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)
"Seamy and steamy, sexy and sassy; a winner all around." (The Globe and Mail)
Librarian, Avid Reader, Audiobook Addict!
I received this from the Narrator/Producer Steve Scherf for a fair and honest review.
This is a performance audiobook all female characters done by a female and all male by a male, also there is a lot of music and a lot of background noises ie: gunshots, crowd noises and such. When I see more than one narrator I always assume that it will be a certain character per narrator but this one is done differently with all female by Maggie Scherf and all male by Steve Scherf which is different so is taking me a little to get used to. Also there is a lot of music that could really just not be there, I know this is an annoyance for a lot of people. Also traffic sounds were very unnecessary. However Steve Scherf has an impressive arsenal of different voices and dialects so not sure why the female narrator was added he is great at so many different voices that I am so curious if he isn’t comfortable doing female voices? Is he bad at them? Which, I honestly can’t imagine because all his different voices are pretty darn impressive. I am also not sure what I think of Maggie’s voice I don’t know if it’s her voice I don’t like or the format of the audiobook, when the female voice pops in it kind of takes me out of the story and am really confused as to why it was added in the first place.
Without looking at the original publication date of this book I could tell it was from the 70’s it definitely has a 70’s Noir feel to it. This is a good courtroom drama (and much more) with a very flawed, heroin addicted lawyer as our main character Foster Cobb. There is a lot going on in this book and it all centers around Cobb who has been trying to put away Dr. Au who is a scary twisted man and is going to make sure he doesn’t go to prison no matter who he has to intimidate, kill or make disappear, including Cobb.
As I said this book has a 70’s vibe going on, and in some ways reminded me of Ed McBain’s writing, very dark and gritty and life ain’t easy especially when your strung out on heroin and fighting for your life as the person you are prosecuting is trying to kill you and you have more troubles than just those. Even though this describes Cobb you still can’t help but root for him even if he is strung out and not always a good guy you still want him to survive.
I would probably read more by this author as the writing is good. If you like gritty crime/lawyer books I’d give this one a try.
4 stars-Steve Scherf’s narration
So 3 1/2 Overall
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.