cover image Immoral


Brian Freeman, , read by Joe Barrett. . Blackstone Audiobooks, $34.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7861-7778-3

Barrett has his work cut out for him on this audiobook. The novel, spanning several years during which Duluth Police Lt. Jonathan Stride investigates the disappearance and probable murder of a promiscuous teenage girl, has an extraordinarily large number of characters. Barrett moves efficiently through a variety of voices and accents, but he's stuck with a few sexually explicit sequences that sound a bit silly, especially coming from a single narrator. His smooth reading can't hide that the novel is simply too long and its plot too convoluted. A protracted segment in Las Vegas should have stayed in Las Vegas, and a subplot involving Stride's much too impulsive marriage doesn't merely derail the action, it suggests that the hero has the emotional maturity of a teenager. Barrett manages to take some of the tin out of Freeman's uninspired teenspeak dialogue by elevating his pitch when enacting the missing girl's contemporaries with boyish croaks and girlish squeaks. Immoral may not be a thriller for the ages, but Barrett does make the most of it. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, July 25). (Sept.)