Narrated by Kate Rudd
I’ve listened to and enjoyed Kendra Elliot audiobooks before so when I saw this novella, I requested it for review, not knowing that it was not entirely a stand-alone story. On reflection I probably should have realised that. Dead In Her Tracks kind of stands alone but I expect it would have made a lot more sense had I read/listened to at least the preceding novella, Tracks of Her Tears written by Melinda Leigh. (There are actually five previous novellas featuring the town of Solitude, Oregon, and the lives and loves of sisters, Stevie and Carly Taylor. Ms. Elliot writes the Stevie stories and Ms. Leigh writes the Carly ones.) However, it is apparent the books themselves interlink, and the plots as well as the characters cross over, one to the other.
I went in knowing that it was a short romantic suspense story about an existing couple I hadn’t read about before but I expected the actual story to be contained in the novella. But the suspense plot in Dead In Her Tracks draws heavily from events in Tracks of Her Tears. I could pick up what was happening – there was definitely enough here I could understand the story, but I admit I was thrown that there were such explicit (and repeated) references to previous crimes and events not contained in this book.
It is apparent that there was a murder in Tracks of Her Tears and an arrest was made in that case. On Christmas morning, Officer Stevie Taylor and her boyfriend of seven months, Police Chief Zane Duncan, are called to attend to a dead body which has been discovered in a local motel. The murder didn’t occur at the motel; the deceased girl was moved after she was killed. The main suspect is already in jail for the earlier crime. It is possible he committed the murder, but because he was already locked up, it is clear he did not move the body. Therefore there must be, at the least, an accomplice. Things become further complicated when Stevie and Zane return to the police station to find the original suspect dead in his cell, his throat having been cut.
Stevie and Zane now have two murders to solve.
Over the course of the next couple of audiobook hours, they do, but not before Stevie’s life is put at risk and Zane must ride to the rescue. I had mixed feelings about this last, actually. Even though I haven’t had much experience with Stevie, I could already tell she was terrifyingly competent. She is no damsel in distress. To have her helpless and in need of rescue was a little disappointing. However, to counter that, Stevie didn’t do anything foolish or wrong to end up in the position she was in. The way it came about was (also terrifyingly) believable. And, just to be contrary, I do love a good rescue. Maybe I’d have been happier if Stevie had had a chance to rescue Zane right back, in true Pretty Woman style? (Perhaps she already did that in an earlier book?)
On the romantic front, Zane and Stevie have been dating for seven months. They love each other and are nearly living together. Zane made the formal offer for Stevie to move in, but she felt it was too soon. Even so, she spends most nights at his cabin. Zane is getting impatient. He knows Stevie is “the one” and wants her to not only live with him, but to do it with his ring on her finger. (Zane, it’s only been SEVEN months! Chill!).
Kate Rudd is a narrator I’ve had success with in the past. She had the advantage here – she’s performed the previous books in the series and knew way more about the characters than I did. This actually helped me because she was able to present a fully developed character notwithstanding that (understandably) there wasn’t a lot of development in this book. I was happy enough to believe her characterisation – it was a helpful shortcut for me in the circumstances.
Ms. Rudd’s performance was otherwise very smooth, with well differentiated male and female cast members, good pacing, emotion and tone. She does have something of an unusual cadence to her vocal style and it may not work for all listeners. I don’t mind it, even though it can take me a little time at the very start to settle into it.
I’m afraid this review may not be terribly helpful to listeners. I can’t say my overall view of the book was unaffected by my periodic confusion. I can say that I think it would have been more successful had I read at least or listened to Tracks of Her Tears beforehand, so there’s that.
Book Content: C+
Steam Factor: You can play it out loud
Violence Rating: Graphic
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Dead in Her Tracks was provided to AudioGals by Brilliance Audio for a review.