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Publisher's Summary

Jonathan Lethem’s first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn.

“One of America’s greatest storytellers.” (Washington Post)

Phoebe Siegler first meets Charles Heist in a shabby trailer on the eastern edge of Los Angeles. She’s looking for her friend’s missing daughter, Arabella, and hires Heist to help. A laconic loner who keeps his pet opossum in a desk drawer, Heist intrigues the sarcastic and garrulous Phoebe. Reluctantly, he agrees to help. The unlikely pair navigates the enclaves of desert-dwelling vagabonds and finds Arabella is in serious trouble - caught in the middle of a violent standoff that only Heist, mysteriously, can end. 

Phoebe’s trip to the desert was always going to be strange, but it was never supposed to be dangerous....

Jonathan Lethem’s first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn, The Feral Detective is a singular achievement by one of our greatest writers.

Bonus: Stay tuned after the end of the audiobook to hear an exclusive conversation between Zosia Mamet and Jonathan Lethem.

©2018 Jonathan Lethem (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Disappointed

This is so difficult to listen to, I’m going to return this book. It is my first return after many years of enjoying audible book. I believe Ms Mamet may have been suffering a cold or some speech impediment. Her cracked voice is very unpleasant to listen to. I know Ms Mamet as one of the best stars on Girls, but this performance does damage to her
Stellar reputation

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Ugh

I could not get into this. Weird voice of book reader. Check sample before you buy

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

Good story, bad narrator

I almost bailed on this book after the first few paragraphs. As others have mentioned the narrator's affectless delivery and vocal fry made her hard to listen to. I think she was chosen to give the main character a modern, nihilistic voice, but it was an assault on my ears. In addition, she lacked breath control and faded off into a low grumble at the end of most sentences. She did not have the range to adequately handle dialog. She was unable to provide enough differentiation between speakers and, since she had already forced her voice to the bottom of its natural pitch range, she couldn't go deeper to simulate a male voice, so she got quieter and flatter instead. This made the male characters seem weak and one-dimensional.

The choice to go with a popular actress instead of a professional narrator made me angry. Here's why: Most book narrators I've experienced are male, regardless of the gender of the primary characters or dialog speakers. Using an actress with limited vocal skills as a narrator means that she will get worse reviews than a professional narrator and the gender inequality in audio book narration will be reinforced, as publishers will likely look at these negative ratings on performance and at least partially attribute it to the narrator's gender. I think Zosia Mamet not only took away an opportunity for a professional female narrator but also made it less likely there will be more opportunities for female narrators in the future.

Fortunately, I was able to make listening bearable by increasing the reading speed to 1.5x. It got rid of a lot of the drag in her speech and raised her pitch to where it probably should have been in the first place. It helped a lot with the grinding noise of her vocal fry. After that I found the book unusual and thought provoking and I was glad I found a way to stick with it. The author had many intriguing insights and the writing was sophisticated and professional. I think it's a shame that success and popularity of this well-written book, and the reader's enjoyment of it will suffer from the terrible choice of narrator. The author deserved better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lethem has done it again

Another great, weird, thoughtful book from one of my favorite authors. The settings and characters are so strange yet so recognizable, and the prose is, as expected, amazing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kathy
  • United States
  • 11-18-18

Unlistenable

I love Jonathan Lethem, and love Zosia Mamet (on screen), but she is not cut out for audiobook narration. Voice is beyond vocal fry and not powerful enough. Bummed, couldn’t get beyond half-way, had to give up.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I wasted a credit on this one.

OK, I made it one hour which hurt alot. Understand I am a 50+ book a year listener. The narrator was either smoking weed or just a very depressed person. She depressed me immediately. The story sounded simple but an hour into it why can't we get on with it. This was a total waste of one credit.

14 of 23 people found this review helpful

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

finally.....something new and fantastic

Do not pay attention to the negative reviews that bash this audiobook and the narrator. This is a great story. It's original and witty yet dark and consuming. The narrator does take a moment to get used to, but her tone and style match the story perfectly. Jonathan Lethem has a winner here, and Zosia Mamet is the perfect narrator. If you like stories of the bizarre, yet grounded in reality, The Feral Detective is the perfect novel. I've had some good luck with my last few audiobook selections, and after 72 audiobooks this year, The Feral Detective makes a case for the top spot.

Overall rating: 4.78

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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

The Endless Drone of Vocal Fry

I was so eager to experience more of Lethem's innovative language play that I downloaded this audiobook before the audio sample was available. Bad move. The narration was grating and monotonous. I had to keep taking breaks from the performance in irritation. Vocal fry is not cool or sexy--it damages the vocal chords and inhibits the full power of a voice in its natural range. Everyone sounded like s/he just got out of solitary on high doses of thorazine. How about a fresh recording with a professional narrator instead of a celebrity "artiste" who just happens to be the daughter of two famous theatrical parents?

3 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

Great story and great narration.

Lethem's main character (Phoebe) heads West, from NYC, in search of a young runaway. Under the guidance of detective Charles Heist they head past the city streets, past the makeshift shelters on the edge of town and out into the desert, where they search among the small societies and groups that exist beyond the fringe of society. Good and evil abound.

The Feral Detective must battle the king of the Bear Clan, in a torchlit fight to the death to win back the lost / escaped young girl for whom Phoebe is searching. Other entanglements follow as the story works its adventurous way through the Bear Clan, the Rabbit Clan and remote and isolated Monster truck rallies to conclude their story

I thought the narration was great, bringing life, attitude and personality to our storyteller -- Phoebe.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • alan
  • north wales, PA, United States
  • 12-24-18

Feel sorry for his editor

Offensive caricature of a simpering New York woman ga-ga for a brawny man who has all the answers - written in the woman's voice.