The latest offering (and the last one, at least for a while, sadly) in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, Breaking the Rules, is jointly narrated by Renee Raudman and Patrick Lawlor. The parts of the book told from a female POV are read by Raudman and the male POV sections are read by Lawlor. Both narrators read both female and male dialogue. That sounds a bit strange but it actually works. And, as Brockmann is known for her head-hopping (which I personally don’t mind), it makes it easier to follow who’s talking – most often the book goes from a male to a female POV, so you immediately know that there’s a change.
What it’s about: This is the 16th instalment of the Troubleshooters series and it is not a stand alone story. Brockmann writes interlinked and long story arcs over numbers of books – Eden & Izzy’s story started a few books ago and Dan & Jenn’s started in the previous book, Hot Pursuit. I like the whole series and recommend them but don’t start here.
Billed as Izzy’s story, I found the book to be quite evenly split between the Dan/Jenn and Eden/Izzy storyline against the background of a suspense plot involving a child sex slave ring. I would have liked more of Eden and Izzy – I wasn’t 100% convinced they’d worked everything out by the end – I was nearly there but I probably needed one or two more heart-to-hearts to be truly satisfied. Personally, I never had a problem with the Eden/Izzy pairing. The age difference didn’t bother me – I never saw Eden as a child. And Izzy is amazing. I don’t mind Dan Gillman but he’s just not Izzy! I enjoyed Izzy’s storyline and his character a lot more – he’s more heroic and more emotionally honest and way more funny.
What worked for me: I found Lawlor’s voice very well suited to the style of the book – he sounds like he’s in his late twenties/early thirties and the contemporary (and often expletive-filled) language rolls off his tongue naturally. I also thought he did the female voices very well – feminine without sounding like he was doing a bad drag impersonation. There wasn’t a lot of differentiation between the male voices but I didn’t find it hard to follow who was talking. I’m a fan of Raudman already so I knew that her sections of the book would be very very well done. She is fast becoming my favourite narrator – maybe coming close to edging out even Davina Porter – she does male voices very well and her subtlety and ability to express emotions through the narration are most excellent.
What didn’t: I’m the kind of person who gets annoyed by tangents – if someone is saying something and gets interrupted, I want them to be able to get back to the original point and complete it – it’s one of those things that makes me yell at the TV during panel/interview shows. In this book there is a lot of a character (any number of them) starting a thought and going off into something else and then finally (!) making his/her way back to the original point. I may have coped better with this in print – I would have scanned forward and then gone back to the new topic I think (being the orderly person that I am!) but on audio, this represented more of a challenge to me and I was a little bit “get on with it already” and “what did you start off saying?” and “you’d better finish that thought or else” – which says two things – one that I was really hooked by the story but also that I kept being pulled out of it. Also, I would have liked to have known what happened to Patrick Singer III who was stuck in the Crossroads “pray away the gay” camp – that storyline kind of dead-ended.
What else: Overall, this was, for me, a solid and really good addition to the TS series – even though there was hardly any of Jules in it (le sigh). I love Brockmann’s stand alones too even though I’m a bit sad that she’s taking a break from this series, as long as she keeps on writing, it’s all good.