format is an auditory and literary treasure. I mark it as such for its masterful compilation of acerbic and witty narration, clean, quick and gripping storyline, and subtle yet enhancing sound effects such as gun shots and train whistles. The story artfully winds its main characters together in a web of drugs and violence. Each of these factors put me, as the listener, right in the middle of the grimy 1970’s era Canadian province.
Needles is a 70’s era mystery/thriller book set in an Asian neighborhood of Vancouver. Pitted in a cat and mouse chase involving drugs, sex, and some unique asian alternative medicine are Dr. Au, drug dealer; Foster Cobb, the prosecuter himself addicted to heroin; and PI Everett Cutlipp, branching both worlds of the drug trafficking and policing. Dr. Au, narrated authentically by Steve Scherf, is a cunning, powerful Asian doctor-healer who seems to get away with murder and drug trade with no effort. Foster Cobb is also narrated by Steve Scherf and Mr. Scherf seamlessly voices Cobb as a weak yet symphathic hard-working flawed man. Mr. Scherf again colors the story voicing Everett Cutliff so well that I can almost picture his unkempt, overweight self and sleazy appearance. Although Needles begins the book fleshing out each of these 3 character’s individual stories, we soon see that they are inexorably linked. The shocking ending solidifies author Deverell’s keen ability to give us a story with twists and turns and absolutely no unrelated or dull plot lines.
Adding to narrator Steve Sherf’s brilliant male voices is the equally versatile Maggie Sherf. She voices the 3 female characters in relationships with Cobb and Cutlipp as well as cutting different accents for some minor characters. I can almost see Cutliff’s girlfriend, a waitress, snapping her gum and waiting tables in her seductive manner.
Needles was, simply, fantastic, and even more likeable for its 70’s era crime noir, Ed McBain black comedy feel. I never suspected the ending and worried the entire time that one of my favorite characters would be the bad guy as cleverly intimated at one point in the story. I highly recommend this novel for those crime mystery lovers tired of the single-thread whodunit style and who enjoy a colorful story.
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