Attorney Sabre Brown is having a great time geocaching, the Internet's version of a treasure hunt. The fun ceases when she "caches" a container with an official death certificate citing "murder by poison" as the cause of death. Even more disturbing is that the date of death is 10 days in the future. Sabre is forced to search cache after cache, each revealing more clues, until they take an unexpected twist and shockingly point to one of her court cases. Is the murderer a rejected child, a well-known plastic surgeon, a scorned ex, a crooked lab technician, or a politician in line for the highest office in the land? Or, is someone playing Sabre in an ugly geocache of life and death?
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I HAD to try this book. It's very simple. I am an avid geocacher, having logged over 1800 finds (I know, brag, brag) and I spent 22 years working in the child welfare system (including the courts). This book was a bit disappointing for me, which I found surprising given the consistently rave reviews and subject matter. I am giving it 3 1/2 stars, rounded to 3. Here's why:
Pros: The author really knows the child welfare system, having been an attorney in juvenile court in California. That was very evident, and that part of the story stirred alot of memories up for me. As to geocaching, I am guessing Teresa Burrell is herself a geocacher, as she really knows the ins and outs. Otherwise, she did phenomenal research on geocaching. I applaud her either way.
My comments on the narrator go both ways. This is an unusual story in that it has so many different speaking roles. I don't see how any narrator could come up with THAT many good voices. It goes beyond what should be asked of a narrator. I do commend John Bell for giving it his best in what must have been a very frustrating process of trying to come up for a new voice for each character and remembering them all!
Lastly, the story was engaging enough to keep me listening and wondering how the author was going to tie things up.
And now, the Cons: First for the narration, as that is what stands out in my mind most. The main character, JP, Sabre's boyfriend, wasn't at all engaging to me. I hated JP"s Texas accent--he sounded much older than Sabre, too. Then, there was not a hint of spark between the two of them. It was described as a somewhat new relationship and for the life of me, I couldn't understand why they were together. No sex here, implied or otherwise, just a "smooch" now and then. Neither Sabre or JP came across as interesting or very likeable, nor were they developed characters. This con, I see as shared between the author and the narrator. And yes, some of Bell's many "voices" were truly cringe-worthy or downright laughable.
For me, the story was pretty far-fetched, yet there had to be some way to make geocaching and integral part of the story. While a bit bizarre, the ending was also too pat and too much was tied up in a pretty ribbon, a too happily-ever-after ending for me.
And perhaps too nit-picky on my part, child welfare cases are really social worker-driven and in this story, the social worker was a mere ghost, a shadow of a character. However, this most likely would not bother anyone else but me.
In summary, I am betting if you read Burrell's other books, you will like this story. It doesn't ask much of the reader and is an easy and for many, a fun listen. Just look at all the fabulous reviews. And oh boy, I bet this review will make the Burrell-Bell fans mad at me.
I'm just here to tell you what I thought. And to recommend geocaching!
- Kathy "Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy."
The Immaculate Deception
Teresa Burrell's created memorable characters, starting with Sabre Orin Brown, a child advocate, practicing in children's courts in San Diego. There's gentleman former cop/investigator/cowboy/boyfriend, J.P. Thorne, who has some colorful laugh-out-loud sayings - and In Burrell's books, colorful doesn't mean vulgar. Ron Brown, Sabre's brother, is back in a supporting role. Listening to "The Advocate's Geocache" (2015) is like a welcome visit to old friends.
The premise of this book is (obviously) geocaching, a built in mystery/treasure hunt that anyone can do in real life. Burrell parallels the mystery Sabre solves with clues in caches. Some hints are a bit of a stretch, but I figured out several clues immediately. It's an age thing. References that would be obscure to younger people - people the ages Sabre and Ron are - were readily apparent to me. Instead of getting frustrated that the characters didn't figure it out, I was amused, wondering when they'd get enough research done to put things together. I was also amusedly waiting for George Carlin to appear and he did - but sans his 7 dirty words (Federal Communications Commission v Pacifica Foundation (1978) 438 US 726.)
I like that Sabre's not a run-of-the mill criminal attorney. Her court beat is a children's court. Burrell has probably heard some pretty horrifying things as an attorney, but they're not in this book. She's created a mostly amusing family - the McFerrins (it's a listen, so my spelling might be wrong). The oldest boy is Conway Twitty McFerrin, and he's got siblings saddled with names like Reba McEntire McFerrin and Dolly Parton McFerrin. And the mother - Brandi McFerrin - I could see her high teased hair and rhinestone hair pins in my mind.
Having a male narrator works fine for The Advocate series, but I'm not wild about John Bell as a narrator. I liked him better with this book than I did with "The Advocate's Felony" (2014). His narration of Sabre is good, and Brandi worked - but the other minor female characters - well, they all sounded like heavy smokers. Even the kids.
The title of this review is an eggcorn (which Merriam-Webster defines as "A word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase") that Brandi uses several times. It's a great phrase in this book.
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