Category Archives: audio

“At Piper’s Point” by Ethan Day— Coming Home

at piper's point

Day, Ethan. “At Piper’s Point”, Audible narrated by Michael Lesley, Wilde City, 2016.

Coming Home

Amos Lassen

Cassidy Winters has been away from home for ten years and he finally returns to spread his grandmother, Sadie Hart’s ashes even though his father has tried to prevent him from doing so. It was his plan to tell his grandmother goodbye before she leaves this world through a quiet seaside service that falls apart quickly.

Cassidy Winters grew up spending his summers with his grandmother, Sadie. Since he never had a good relationship with his parents, he always looked forward to his summers with her at Pipers Point. When Sadie died, Cassidy was left with her home and finds himself back a Pipers Point and taking care of Sadie’s things and to find some closure for himself. Nate, Cassidy’s first love and childhood friend ends up living in Sadie’s house with Cassidy. Cassidy’s two best friends, Ollie and Spencer, his ex-boyfriend, Teddy, and Neil and Nate’s ex-boyfriend, Ben, come there as well. Suddenly we have seven gay men under one roof and what follows is nothing short of chaos. There is also a lot of sex and sexual tension.

Cassidy narrates the adventures of that summer. Nate had actually grown up there with Cassidy and since Cassidy only planned to come for the service, he invites Nate to continue living there once he leaves after the summer is over. We hear a lot about Sadie and about the seven guys who are now populating the house. Since Cassidy slept with most of them, we have some interesting and fun stories.

Ethan Day gives us a real potpourri of characters, each with his own personality. As Cassidy tells us about them, we see how each relates to him. I found it great fun while all seven were together and having fun just being with each other. All of the characters had clearly written personalities and all of them engage with a different aspect of Cassidy’s personality. In flashbacks, we hear about Cassidy’s summers with his grandmother to the summers Cassidy spent with his grandmother and how much she influenced his life. Day wrote about with sensitivity and tenderness and Sadie actually becomes a character in the story even though she is dead when the story begins. There is one other character who says nothing—the reader (or in this case, the listener) who is so into the story that he feels as if he is a part of it.

What I would have liked was to learn more about the relationship between Cassidy and Nate. They had been very close as teens and now that Cassidy has returned and they met by accident, we don’t really learn what they feel for each other aside from friendship but then again that could have been the author’s intention. I just feel that this needed a bit more explanation.

I originally read this in published form but now listening to it gives the story a whole new dimension.

“The Good Cop: A Dick Hardesty Mystery” (Audiobook) by Dorien Gray— A Dead Gay Policeman

the good cop

Grey, Dorien. “The Good Cop: A Dick Hardesty Mystery”, narrated by Jeff Frez-Alberecht, Unabridged Audiobook, 2015.

A Dead Gay Policeman

Amos Lassen

There is something about a man in uniform but we really like them to be alive. When a gay policeman is murdered, the investigation is given to Dick Hardesty. While I am not much of a mystery reader, I love Dorien Grey’s Dick Hardesty series and both Grey and Hardesty are two people I consider as my friends even though one is fictional and the other I have never met. I did not read the books in “order”—this is he 5th in the Dick Hardesty series and it goes back in time a but to show us how something about Dick in college and then we learn how he met his partner so that should tell you that reading the books, one after, does not really matter.

 Basically the plot is about how Dick and Tom who had been Hardesty’s from college, are reunited and become close friends again. It is also about Jonathan, a 19-year-old boy from a poor family, tries to work as a professional male hustler but who is being treated badly by his very first client. Dick helped him out and he falls for the detective. A policeman was murdered and both the gay community and the police department become more and more deeply involved in the case. Additionally there was arson and the gay community was blamed. Then there was the sexual assault on Jonathan by one of the rich and famous men in America. Because Dick Hardesty is gay, he becomes the link between the two communities and is very useful to the case. He works directly with the police chief, Lieutenant Mark Richman and Captain Offerman.

But let’s go back to the beginning for a bit. Tom and Di ck were a couple in college but because Tom remained in the closet, the relationship did not really go anywhere after graduation. Now Tom and Dick meet again and we learn that Tm has married Lisa, a lesbian and that supposedly helps Tom reconcile his feelings for men. Dick is an open guy and the friendship with Tom is renewed.

Dick also cares for Jonathan and tries to help him get his life together after the assault. There is something of a sexual attraction between the two but Dick sees the relationship as one of friendship. Jonathan is a nice guy but a bit naïve and gets hurt easily. Dick becomes a little outdone with himself when he realizes that he is attracted to a 19-year-old boy. So by now you are asking if this is a mystery novel what happened to the crime?

I always have a difficult time reviewing mysteries because it is so easy to spoil a book for other readers by saying too much. Therefore I have made you aware that is a mystery but that is all I am going to say about. Besides it is much more fun concentrating on the characters. I will say that there is a power struggle in the police department and we see Dick being something of a mediator and trying to help keep the peace. But isn’t more fun to read about cute, young Jonathan? Dick met him at a hustler bar and was immediately enchanted by him. He knows that Jonathan is too young for him and so he decides to protect Jonathan until Jonathan volunteers to help find the murderer so Dick finds himself in a quandary as to how to react to the young man—what happens to these two is one of the easy ways of letting know that there is a sequel of some kind.

The dialogue in the book is wonderful and when Jeff Frez-Alberecht reads the story aloud, it becomes fascinating. As I find in all of Dorien Grey’s work, the writing is wonderful and the plot holds our interest throughout the story. Remember this is a review of the audio version of the book and listening to it is quite different than reading it. Audiobooks require total attention throughout—you cannot go back to a page that has been already read. On the other hand, characters really come alive as we hear them speak.

“The Protector” [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition—narrated by Paul Morey] by Cooper West— Ho Hum

the protector audio

West, Cooper. “The Protector” [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition—narrated by Paul Morey], Audiobook Dreamspinner, 2014.

Ho Hum

Amos Lassen

I never learn. I guess that is because I always like to give a second chance but I will never understand why anyone who writes a really poorly written novel would want to have it made into an audio book—especially one that plays for over 8 hours. But then this is by Cooper West and I must say she is tenaciously trying to prove she can write but always comes up short. The story is banal, the characters are unreal and the dialogue…well, if you want to go it dialogue. There is no character development and we have this plot in several other books and it just does not gel. It all occurs in an alternate reality which I wish would stay so alternate that I will never have to look at it again.

This is a story filled with angst and this anger probably is due to the angry and unstable personality of the writer. This seems to be a characteristic of her writing.

“The Serpent’s Tongue” (A Dick Hardesty Mystery, Volume 15), AUDIO— Secrets

serpent

Grey, Dorien. “The Serpent’s Tongue” (A Dick Hardesty Mystery, Volume 15), Zumaya 2014. (audio)

Secrets

Amos Lassen

Another of Dorien Grey’s Dick Hardesty detective novels is now available as an audio book. Jeff Frez-Albrecht, who does all the Dick Hardesty reads “The Serpent’s Tongue” as well. I have read so many of the books in this series that it seems that both the author and his creation, Dick Hardesty, are old friends of mine. What is really hard to believe is that this is already volume 15.

This time Hardesty is hired to check threats to Dan Stabile, a former priest and quite naturally he assumes that they might have come from someone whose confession Dan had heard during the time that he was still a priest. But Hardesty does not think there is anything strange or special about the case until Dan is killed and his partner, Jonathan is badly injured. Now the usual case becomes personal for Hardesty. Was the murder and injury due to an accident on a rain slick road or was it murder? Hardesty means to learn this.

But then our detective discovers something about a child and a murder and aside from that someone is bothering Jonathan. Hardesty who has always prided himself on his objectivity suddenly finds himself in a tough situation and the more he investigates the more he realizes that Dan was not the target. But if he was not, then who was?

I do not want to go anymore into the plot because I might accidentally give something away but I can tell you that to read this, forget about being a sleuth yourself—there are just too many surprises.

I must admire author Grey’s focus here—first he creates a complex situation and then he brings in his detective (who has never let me down and does not do so this time either). Somehow, and this is Dorien Grey’s skill, we are not just pulled into the story but also into the mind of Hardesty. I was attempting to solve the crime almost immediately before I even had all of the facts. Since the novel is written in the first person (Hardesty), we feel as if we are part of the story/mystery. This is quite a read and if not the best of the Hardesty series, it is without a doubt, one of the best.

Listening to a book is quite a different experience than just reading it and Grey is lucky to have a reader that does justice to all of his books. “The Serpent’s Tongue” is a fine class read and a wonderful listening experience.

“The Hired Man” by Dorien Grey—Bisexuality and Dick (Hardesty)— An Audiobook

the hired man

Grey, Dorien. “The Hired Man: A Dick Hardesty Mystery” (Dick Hardesty Series), Dorien Grey, 2014.

Bisexuality and Dick (Hardesty)— An Audiobook

Amos Lassen

There was a time in the publishing industry when books were sacred. The new technology has made printed books to change a great deal and today, along with all of the advantages we have made in communications, books now come in different ways and many books can be bough as either a printed hard copy edition and as eBooks. We are also seeing many audio books being produced and that is the type of book I am talking about here. I have read most of Dorien Grey’s literary output and now I am able to enjoy them as they are read t me, His latest audio book is “The Hired Man” and Jeff Frez-Albrecht beautifully reads it to us. Our good friend, Dick Hardesty, P.I. has been hired to protect a gay/bisexual escort service after one of its clients is murdered. It all began rather simply. Hardesty was hired by an out-of-town businessman to do background checks on some of his potential employees. He learns that a friend of his has been seeing the businessman “professionally” on a regular basis. Phil, the friend, works from the agency.

 Dick gets a referral of a businessman from out of town who is looking for an investigator to do background checks on some potential management employees. It turns out that an old friend, Phil, has been seeing the businessman on a regular basis. Phil is a professional escort and the businessman is a very closeted bi-sexual. With the businessman, a closeted bi-sexual, is murdered mysteriously, Dick is enlisted by the police and the agency to try to find out what happened. Then, Billy, one of the escorts is found dead and it just so happened that Billy and Phil shared an apartment. There was also the murder of a woman who had been stabbed to death with a knife that had been the businessman’s and was stolen during his murder. And there is more—the owners of the escort service and a couple and one of the escorts is one of the owner’s brothers but really turns out to be her son. Suddenly everyone who works for the agency is suspect and/or potential murder victims.

This is probably the longest of the Dick Hardesty series but then we have quite a large cast of characters. It is also unique in that it uses bisexuality as one of its themes and we do not really get many novels about it. One of the things I really like about Grey’s writing is his ability to write great descriptions and to inject humor into the dialogues of his characters. He also captures Dick Hardesty as a human with sex drives like all of us and we read about the affairs he has with several of the escorts as he questions them. Sure, this is not professional behavior but it is fun to read about and while the sex scenes could be very erotic, Grey keeps them literary so as not to detract from the plot. (I suppose it is also an intimate way of checking someone’s honesty—how much can a naked man lie?).

The reading is excellent—Jeff Frez-Albrecht has a wonderful voice and his inflection makes the story sound as real and possible. There are twists and turns throughout but Hardesty is determined to solve the case and the last scene is wonderfully rendered both orally and on the page.

“The Butcher’s Son (A Dick Hardesty Mystery)” by Dorien Grey— My First Audio Book Review (and it’s a good one)

the   butcher'son

Grey, Dorien. “The Butcher’s Son (A Dick Hardesty Mystery)”, Zumaya Boundless, 2013.

My First Audio Book Review (and it’s a good one)

Amos Lassen

Those of you who are regular readers know that Dorien Grey is not new to me and I have often reviewed him. However, this is my first review of an audio book and it just happens to be one of his. “The Butcher’s Son” is book one in Grey’s Dick Hardesty mystery series and it is off to an excellent start. Hardesty begins investigating burning gay bars because the police chief (“the butcher”) is just not concerned about the incidents. Hardesty had been working for a public relations firm that was helping the police chief run for governor and he is to be the link to the man’s dysfunctional family and, in fact, he will have to discover a way to stop this homophobic character gain the job he wants.

Listening to the book made me remember the other Hardesty stories that I had already read and it was a special treat even though I am a huge proponent of reading. Aside from the fact that I was immediately drawn into the story, I found that I was kept guessing the entire time. The reader, Jeff-Frez Albrecht was perfect for the job as he set the scene with excitement and a sense of terror. At first I felt strange not holding the book in my hands but I soon found myself lost in the experience and admiring the author’s ability to create such interesting characters and Dick Hardesty who is just a regular guy with an irregular job. The advantage of listening to reading here is that I did not have to turn the pages quickly to find out what would happen next—it just seemed to happen.

We are aware of the danger in reviewing mysteries—it is too easy to spoil a read by writing something that gives the plot away. Therefore I will refrain from saying anything else about the plot so that you can read…or hear…this book and get full enjoyment. But I do want to mention that Grey has managed to bring several ideas together—the end of Hardesty’s five year relationship with his partner, Chris, a look at what goes on in gay bars (for those of us who have forgotten with the new technology), the outlandish behavior of drag queens, homophobia, intolerance and the mystery which also deals with politics and family.

While I cannot say I could not stop reading, I can say that I would not stop listening and I do not say that often unless I am listening to Richard Burton’s “Hamlet”. A word of warning—there are many books in the Dick Hardesty series and you will want to read them (or hear them all) so prepare yourself accordingly.