Author Brian Parker and audiobook narrator Daniel Penz hit another home run in the Easytown series of science fiction noir novels. The third book in the series is titled “West End Droids & East End Dames”. If you have not yet listened to any of the Easytown stories, I highly recommend you give them all a try as the writing is fantastic and the narration is clean and professionally performed. As you listen, simply close your eyes and you can easily imagine you are in the world or watching a big-screen movie production. I do have to warn the listener that this audiobook is not at all intended for young audiences and only mature listeners should give the series a try. I also hear rumors of a potential forth book in this great detective procedural series, yet I have not seen anything on Audible at the time of this review. Even if you are not a fan of the detective genre, as I’m not, the deep story, compelling characters, and wonderful atmosphere makes it a story nearly anyone could enjoy. As with the previous two books in the series, the third is well worth a prized Audible credit.
Each of the books in the series can be listened too as a stand-along novel. However, I highly recommend you listen to each in order to get the most out of the stories as you can. Many of the characters, issues, and locations carry over from one book to the next as Easytown is a living breathing place where these stories come alive. If you are at all familiar with the series, all of the regular characters are back in this story. The most important is our main character who is a fedora wearing detective (Zach Forrest) who is an officer with an attitude. We also have Andy who is his snarky computer assistant. Voodoo and Tegan also make their experiences as well. And, like the other books, this one jumps right into the action and entertainment right from the first chapter.
I felt this book had more complexities than the first two. However, I enjoy seeing an author mature in his writing style and complexity is not always a bad thing. It is not that the story itself is overly complex, but that our main character faces more treachery, lies, and mayhem from not only his regular enemies, but even some of those who appear to be his friends. Even with this new and elevated pressure, Zach remains a man of morals and justice. He believes that his purpose in life is to help others. He holds to the motto which says officers are “To Protect and to Serve”. The friendships are strong, the relationships are shaky, and the enemies are more powerful and difficult to address. Zach begins to understand that the consequences of one decision can have grave consequences upon not only the individual but others as well.
The author paints a very gritty and grimy futuristic cyberpunk works and weaves a compelling story with believable characters and actions. The technology was not overly strange, but updated and recognizable to the listener. As with the other two books, the author understands the need to throw in some humor and emotional elements to offset the rather deep and dark topics covered. Sometimes these are simple little wisecracks or jabs at others and other time it is relating to the environment and situation. Learning about how Zach sees the miracle of a cooking colander to a public service announcement to not mix antibiotics and large amounts of alcohol together. Another that made me laugh was learning that OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has been disbanded in the future. The author takes you on an emotional ride with times of love, laughter, and loss. Some more involved relationships and broken hearts as well. All of this occurs while the main dark and dreary aspects of the story unfold. I cannot say enough for the detailed writing and character depth.
For the audiobook’s narration, let me say that narrator Daniel Penz encompasses all that I imagine Zach Forrest, the book’s main character, to be. I’m not sure I could find a better fit for the character as well as someone who does an exceptional job with the narration itself. The volume is consistent, there are no audio artifacts I can recall, and the little added audio effects made the audiobook come alive. The characters felt unique and well voiced with both male and female characters sounding distinct.
For parents and younger listeners, I recommend this book only for mature audiences. The are some rather graphic violence, heavy sexual themes, and volumes of vulgar language. The book also includes some references to substantial alcohol and illicit drug use. Although it is a very well-written story, because of these items mentioned, I would say this audiobook is only appropriate for adult listeners.
In summary, the audiobook is a solid procedural story with heavy cyberpunk influences. The setting is strong, the writing is strong, and the narration is strong. All items that make for a really good and enjoyable book. There is plenty of action, adventure, and intrigue keeping the story flowing. But there are also times of sadness, loss, and romance to help balance out the experience. I have reviewed and enjoyed the previous two audiobooks in the series, and this one is no different. I recommend you go and give it a listen.