I bought this book on the basis of its blurb alone, something I haven’t done in ages. I’d had an email from an audio book producer telling me about their newly released collection of eight crime novels and I was curious enough to pick one based solely on the blurb as all the titles were unknown to me. For the price (a flat $6.99US each) I figured I didn’t have a lot to lose but I have to admit my expectations weren’t that high either. Audio is hard to do well and the cheaper stuff I’ve tried before tends to sound pretty ordinary. Happily my expectations in terms of production quality and narration were well and truly exceeded and the book was entertaining too.
High Season is the story of Frank Coffin, an experienced policeman from Baltimore who started having panic attacks at crime scenes so returned to his home town on Cape Cod. It’s a small summer resort town that doesn’t see a lot of violent crimes which suits Coffin to a tee. But when a cross-dressing television preacher is murdered and a string of other deaths follow, Coffin and his partner Lola are asked to undertake a parallel investigation to that of the State police. At the same time Coffin’s girlfriend announces she wants to have a baby and starts being stalked by someone who turns out to have a nasty turn of mind.
There were a few things that were a bit predictable about the book, like the paunchy middle-aged man in a relationship with gorgeous younger woman, but there were also lots of genuine surprises too. The town has become the go-to resort town for the gay and lesbian community and the author handles this aspect of the novel well, not allowing it to become a parade of quirky/freaky characters as could so easily happen. Coffin has a plethora of friends and informants of whom some are gay or lesbian but nothing is made of this unless it is pertinent to the investigation and there are several decent gay and lesbian characters woven well into the story including Coffin’s partner Lola.
Coffin turns out to be a more complex character than he might first appear. In addition to all his other worries he’s the only friend of the town’s resident crazy druggie who is accused of committing the murders, and is also caring for his mother who has Alzheimer’s and is in a home that he can barely afford. Wouldn’t anyone be tempted to take the money he is offered if he’ll turn a blind eye to some corruption in such circumstances?
Charles Bice’s narration has a 50’s noir kind of quality that I really enjoyed (imagine Bogart in The Big Sleep) and it added a terrific extra element to the book for me. It was one of those audio books I looked for excuses to get back to, helped along by the fact it was a relatively short novel which moved at a decent pace (I don’t know what the audio equivalent of a chunkster is but many audio books these days are double this one in length). This is the first book in a series and I will be looking for number two, though I think now I’ll have to have it read to me by Charles Bice as I’ve been rather spoiled.
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I’m not getting paid for this (and I did pay for my own copy of the book) but if you are interested in audio books do check out iambik audio which is a new startup that looks to genuinely be interested in producing good quality books of some interesting titles. Their first crime collection of 8 novels includes a Japanese translation and a historical fiction work set in fascist Spain so they can’t be accused of going with the tried and true mainstream.
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My rating 3.5/5
Author website http://jonloomis.blogspot.com/
Narrator Charles Bice
Publisher Minotaur [this edition 2011, original edition 2007]
ISBN N/A (downloaded from iambik.com)
Length 7 hours 39 minutes
Format audio (m4b)
Book Series #1 in the Frank Coffin series
Source I bought it