LISTENER

Michael P. Hartnett

New York
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  • The 5 Manners of Death

  • By: Darden North
  • Narrated by: Steven Jay Cohen
  • Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

A construction worker unearths a human skull dating to the 1960s on the campus of the University of Mississippi. Dr. Diana Bratton is a surgeon surrounded by bodies after the discovery of her Aunt Phoebe’s 50-year-old note detailing the manners of death. Suicide, accident, natural cause, and one death classified undetermined are soon crossed off this list - leaving Diana to believe that only murder remains. When Diana spots photographs in a 1966 university yearbook, Phoebe is linked not only to that death, but to the recent deaths of two local men.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thrilling murder, mystery

  • By Rabid Reader on 12-31-18

A Terrific Listen to a Memorable Mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-18

Boy, does Darden North have a way with the scene, whether in a drawing room, classroom, or operating room. Since the bodies keep dropping around our heroine, the surgeon Diana, in The 5 Manners of Death, those scenes are physically and psychologically memorable. What a lively and satisfying listen.
This foray is my first with an audio book. With a breathless intensity that captures the novel’s Southern flavor, narrator Steven Jay Boyd does justice to the fine writing, deftly capturing the eloquence, the snappy dialogue, and the building suspense.
As the title suggests, the victims are delivered in many forms of termination. All are punctuated by those human little dramas intermingled of stress, suspicion, and blame that make the characters believable and engaging. North can write – even scenes like the one in the lobby of a clinic crackle with humor and poignancy. While major characters like Phoebe can be potent fusions of vitality, ego, and hostility, the minor characters give The 5 Manners of Death a narrative richness rare in most mysteries, whether it be the teenage Kelsey’s sardonic distance or Mrs. Drusilla Minton’s hilarious eccentricities.
North deftly shifts the plot in and out of time and place, hurtling from present in Jackson, Mississippi to 1965 at the university campus in Oxford, then bounding back to present, then to a few days prior, back to present, all seamlessly rendered. These movements in time serve to develop multiple layers of plot and allow for many ominous and ironic conversations.
The 5 Manners of Death is a terrific mystery, and indeed, do the revelations keep coming right up to the very last page. North writes with such a keen eye and with such lucidity that the reader is rewarded with great pleasure as the lurid secrets unfold. Listening to this terrific yarn was a tremendous pleasure.

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