Greenlight, Benjamin Stevenson

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Book Synopsis

The success of Jack Quick’s initial podcast investigation into the death of Eliza Dacey surprised no one more than Jack himself.  Curtis Wade was never the most popular person in the community, being newly cashed up (just tacky) and difficult to deal with, but the speed of his arrest and conviction for the murder of a young vineyard worker screamed ‘fit up’.  The degree to which Jack is willing to suggest a conspiracy to his listeners may involve some… finesse.  Ratings are everything.  How far Jack is willing to go involves some deep diving into a soul that was already troubled before the investigation into the death of Eliza. 

Curtis Wade made a convincing villain for one murder and upon his release, is once again regarded as a suspect when there is a second killing.  Jack’s reporting on Eliza’s murder, stylistically slanted and edited of course for maximum dramatic effect, had suggested the existence of simmering town prejudices and that the most of inept of country cops had been tasked with investigating Eliza’s murder. Jack now has cause to question his own ethics, and whether his presence had been a catalyst for more violence.  Wrongs must now be addressed.

Book Review

GREENLIGHT works extremely well as an audio title as the conspiratorial way it has been written lends itself beautifully to that platform of intimacy.  In our ears it’s all quietly confessed secrets and the discovery of lies as we move around with producer Jack Quick in the shadows of a country town.  This is not necessarily a sleepy town.  This is wine country.

If you’ve ever stayed in an Australian wine region, you might feel that you recognize the (fictional) setting and some of the townsfolk who feature in GREENLIGHT.   Wine towns ride on the back of tourism, but the locals aren’t always friendly to anyone who rides in to dabble in the business of winemaking, or to involve themselves in transactions of buying and selling wine.   In Jack Quick we have someone trying to do right whilst acknowledging the wrongs that had been tactically employed along the way. He’s a curious character, and not the alpha male we normally see leading the charge in crime fiction.  We’ve had enough of those.  People who are able to mess up, be beaten up, and then get up again when required are way more interesting to read of. 

GREENLIGHT combines the appeal of the two fastest growing forms of digital entertainment that we have right now - podcasts and audio books.  Today’s time poor readers have leaped on to both of these mediums with increasing gusto in the last two years or so and it’s all to the good.  GREENLIGHT is an absorbing work of fiction that gives us the required time with each character, somehow managing to gallop us past what we should have been paying our most keen attention to.  Multiple voice actors are used here in the podcast excerpts that are inserted judiciously into Jack’s narrative.  The lead voice actor here is brilliant at differentiating the characters he plays in Jack’s scenes, so there’s never any confusion as to whose voice it is that we are hearing. 

The mental health issues raised in this novel are not often addressed in fiction in relation to the males of our species.  This is quite enlightening to read of, as negotiating your everyday working life around a full blown eating disorder is just another difficulty to your day.  Jack’s character and life outside of his career are fully fleshed, and the read is all the better for it.

GREENLIGHT is a polished debut work of crime fiction that offers up the trifecta of entertainment; it is engaging, topical, and satisfying.  The excellent voice work in this Audible production adds much to the experience of being immersed in the struggles of Jack as he questions his own motivations and the cost of success in our entertainment obsessed world.

P.S. This reviewer lives in a wine region.  Wine IS art.

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