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Descent

Narrated by: Xe Sands, R.C. Bray
Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,233 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the day Caitlin vanishes the lives of her family members are irrevocably altered, each assuming blame for that day's tragic events. As the initial days of hope are replaced by weeks of anxiety and despair, they find themselves increasingly isolated, each wondering: Is she still alive? Will we ever know what happened?

Pursuing every angle and refusing to surrender the belief that his daughter is still alive, Caitlin's father struggles through the mountainous terrain, prodding both his son and the local authorities to keep up the search. It is through a most unlikely source, however, that they finally find an answer, in a climax that is stunning in both its execution and resolution.

Written with precision and elegance, Johnston captures characters' emotions, divergent thoughts, and moments of bleak loneliness as they search for answers. Descent is both a taut and gripping thriller and a work of outstanding literary merit, a combination of great story and beautiful writing that is certain to garner comparisons with the work of such bestselling writers as Cormac McCarthy and Dennis Lehane.

©2015 Original Material by Tim Johnston. Recorded by arrangement with Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (P)2015 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Marjorie
  • Quincy, CA, United States
  • 02-22-15

Disappointing Descent

After reading many raving reviews about this mystery, I gave it a listen. Unfortunately, I found the story to be maddeningly slow. It reminded me of watching a bad television mystery; predictable and lacking any character depth. I wanted to like this book but, from start to finish, it lacked in development of the characters, lacked in developing the investigative inquiry, and just, overall, lacked imagination. I do not recommend.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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

Not your Average "Girl Goes Missing" Story

Would you consider the audio edition of Descent to be better than the print version?

I would like a physical copy of the story to review some great quotes, but the audio version would definitely be my primary recommendation because of the exceptional performances.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Grant and Shawn ("Dudley") were wonderful characters...unique perspective in that it followed the father/son dynamic and their coping mechanisms.

What about Xe Sands and R.C. Bray ’s performance did you like?

There is a female and male narrator, but the male narrator (R.C Bray) stole the show. His deep, rich voice was perfect for reflecting hope and despair, and scary in it's power to demonstrate barely veiled rage.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I have many favorite scenes in this book, but the ones that gave me chills I can't discuss due to spoilers.

Any additional comments?

I was heavily invested in this book and give it a wholehearted 5 stars. The story was exceptional from beginning to end and I want to push it into many reader's hands. The story is a difficult one, so save it for a time when you can be mentally engrossed in it. If you have experienced recent loss or a similar traumatic situation, this might not be for you. Otherwise, this is storytelling at it's best. Descent is not to be missed!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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

Even a Monkey Knows the Value of a Stick


A family’s Rocky Mountain family vacation turns tragic when their high school graduate daughter is kidnapped.

Do yourself a favor and not allow yourself to read any reviews that want to give you a book report review giving any additional information that what I wrote above.

This literary thriller is written by an extremely talented author. His writing style is on the edge of poetic, quite lyrical, and just so powerful. You will be blown away just hearing the descriptive justice given to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Next you become lost in this unique story. Not your average kidnapping story. No one that actually read the book will ever describe it as predictable. Only one word describes the last half of this book – CAPTIVATING.

I was a bit put off by the narration at first but, it grew on me.

What a GREAT read!

28 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

So glad it's over!!

What would have made Descent better?

Different narrators....and also a better author!

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Really? That's it? No resolution to family issues....no connection at all between father's infidelity and the coincidence of its discovery by his wife on the very morning of their daughter's disappearance?

How could the performance have been better?

So, so many ways! Male narrator could have tried not to read each sentence, even innocuous ones like "He heard a fly buzzing in the kitchen," as if full of import, like John Wayne or a CBS evening news anchor trying to make the news sound more exciting. Female narrator could have just read the prose straightforwardly instead of trying to stylize her performance by speaking through a clenched jaw, with overly rapid rate of speech, and frequent decreases in vocal volume to where she almost was speaking in a slurred and feigned-casual, feigned-offhanded whisper, almost as if imitating Valley Girl teenspeak.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Descent?

everything that turned out to be inconsequential: father's infidelities, rape of unrealted teenaged girl in alley, etc etc.

Any additional comments?

Ugh. I need a shower!! This is sensationalist tripe masquerading as some sort of Hemingway-wannabe real literature. Can't believe I wasted several days trying to sprint to the finish line...and for WHAT? I just feel dirty and foolish now.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Debra
  • EAU CLAIRE, WI, United States
  • 01-29-15

Could have been 6 hours long

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Way too long. Too many characters that didn't really seem to add to the story.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Way too many descriptive words. Really could have made the book a lot shorter... Very hard to follow at times. Kept thinking the book would get better.

What does Xe Sands and R.C. Bray bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I liked having two different readers. Much easier to differentiate the characters.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Probably not. Main theme of book seemed like a few movies I've already seen.

Any additional comments?

Disappointed by the book.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

just could not get in to it

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

the readers did a great job. I just could not get in to the story itself. I stopped listening to this book half way through.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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

simply marvelous

What made the experience of listening to Descent the most enjoyable?

I usually listen to audio books at night to help with insomnia. This book was so beautifully written, paced, and sensitively narrated that I ended up making time during the evening to listen. Satisfying through the last page.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

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

Just WOW !!

The Descent is the best Mystery I have read in years. Xe Sands gives the performance of her career, and RC Bray is great.

The 18 year old daughter of a couple whose marriage is already in trouble disappears. That's all I can say without giving away more of the storyline.

What Tim Johnston has done is taken a sensative subject (the possible loss of a child) that I usually cannot handle, but he doesn't over-emotionalize the tragedy, so the story flows without the reader feeling like they are looking at a bad wreck they don't want to see, yet can't turn away.

Johnston has written a mystery with powerful descriptors you can feel, smell, and almost touch. He put his characters in the majestic Rocky Mountains, and kept the secret until the last chapters of the book. This mystery was perfect for me.. who truly is the pickiest reader out there.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Nikki
  • Suburban Maryland, USA
  • 07-27-17

It numbs the mind.

I can't even finish it, it's so painfully boring. From an article I read recommending this audiobook, I thought it would be a thriller. It is, instead, a long-winded, g-rated snoozer that starts with a promising but seems to just go nowhere. Like I said, I haven't finished it, nor will I, but I may be smelling the dull, gimmicky fishiness of some sort of Christian-themed climax. Waste of time.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

It's Meh

Overall the story line is an interesting concept but it drags on and on. There are several places in the dialogue where one character will make a comment, the 2nd character will ask "what?" Then the first character will repeat himself. It's almost as though there was a requirement for a specific word count and the author was having a hard time reaching it. The way it was worded was extremely verbose at times and I frequently lost track of who was speaking and what they were talking about.

As for the narrators, the male voice was quite talented. He did a great job of emphasizing the emotions in the moment. The female voice however was over done. She had this raspy yearning to her voice that made everything, even the most mundane circumstances seem too dramatic to bear. I didn't care for her performance.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful