About the book: The Covey Jencks Mysteries: Love and Murder Deep in the Heart of Texas
- Narrated by Stephen E. Lookadoo, Jr.
- Mystery / Amateur Sleuths / West Texas
- Listening Length: 17hrs, 44 minutes
- Publication Date: July 27, 2022
- Scroll down for giveaway!
Shelton Williams’s book The Covey Jencks Mysteries: Love and Murder Deep in the Heart of Texas is more than a collection of mysterious tales of murder and investigation. By bringing to life these characters, the author has highlighted the global issues of racism, drug abuse, political extremism, and women trafficking.
In the midst of it all is our protagonist, hell-bent on finding out what secrets he may find out if he stepped into the dark shadow of Odessa.
This omnibus edition of the Covey Jencks Mysteries includes newly edited versions of Covey Jencks, Covey and JayJay Get Educated, and The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts. It also includes a new preface from the author and foreword by Charles E. Morrison.
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About the author, Shelton L. Williams
Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the three books in the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
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Having read the original Covey Jencks novel, which I did not review, and the second, Covey and Jay Jay Get Educated, which I did, I was curious to hear the audiobook, with all three books narrated by the same person, and presented in one, neat, bundle. I was not disappointed. While I’m a rare audiobook-listener and generally only listen to books I’ve read in print, I’m falling more in love with the medium. As I had not read the third book in this collection, The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts, I was a bit concerned about following the plot, but these books are so perfectly paced and well plotted, and balance humor and more serious scenes so well, that I had no issues.
As a refresher, the first book introduces us to Covey Jencks and his partner in solving crime (among other things), JayJay Qualls and sees them solving a case in Jencks’s hometown of Odessa, Texas where he recently returned. It involved Mexican gangs and a Boston mobster, and set the tone for the sarcasm-laced, deeply respectful and affectionate relationship between the two leads. The second book sees Covey and JayJay finding the truth behind the death of one of Covey’s friends as well as other mayhem on a college campus, and the third involves a trip to China to solve a murder that involves characters there and in the USA, including a group of Chinese gangsters.
What all three novels have in common, aside from Covey and JayJay, are the deft uses of language, and the way author Williams imbues his stories with social consciousness and uses them to discuss everything from immigration and racism to sexism and sex trafficking. He does this while never making the reader – or listener – feel hammered to death by a cause, or overdoing the darker aspect of these subjects, but wrapping them in mysteries laced with humor and wry turns of phrase that are completely engaging.
As audio books, each of these has been released on its own, albeit with diffrerent narrators. What makes this omnibus audiobook edition so special is that the same narrator is with us all the way through. A good narrator can make or break and audiobook. In this case, Stephen E. Lookadoo’s folksy warmth only enhances the source material. He sounds like someone Covey Jencks would know; he sounds like someone the author would know. He has that kind of familiar voice that makes you think you’ve heard him before – and maybe you have – but even when he’s playing a down-home hick he never seems uneducated. He also used just enough accent and pitch change to evoke the different characters without sounding forced or fake. A lot of male narrators turn female characters into caricatures; Lookadoo does not.
The combination of Williams’s vivd storytelling and Lookadoo’s narration gives the listener the perfect blend of substance and style. The vocal performance is perfectly matched to the relatively quick pace of these novels, and you never feel breathless from trying to keep up, or bored because things are too slow.
At nearly eighteen hours, this omnibus is a meaty undertaking. Personally, I prefer longer audiobooks because I can live with them for several evenings and really absorb the story. In this case, that time gives us three distinct, yet still connected, mysteries that were fantastic in print, an even better in this format.
Goes well with: cold beer – Shiner is good – and a plate of ribs, cole slaw and mac-n-cheese.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Each receives an audiobook edition of
THE COVEY JENCKS MYSTERIES:
LOVE AND MURDER DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 10/31/22.)
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