You’ve never read a book like this. Ever.
Landon Beach, best known for his Great Lakes Saga, steps way outside the box for this wild, heart-pounding adventure of psychological suspense.
The story follows down-on-his-luck audiobook narrator Shawn Frost, a man with so many past demons that he can no longer tell heaven from hell. Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, Shawn is devastated to learn that his favorite character—one who anchors a series that was responsible for his recent career resurgence—is being killed off by the author. That, along with other factors, leads to a mental breakdown . . . but for Shawn, the real trouble has only just begun.
Soon, after he’s drugged and kidnapped, Shawn wakes up in a dungeon-like room where his captors inform him he’ll be held against his will until he completes the narration of an audiobook that was written specifically for him. Without the comforts and means that his in-home, professional recording booth offers, Shawn struggles at first to perform at his normal level. He soon finds motivation when things turn violent, though, leading to the revelation that no matter what he does, he might never make it out alive. Or will he?
What makes this story so brilliant, is also what complicates writing the review. The least you know going into this one, the better. Trust me on that. Without giving anything away, Beach’s straightforward setup quickly turns into anything but, launching into a vertigo-inducing story that packs nonstop twists and turns, and will soon have Shawn—and readers—questioning everything. And there lies the key to Narrator’s greatness. Its sheer unpredictability and constant misdirection will not only keep readers on their toes, but thoroughly engrossed as they race helplessly towards a shocking conclusion that’s unlike anything else in print today.
Beyond the twisting nature, though, Beach—writing in first-person, present-tense for the first time in his career—excels at developing his lead character. A former playwright and actor who won two Tony Awards before hitting his 30s, Shawn Frost’s work is described as “Shakespearean in scope,” leading many in the industry to have once believed he was destined for greatness. However, the former prodigy eventually found himself battling the same things that have brought down countless other stars before him. That part of Frost, which we’ve seen play out in real life numerous times from some of the biggest celebrities in the world, is as raw as it is relevant—and it casts a light on just how quickly someone can experience a fall from grace. It’s that fall, which is always much faster than any return to glory, is in many ways what shapes Frost, and makes him someone readers can root for. Or can they?
The real cherry on top of this incredible story, at least for audiobook fans, is how much of the behind-the-scenes information Beach crammed in, revealing tons of tidbits about the recording process itself and how narrators set about getting ready to perform. Even better is the performance from iconic narrator Scott Brick, whose commanding voice lends itself perfectly to Shawn Frost, capturing every beat of emotion in a way that only he can. Quite simply, this is the performance of Brick’s career, and even if you read the paperback or eBook, is worth listening to just to experience everything he brings to the role.
In my career, having reviewed over 1,200 novels, I can honestly say . . . I have never read anything quite like this. Think Misery meets Gone Girl. Landon Beach delivers a special, unforgettable, jaw-dropping reading experience that readers won’t soon forget. Narrator is a masterpiece.
Author: Landon Beach
Pages: 467 (Paperback)
Release Date: August 2, 2022
Real Book Spy Rating: 9.95/10
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and co-hosts the ThrillerTalk podcast when he’s not streaming and hanging out with his growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” comes out on September 6, 2022. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.