Those who are familiar with various authors have come to expect a certain kind of story from them. From Linwood Barclay you get a murder story; those who like horror will turn to Stephen King; Anne Rice will thrill you with vampire stories, while Lesley Pearce excels in writing human suffering stories.
Whether you pick up ‘Trust Me’, ‘Belle’, ‘Hope’, or ‘Dead to Me’, all of Lesley Pearce’s stories are about young girls having a hard time who through hard work and determination make something of themselves.
However, with ‘Suspects’ she dropped the ball. The story starts when Nina and Conrad move into the neighbourhood and find that their dreamhouse has led them into a nightmare. On the day of their move, a young girl is brutally murdered and all the residents of Willow Close, the street where she used to live, are suspects. On the surface, all the residents are ordinary people, but they all hide secrets.
If you’re interested in the story, take it as a hardback, paperback or ebook, but stay away from the audiobook. I made the mistake of taking it as an audiobook and the narrator, Lucy Brownhill, is absolutely terrible.
As with so many bad narrators, she tries to act out the scenes of the book instead of just reading the story. Not only that, Lucy Brownhill can’t pronounce the letter G at the end of a word. As such, the phone rang becomes the phone rank, she was part of a gang, becomes she was part of a gank, and she was singing becomes she was singink. You have no idea how annoying this is.
This made me wonder if Penguin Audio auditions their narrators or if they take just anyone off the street. Surely if they did test potential narrators, they would have found Lucy Brownhill totally unsuitable.
Whether through the various voices of the characters or the various personages, but Suspects fails to evoke any sympathy for the residents of Willow Close. Even Nina and Conrad, who are supposed to be the main characters, fail to be sympathetic.
For starters I didn’t like the name Nina, call me silly, but the name gives me the willies. She’s a young woman, in a young marriage, who still thinks the sun shines out of her husband’s behind. Whether she doesn’t have a backbone, or has one but doesn’t want to use it is unclear, but she is a total wimp. Lesley Pearce tries hard to make her appealing, but fails.
As for guessing who the killer is, that was obvious to me almost right away. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal the killer’s name, but anyone with half a brain will come to the same conclusion I did. Which makes Nina and Conrad even more look like fools. How did they not see this coming? They live in the neighbourhood, they interact with the residents, how did they not know who killed the girl?
Usually, when I reach the end of one of Lesley Pearce’s books, it is with a certain amount of sorrow. Sad to see the story finish and sad to let the characters go. Not with Suspects though, when the story finished my one and only thought was … thank goodness that's over.
If this had been any other author, or if this had been a library book, I would have abandoned it long ago, but I had paid for my book and I was going to see it through to the end. $31,08 for an audiobook is not nothing.
The price of these audiobooks is only slightly less than a hardcover book and as such the audiobook companies should pay attention to their narrators. How many more good books will be ruined because of narrators who speak too fast, too slow, have dry mouth syndrome or can’t pronounce the letter ‘g’ at the end of a word? Listening to an audiobook is supposed to be relaxing, not the narrator getting on the listeners’ nerves to the point that they have to switch the book off for a while because they can’t take the narrator’s voice any longer.
Does this put me off Lesley Pearce books, no, of course not. As I said, Lesley Pearce is an excellent writer who has produced some of the best stories I’ve ever read, but Suspects is definitely the weakest of them all.
In future, I will pay close attention to the narrator though and if I see the name Lucy Brownhill I’ll rather opt for a paperback or ebook.
About the Creator
Conny is the author of Waiting for Silverbird, Voice of an Angel, Lily, Kitten Diaries and Debbie. Contributor to various hard copy and online publications.
She lives in Toronto with her son and cats.