Written by: Robert K. Tanenbaum
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Performed by: Lee Sellars
Marlene Ciampi was just interested in taking it easy and raising some guard dogs. Marlene’s life had been filled with mystery, terror, and death when she was a Manhattan D.A. with her husband Butch Karp and even more so when she was a bodyguard. She has survived all sorts of crooks, the tangled web of City politics, and the hidden perils of sudden wealth–all while maintaining a decent percentage of her sanity. She just wants to relax with her uncompromising, very religious, language prodigy daughter Lucy, and her precocious twins Zic and Zac. She becomes friendly with a neighbor, Rose Wickham-Heeney, whose husband, Red, is fighting to clean up the mining union in his West Virginia town of McCullengsburg. When the fighting turns deadly and they are murdered, Marlene charges in to help out their two sons. Butch gets in the act when the governor of West Virginia makes him a special prosecutor to clean up an unholy trinity of a corrupt union, a greedy mining corporation, and a criminal clan of hillbillies. The whole family gets involved, but when the bullets start flying, can tragedy be far behind?
[ad#longpost]Some authors seem to enjoy putting their characters through Hell. Tanenbaum uses the many trials and tribulations to help develop this family and their friends into distinct people. And he has never had problems with making interesting individuals to help or hinder our intrepid couple. Since this is a thriller, we know who the enemy is and the plot deals with the various schemes and ploys to stop them. The exploits tend to be a little on the implausible side, but when the story never gives you time to say “Wait a minute!” Usually setting his novels in New York, Tanenbaum instead invokes the desolate isolated wilderness of Appalachia. He does lay his attacks on corruption and duplicity of public officials a little thick. But the concentration is on the legal and not-so-legal battles in this small town.
The reading is passable. The characters are there, but they aren’t given enough strength to really make an impression. That’s essential in a story with a great number of characters and should be easy considering the great number of odd characters this story possesses. Even the accents are lazy. The Appalachians sound more like they are from the Deep South. I’ve heard better reading of this material, so I’m afraid I’m not terribly impressed with Mr. Sellar’s work. If you want my advice, pick up the book Absolute Rage–not this CD set.