An interesting premise combined with a great ending, 19 Nocturne Boulevard’s “The Rookie” captures and combines both humor and an emotional gut punch you won’t see coming until it’s too late. The idea of this story is similar to the John Wayne Cleaver series by Dan Wells. Both are trying to humanize the people with no empathy for others. Mr. Wells does it by putting you inside the head of a teenage sociopath who’s struggling with both inner and outer demons. Julie Hoverson, achieves the same effect, but her method is slightly different.
Instead Hoverson uses dark comedy to make us care about these kinds of people. Their sympathetic, not because of their actions, but due to the setting with which the story takes place. The basic setup of The Rookie follows a serial killer in training, who finds an old lady, who just so happens to be a big name serial killer. Interspersed throughout the story are news casts which help inform the listener understand the in between portions. The audio drama is almost an hour long and without this storytelling tool, it would be longer.
The elderly serial killer and the rookie form a special bond, which culminates in an ending that leaves you on the verge of tears. It’s penultimate scene gets you choked up and, by the finale, you’re right there with the main character. Whether the author intended it or not, she gave a twist that was surprising yet inevitable. Serial killers are incapable of empathy. The fact “Doorbell Mike” does something contrary most sociopaths at the end proves he’s not as heartless as he wanted himself and the audience to believe.
Although “The Rookie” didn’t give the same sort of real life revelation as the John Wayne Cleaver books did, it was a surprisingly enjoyable ride, seeing as how the first 19 Nocturne Boulevard audio drama didn’t leave a good impression.
This was a wonderful story with an ending that didn’t quite bring it home. Without going into too much detail, the “what really happened” ending felt overly complex for the sake of being complex, rather than to enhance the story. Twists are a great tool for short stories, but audio seems to hardest medium to tell this kind of story. It can be done well, as in Alone in the Night.
The ending aside, this story hooks you right from the beginning. If you’re a writer, then hearing the protagonist struggle with trying not to rehash the same old stories will hit a cord deep inside and give you immediate rooting interest. Even if you’re not a romance author, like Ms. Applegate in the story, the problems she’s going through are ones which ring true for all fiction writers. If you aren’t a writer, it still gives an interesting insight into the thought process of the average writer.
That alone is worth the price of admission: time.
A tale from 19 Nocturne Boulevard, “Trophy Case” is a story of extremely dark and graphic detail. Depending on who you ask, it’s a bit too graphic. That’s the camp I considered myself to be in while listening to this story. I’m all for a dark tone, but this just pushed it over the line. On the subject of dark tones in stories, this one takes the prize. I suppose it’s a good thing, because I did cringe a lot while listening. Again, it depends on who you ask.
One of the few positives about this story is that the pacing kept me interested in what was going to happen next. However at the end, I felt let down and that I’d been dragged over nails and broken glass to reach an unsatisfactory conclusion.
The characters in the story, aside from the american, are total misogynists. The characteristics border on stereotypes. The german and italian will do anything to win. However in order to win, they have to keep a women alive and the story and the characters treat them like objects—trophies if you will. They’re expendable. If one dies, simply get another seems to be a common theme in the story. I know this is based on a story written a while back, but I don’t see why anyone would want to retell this tale in our current society.
I’m usually not one for giving negative reviews, but when the cons are the ones that stand out the most, it’s hard to ignore them.