Published by: Minotaur Books
Published on: December 11, 2012
Page Count: 448
My Reading Format: Audiobook sent to me for consideration from AudioGo.
Audiobook Published by: AudioGo
Narrator: Simon Vance
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 53 minutes
Audio Sample: There is a sample available on AudioGo’s Safe House page.
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
The Isle of Man, a small and safe island in the Irish Sea, is home to the TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle racing event. Rob Hale, whose father was a TT champion in his day, has a passion for racing and works in heating and cooling to fund his habit. He finds himself one day waking up in the hospital after a motorcycle accident, but something isn’t write. He remembers the accident, but he wasn’t alone. He remembers that a beautiful blond woman named Lena was riding with him when the accident happened, but everyone at the hospital is adamant that he was the only person found on the scene. As if not being believed was difficult enough, people were pointing out how much this Lena he keeps talking about sounds like his recently deceased sister. Rob is both angry and frustrated. He knows there was a Lena and he sets out to discover the truth on his own until Rebecca Lewis, a Private Investigator out of London, shows up on the scene to investigate his sister Laura’s suicide. When Rob has no one left who believes him, can he trust Rebecca to help him discover the truth about Lena and why the Isle of Man has suddenly become less safe?
I listened to an early version of this audiobook and it feels as though I’ve had to wait for so long to shout out my praise for Safe House. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. Chris Ewan can do twisted torture like no one’s business, and I mean that as the highest possible compliment. I lost sleep empathizing with one unfortunate soul. Not every book or every author can do that. Nor do I like every book that does. Ewan struck the perfect note with Safe House. Readers comfortable with The Good Thief’s Guide series will not be forsaken. Yes, Safe House was much darker than the Charlie Howard mysteries, but Ewan’s smart, signature humor was evident throughout. You will find yourself absorbed into this new mystery as deeply as his others. You will want to fight for the truth along with Rob, suspiciously alert for any lurking danger or deception. Chris Ewan is such a talented author that he makes going from a light mystery to a dark thriller seem easy.
I jumped at the chance to listen to Safe House in audio. Chris Ewan and Simon Vance have been such a successful combination in the past. Still, I was a little nervous about how my past experiences with The Good Thief’s Guide novels might impact my listen. For example, had Stieg Larsson wrote a stand alone novel outside of the Millennium series and Vance narrated it, would I out of place within the new novel? Does this makes sense? I was worried that I would hear Simon Vance and, expecting Charlie Howard, would thus feel discombobulated when he never showed up. In retrospect, this same concern applied to the book as a whole. In either case, it was entirely unfounded. From the very beginning of the audiobook when the Isle of Man and the TT race were described, I was in the Safe House world. I especially enjoyed the voice Vance selected for Rob’s character. It felt real and honest within the story. What sticks out the most about the audiobook itself is how Vance handled some of the darker, tortured scenes. I would be sitting there – in one case white knuckling the steering wheel at midnight after driving a daughter’s sick friend home from an abortive sleepover – experiencing the heart-pounding anxiety of the moment while at the same time knowing that I was perfectly safe. It was as if anything that happened would be experienced and processed through together. Only audiobooks piloted by a skilled narrator can do that.
If an author’s success is marked by leaving the reader wanting more, then Chris Ewan is in big trouble. Instead of just wanting more Charlie, now I want more everything. And, in the spirit of wanting everything, I’d like it all with Simon Vance too, please.