Title: Bone to Pick
Author: TA Moore
Narrator: Michael Fell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 9 hours
At a Glance: I could listen to Michael Fell weave a story all day long. Dialogue portions aside, his voice embodied the emotional range the author was going for in every prose passage.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Cloister Witte is a man with a dark past and a cute dog. He’s happy to talk about the dog all day, but after growing up in the shadow of a missing brother, a deadbeat dad, and a criminal stepfather, he’d rather leave the past back in Montana. These days he’s a K-9 officer in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and pays a tithe to his ghosts by doing what no one was able to do for his brother—find the missing and bring them home.
He’s good at solving difficult mysteries. The dog is even better.
This time the missing person is a ten-year-old boy who walked into the woods in the middle of the night and didn’t come back. With the antagonistic help of distractingly handsome FBI agent Javi Merlo, it quickly becomes clear that Drew Hartley didn’t run away. He was taken, and the evidence implies he’s not the kidnapper’s first victim. As the search intensifies, old grudges and tragedies are pulled into the light of day. But with each clue they uncover, it looks less and less likely that Drew will be found alive.
Review: When an author writes a gritty, hard-bitten character, times two, then you need a narrator that is going to pick up on the subtle emotional cues in both the dialogue as well as the prose passages. TA Moore has such descriptive passages in her novel Bone To Pick that I swear to you there are times you can feel the heat and dry dusty landscape permeate your very pores. It’s the character clues and story development in the non-dialogue passages that feed this story and give it the visceral impact it hands down, and narrator Michael Fell is absolutely perfect in his delivery.
My mind keeps returning to the word gritty—everything about Cloister and Javi exudes that descriptor. These are hard men who have no time for romance, nor are they really interested in relationships. Or so they want to believe. Instead, they have their heads buried so far up their collective asses that they can’t recognize the beginnings of attraction and mistake it for simple lust. Their unemotional demeanor that drips with sarcasm and ennui hides the passion and second guessing that goes on beneath the exterior.
Michael Fell captures all these emotions whenever he begins to describe the action through either Cloister or Javi’s eyes. You can feel the bald edge of their inner doubts in every hesitant pause he offers up. Their wit and biting sarcasm leaks out of every extended prose passage Mr. Fell reads. This is where this narrator’s strength is apparent. Unfortunately, the various voices he uses for the dialogue bits are not nearly as effective. While I enjoyed the deeper tone he employed for Javi, I often felt that there was not a great deal of differentiation between the timbre of the various voices. I also struggled a bit with how young he made Cloister sound. Given that it was established fairly early that Cloister didn’t work well with anyone other than his dog, I felt his tone should have been drier and more biting. It was the back and forth repartee that eluded this otherwise capable narrator, due to the lack of varied pitch that would have set characters apart.
I could listen to Michael Fell weave a story all day long. Dialogue portions aside, his voice embodied the emotional range the author was going for in every prose passage. If Mr. Fell could give us a bit more range in pitch and tone when doing the character conversations, then I feel he could move from a good narrator into one of the best in the field.
You can buy Bone to Pick here:
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