Monday, August 31, 2015

Audiobook Review: FLESH: The Disappearance of Portia Barrington by Keith Lee Johnson

Keith Lee Johnson
Portia Barrington is the 15-year-old daughter of a high-powered defense attorney, and she's been kidnapped. Those who took her have demanded and been paid two ransoms, but now they are demanding a third so, despite the kidnappers' warnings to the contrary, the FBI has been called in. Enter Agent Phoenix Drew-Perry, a woman of color with her own daughter in turmoil.

The story is told in a combination of third person and first. Half of the story is Phoenix' personal first person recollections. The other half is from an omniscient third person point-of-view; a technique I personally find distracting. Pick a PoV and stick with it, I say, but I understand that this is becoming a popular story-telling modus. I just find it off-putting and lazy.

The author relies heavily on cliches. I swear I heard the phrase "Off the hook!" more times in the first chapter than a Mel B outtake-reel from America's Got Talent. Also the book references the sex act so frequently that the author often relies on such over-used erotica standards as "get all up in that," and "on fire down there."

There are a number of other weird aspects to the book. It's clearly written to titillate, but at the end, the heroine goes into a long puritanical aside about how over-sexed and debauched Americans are. Another example of the book's weirdness is that a character in the book is named Christopher Chance, and one of the protagonists assumes it's a false identity because it's such a cheesy name. This in a book with characters named Phoenix, Portia Barrington, Topaz, Vanderbilt, Myles, Palmer, and Savannah.
Lucinda Gainey

In another example, the story makes overly specific use of the story-line of a 1970 film called The Grasshopper starring Jacqueline Bisset, or as the narrator, Lucinda Gainey, calls her for some unexplained reason, Jacqueline Bay-set. The narration also has a somewhat sterile almost-documentary-style feel to it in several places, which is odd considering how hyper-sexual the book is. Other than that the voice narration was competent, although there were a few moments where the longish sentences taxed her breathing.

One thing I did enjoy about the book was a clever plot element where the FBI agents were able to determine the reason why the kidnappers kept demanding more and more ransom. But then, by the end of the book even that became a plot hole. I don't want to post a spoiler, but suffice to say you don't lead a horse to water if you don't want him to take a drink.

Overall, I wasn't impressed with the story or the writing, but apparently I'm in the minority. The author has a substantial following, and numerous glowing reviews on this title alone in the paperback and eBook listings at Amazon. Personally, I'm not recommending it, but what do I know? Twenty plus horny housewives can't be wrong.

Amazon, Audible

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