cover image Jack of Spades

Jack of Spades

Joyce Carol Oates, read by Joe Barrett. HighBridge Audio, , unabridged, 4 CDs , 4.5 hrs., $29.99 ISBN 978-1-62231-933-6

Joe Barrett has a great time bringing to life this twisted tale of a man’s fall into madness and murder. Andrew J. Rush is a celebrated literary novelist, with enough critical accolades and money to satisfy any author. It would appear that Rush reigns happily atop the elusive mountain of publishing success, but he has a secret. Under the pseudonym Jack of Spades, he writes a series of ultraviolent pulp novels that are unrivaled in their depictions of visceral depravity. But family drama, professional jealousy, and accusations of plagiarism lead Rush to hear the strident, demanding voice of Jack, and that voice is pushing him down a dark, deadly path in his own life. Reader Barrett sets just the right tone with this first-person page-turner. He gives Rush a perfectly calm sense of reasonableness, but at the same time his reading nicely conveys the fragility of the character’s sanity as it begins to slowly crack and break. It is a well-textured performance that pulls the listener in and never lets go. A Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious hardcover. (May)