Fade Rippers by Kenny Soward

Narrator: Scott Aiello

Publisher: Broken Dog Press (2017)

Length: 4 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 1 Galefire

Author’s Page 

Lonnie is a gofer to a low-level Cincinnati gang, the 8th Street Gang. He’s been working for them for years and his memories, both long-term and day-to-day, are fuzzy. He has vague memories of a wife and 7 year old daughter but he also has memories of riding a dragon once upon a time. Obviously, he chocks that up to all the drug use, at least until a drawn out gun fight reveals to him that his boss, Selix, has some supernatural powers.

This is both a gritty and drug-hazy urban fantasy. Lonnie and his gang live in this grungy, questionable place and spend quite a bit of time watching bad TV, doing a variety of drugs, and screwing around. That’s when they aren’t involved in illegal activities like gun fights and selling drugs. Lonnie himself is in a perpetual drug haze for most of the book and as he starts to break through that haze, more and more memories come to the forefront, causing him to question what’s real and what’s not.

I really enjoyed this story because it wasn’t the typical mystery + magic urban fantasy and Lonnie wasn’t your typical hero. He’s mopping up blood while listening to the news, letting his mind wander. He does whatever he’s told to do because he’s the lowest man in the gang though he often doesn’t like it. In fact, we learn that early on when he decides not to take a call from the Brit, who is second in command of the little gang. I had fun with this character because he can be so proper and deadly at the same time.

Then the shooting starts. There’s this great fight scene that is probably one of the longest in fantasy literature. This prolonged fight acts like a trigger for the real Lonnie that’s buried under years of drug use and mind manipulation. It turns out Selix, leader of the gang, has some supernatural powers that include memory manipulation. As with all the members of the gang, the right combination of drugs can bolster their supernatural powers or keep them suppressed. I was a little concerned that this would be used as an excuse to do as they please, and there is a bit of that with some of the characters (such as with the raven-haired goth twins Ingrid and Elsa). After all, they do live in pretty dismal conditions. Crash (who has a Jamaican accent), one of the biggest guys Lonnie has ever seen, acts as muscle for the gang. Then we learn there’s a bigger secret they are trying to keep hidden and that one centers around Lonnie.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Fade. That’s where Selix and the rest draw their power from. For Selix, dancing and the right drugs can help her pull on that power. However, there’s more going on there as well. There’s a revenge story in the middle of all this and Lonnie has his part to play. This tale was never boring! With that said, I would have liked a bit more explanation on the Fade and how is works with this gang.

I liked that the author included specific weapons. For instance, Lonnie uses a Springfield XDS instead of the author just saying Lonnie had a handgun.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Scott Aiello was a great pick for this book. His narration was a great performance. He was perfect for Lonnie as he goes through all the changes he does in this book. His female voices were believable and he kept all the characters distinct. He even threw in some well done accents, like British and Jamaican.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; not your typical urban fantasy; drug use; dancing; the Fade; the various supernatural powers; Lonnie’s journey in this book; great narration.

What I Disliked: I would liked to have seen more time on how the Fade is used by the gang. 

What Others Think: 

Rob J. Hayes

The Audiobook Reviewer

The Bookwyrm Speaks

Brian’s Book Blog

The Shadow Broker by Trace Conger

CongerTheShadowBrokerWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Kyle Tait

Publisher: Trace Conger (2015)

Length: 6 hours 59 minutes

Series: Book 1 Mr. Finn

Author’s Page

 

Finn Harding used to be a private investigator but recently lost his PI license. Still, he has bills to pay and he takes on jobs from people who don’t care that he’s no longer licensed. Finn is going to be pulled into the criminal world deeper than he’s ever ventured before. Not only will his life be threatened, but also those of his family as well.

Set mostly in and around Cincinnati, Ohio, this mystery starts off with a crook paying Finn to find out who is blackmailing him. Things get deeper and darker the more Finn digs into the case. His client asks for more and Finn has to decide just how far a field from the law will he wander. This set up makes Finn a pretty interesting character. At the beginning, he’s not above skirting the ethics of the PI business. He has a shady side. But once he loses his PI license and starts working for criminals, he has some hard choices to make about what he will and will not do.

I liked that our hero was not without family. He’s got an ex-wife (Brooke) and their young 6 year old daughter (Becca), who he shares custody with. Then there’s his own father, Granpa Albert. In fact, Albert has some of my favorite scenes in the book, using plain simple ruse to out fox some bad guys. And I don’t blame the nursing home at all for kicking him out.

Finn’s main client, Bishop, runs an illegal on-line black market. There a person can use bit coins to purchase everything from illegal drugs, to assassins, to slaves, to exotic pets, etc. Bishop’s site has been hacked into and the hacker is threatening to hand over info to the federal authorities unless he’s paid monthly. This hacker is the person Finn must find. Things heat up once Finn discovers the hacker and Bishop’s Detroit crime lord boss gets involved. Now several people want Finn dead. I really enjoyed that this story had such twists and things got so complicated for Finn.

Finn walks his readers through the process of hunting down the hacker, of working out his real identity. I liked that we got to see Finn’s thought process and his method for finding his target. However, Finn himself doesn’t take many pains to conceal his own identity. At first, this bothered me and I thought perhaps the author had been a bit lazy here. But then I had to consider that this is Finn’s first time working for the criminal element instead of merely bending a few laws to fulfill a legal private investigation task. Since he didn’t need a strong alias in the past, he probably didn’t think of creating one before jumping into this hacker hunt. But that could just be me making assumptions as Finn doesn’t really mull the point over in his head.

There’s not many female characters in this book. Brooke, the ex-wife, is almost a non-entity. She’s a nurse and fell in love with a doctor (Daryl) but beyond that, we don’t really know anything else. Becca is the female character that has the most scenes and lines. She’s only 6, so I don’t expect her to take part in the investigation or the action scenes. The relationship between her and her father is well done and those scenes show the softer side to Finn. Yet the story could have been balanced a little more by including another relevant female character or two.

Over all, I enjoyed my time with this book. It was well paced and Finn is an interesting character. I liked the touch of noir mystery to it even though we were dealing with 21st century crime.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author (via Audiobook Boom) in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Kyle Tait did a pretty good job. He’s a good fit for Finn. I liked his regional accents for Cincinnati and Detroit. His little girl voice was pretty good too.

What I Liked: Finn’s an interesting character; Granpa Albert; 21st century crime; a few twists to the tale; Finn’s daughter Becca.

What I Disliked: So few female characters.

What Others Think:

MJ Reads

Reviews & Editing by Elizabeth A. White

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