Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Audiobook Review: Nightwalker by Heather Graham

Title: Nightwalker
Author: Heather Graham
Narrators: Tanya Eby and Fred Stella
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Series: Harrison Investigation, Book 8
Length: 9 hours, 8 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Jessy Sparhawk has seen firsthand how gambling can ruin people's lives. But one night, desperate for money, she places the bet that will change her life forever. Just as she's collecting her winnings, a man stumbles through the crowd, a knife protruding from his back, and crashes into her, pinning her to the craps table.
Hired to investigate the murder, private detective Dillon Wolf finds himself fascinated by the gorgeous redhead who'd been trapped beneath the victim--and by the single word the dying man had whispered in her ear. "Indigo."
What neither of them realizes is that the nightmare is only just beginning. Because bodyguard Tanner Green may have been killed by that knife, but his angry ghost isn't going anywhere--not without vengeance. Now, literally caught between the living and the dead, Dillon and Jessy have no choice but to forge ahead together. Their investigation will take them from the glitz of the Vegas strip into the dealings of casino magnate Emil Landon, the man who signs both their paychecks, and out into the desert to a ghost town called Indigo, where past and present come together in a search for gold.
Years ago, blood was shed on that very ground, and now it looks as if history is about to repeat itself, with the living and the dead facing off for possession of a fortune, and Dillon and Jessy fighting not only to stay alive but for the chance to build a future.
Overall Rating: 3/5

I always love when mystery stories have a paranormal element to them. In this case, Nightwalker deals with a woman named Jessy Sparhawk who finds out she can see ghosts after a man dies on top of her in a Las Vegas casino. Private investigator Dillon Wolf is a Nightwalker himself (someone who can see ghosts), and finds himself drawn to Jessy. They team up and together try to solve the mystery of the death of Tanner Green and the mysterious word he said to Jessy.

There were quite a few things I liked about this novel. First of all, the mystery going on in the present-day has a distinct connection to past events. Though I thought the whole unraveling of connections that happened near the climax was boring, I still enjoyed seeing the parts fit together. Secondly, there are ghosts. Ringo, a ghost Dillon hangs out with, is by far my favorite character. He added a lot of humor to the book, which I appreciated. Thirdly, it's just a good story. A man dying on top of one of the main characters near the beginning of the novel sets a great pace and an interesting situation to follow.

However, these good things were overshadowed by the lack of development. Everything seemed a little shallow for me: the plot, the characters, even the setting. It was all pretty much stereotypical, and surprisingly, not much conflict from a mystery. Though everyone kept stressing how much "danger" Jessy was in, only two dangerous things happened to her before the climax hit. And they weren't all that bad. Considering everyone's obsessive concern and the length of the novel, there could have been quite serious threats before Graham took off with the climax. I wanted the stakes to be amped up; especially since a supposed fortune in gold was on the line. I also wanted to see the characters go through tough situations and change and grow, but that didn't happen at all. There's a bit of romance, which helped a little, but not much.

Honestly, if I read this in print, I probably would have rated it far lower. I enjoyed this much more in audiobook format. I was able to relax or do productive things while listening to it, which is always nice, because I don't feel as if I wasted my time. I also really liked having the two narrators to do the differing male and female parts. Sometimes the dialogue was awkward when offstage narrator had to jump in real quick, but it did become smoother as the book went on. So, either I got used to it or the editing became better. Maybe a little bit of both.

I would recommend Nightwalker as a beach read, or as something to put on in the background when you don't really want to be invested in something too complicated. It's easy to follow along, and there's a decent story behind it. It's something worth thinking about for mystery lovers.