As noted on the main blog, I've been going through a period of diminished vision. This precluded long periods of reading, but I was able to borrow the Audible version of this Sue Grafton book and get it on my iPad.
This is my first time (at least as an adult) "reading" a book by listening to someone else read it. In this case, the reader is the Tony-award winning actress Judy Kaye, who's performed all of Ms. Grafton's Kinsey Millhone novels for this medium. A few notes:
If you doze off, a real book notices you've done so and stops. Not
the Audible version. Ms. Kaye, bless her, just reads on.
So, on numerous occasions, I woke up with a snort, and had to—dammit—stop the playback, and attempt to backtrack to the last-thing-I-remembered-hearing spot.
Worse: For all its technical sophistication, the default iPad playback software doesn't make this very easy.
On this point, 21st-century technology is outclassed by centuries-old technology. Irony? Maybe. I can never tell.
Which brings up a related point.
Way back in my Usenet
days, I dubbed Ms. Grafton the "Queen of Pointless Description",
because—God bless her—she does like to have Kinsey go on
and on about her diet, clothes, environment, … For example,
while jogging through downtown Santa Teresa, she has to wait for
a freight train to pass. And…
I counted six boxcars, a tank car, an empty livestock car, refrigerator car, nine container cars, three hard-top gondolas, a flat car, and finally the caboose.
I've learned to put up with this yammering, because I love Kinsey as much as I do any fictional character. But (as I discovered) this brought up another difference between print and audio: it's much easier to skim through this stuff in print. There's no "fast-forward through unnecessary content" button on the iPad. Which—guess what?—makes it more likely that I'll find myself waking up from a snooze.
It's long, about 12.5 hours. Longer in my case,
due to the factors mentioned above.
Ms. Kaye does slightly different voices for each character.
After reading 19 dead-trees Kinsey books, with her first-person
narration, I was slightly surprised by Kinsey's "actual" voice here.
I'd always seen her with a slightly sweet, slightly goofy, occasionally
sarcastic voice. But in reality
(according to Ms. Kaye), she's a little hard-edged, tough, and more cynical
But what of the book itself? Ms. Grafton (as she did in S) breaks up her usual first-person narrative. A number of chapters are third-person narration following "Solana Rojas", the villain of the piece. Except she's not really Solana; she's a sociopathic identity thief, an expert at masquerading as different people as she does her dirty work, then vanishing back into her normal persona.
Kinsey, for her part, is mostly engaged in her normal PI work of serving legal papers, investigating insurance fraud, etc. But her cranky old neighbor, Gus, has a nasty accident, requiring the services of an in-home nurse. Guess who gets hired? Kinsey is initially gulled, but her nagging doubts become suspicions, then grow into a terrible certainty. She uses her detective skills to peel back the deception, but Solana always seems to be a couple steps ahead of her. And (of course) Kinsey eventually finds herself in peril.