Addicts who have hit bottom know how terrifying the road back up appears. Private detective Charlie Street got off the booze years ago, but he’s plateaued on an addiction that he finds both shameful and irresistible: sex. A beating that could have killed him leads him to partner with a crazy-violent bar-brawler, who turns out to be the son of a woman Charlie had a crush on when he was a teen-ager. Back then, he thought she was "the one." Can she help him recover his lost happiness? Or is that just another addict’s escape fantasy? For an addict, giving up the drug of choice may be just the beginning, and finding true freedom may be more terrifying than giving up the booze.
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 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 narrator.
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