10/20/2010 02:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Well-Written Story Poorly Told

Lincoln seems to be a popular detective. We're talking about detective fiction, of course, with Jeffery Deaver's successful Lincoln Rhyme and Michael Koryta's Lincoln Perry series. When St. Martin's Press published Koryta's first Lincoln Perry mystery in 2005, the writer was only 21 years old and the book pulled in a lot of favorable attention. The Chicago Tribune's reviewer called it, "...An incredibly fresh private-investigator novel... Koryta... emerges fully formed in his first effort." Canada's Globe & Mail's critic said, "... only 21, but he writes with the style of a seasoned vet... This is a writer to watch." All of which is accurate -- in print. And since then, Koryta (pronounced Ko-ree-ta) has put out several more in the Perry private-eye series -- which is probably why Blackstone Audio decided to put out an audiobook edition of the writer's first novel, Tonight I said Goodbye. Makes sense. The book has all the components of a well-crafted detective mystery: a dead private-eye, his missing family, Russian thugs, a Trump-like wealthy developer and our heroes, a disgraced ex cop-turned PI, Lincoln Perry and his faithful older sidekick, Joe Pritchard.

The problem is Koryta has written this team with what he describes as "tag-team wit." You know the style. I call it Twitter talk: short, wise-cracking one-liners tossed out even in the face of danger. Always a smart choice, if well executed. Unfortunately, Blackstone Audio uses the ubiquitous voice of Scott Brick, who's done the other audiobooks in the Perry series. Mr. Brick works the audio turf a lot. He's the go-to narrator for authors like Demille, Asimov, Preston & Child, Cussler and Coben -- although Brick does NOT do any of Coben's Myron Bolitar books -- and for good reason.

The Bolitar audiobooks are Twitter-talking, cheeky-sleuth mysteries at their best and require an often light, irreverent touch in narration. Scott Brick comes from the Zachary Scott school of acting. Anyone who's seen the soapy 1945 Mildred Pierce movie will know what I mean. That Scott had a melodramatic, heavy-handed acting style where every sentence carried weighted import. Unfortunately, Tonight I Said Goodbye, often relies on urban levity and quip-lash but this Scott's arch style only serves to deaden the tone and therefore, the story's impact. The best way to access this could-be entertainment is with your eyes, not your ears.