A truly unique listen! This dark romance is heavy on the mystery/suspense and will leave you feeling like you have gotten a clandestine look into the minds of killers. I absolutely loved the attention to the psychology underlying these characters’ actions; perhaps the most shocking is the resilience of the human mind to conjure up such extreme measures to survive. Moreover, the damage that such a world of violence can cause on the human psyche, particularly where matters of trust and ultimately the heart are concerned, is also vividly examined and ultimately questioned and challenged, providing the listener with a deeply satisfying experience.
Please note though that the subject matter of this book is extremely dark and gritty, running the gamut from kidnapping, rape, and the sex trade to murder for hire and otherwise. Additionally, Killing Sarai ends in a cliffhanger, so should you choose to embark on this blood-tingling journey, you will need to also read the next book in the In the Company of Killers series, Reviving Izabel, to learn how it all turns out for Sarai and Victor, the main characters. There are also other books in this series that have already been published, but they appear, at least from a love life perspective, to primarily focus on other couples.
Sarai lived a difficult childhood as the offspring of a drug addicted mother. At the age of fourteen, Sarai’s mother made the ultimate bad decision by up and leaving, going to Mexico with a Mexican drug lord (Javier) and forcing Sarai to come with her. It didn’t take long for Javier to trade the mother for the daughter with Sarai becoming his slave, living in squalor notwithstanding Javier’s vast wealth, but choosing obedience over the sure death alternative. Over time, Sarai becomes a stalwart survivor, enduring through desensitization to her horrendous living conditions. She never, however, gives up hope for finding a way back home.
Summoning up all her courage, and all of the detailed plans she had conjured up during her nine years of captivity, Sarai finally sees her opportunity to escape when the first American she has seen in years (Victor) arrives at Javier’s compound. She knows right away what he is – a hired hit-man but determines she is better off taking her chances soliciting Victor’s help than remaining where she is.
What she doesn’t count on is meeting a soul perhaps even more damaged by violence and unfortunate circumstances than her own. As Javier’s “favorite” plaything, Sarai is worth a great deal as leverage and her landing in Victor’s lap practically begs that she be used for his and his employer’s purposes. Victor’s detached demeanor makes it even more difficult to ascertain exactly where Sarai fits in his world. They clearly are attracted to one another, but Victor is not a man who can easily be read. Additionally, any life with Victor would potentially make her a prime target for a whole host of other enemies, not to mention the multiple outside forces that already have her within their sights. Even if Victor sets her free, Sarai’s chances for survival are quite small given her inexperience and innocence, not to mention her lack of reaction to danger, given her years of desensitization and trauma. In the end, will leaving with Victor be Sarai’s salvation or damnation?
Stephen Bel Davies and Kate Reinders perform Killing Sarai, delivering the appropriate gender’s point of view by chapter. This style works generally well in this audiobook where there is a significant age difference between the two main characters – Sarai is twenty-three whereas Victor is described as being in his mid to late thirties. It does, however, call for adjustment as you transition from chapter to chapter with two very disparate sounding portrayals of each character.
In that regard, Kate Reinders excels in her rendition of Sarai, perfectly bringing to life her strange blend of youthful innocence and somewhat emotionally devoid acceptance of consequences. Ms. Reinders’ voicing of Victor, however, is not quite as masculine as what you would expect for a man of his age. All that said, the two characters are clearly differentiated allowing for easy listening without reliance on dialogue tags.
Stephen Bel Davies, in turn, portrays Victor with a sort of odd, loner sound, true to Victor’s extremely detached personality that allows him to kill without remorse. Interestingly, Mr. Davies varies Victor’s voice just slightly towards the end of the book as his feelings for Sarai begin to surface, giving these scenes a more personal quality. This effect almost has a humanizing quality and really brings the whole psychological introspection to the forefront. Mr. Davies’ rendition of Sarai, however, while clearly distinguishable, lacks the feminine tone needed to be completely believable, particularly when compared with Ms. Reinders depiction.
So while the dual narration took a little getting used to, I generally found it to be an above-average performance as I was able to, in the end, settle into the narration and enjoy the seamless enactment of this psychological thriller romance.
What an intriguing story! Ms. Redmerski definitely had me glued to my earbuds as I constantly kept questioning just where this story was going. While the romance was on the subdued side, it started heating up towards the end. Therefore, notwithstanding the huge cliffhanger, I suspect Book 2, Reviving Izabel, will be even more focused on Victor’s and Sarai’s growing relationship. I can’t wait to listen to see how these characters continue to evolve and just where Ms. Redmerski’s journey takes these two damaged souls.
Book Content: A-
Steam Factor: For your burning ears only
Violence: Domestic Violence
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Audible, Inc.
Killing Sarai was provided to AudioGals by Audible, Inc. for review.