Thursday, August 26, 2010

Audiobook Thursday - BOULEVARD

FIRST LINE: "Detective Hayden Glass of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division drove his old Hollywood beat, crossing Fairfax, heading east on Sunset Boulevard."

Hayden Glass is a police detective and a sex addict. Glass hides his addiction from his colleagues; the only problem is he has to patrol the streets most detrimental to his sobriety. Hayden attends SAA meetings, but when he is asked to find a new meeting because the members are not comfortable with his occupation, he sinks back into his destructive behaviors. Meanwhile, Hayden is in the midst of several murder investigations when he realizes a connection between the investigations, a connection no one would know but him because HE and his sex addition are the connection. Should he admit his sex addiction and possibly save further victims but destroy his career, or should he stay quiet and hunt the killer who is taunting him?

You can read BOULEVARD in bright daylight with all the lights in your house on and still feel enveloped by the darkness of this novel. In his debut, Stephen Jay Schwartz sets the scene as dark, gritty and haunting. He exposes his protagonist, leaving him naked to the scrutiny of the reader. Hayden is far from a hero and his personal struggles are so articulately detailed that as the reader it's difficult not to own them, not to experience his conflict.

The plot of BOULEVARD is a ride befitting the haunting setting. It's a blind-folded ride through the streets of Los Angeles in a car with no breaks. You can't see what's coming at you but you experience the rush of the ride as it's happening.

Schwartz does an outstanding job of developing place and plot. His characters are dimensional and human. If there was any element that would have improved this debut, it may have been eliminating a couple of characters who play less significant roles. I think that could have tightened up the plot a bit, but it's far from significant and didn't take away from the enjoyment of the novel.

I listened to BOULEVARD on audio from Blackstone Audio narrated by Ray Porter. The combination of book and narrator was exceptional. One of Porter's strengths is taking on the role he is reading, chameleon-like. While I've enjoyed him reading other crime novels, they don't impede my ability to envision him as Hayden Glass. He exuded Hayden's anger and frustration. I think Porter also accentuated the darkness of the novel's tone. Schwartz and Porter brought Hayden Glass and his Los Angeles to life.

BOULEVARD is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-7653-2294-4) and trade paper (ISBN: 978-0-7653-2661-4) from Forge Books and on audio from Blackstone Audio (ISBN: 978-1-4332-6272-2).

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Kay August 26, 2010 at 8:18 AM  

Jen, this book sounds very gritty, but I'm still interested in trying it. A good review to reel me in, while also noting the darkness of the narrative. Great job!

le0pard13 August 26, 2010 at 9:21 AM  

I have this one in my audiobook queue and I'm looking forward to it. Ray Porter is one of my favorite audio narrators and its good to hear that he's given this novel a good read. Thanks very much, Jen.

Stephen Jay Schwartz August 26, 2010 at 5:25 PM  

Thank you so much, Jen! I love your review! Makes me blush!

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