Charlie Street, a private investigator in his sixties, is a recovering alcoholic, who has lost his family after a divorce and who now substitutes his alcohol addiction with sex. Charlie uses women, among them Viv, who has been supporting him through his alcohol-fueled days and has stayed by his side for years. But as a bit on the side, Charlie sees a married woman and then also becomes reacquainted with a crush from his youth. Charlie wants to solve a cold case in order to get some money to be able to retire. He is a deeply troubled guy who is just scraping by day by day trying to keep his addictions under control. While there are bad guys, some fighting and some investigating, A Thousand Times is not really a murder mystery or crime story as such. That part of the story is more an accessory that provides the setting. The book is more about Charlie examining his life. It’s about Charlie’s Christian faith, about redemption, changing his ways and discovering what has been right in front of him. Written in the first person, the writing flowed nicely and was very engaging. Parts of it made me think I was listening to someone’s memoir, and that feeling was underlined by the audio book narration. The narration is provided by Lane Wray, the author’s son. He is an actor, but this is his first audio book narration, and it was a very good performance. For most parts, it felt as if I was sitting cozily opposite Charlie and was being told his story. I felt the narrator really managed to capture the protagonist’s struggles. He also used a variety of voices and styles for the different characters. My only criticism would be that a couple of the voices felt as if someone was screaming at me. While I wouldn’t recommend it as a mystery or crime story, I would definitely commend this if you are interested in general, inspirational fiction relating to issues of addiction and redemption. I was actually quite surprised that there weren’t more reviews of this book around. It has a feeling of authenticity, and the author, Billy Wray, has obviously an intricate understanding of the subject. And call me sentimental, but I love the fact that a son has brought his father’s self-published book to life on audio, so it deserves to be heard. Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer dot com
I kept thinking about Catcher in the Rye for the first part of this book because it was so depressing and the whole world kinda sucked. Charlie is a private detective and a recovering alcoholic (but we get the prize of getting to relive some of his worst moments). He is a liar and treats women like dirt but has some bare bit of moral code still left to keep him from being a totally unlikeable jerk but that is not the story. He does get better ....
The murder he wants to solve to make the big killing, the women he lies to, the trouble he gets into all work toward a story which is not the murder mystery I thought it was but more a story of redemption and years past his prime, Charlie is going to have to look at himself honestly.
I cannot say I enjoyed this book a lot because much of it was dedicated to the premise of self examination but the murder mystery that IS at the heart of this novel does create an interesting background for all of this. The character of Junior was the most interesting thing about this book for me, you think you are gonna hate him but he grows on you, Charlie is harder to like but this story shows everybody can be redeemed I guess.
I give it 3.5 Stars which I will round up to 4 because it did have a good ending after you trudge through all of the mire of Charlie's life and affairs.
Overcoming addiction is a hard road to travel. Coming back from the edge of the abyss can be more frightening than staying in the bog. Billy Wray has a knack for fiction that could possibly be a true to life story for so many out here today. Charlie is a Private detective that is battling addiction.
The sad truth is that Charlie could be anyone of us and what is most striking is that Billy Wray showed how addicts can trade addictions. Charlie has traded alcohol addiction for sex addiction and he treats the women he is with like gum on the bottom of his shoe. He is not the most likeable character but he does have some redeeming qualities.
He wants to cash in on a big reward, he sees this reward as his ticket to starting over. The thing is he has to solve a cold case in order to get the money. The story is not so much about the mystery as it is about one man taking a look in the mirror and deciding to change the path he is headed on. Redemption and self revelation is the order of the day. You will be drawn into Charlie's seedy life and won't want to emerge until the end.
A Thousand Times by Billy Wray is a three hundred and thirty six page, first person novel. The author draws his story from real life experiences as a former policeman, a Christian and an alcoholic for his lead character, Charlie Street, private detective and addict.
It is a nitty-gritty story of someone on a downward spiral and hitting rock bottom. The sin, self-indulgence, denial and guilt are a hard combo to live with. Even the road to recovery is not a straight shot. A few slip ups and his past threatens to derail his recovery. This story drags you deep into the world of alcoholism and addiction. Several times I wanted to yell at Charlie for making such wrong decisions. You definitely experience his irrational logic and ramblings.
On top of that he has reopened a cold case to try and collect enough money to retire on. He teams up with Junior, who is loose cannon himself, and realizes his mother, Susan McDonald, was a woman Charlie had a thing for when he was young. All the while Vivian (Viv) has been a rock by his side for years. Charlie struggles to stay clean, keep his business running and to see what has been in front of him all along.
The beginning was a little slow for me. There was a lot of back story, but in a novel such as this it showed the depth of his addiction. The writing could be tighter and some of the lengthy descriptions left out. I assumed it was to show the irrational and suspicious behavior of an addict.