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River City Blues Audiobook

River City Blues

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Publisher's Summary

It's early 1944 and Richmond, Virginia is a devil's paradise. Ration scams and police corruption are rampant while the inflated black market commands top dollar.

Detective Sergeant Bennie Sherwood, fresh off a soul-scarring tour of duty with the Marines, couldn't care less. His old man was recently murdered under suspect circumstances, and he's on a hunt for the truth.

But then an old friend is killed during a botched black market raid and Bennie is thrust onto a hellride through Richmond's underworld. Suddenly, he's at the front lines of a new kind of war, one that's played out in gentlemen's clubs and back alleys between tobacco kingpins and numbers runners.

It's a dark, twisted journey that will test Bennie's every limit, even as it gets him closer to the truth about his father...

Until, that is, he's framed for murder.

Now the subject of a citywide manhunt, Bennie must choose - disappear into the shadows and succumb to his fractured mind, or confront his darkest fears and root out the evil that has infested his city.

©2016 Ward Howarth (P)2017 Ward Howarth

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (15 )
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4.4 (13 )
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4.5 (14 )
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  •  
    Cyn 08-13-17
    Cyn 08-13-17

    I enjoy reading, listening and reviewing. I enjoy blogging. Doing what I enjoy giving feed back in hopes someone will try a new author.

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    "Not an audio I enjoyed"
    Any additional comments?

    I had a hard time getting into this audio it isn’t the plot or story. I just feel I most likely would have enjoyed it more if I had read it. There are a lot of twists and turns, the author gives you suspense and action. It is a believable story with some very good characters.

    For me the narration isn’t smooth, there are places I think he should have paused and others where he should not have. Mr. Paxton has a very nice voice but all of his character voices seem really old when I thought they should have been a little younger. Don’t get me wrong he does a very nice older one. I hear no repeating of words, it is a very clear audio, there are no background noises. I really think the reason I could not get into it was it wasn’t smooth moving from plot to character. It is really hard for me to explain. I just found my mind wondering thinking about other things. The narrator just could not pull me in which took away from the story. For me it just all kind of ran together and I found myself going back re-listening to what I had already listened to.

    I really did not enjoy this audio but do plan on reading the book at some point. I feel I will enjoy it more. At that point I will redo my review.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DabOfDarkness Ojo Caliente, NM, United States 07-31-17
    DabOfDarkness Ojo Caliente, NM, United States 07-31-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Tangled murders and a black market"

    1944 Richmond, Virginia is a gritty place and the local police department is part of that grit. Detective Bennie Sherwood has a lot of issues – his farther was murdered in the line of duty, he’s suffering from PTSD from his time at Guadalcanal, and now a friend has died in a suspicious manner. How crooked is the PD? How much can he rely on the intel on the black market? Bennie will have to figure it all out once he’s framed for murder, or go into hiding and never have his answers.

    This was a pretty good noir detective story and I liked that our main character, Bennie, had so many issues. He’s suffering from PTSD well before our society really knew what that was and how to deal with it. The murder of his father, Detective Samuel Sherwood, is a big painful throbbing question mark in his life that is only 5 months old. But he’s got a job to do. He and his partner Detective Niles Hunter are set up to raid the black market along with Detectives Mills & Reed. However, things don’t go as expected there either. Skipper Holly, an old friend of Bennie’s father, is part of the black market and he’s mortally wounded during the raid. His presence there shakes Bennie up pretty badly. Right off the bat, I was caught up in this tale. I felt immersed in Sherwood’s world.

    The Victory Squad and the wartime crime it was created to fight really fascinated me. I hadn’t really thought about how certain limited supplies during the wartime would have such a violent-riddled black market. There’s cheats and thieves and dealers in such numbers that you can’t help but trip over them. I really felt the author did his research homework and brought that to life in this novel. The missing gasoline was a nice side mystery.

    The tale does have one weakness and that is the lack of female characters. I would have liked to see more of the ladies even if we do have one woman who’s a mechanic and a cab driver. She’s also a romantic interest and much of her page time is spent in that role.

    The story includes some racism, sexism, and homophobia that was prevalent during the 1940s. I felt it was realistically portrayed without being gratuitous. I appreciate the author not veering away from this bit of historical accuracy. Humans are flawed, even our hero Bennie. I did get a kick out of how the acronyms SNAFU, FUBAR, and SUSFU were cleaned up a bit, substituting ‘fouled’ for the F word. While not necessary for me, I’m sure others appreciate it.

    I liked the mystery surrounding Jedidiah King and his King Tobacco cigarettes. Skipper worked for him and that makes him a person of interest in the ongoing black market investigations. I also liked the Police Chief, The Cane, since he acts like a loud, demanding police chief. While such common character types sometimes made the story a bit predictable, it also felt like I was reading an old friend. It was easy to sink into this story.

    I received a free copy of this book.

    The Narration: Ward Paxton makes a really good noir detective. His voice for Bennie is a bit more gentle than the other cops, but since we get Bennie’s inner thoughts, I felt this was appropriate. Paxton did great with the regional accents of the time and place as well, keeping all the characters distinct. There were few females but I felt they could have used a touch more femininity in the narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Between the Coverz 06-10-17
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    "An exhilarating twisted page turner!"
    Any additional comments?

    River City Blues is a suspenseful thriller that is intriguing and well written. There were many twists and turns that formed a believable plot. There was a lot of action and suspense with just a little romance to keep my interest piqued. This author really knows how to build up the suspense and keep your attention to the very end. The characters are well developed although I did not feel any attachment to any of them. Listening to the book, there was definitely a police feel to it. <br/><br/><br/>Ward Paxton did a great job with the narration. He had a clear and crisp voice that was easy to follow and listen to. Ward had a good variation of voices for the different characters. There was good inflection during the heightened times such as stress, anger, drama, danger, etc. <br/><br/>This is the first book that I have read by Ward Howarth. I recommend River City Blues to anyone that enjoys reading a suspense/thriller that will keep you entertained all the way to the end.<br/>

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audiobookish 05-25-17 Member Since 2017

    I love reading voices!

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    "It was the jungle, all over again"
    What did you love best about River City Blues?

    Oh, it was a very engrossing listen. I was taken back to the 40s, but the struggles feel ever-so-fresh. There's racial prejudice - downplayed, but present - and homophobia. There's PSTD, and love, and loyalty. <br/><br/>Will this book revolutionize the genre? No, but it did a damn fine job fitting in and entertaining me. I took a star from storytelling because while I felt for Benny and some other people that had their story revealed by the end, I didn't get attached to many of the other characters, really.


    What does Ward Paxton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Ward Paxton sounds so badass. No, really! I don't think I would have been able to get the same enjoyment from the book had I not heard it in his voice - I think I would have imagined a completely different one. <br/><br/>At times it was really easy to imagine I was in the 40s, in a smoky detective's office, and Ward Paxton telling me this story standing next to a window complete with a fedora, coat, and cigarette. It would be a rainy night, the sound of sirens echoing in the empty streets... <br/><br/>...that's the kind of vibe I got.


    Any additional comments?

    When I asked for a free copy in exchange for an honest review, I didn't know what to expect. This is not a perfect book, but I got a "Makes me want to smoke a cigarette while looking out of some half open venetian blinds on to a rainy street and internally explain my story of lust greed and betrayal" feeling. <br/><br/>I had noir jazz playing quietly while reading, and I do recommend this to any future reader, by the way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Summer 03-28-17
    Summer 03-28-17
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    "Good audiobook"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this audiobook,the narration matches the plot and the feelings of the characters.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    It was a nice listening.


    What about Ward Paxton’s performance did you like?

    Good narration.


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

    The tg line would be that of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    "This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenniferk sc 03-26-17
    Jenniferk sc 03-26-17 Member Since 2010

    Voracious reader

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    "History and mystery with noir feel"
    Any additional comments?

    A good blend of historical Richmond as a backdrop for a scarred former WWII marine turned detective. Intriguing plot and characters that are well narrated make for a good listen. I would let listen to more from the author. I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dee LA 03-20-17
    Dee LA 03-20-17

    I download over 100 books a year. I don't even know how to go about my day without listening to a title. It's my happy place!

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    "Great noir!"
    Any additional comments?

    I just found out this was a debut novel for the author. What a pleasant surprise (much like this listen.)<br/><br/>I love the mystery. I loved the characters. I loved the setting and a I really loved the ending. (I could have done without all the references to "Negroes" though.) <br/><br/>If you like mysteries and film noir, you will love this novel noir. (Book noir? Noir book?)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley Hedden 03-09-17
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    "Good Novel"
    Any additional comments?

    River City Blues by Ward Hogarth was a good read. It's set in 1944 Richmond, Virginia. Things like scams and corruption run rampant. Detective Sergeant Bennie Sherwood returned from a tour with the marines and is now thrust into the crime in Richmond. This was a good debut novel by Ward Hogarth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kayceen 03-08-17
    Kayceen 03-08-17
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    "Courageous Crime Fighter"

    I very much enjoyed River City Blues. It's an interesting portrayal of the WWII era in Richmond, VA. Bennie Sherwood comes home after serving in the Marines and gets a detective job in the police department. Author Ward Howarth writes a gritty story about two investigations that are on a collision course. The dialogue was realistic and the developments in the cases come together for an exciting ending. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Ward Paxton whose style makes the moody and tough character's lives seem very real. The bad language in a few spots didn't bother me at all because it is so in keeping with the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie michael 03-04-17
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    "Wartime Memories"

    I love books about. this period of time. I hope Mr. Howarth writes a whole lot more along this time line.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Norma Miles
    4/7/17
    Overall
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    Story
    ""Hunger and need are universal, my good friend.""
    Any additional comments?

    Returning home after a stint in the fighting of World War 2, 1943, Benny Sherwood is injured more in mind than body. His constant night terrors took him back to the jungles and the constant Japanese threat, and these fears even infiltrated his waking hours when he was under duress, the feeling of danger, of being watched and even faces of people he knew morphing into murderous Japanese, causing him to freeze up in fear or even pass out. All of which made his new job that much more difficult. Because Benny signed on as a cop, made detective by virtue of his war record, and that of his father, another well respected cop in the area, who had recently been murdered. That case was still unsolved. Benny intended to find out who killed him.<br/><br/>This is a fabulous story set in the dark days of wartime, where black marketeering was rife as well as youth gangs, racial prejudice, homosexually kept hidden, prostitution and robbery as well as dance halls and jazz, corruption and murder. And the constant sadnesses of the telegram to tell that a loved one would not be coming home. The author captures the dark atmosphere perfectly, the poverty, desperation and the need to find release in some instant gratification. It is a thriller and a mystery, well, more than one: there are murders to be solved and always that one killing closest to Benny's heart: the death of his dad. The book is complex and twisting, moving ever faster to the final conclusion.<br/><br/>The narrator is excellent, perfectly matched to the tale being recounted by the damaged yet dedicated cop, Benny, in his ongoing search for justice. Ward Paxton's reading is steady and clear and he voices the other characters distinctly and in such a way as to further give life to already well drawn characters, real people with shifting attitudes, fears and allegiances.<br/><br/>I was very fortunate in being gifted a copy of River Street Blues by the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom. My thanks for this. It wasn't until i had finished the book that a brief note about the author, Ward Howard, revealed that this was his first novel. I was surprised given how well constructed and visual it had been. It is a story which will stay with me for a long time and is one which i recommend to anyone with an enjoyment of unusual detective noire.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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