Joe Talbert is a college student juggling his studies, part time work and a troublesome relationship with his bipolar mother who’s responsible for the care of his 18-year old autistic brother, Jeremy. His current class assignment is to interview someone he doesn’t know and write their biography. Joe’s bright idea is to go to a retirement home to find a subject but little did he know how much that decision would alter his life forever. The man he ends up interviewing is Carl Iverson, a Vietnam veteran and recent parolee who was convicted of murdering a young girl 30 years ago and is dying of cancer.
It’s hard to imagine that this is the author’s debut novel as it reads like it was crafted by seasoned hands. Joe is a likable character from the start and I had sympathy for all that he was shouldering at such a young age. Even so, my opinion of him kept shifting as he was faced with some challenging decisions that gave me much more insight into the boy he was and the man he was trying to be. I loved how his writing assignment changed from being something required to do to a life mission. His friendship with his neighbor, Lila Nash, offered many contrasts as she pushed him to reach higher. Lastly, I cringed at every interaction with his mother and rooted for him to find a way to keep his brother in his life.
I listened to the story and liked the voice for Joe given by the narrator. It seemed to fit his nature and I heard him as the character early on. Joe’s pursuit of the truth took him to some dark and dangerous places and the mystery element added another interesting layer. I wasn’t crazy about all the drama in the end but liked where it led. The ending might be a bit too neat but it worked for me. I’m excited to not only continue this series but others as well since Detective Max Rupert has a major presence in this story and I need more. This was a wonderful listening experience of a finely written novel.
- Release Date: June 9, 2015
- Series: Joe Talbert #1, Max Rupert #1
- Narrator: Zach Villa
- Audio Length: 8 hours, 23 minutes
- Publisher: Tantor Audio