Monthly Mini Review
Cronin’s Key by NR Walker, narrated by Joel Leslie – C+/B- I picked this up a few months back when it was an Audible Daily Deal. I paid $4.35 for it. NR Walker is an author I’ve read a little of before and one who is featured a number of times in my TBR and I’d heard good things about Joel Leslie too and the sample sounded okay so I bought it.
Alec MacAidan is a detective with the NYPD. He is chasing down a suspect when another man appears in front of him suddenly and is shot by a wooden bullet. The man says something about a key and gives Alec a message and then crumbles to dust. Alec’s colleagues think he’s delusional but then another man – a handsome redhead, walks into the police station. Alec is instantly drawn to him and when the man tells him to put his arms around him, Alec does and they both vanish. The redhead is Cronin, an ancient vampire who has been waiting and searching for his fated mate for more than a thousand years.
Alec is “good with weird” but learning he is the Key the first vampire spoke to him about, learning about the existence of vampires at all and learning that he is the fated mate of one of the most ancient of vampires is all a bit much. Alec is at first quite resistant to the lack of free will inherent in the fated mate thing. I was wondering where it would go but the story didn’t really engage with it despite its promise. In the end Alec just accepted it – and when I say “in the end” the entire book takes place within about a week.
An old power is rising and “good vampires” and the human race are threatened by it. Alec is somehow the key to survival and he and Cronin must race to understand the threat, keep Alec safe and then defeat the villains. Even though the story takes place in such a short space of time and even though the stakes are high, there were still places where the story dragged a little.
The narration was good but I had some reservations about the accents used for some of the secondary characters. Eiji, an ancient Japanese vampire sometimes sounded like a caricature of a Japanese person speaking English and Jodis, a nearly-as-ancient Norwegian vampire sounded a bit like the Swedish chef from the muppets. The accent for Alec’s dad, Kole, appeared to be modeled on the dad from So I Married An Axe Murderer. I kept hearing “Head! Move! Now!” when Kole came into my ears. Cronin’s accent was great and I liked the timing and emotional intensity Mr. Leslie brought to the narration. There wasn’t any mention in the text of Eiji having an accent and I wasn’t convinced that he ought to have one at all – perhaps that accent in particular bothered me the most. Still, I’d definitely listen to more of Mr. Leslie narrating because he’s clearly very talented.
I had mixed success with Cronin’s Key but I’m interested enough in what happens next in the trilogy to watch out for more specials – either on audio or perhaps, in ebook format.
Reviews of these books will be up soon at AudioGals.
Here’s what you may have missed:
Driftwood by Harper Fox, narrated by Chris Clog
Concrete Evidence by Rachel Grant, narrated by Meredith Mitchell
By the Book by Julia Sonneborn, narrated by Amy McFadden
Unbreak My Heart by Lauren Blakely, narrated by Joe Arden & Erin Mallon
Strong Enough by Melanie Harlow & David Romanov, narrated by Joel Leslie & Bruce Cullen
Wild Like the Wind by Kristen Ashley, narrated by Kate Russell
at Dear Author
Free Fall by Emma Barry & Genevieve Turner, joint review with Jayne
Mr. Hotshot CEO by Jackie Lau
A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole
Imperial Stout by Layla Reyne
Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews