The Innocent

Harlan Coben, Author Penguin Audiobooks $39.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-14-305756-7
Once listeners get past an awkward prologue told in second person, present tense (""Your name is Matt Hunter. You are 20 years old...""), this twisty thriller reverts to the more familiar objective point of view, and the combination of Coben's yarn spinning and Brick's crisp, thoughtful narration mesmerizes. Listeners are drawn into the nightmare world of Matt Hunter who, in that off-putting prologue, is attacked by a gang of drunken frat boys, accidentally kills one of them, is found guilty of murder, serves four years of hard time, picks up the pieces of his life, marries a loving woman and is on the cusp of fatherhood when he receives an ominous phone call. And that's just for openers. A master manipulator, Coben keeps the story in constant motion, shifting from Hunter's travails to those of homicide detective Loren Muse, a lapsed Catholic who's investigating the murder of a nun with breast implants. The pace is fast and furious as Hunter and Muse race along their collision course, but Brick's cool, calculated delivery helps listeners hang on through the hairpin turns. From an African-American hooker and an aging mother superior to a hard-boiled ex-con and a sexy private eye, Brick conjures a proper vocal match for every character. Indeed, the combined efforts of author and narrator make for such an electrifying listen that an epilogue reverting to that second-person point of view barely dilutes this overall satisfying experience. Simultaneous release with the Dutton hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 7).
Reviewed on: 04/04/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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