Thursday, January 27, 2011

Audiobook Thursday - BLUE GENES

First Line (dictated from audio): The day Richard’s death announcement appeared in the Manchester Evening Chronicle, I knew I couldn’t postpone clearing up the mess any longer.

Private investigator, Kate Brannigan, finds herself in a whirlwind of activity in Val McDermid's fifth book of the series. Brannigan is simultaneously investigating a pair of con artists trying to swindle newly bereaved individuals by selling them bogus funeral arrangements and an unknown group sabotaging the careers of a pair of Glaswegian musicians. As if those two cases weren't enough, Brannigan's best friend Alexis comes to her with a whopper of a problem. Her partner, Christine, is pregnant with their baby and the doctor who helped them conceive has been murdered. While Kate juggles these issues, her business partner informs her that he's found his soul mate and is moving to Australia.

BLUE GENES has literally everything a great crime fiction novel should: a complex plot with plenty of action, a colorful cast of characters, smart humor, challenging themes and subject matter, conflict and suspense. The plot summary may sound like a lot going on in one book, but McDermid weaves them together in a way that makes the story flow easily, even for listening on audiobook.

The title of the book originates in the element of the plot dealing with Kate's best friend Alexis and her partner, Christine. It isn't overly complex in regards to the science, but the concept leads to issues dealing with ethics, politics maybe even religion. As McDermid pokes and prods at possibilities, she challenges her readers to do more than solve a mystery in this book.

Kate Brannigan is a fantastic female protagonist. She experiences emotions, is witty and smart, but isn't leaping tall buildings in a single bound. She grows exasperated and frustrated, worries about the future, and doesn't let any of it prevent her from working toward her goals.

BLUE GENES, while not the first book in the series, is my first experience with Kate Brannigan. I didn't feel lost at any point in the book, as though I was missing necessary background information, so one can easily pick this book up without having read any others. But I am officially hooked on Kate and will be going back to read the previous books.

BLUE GENES is narrated by Laura Brattan who seems to grasp McDermid's humor as well as her characters and style. I felt Brattan did a superb job of bringing Kate's internal conflicts to the reader's attention as well as the external conflicts. Kate's multitude of emotional experiences shine through in Brattan's performance. This was a strong pairing of reader and book.

BLUE GENES is available in the United States on audiobook from Isis Audio (ISBN: 978-0-75310-899-4) and in trade paper print from Bloody Brits Press (ISBN: 978-1-93285-923-2).


Beth F January 27, 2011 at 7:34 AM  

Sounds like a good series and a good audio. I'm taking a cue from Julie from Booking Mama and now from you (as in this review) and I'm going to free myself to sample some series out of order. If I like the character, I can always turn to the backlist to learn more. So I'm glad to know that this can be read without having read the earlier books.

Dorte H January 27, 2011 at 12:25 PM  

I read the first one last year and found it rather enjoyable - and quite funny that it was written by the same writer as the rather graphic Hill/ Jordan series. Impressive that she can write in so many different styles.

Jen Forbus January 28, 2011 at 7:16 PM  

Dorte, she really is a very versatile writer, isn't she. I really liked this one. McDermid makes me laugh in the midst of a completely thought-provoking plot. Those are always my favorite books.

Jen Forbus January 28, 2011 at 7:18 PM  

Candace, there are some series that you just can't read out of order. You lose too much that way. And I may have missed things I wouldn't have if I'd started at the beginning with this one, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and that's what's most important, right? I have been wanting to read McDermid and I was able to get this one on audio but not the earlier ones.

Coops February 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM  

Kate Brannigan is probably my favourite P.I. character. This is such an engaging and witty series.

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