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Sunday, May 10, 2020

LSBBT AUDIO BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Covey and JayJay Get Educated by Shelton L. Williams (Mystery)


COVEY AND JAYJAY
GET EDUCATED 
Covey Jencks Mysteries, Book 2 

By
Shelton L. Williams
Narrated by Kathy James


Genre: Murder Mystery / Social Thriller / Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Audible
Length: 5 hours, 40 minutes
Publication Date: March 18, 2020

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Amateur detectives Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls are drawn into a triple murder on the campus of Baker College in West Waverly in the Texas Hill Country. Both end up taking positions at the college: Covey as an adjunct instructor and JayJay as a visiting actor. 

Initially they believe that money is the motive for the murders, but over time they learn that the college is a cauldron of political and social intrigue. The college's new president and his beautiful wife, various staff members, a prominent trustee, and parties not associated with the college have the motives, opportunities, and wacky agendas that might implicate them in the murders. It turns out that a white nationalist group may be using a college house for its nefarious activities, but are they more talk than action?

The West Waverly police are little to no help in the investigation, and Covey himself has to depart the college to deal with his father's death. JayJay takes over and makes a critical breakthrough. Upon Covey's return, the couple must rely on deception, a bit of luck, and martial arts skills to solve the crimes and to try to prevent a high-profile assassination.

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After promoting the first book some time ago, I got my first introduction to Covey Jencks when I read this one in its physical format last year. While I don't usually choose audio books as a format to read, I'm always looking for chances to check them out. I used them a lot while traveling back and forth in the Army, but it really doesn't work out well for me now. With three young children at home, it's difficult to listen to audio books without being interrupted. Completing this one took a long time despite its short length, so I'm glad that I had already read it with my eyes last year. Everything was still so familiar, making it an enjoyable experience to return to it as someone else read it to me. I'm not completely ready to incorporate more audio books into my life right now, but I'm certainly happy that I had the opportunity to do so for a little while with this book.

"'What is it with you, Covey Jencks? Does everyone you know get murdered?'"

Though this is the second book, I never felt that I was missing anything. The author has created a richly drawn cast of characters that truly comes to life off the page. Whether you end up liking them or not, each character is so well developed that personalities and idiosyncrasies shine through. Alternating chapters give readers insight into both Covey and JayJay's frame of minds, while adding many layers to the evolving mystery surrounding multiple murders. Offering perspectives of life within Odessa in the 1990s, a wealthy liberal arts college on the cusp of welcoming diversity is certainly at odds with much of the small-mindedness and extremism found within its rural West Texas residents. But as the author reminds us, universities are not ivory towers, and they are also ripe with negativity within their own spheres of influence. It was entertaining to see just how corrupt and damaging these forces became and definitely not something that I saw coming!

"'Bitter almonds, Covey. Bitter almonds! It's like a friggin' Agatha Christie novel. Can you believe it?'"

The author's storytelling paints a vivid tale that is both compelling and relevant, yet calls to mind the classic murder mysteries that it references. So many interesting twists shift the direction of the case and provide Covey and JayJay with the ability to use their strengths to home in on making the connections that lead them to such surprising revelations. While their passionate pursuit to solve these cases drives the story, this is very much an engaging character study focusing on a time not too far removed from our own social and political climate. 

Overall, this is a tightly woven tale that packs a powerful punch and highlights just how much our past is often our future. 

In terms of the audio book experience, the same narrator is used from the previous installment of the series. Despite this book being told largely from a male's perspective, the choice of a female narrator never bothered me. I thought perhaps there would be some distinction when genders switched; however, that really didn't happen. I don't go into audio books with a performance in mind, but had I not read this one before, I would have had a difficult time understanding the nuances of all the dynamic characters captured within the text. There were some slight and subtle inflections, but this wasn't enough in my opinion especially with some of the more intense and engaging scenes. The rhythm of the reading maintained a similar cadence throughout that just didn't work when the energy picked up. Whether detailing description, being in the middle of a protest, or witnessing the murder reveal, the tone always felt the same. The sarcasm was never lost; however, I wanted more emotion to express the more spirited and singular moments featured in the text. 

The sound quality is great. I listened at 1.25 speed because anything lower seemed a bit too slow, while anything higher came across as too frenetic. I would like to see file naming conventions match the actual chapter titles in order to make linking up much easier if you to pick up the book to read on your own,but that's completely a personal preference given my situation and is most likely not an issue for readers who are audio book aficionados.

From my review of the print edition, I noted that though I am not one who is overly bothered by editing and formatting issues, I would be remiss to not mention that the print edition failed to provide distinction to a few chapter headings as the novel came to completion. Even the table of contents provided at the beginning makes these same mistakes. While I can look past this even within a final copy, this will definitely be a problem for other readers, which I can appreciate and understand. The audio book eliminates this issue completely, as the narrator states each chapter heading and title. You can't go wrong with either, so choose what works best for your reading pleasure and pick one up today!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for providing me with a free copy of both the physical book and the audio book. This is my honest and thoughtful review.



Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and he taught for nearly forty years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on four occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.




Kathy James. My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being "on the air" and using my sarcastic sense of humor. I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies. I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author's characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers. 


THREE WINNERS!

FIRST PRIZE: Audio books of Covey Jencks, Covey and JayJay Get Educated, and Washed In the Blood
SECOND PRIZE: Both Covey Jencks books in Kindle editions
THIRD PRIZE: Covey and JayJay Get Educated in Kindle edition
MAY 7-16, 2020
(U.S. Only)



a Rafflecopter giveaway   Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Tour, the author, and  the narrator! It was a pleasure reading/listening, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, OR VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR NOW:


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1 comment:

  1. Great review! And I agree about the audio narration 100%. I really love this series and will keep reading it.

    ReplyDelete

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