cover image Magic City

Magic City

James W. Hall, , read by Richard Allen. . Tantor Audio, $34.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4001-0406-2

Richard Allen has a rich, mellifluous voice, the kind that reassures you in slow, measured terms that everything is going to be all right. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong kind of voice for a dark, fast-paced thriller. Magic City chronicles an array of inhumane behavior triggered by the hunt for a black and white photograph snapped 43 years ago. The latest adventure of Hall’s heroic and resourceful beach bum, Thorne, is filled with violence, murder, broken romances, family betrayals and secrets that could change the history of Florida. It’s the sort of material that demands a hard-edged if not hard-boiled delivery. Instead of matching the pace of the action, Allen slows things down to a crawl with a soft, unhurried rendition. When Hall writes: “Permeating the house was the harsh acrid reek of a death chamber,” he clearly didn’t mean for it to be read in a floating, unemotional singsong. There are audio books with narrators who are not quite the perfect fit for the material, but rarely does one find a mismatch this egregious. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin’s Minotaur hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 15). (Mar.)