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by Nicci French, read by Anne Flosnik
Brilliance Audio, June 2010
Unabridged pages
ISBN: 1423343859

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After Bonnie Graham, a music teacher, volunteers to assemble a band to play at a friend's wedding, she realizes that her idea of fun has been misguided. She patches together a motley crew of musicians, including her friend and colleague Sonia, a former student and his father, her ex-boyfriend Amos, a widowed former schoolmate named Neil, and a professional musician, Hayden. While the music they play leans to country and folk, their lives are baroque. Though feisty and self-assured, Bonnie becomes involved with Hayden, who is physically abusive. Neil falls for Bonnie. Amos and Sonia shack up. Joachim, the student, has a puppy-like adoration of Hayden, much to the ire of Joachim's father.

When Bonnie finds Hayden dead, she decides, with Sonia's help, to cover up the murder and dispose of all the evidence. But someone else has also been tampering with the crime scene aside from the two women, and the police suspect Bonnie of ridding herself of her abusive boyfriend. The reader will rather hope she did.

The duo of Sean French and Nicci Gerard, who write as Nicci French, decided to construct the entire novel in a "before" and "after" mode, with bits of contemporary action followed by flashbacks. This narrative might have worked perfectly well for a short story, but it becomes quite tiresome in a full-length work. It also forces Bonnie to refer to the corpse as "he" to create some suspense in the beginning, but she calls him Hayden once the body is identified. This overuse of pronouns is strained and unnatural. Moreover, the novel seems as if it were originally written chronologically and then spliced up as the segues between sections are rarely meaningful. Worst of all, the ending is entirely obvious from the early scenes, so the suspense factor is nil. The French team needs to regroup to retain fans of earlier novels.

Anne Flosnik performs with range and does a handsome job of individualizing the characters' voices and personalities. Her voice is a bit reedy for tough, hip Bonnie, but her pace and overall performance carry the novel along nicely.

Karla Jay is a legally blind audio book addict who lives in New York City, where she is Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies at Pace University.

Reviewed by Karla Jay, June 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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