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I enjoyed the audio version of The Lesson Plan, a debut by G J Prager.
Robert Klayton is a substitute high school teacher by day and a trainee private detective by night. When he meets Sheila, a fellow substitute teacher who is in need of a private eye, he gets excited at the prospect of having enough money to actually pay his rent. However getting involved with Sheila inevitably gets him into trouble… A LOT of trouble. He has to try and find a killer while keeping a bunch of bad guys and the cops off his tail.
Overall I found it to be quite well written, the story was engaging and it held my interest quite well.
However, the characters were a bit of a let down for me. In particular Robert, the main character. I just had a hard time reading (or listening in this case) about a character who made such absolutely stupid decisions at every point and had such minimal personal growth. Just when I thought I was gaining a little bit of respect for him, off he goes again and does something even more stupid and It frustrated me a lot. I understand that this was the way he was supposed to be, it was his personality, he isn’t a typical “good guy”. But it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t find his character very likeable. The female characters that Robert was associated with were all pretty shady also. As were his interactions with them. I hope that substitute teachers are not all like that!
I felt the plot opened with a bang, and then moved quite slowly until about half way when it picked up again. There was a lot of intricate description of non significant aspects of the story, which was not necessarily a bad thing, but I felt at times it was slightly overdone. I loved the old school ‘Rockford files’ type vibe going on. It was engaging and I wanted to know how the story developed and what happened to Robert and if he ever sorted himself out.
I enjoyed the descriptions of the places in the novel. Las Vegas, the desert, Los Angeles… All places I have never been but were well described in the novel.
Audio Version: The author narrated the book himself and I love that! Who better than to emphasise key points and phrases than the person who wrote it originally. I wish more authors would narrate their own books! G J Prager has a lovely accent and I really enjoyed listening to him narrate as Robert. However, at times I got a little confused about who was who and who was saying what because it was hard to differentiate between characters. Every character sounded the same, even the females. I think more of an emphasised change of key or roughness to his voice would have made a world of difference to the listener. However it was by no means a bad narration, I quite enjoyed it.
It was a good mystery, and I enjoyed the audio version. I would be interested to read other books by this author.
Thanks to the author via Word Slinger Publicity for a copy of this audio book in exchange for my honest review.
Bob Klayman is a substitute high school teacher who wants a new gig, specifically, private investigation. Cal is doing his best to mentor the man. Bob will find himself caught up in more than just adultery in this Los Angeles murder mystery.
The story starts off with Bob tailing a nameless blonde who he finds bloody on a floor, right before someone knocks him unconscious. When he comes to, the body is gone and Bob stumbles back to his humdrum life feeling like a failure. Only his dog Homer gives him unconditional love in this book.
Bob soon meets Sheila, a substitute teacher herself, and the two end up horizontal together. She then offers to hire him to find her ex-husband and deliver a birthday package to her young son Joe. Bob and Homer take a trip out to Arizona where Bob bungles the job, and then bungles again later while drunk and chatting up a homeless man. Then he makes the decision to leave his car in AZ and he hires a taxi to drive him home to LA.
Once home, he manages to uncover a few clues and jumps to the wrong conclusion. He needs to recover his car. Bob and Homer plan for a road trip to nearby Arizona, taking along young Maria, a high school student, for company *cough, cough.. ahem*. Things don’t go as planned at all and Bob is probably in a heap of trouble.
So, yeah, Bob is one of those guys that bungles his way through life. Sometimes people let him off the hook because they feel sorry for him, and sometimes they help him out because he is at least partly right. He was an interesting faded hero for this tale. He has lots of ‘isms’, being a mild racist, a sexist, and even going on about the elderly at one point. So he wasn’t a particularly likable character. I never found myself rooting for him but I also wanted to see how he got out of this fix or that jam.
I find it hard to date this book. There are only a handful of references to cell phones and emails. Meanwhile the story uses 1940s dime novel phrases like dame, she’s quite the dish, gumshoe, etc. Half the time I felt like the author was going for a noir detective story, but then that gets broken up by references to early 2000s tech. So I was left feeling a little confused on that point and it never really worked for me.
My other criticism is concerning the ladies. Several of the minor female characters never get names, just curvy descriptors. Sheila and Maria are basically sex objects. There’s a few more named female characters, but again, our main character Bob describes their looks and bed-ability first and any other talents second. Obviously, I would have enjoyed this book more if the ladies had been more realistically portrayed.
I received this book free of charge from Word Slinger Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: The author narrated his own book. He started off good with a nice pacing and distinct voices and accents. However, towards the end, it seemed that the narrator was ready pack it in and be done with the book. The character voices were no longer as distinct. The pacing was not as even. I liked his voice for Bob Klayman and his female voices were believable.