Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{August 13, 2011}   Death Pact, by William Manchee (Read by Jeffery Kafer)

From Goodreads: The late seventies in Dallas and attorney Rich Coleman has made partner in record time. Rich specializes in probate and estate planning and also handles the firm’s marketing. When one of the firm’s client’s asks him to be trustee over his 17-year-old daughter’s trust, Rich reluctantly agrees not expecting her father to die just two week later. Rich and Erica hit it off very well–too well and soon enter into an illicit affair. When Erica’s aunt discovers the affair and threatens to blow the whistle on Rich and Erica, she ends up dead.


I won a copy of this novel through the Goodreads First Reads program, and while I think I knew, in the back of my mind, that it was an audio disc and not an actual novel, I was still surprised when it arrived in the mail.  Based on the cover next to the giveaway, it obviously looks like a CD cover, but regardless, I would have liked to have known for certain that I was winning an audio disc as opposed to a novel.  Regardless, I was excited to obtain the audio, but then had to wait for an opportune time to listen to the disc since it’s approximately 8 hours in length.  I toyed with the idea of listening to it while I drove back and forth to work, but as that’s only a twenty-minute drive per day, I decided to wait until my upcoming road trip to listen to the audio. 

Well, for my first experience with an audio book, I must admit that I am not impressed.  The voice of the reader, Jeffrey Kafer, lulled me to sleep.  He has an extremely boring voice, and though he does accents and “feminine” voices where appropriate, I really had a hard time listening to him.  Of course, this shouldn’t have any effect on the rating I give a book because I’m technically rating it for the writing and not the reader, but I have to say I would have been much happier reading the novel on my own.  I would have read it much faster as well—Kafer is extremely slow.

All the audio talk aside though, overall I thought the novel was okay.  It didn’t pull me in and captivate me as I’d hoped it would, but it wasn’t absolutely terrible either.  The characters drove me insane, and I’m not sure if that was intended, but their sheer naivety tells me that they were probably created that way on purpose.  I spent most of the novel screaming at the audio as Rich and Erica make stupid decision after stupid decision.  It was almost like watching a horror movie where the characters decide to split up and you begin yelling at them to stay together, if that correlation makes any sense.  I just felt like both Rich and Erica made the worst choices possible, in consecutive order, and so, of course, I had no sympathy for them throughout the novel.  Out of the two characters, I liked Erica the least, but I have to admit that I wasn’t enamored with any of the characters—they seem somewhat flat and static.

It took a while for the novel to become interesting.  The first hour is Rich narrating how he became Erica’s financial trustee, and I could have done without all the background information, since it’s already been stated in the synopsis of the book.  Likewise, the novel drones on for a while prior to the murder.  It wasn’t until the murder and the trial that I actually became interested in what was happening.  It is here that Manchee really begins to captivate the reader through the mystery and suspense behind the death of Erica’s aunt.  I do think Manchee did a great job with the mystery of the novel—it isn’t until the very end that the reader finds out who the real murderer is, and it’s a shocking revelation, one I didn’t see coming.  I think that the murder investigation/trial and big reveal at the end make up for the annoying dispositions of the characters and, if you don’t mind characters that make the wrong decisions repeatedly, then I do suggest picking up this novel—but in novel format, NOT audio.  Two stars.


et cetera
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