Saturday, February 10, 2007

Prior Bad Acts

I'm not a fan of novels that read more like screenplays than they do novels, and I find myself avoiding authors who have fallen into that bad habit. Writers like James Patterson, Michael Crichton and Dan Brown (among others) come immediately to mind. I find, too, that books with 60 or 70 short, choppy chapters will almost always fall into this type and that's why I've only read one Tami Hoag novel other than Prior Bad Acts. So I decided to take a different approach with this one and chose the audio book version rather than the more than 500-page printed version of the novel. And I enjoyed it because it was perfectly suited to the way that I listen to audio books in fifteen minutes spurts three or four times a day. As with all audio books, the "performer" can make all of the difference, and actor Holter Graham uses his voice to good effect in bringing the Prior Bad Acts characters to life and in setting the various moods of the novel.

When the suspected killer of a woman and two small children escapes police custody after a judge rules that his "prior bad acts" are not admissible evidence in his pending trial, Minneapolis detectives find themselves in for a wild ride. Not only are they faced with recapturing the escaped suspect, they also have to work the brutal assault of the judge who ruled in the escapee's favor and they realize that innocent people will continue to die until they are able to resolve the case. Complicating matters is the fact that one of their own has gone bad and may be involved in the situation and that one of the detectives is falling in love with the judge he is trying to protect.

My reading habits are very different from my listening habits and I don't think that I would have actually enjoyed reading this book and, in fact, would never have picked it up in the first place. But the multiplicity of short chapters that would have made it an unpleasant reading experience for me is precisely what resulted in Prior Bad Acts being the kind of diversion that I needed at 5:30 every morning as I trudged off to another day in the office.

Rated at: 3.0 in audio version

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