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Covey Jencks

Narrated by: Kathy James
Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)
Regular price: $19.95
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Publisher's Summary

Covey Jencks grew up in Odessa, Texas. After college, he joined the Army, attended law school, clerked on the Fifth Circuit, and suffered a stint at a DC law firm. He quits a life of white privilege to return home to solve the mysterious 1979 murder of Freddie Johnson, a black employee at Covey’s family business. Her life matters to Covey. 

For cover, Covey opens a small firm filled with big characters. Eventually another black woman reenters his life to become Covey’s crime-solving partner. Mexican gangs, Boston mobsters, and racist cops complicate but do not derail the successful investigation.

©2018 Shelton L. Williams (P)2018 Shelton L. Williams

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Will Covey's Story Continue?

Covey Jencks was my second audiobook and I’m glad it was. It was highly enjoyable to listen to especially after about the mid-point of the story. Shelton Williams crafted a deep mystery surrounding an old murder that intertwined a fast-paced story around a various cast of characters. As the story goes Covey, who left Odessa to become a lawyer, had been haunted by someone’s murder when he was a boy. The driving force of his move back to his hometown was to find out who actually committed the murder.

For the narration perspective, the reading of the front book material caught me off guard, as well as the story being read by a woman given the lead character was a male. After listening to the first few chapters that became a moot point. Kathy James carried the story well even given some mispronunciations. I found the reading speed of 1.25x to be best to listen to this book.

My initial thought was how can a small book of fewer than 165 pages have seventy-four chapters? I’ve always been chided by having small chapters in my own writing. As the audiobook progressed the small chapters made sense and soon I realized that each chapter stood on its own and lead into the next chapter.

What I picked up on during this reading was the many aspects of historical authenticity Shelton used to tell this story. From how some Texas towns had areas known as “The Flats”, to Underwood’s Restaurant, to how cars used to be washed, to the lone Mode O’Day store – this story could indeed have been nonfiction. Even though Shelton made mention for using the language he did, that factual language is what carried the story with even more legitimacy. Also loved that the author incorporated one of my favorite movie characters, Keyser Söze from the movie “The Usual Suspects.” Towards the end of this story, the description reference became perfect for the character situation solving this murder.

Then there are the last few words of the book… making me wonder if indeed the story of Covey will continue!

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Not your typical whodunit

Welcome to my first ever audio book review! I'm really excited to share my thoughts on Covey Jencks. Within the first few seconds, I was laughing because I was pronouncing Covey with a long "O" sound. So you can see that I am someone who could definitely benefit from listening to audio books more often.

One thing I noticed several minutes into this audio book is that all the normal front of the book stuff (title page, publishing information, foreword, etc.) was treated as individual chapters. So when you looked at your listening device, chapter 7 was when chapter 1 of the book actually began. I wish the company that put together the audio book could or would have used some other naming convention so that the chapter numbers actually matched up.

Narrator: At first I was a little confused with the choice of Kathy James as narrator, but I feel like it might have had to do with what was discussed in the foreword. This book contains all types of characters and the diversity extends beyond the normal racial categories to include cisgender individuals as well. So I think that Williams wanted to liberate us of our assumption as to what Covey Jencks would sound like. James was a good choice for keeping us on neutral footing. She has a very soothing voice with very precise diction, sort of like Siri. It takes her about a chapter or two to hit her stride, but it feels satisfying to hear her personality shine through. And though I tried to break the confines of my bias on gender roles, I couldn't help but smile every time that pretty voice cursed or talked about lewd behavior. Side note: I truly hope that Ms. James narrates some of those children's books intended for adult audiences in the future. Lastly, kudos to anyone who can read AIM messages without me fast forwarding.

Story: I can't praise this story enough. I was able to invest myself into every character, especially when it came to Covey and Freddie. I liked hearing about Covey's upbringing and just appreciated his sense of humor all around. I have a feeling that Williams has a bit of Covey in him because that character just felt so natural. I liked the many layers of Ms. Freddie as well and was glad to get to know her through the various flashbacks. Odessa was sort of its own character for me also because who knew about the seedy underground during that time period? I have never been to Odessa but I had imagined a sleepy town where there's one bar and one police officer to break up the occasional drunken brawl. But I guess that there would have to be more to a place for Covey to come back from a high power attorney position in Washington, D.C.

I had a good time listening to this book. It's a good mystery that takes you on a wild ride that is very different from your typical whodunit. You can't go wrong getting this in audio or print format.

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This story packs a (fun) punch!

Audio/Print combo review. My first introduction to COVEY JENCKS was when it was featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours in April. I was enticed by the premise and hooked after reading all the great LSBBT reviews, so the book was dutifully placed on my ever-toppling to-be-read (ETTBR) pile. There COVEY sat until June, when I read its rave Kirkus review, and I moved it back to the top of my ETTBR pile – then sadly saw it buried along with most of my pleasure reading books. Imagine my thrill when the author requested a new book blog tour to promote the newly released AUDIO BOOK! Hallelujah!

I first read COVEY JENCKS with my ears and heard the story unfold via narration by Kathy James. Initially, it was odd to hear all the front-matter and the table of contents read aloud. Then it threw me for a loop to hear a female voice narrating a book with a primarily male main character and point-of-view. However, I got over that quickly because James’s expression and voicing of main character, Covey, is excellent and ended-up being my favorite voice. And let me tell you, there is a HUGE cast of characters in this book, so voicing them all distinctly is no small task. I toggled back and forth between regular and 1.25x speed, with the former being a bit slow for me but the latter making everyone sound a bit too excited. I am rarely satisfied with the speed of audio recordings, so this is one of those “maybe it’s you, not them” kind of things, I think. My only real gripe is that James’s accent doesn’t sound remotely Texan to this life-long Texan’s ears. That, and her mispronunciation of some words (primarily “Odessa,” a frequently occurring word given it’s the main setting of the story), rubbed my rhubarb a bit, but I do understand there’s a fine line between sounding authentic and ridiculously Texan.

As is often the case when I listen to audio books, I listened while multi-tasking, so I re-played the audio when I got too distracted. But I still felt like I was missing some of the nuances of the story – and the story is so completely fun that I didn’t want to miss a thing. So, I pulled out my print copy and re-read the book. Ka-ching! Best of both worlds and truly, reading with my ears and then my eyes were two completely different experiences.

“Damn, life is infinitely messier than a mystery novel.”

Though the “Cast of Characters” of COVEY JENCKS is read aloud on the audio, having that list in print is very helpful as a reference as the story progresses and the connections between players becomes clearer. And truly, the theme of how people of all walks of life are connected is the crux of the story. Author Shelton Williams makes the people of the story feel achingly real and their lives are vividly described within equally vivid settings from the ‘70s to the ‘90s. I desperately want JayJay to exist in the real world! What a fabulous character with spunk and wit and charm a’plenty. And as if the diverse and fascinating characters aren’t enough, running beneath it all, there are mysteries to be solved, y’all!

Williams’s writing style is super-casual, which makes it feel intimate and like readers are sitting with the characters. That style, the cover, and the book’s formatting, with plenty of white space and large margins, makes it seem fluffy at first glance. But don’t be fooled: Williams’s social commentary, delivered through his characters’ ruminations about life and humanity, pack a punch you don’t want to miss. Plus, there is a significant Afterword that ties the author’s personal experiences to those in the book. Again, Williams is all about the connections, whether you’re six or sixteen hundred miles removed from West, by God, Texas.

For this and others in the grammar police squad, the audio is a good choice because it allows freedom from the typos and errors in the print version; however, the print version provides a richness and depth that is missed in the audio if you aren’t able to fully focus on it. I have no qualms highly recommending either or both formats of COVEY JENCKS, and I anxiously await another installment in the series. (By the way, those final four words are a FABULOUS way to end the story, Mr. Williams!).

Thank you to the author and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing me a print copy and an audio download, respectively, (and shoot, I bought the book on Kindle, too!) in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.