cover image Spark


John Twelve Hawks, read by Scott Brick. Random House Audio, unabridged, 9 CDs, 11.5 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-553-39906-6

Twelve Hawks’s new novel, set in a dystopian near future, is told from the perspective of Jacob Underwood, the survivor of a terrible motorcycle accident that left him spiritually and emotionally dead. Lacking conscience, empathy, and fear, Jacob is the ideal contract killer for a secret department of a multinational organization named DBG that will do anything to smooth out corporate ruffles. Trouble begins when Jacob is ordered to kill the embezzling son-in-law of a brutal Indian power broker, along with the man’s daughter and young grandson. He quickly murders the thief, but can’t bring himself to dispatch the others—especially the child. He becomes even more reticent when he’s sent to find Emily Buchanan, a young DBG employee who’s gone missing with a flash drive containing information harmful to the corporation. He’s to recover the flash drive and kill Emily. When that doesn’t happen, both of them are on the run. Reader Brick uses an appropriately affectless voice for Jacob, but subtly adds just enough emotion to keep the narration engaging. Among his best interpretations are Jacob’s handler, Ms. Holquist, whose Southern accent doesn’t quite disguise her iron purpose; the gruff, sadistic Larkin Tate, another assassin and Jacob’s bête noir; the youthful Emily, who quickly loses her sunny disposition; and her eager and slightly naive boyfriend, Sean. A Doubleday hardcover. (Oct.)