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Publisher's Summary

Between the gentle trade winds and the thriving tourist trade, the year-round summer days and the languid nights, the living is easy in Key West. That's just the way P.I. Gideon Lowry likes it.

These days, when he's not bird-dogging AWOL witnesses for the state attorney's office, Gideon's at the keyboard, giving them Gershwin and Porter to chase away the blues and help chase down the booze.

That's where Virginia Murphy finds him. Shrouded in somber white, she's come back to Key West to lay a real ghost to rest - by finding out who murdered her sister, Lila, nearly 40 years before.

For Gideon, it's a gig that leads him down the darker side of memory lane - where haunting snatches of his own past, like the timeless melodies he plays, linger on. Secrets linger there, too. But they're buried as deeply as the paradise that was Florida's landscape, now entombed beneath the concrete of Bayard Cement. That ubiquitous family business - and the wealthy, influential clan behind it - are a wall that Gideon slams up against harder and harder as he investigates his hometown's hidden history.

That's when Gideon takes the pledge - to unlock the shocking truth that Key West has concealed too long beneath its sunny, sultry surface, and to face a killer's music and dance.

©2014 John Leslie (P)2017 John Leslie

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  • John S.
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 05-15-17

OK, not great

I'm having a tough time deciding where to begin a review of this book. Normally, I'd try to say something nice, so here goes: the supporting characters were an interesting lot (too bad two of them are killed off). Gideon himself, not so much.

Yeah, he's sentimental, and loyal, but I found him tedious and annoying for the most part, lurching from scene to scene until the cold case is resolved. The sub-theme of his coming to terms with his alcoholism struck me as clunky; then again, I wasn't all that invested in the girlfriend helping him with it either. By the end, I was feeling some sympathy for the villainous (according to Gideon) Bayard clan, whom he was pursuing (harassing).

The Key West setting seemed tacked on to me, could've been Hilton Head or Padre Island in the "old" days almost as well. Moreover, by the 1990's the place had become a gay mecca, yet that's barely indicated at all, aside from a death at a lesbian guesthouse and a remark early on that Gideon's family home was now a gay male one.

One item I found irritating about the narration were mentions of a "conch" accent, yet to me no one of all those locals ("our" people) had one. Gideon's brother, frankly, sounded more like he was from Illinois. Otherwise, for much of the story I felt the narrator wasn't doing enough to carry the story, until deciding that he did about the best he could with the underlying material.

Not particularly recommended.

(Review copy was provided for my honest opinion)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Noir storytelling in a modern setting

I liked this story because it made me nostalgic for the hard boiled detective stories that I used to love reading growing up. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, et al. And the narrator, David A. Wood, read with the same style as Bogart did in his voice overs of the black and white movies that make me equally nostalgic. Other reviewers that may have thought the narrator sounded bored may not be old enough to understand that hard boiled detectives have that world-weary ennui that often plagues detectives who have just seen too much of human nature's dark side. It's what makes them hard boiled, for gosh sakes! It's what makes the genre great.

Although I was provided this copy by the author, narrator or publisher in exchange for an unbiased review, I became an instant fan of this series and plan to pursue more by John Leslie. This story was as familial and complex as noirish story like Chinatown. It seemed straightforward at first, but it got deeper and more complicated as the story unfolded.

If you're a fan of old school detective fiction, you will love this. If you wouldn't know a hard boiled detective from a hard boiled egg, then I suggest you try another genre.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Murder and mayhem

Where does Killing Me Softly rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the top.

What other book might you compare Killing Me Softly to and why?

Jonnie Jacobs books are similar in twists and turns to hold your attention throughout.

Which scene was your favorite?

A touching moment when Gideon finds out his brother, Carl, has 6 months to live.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Ignorance is bliss.

Any additional comments?

"I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review”.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Killing Me Softly

Killing Me Softly: Gideon Lowry Key West Mysteries, Book 1
: John Leslie

A former police officer, now PI piano player takes on a cold murder case. There are many suspects but witnesses are few. Lots of twists and plenty of suspense. I look forward to more in this series.


The narration was well done. The characters were well portrayed. David A. Wood gives a good performance.



"I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review."

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Strong Character and Plot Development

What made the experience of listening to Killing Me Softly the most enjoyable?

The writing and story were interesting. The time period, wasn't the "usual" as many mysteries are.

Have you listened to any of David A. Wood’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't so I can't draw a comparison, but I enjoyed his vocal interpretation here. A clear voice easily understood. Not any hokey attempts at odd voices "just to be different"! These are assets in my mind.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It kept me entertained! I cared about the main character, Gideon and how he goes about his function in the story. I liked the time frame as it relates to Key West.

Any additional comments?

This was a very well done audio book project. Writing, and narration are very well done.<br/><br/>Thanks for the opportunity to review it!<br/><br/>A review copy was gifted to me at no charge. In return, I am happy to provide an honest review. Also at no charge.<br/>

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Predictable, Yes: Also Very Good

I liked this first-person story. It was predictable but it was also very good. A flawed former police officer, who earns money as a pianist (nice!) and moonlights as a PI, migrates through the mire of his complicated familial past while trudging through the muddy waters of a motley of characters, the lives of whom are intermingled with his own under a gnarly tangle of secrets and deceit. The backdrop locale being "the southernmost city in the United States" was a nice touch-- not at all from the POV of vacation and tourists-- but rather the grunt, grind and ill-histories associated with local families, law enforcement, judges, and politicians.

My one notable gripe is that there were several distracting instances of set-up dialogue, a tool comedians use right before delivering a punch line, but intended here to add profundity. Each time the technique was engaged, I was tempted to hold up my wrist, time an imaginary second hand as it ticked around the face of an imaginary watch and say... "Wait for it ... Here it comes." One or two of these rimshot drum-tap zingers is okay, but when a sea of dialogue is littered with them, it can toss you right out the tale. Sometimes it's best to let the story be the story. Still, it was well-worth the read/listen.

While the writer did a good job at unfurling the yarn, the narrator read with the passion of an unenthused news reporter. Overall, his characterizations of most of the personalities were actually good, but he seemed disconnected from the story as a whole, and specifically, from the protagonist's role. Too bad.

The author or narrator gifted this book in exchange for a review.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Depressingly Brilliant Mystery

Although I found so much sorrow in this book, I found the storyline excellent and truly enjoyed every minute of it.

I received this audiobook from the author, narrator or publisher for free and am freely offering my honest, unbiased opinion with this review.

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Great Story

This was a great mystery. I thought I had figured out who done it but I was wrong!! I highly recommend reading/listening to this book.

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Key West Murder Mystery

Any additional comments?

Gideon Lowry has been soldier, fisherman, fireman and cop but is now a piano-playing private investigator in Key West. When he is hired by the sister of a woman that was murdered in the 50's, he begins to suspect that the case has intentionally been swept under the rug. When people start dying, he's sure of it. Someone doesn't want Gideon to solve the case. But who? <br/><br/>Killing Me Softly is a well written story with plenty of interesting characters. Gideon is a flawed character and the case brings up a lot of old memories for him. Dealing with the daily struggle of alcoholism doesn't make his job any easier. I found this to be a very entertaining listen and the narrator immediately drew me in. There was enough going on in the story to keep my interest all the way to the end. Every time I thought I knew who the culprit was, I kept saying to myself "nope, wrong again". This one really kept me guessing and I loved the twists and turns along the way. I would recommend Killing Me Softly: Gideon Lowry Key West Mysteries, Book 1.<br/><br/>I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator. This review is my honest opinion.

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  • Dee
  • LA
  • 05-22-17

Gideon Lowry is a great character!

Any additional comments?

Gideon Lowry is not perfect. In fact, he is as far from perfect as one individual can get. But what a great character.<br/><br/>This book is extremely well-written and as much as it was a good mystery, it was a wonderful introduction of our hero, flaws and all.<br/><br/>The mystery was a compelling whodunnit. I thought I had it figured out but nope, I was wrong. I love it when that happens.<br/><br/>The narration was a study in perfection. Gideon and "his people" were three dimensional and relatable. <br/><br/>I will definitely look for the next book in the series!

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  • Norma Miles
  • 05-30-17

"Just a backwater at the end of the road..."

Any additional comments?

Key West might be changing with the influx of carpet baggers in the 1970s and'80s sending up the cost of housing and reducing the power of the political dynasties of the past, but for it's long time residents it is still very insular, never fully accepting of outsiders. Gideon Lowry has lived there all of his 57 years, apart from a two year stint of army service. He is not ambitious, unlike his brother who left to pursue a career in politics. He stayed on, working daytime as a P.I., playing piano at the weekends, had three (failed) marriages and now lives alone apart from his cat, Tom, and a good supply of alcohol. He rides his bicycle round the city he knows and where he is known, just getting on with his life.<br/>Until a woman in white comes into his bar, another hard drinker about his own age, and she wants his help - to find out what really happened to her sister, found dead 40 years before when he was away fighting in Korea. The case had never been solved. Instead it was quietly buried. There is something intriguing, unsettling about the woman and Gideon is unsure about taking this case: he doesn't remember the girl or the murder despite having attended the same school. Then the woman in white is herself found dead a few days later...<br/><br/>This is a well crafted, old fashioned made modern detective noire after the fashion of Chandler, the world weary detective poking around in old lives and turning up more than anticipated. The characterisations are lightly drawn but three dimensional nevertheless, often flawed but all the more real because of it, from the elderly, regal matriarch of one of the old fading power families, the superior attitude of the head of another, to Lowry himself, with his suspicions, cynicism and fight against his descent into full alcoholism.<br/><br/>With a deep, drawling narration, David Wood is the perfect voice for Lowry, the sardonic, heavy.drinking pianist as he reviews not only the murder case and the other events occuring around him, but also the extent of his life so far. Wood also gently but distinctively coerces out the characters of the other players when he gives voice to their conversation and is especially good at presenting Casey, long time friend and sometimes lover of the detective, with a simple modulation of tone. The whole was a pleasure to hear.<br/><br/>I was very fortunate in being gifted my copy of Killing me Softly by the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom. My thanks for this. With it's attention to detail and atmosphere, it had a complexity of characters and plot direction which was constantly interesting without losing it's way. I can honestly recommend this book to all who enjoy a good mystery story and especially lovers of detective noire​. I notice that there are three more books in the Gideon Lowery Key West Mystery series and I hope that they, too, will also be available on audio soon, again read by the delectable Mr.Wood. I, for one, would immediately purchase them.<br/><br/><br/>