🎁 The Scribe by Matthew Guinn

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Description⎮Reviewed Apr. 2016

Narrator: Lloyd James
Length: 7h 17m
Publisher: Blackstone Audio⎮2015

3.75 ★ Audiobook⎮I had a difficult time maintaining interest in this story for the entire seven hours. I enjoyed Guinn’s writing style, but the story’s overall effect fell a little short. Take the setting, for example. The story is set in reconstruction era Atlanta. I know that, because I read it in the synopsis. However, the story’s atmosphere felt like it could have existed almost anywhere in the past. It wasn’t anchored firmly enough to that particular time period to make the impression that I’m assuming the author intended it to have. When I think of a story having an “Old/New South” or “reconstruction era” setting, I expect something along the lines of what Donald McCaig was able to produce in Rhett Butler’s People or Ruth’s Journey, something all-encompassing. I certainly expect something more than the occasional use of old Southern expressions like “cottoning” and descriptions of blatant racism, which is not nearly specific enough to the 19th century to be able to lend weight to a particular historical setting. The promise of a richly historical setting was what I was most looking forward to with The Scribe and I came away more than a bit disappointed.

It was not all bad, though. Disappointments aside, the murder mystery plot itself was interesting. It was full of false leads and surprises. The plot seemed to reach its climax with the discovery of the murderer (the who in “whodunit”, so to speak) in the middle of the audiobook. But, not so fast! Guinn had plenty more twists in store and they were bizarre. It got a little weird towards the end, but ironically, that’s when my interest was most piqued. Although I wish the story had been told from Underwood’s point-of-view, instead of Canby’s (who largely bored me). In fact, all of the characters felt underdeveloped. More than once, I wondered if there was a prequel to this story that held the backstories of these characters. After scanning other reviews, I see that others had this thought as well. As a standalone novel, there wasn’t enough development on any front, which left me with an niggling feeling of incompletion. With thirty minutes left in the audiobook, I was still wondering who certain characters were. However, it wasn’t too much of a problem as long as I remain focused on the plot instead of the contextual details. Still, a little more character depth would have gone a long way toward really engaging me in the story and securing a four-star rating.

Narration review: This was my first experience with Lloyd James as narrator and honestly, he made more of an impression on me than the story did. There were times when I was utterly fascinated listening to the vocal distinctions he provided for different characters and would have to rewind because I lost my place in the story. Everything he did was en pointe. Forgive my informality, but this is one talented dude. I could argue that his accents and vocal abilities, in general, did more to subtly enhance the reconstruction era atmosphere than the writing did… I may not have been entirely enthralled with the story, but I still feel as if I am coming away a winner simply by discovering Mr. James. Silver linings, and all that. ♣︎

 This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Lloyd James, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Lloyd!

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