cover image Dark of the Moon

Dark of the Moon

, , read by Eric Conger. . Penguin Audio, $39.95 ( , unabridged, nine CDs, 10.5 hrs., $39.95 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-14-314250-8

What a pleasure to find a novel with an upbeat hero paired with a reader who is more interested in telling a story well than in demonstrating the outer limits of his vocal range. Far from the usual cynical, borderline-depressed investigator, Virgil Flowers is a likable, hang-loose sort of sleuth who enjoys life and seems to relish handling the “hard stuff” for his boss, Lucas Davenport (Sandford's Prey series hero makes a brief cameo). Flowers's assignment is to investigate several gruesome murders in a small town. Unlike the harder-edged Prey series, Moon is more of an entertainment, allowing Flowers to supplement his determined quest for justice with witty conversation and several romantic interludes. Conger matches the lighter moods with a mellow, almost mesmerizing matter-of-fact delivery, adjusting his vocal range just slightly to differentiate speakers. But when the action demands it—such as the grim opening murder scene or the suspenseful storming of the cult leader's encampment—Conger's voice takes on a properly hardboiled intensity. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, July 23). (Oct.)