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Shake the Devil Off

A True Story of the Murder that Rocked New Orleans
Narrated by: James Avery
Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: Bios & Memoirs, Criminals
3.5 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

They looked like a slightly mischievous version of the all-American couple: a handsome army veteran and his gorgeous artist girlfriend. Zackery Bowen, after completing his tour of Iraq, came home to New Orleans, and in two weeks before Hurricane Katrina, he met Addie Hall. Their improvised, hard-partying endurance during and after the storm inspired news outlets around the world to feature the couple as the personification of the indomitable spirit of New Orleans.

But Addie had a long history of abuse that colored her world and everyone who entered it. And Zackery fell for Addie completely, until his personal demons, unleashed in the desert of Iraq, combined with hers in a perfect storm of violence that shocked evn rough-and-tumble New Orleans.

©2009 Ethan Brown (P)2009 Phoenix

Critic Reviews

"Heartbreaking." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Brown creates a riveting portrait of a gruesome crime while detailing the heart of a city in distress. A grim...story delivered with skill and verve." ( Kirkus Reviews)

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Avoid this one!

The description of this audio book drew me in. After listening for about an hour, though, I thoroughly regretted my purchase. This story would perhpas be worthy of a seven-to-ten page magazine article; the author has spun it out into a whole book by adding tedious background factoids and glorified parentheticals that are irrelevant to the storyline and do not move it along at all.

There's not much of a story here to start with. The reader is not particularly good. Save your money and/or Audible member credit for something better.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not really interesting

The whole story is told in the introduction, and the details of the book don't really add much of interest. The reader reads with too much expression, as though he's reading to children, or giving a sermon. At the end are three hours of the story of New Orleans, but I'm not going to listen to all of it. Enough already.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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

pronunciation

Burgundy is pronounced, Bur-GUN-dy, Buffa's is ptonounced, Boo-fahs. New Orleeens is, New Oar-lins. St Louis St is St Lewis.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Agree with other reviews

Production quality was pretty bad. Narrator had nice voice (father from Fresh Prince), but mispronounced several words. Interesting book, but might have worked better if the topic was PTSD effects on vets or NOLA recovery from Katrina. Very scattered, but you can tell a lot of research was done.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good book, terrible production quality

This is a really interesting book, though it focuses more on the multiple failings of the government with regards to post-discharge care for soldiers and the aftermath of Katrina, than on the case. I came in expecting the story of the murder, which ended up being more of a side-note to the author’s critique. More energy was given to the people Zach served with than to his victim. However, it’s a really in-depth look at how the system failed one person so horrifically that he was unable to cope with his own perceived failures, which led him to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, which (though the author conspicuously misses that crucial step in the blame game) ultimately led to his incomprehensible act of violence. All in all, worth the read.

The production quality of this recording was awful. My only problem with the narration is that he’s repeatedly inconsistent in his pronunciation of many words (Jaegermeister is sometimes ‘my-ster’, sometimes ‘master’ (???); Geisa is both ‘Geesa’ and ‘Guysa’; as well as multiple pronunciations of Zach’s wife’s name, just for starters. (According to many other reviewers, the narrator mispronounces many of the location names as well). Also, the editing is awful and distracting, with very noticeable audio changes in the places where it was overdubbed or spliced in. (Especially during the coverage of Zach’s time in the military). It’s like listening to a ransom note.

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

Good...but

I enjoyed the book as I became deeply interested in this couple's story after hearing it told by a tour guide when vacationing in New Orleans. I listened to numerous podcasts on the subject which referenced this book so I thought I'd give it a try. As others have stated, I wish the author had dug a bit more into Addie. So much time and detail was put into Zack's story to paint an image of why he turned out the way he did, but Addie wasn't painted complete other than a tragedy here and there (no spoilers). Devastating story.

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

outstanding!

in all ways possible. He was meant to write this book. From beginning to end. outstanding work and compassionate writer. did his research and lived the life. highly recommend

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Insight

Great story and narration, very respectful. I was hoping it would be darker, but it still held my attention all the way though.

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

It’s ALL about Zach

Addie had a life before she moved to NOLA. I know this directly from her best friend from Durham, NC. Listening to this book in its entirety, it seems almost like the author in a way, justifies the gruesome murder and dismemberment and cooking of his “beloved” girlfriend, Addie Hall. I gathered more information about Addie as an actual human being that had feelings, dreams, talents, and love for life from her “soul sister” from NC. This is a biography and nothing more about Zach. Why the author even included Addie’s name in the title ( in addition to her photo on the cover), shows a slimy and pathetic attempt to increase sales. No one in Addie’s past was interviewed (only those that knew her in NOLA). No family interviewed, no friends from her life in Durham. This author makes me sick. And so does this book. Addie DID NOT deserve the horrid end of her life. But this author seems to justify it by using PTSD CONSTANTLY throughout. Crap.

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

Too Much Preaching, Too Little About the Story

What disappointed you about Shake the Devil Off?

This book could have been more focused and much shorter. There are many tangents that don't tie back into the story. While some details about NO are needed, this is just overkill. During the second half of the book, I felt as if I was reading a story about post Katrina NO. The crime took a back seat.

Would you ever listen to anything by Ethan Brown again?

Maybe a short piece or newspaper article he has written. However, it is unlikely that I would read another one of his books.

How could the performance have been better?

The reader read as if he was reading a novel, not an investigative reporting piece. It could have been better if he adapted to the material.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration and disappointment. As I stated before, the second half of the book seemed to be a post Katrina NO narrative. It would have also been good to have more information about Addy. The book seemed very unbalanced with its emphasis on Zach.

Any additional comments?

The book provides some insight into what may have caused Zack Bowen to snap as he did.