I’m not a huge reality television watcher, but the premise of a daredevil-styled show as the introduction and backdrop for the murder victims is intriguing. Cassidy is the runner-up, second place for the prize that would have allowed her to pay off some debts and start her own new business.
An interesting character, Stacy Juba gives us the initial sense that Cassidy is rather calculated and forward thinking: dying the hair, practicing a smile in the mirror, working on ‘comeback lines’ in the hopes they will be quoted around the water cooler. In itself, this isn’t a bad thing, but setting her up as calculated, then having her react in near complete contradiction to that early character: hot-headed, impulsive and often unreasonable, while I could understand her determination to be independent and self-reliant in lieu of the threat, there was something missing that made her likeable in any way more than any other cast member of a reality show.
But what saves the story is the mystery and the tension created as her cast mates start disappearing, the difficulties encountered with being a ‘celebrity’, the questions about the real intentions of her love interest, Zach and all of the daily stressors of life that don’t include a crazed stalker with murderous intent. Full of tension, twists and some really clever perspective on the reality television and celebrity culture as a whole, the story swiftly moves through potential suspects with a pace that keeps readers on the edge.
Narration is provided by Funda Duval, initially I wasn’t a fan of the pairing as early on narration felt tentative and there is an accent that came through quite strongly early in the story that didn’t fit with my vision of Cassidy. However, as the ‘newness’ of the story and voice became more familiar, Duval’s narration managed to perfectly capture both tension and assumed voices for characters, that didn’t feel over-worked or false. There were also some early ‘echoes’ in the initial 45 minutes of the audiobook version that may have contributed to the issues, whether a microphone was not shielded or not operating properly, those issues did also resolve. ( I did listen with 3 different headphones from in ear to free-standing speakers to a set of high def headphones, none made any significant different to the echo issue I noted.)
This is only one of a handful of mystery/suspense audiobooks that I have listened to, and I will most certainly be accepting opportunities for more. Juba made a story that was interesting, intriguing and surprising for a wholly entertaining listen.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 5
Title: Sink or Swim
Author: Stacy Juba
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Narrator: Funda Duval
Published by: Mainly Murder Press, Self-Produced
Source: Audio Producer
Audio Length: 6 Hours: 16 minutes
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When reality TV turns to murder, it's sink, swim or die.
Ambitious personal trainer Cassidy Novak has gained national fame for starring on Sink or Swim, nicknamed SOS, a hit reality game show set aboard a Tall Ship. She hopes the prize money will help to launch her dream of owning a chain of fitness centers. Not only does she lose the competition and have to walk the plank in the finale, after the game show ends, the terror begins.
Upon returning to her small Massachusetts hometown, Cassidy discovers she has attracted a stalker masterminding his own twisted game. She struggles to focus on her health club job and celebrity endorsement opportunities, but her stalker has other plans. As her former competitors get knocked off one-by-one, Cassidy refuses to play by his bizarre rules.
She's also being shadowed by hunky photographer Zach Gallagher, who has been assigned to capture her personal moments for a spread in the local newspaper. She wants to trust Zach, but fears he may not be the nice guy that he seems.
With or without Zach's help, when the stalker forces a showdown by threatening her family, Cassidy must once again walk the plank - this time for her life.
A copy of this title was provided via Audio Producer for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.