Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Boystown 3: Two Nick Nowak Novellas - Audio Version Written by Marshall Thornton

Reviewer: Jon Michaelsen
Publisher: Marshall Thornton
Narration: Brad Langer

As with the first couple Boystown novels, Marshall Thornton includes more than one story in the third release of the series. Unlike the previous novels however, Boystown 3 features two novellas, each unique in their own right. The first story, Little Boy Boom, starts out with a bang; literally! Nick Nowak’s car explodes as he’s trying to get his on-again, off-again boyfriend, Bert Harker’s, mother to let him drive her. Soon, Nick is in a race to find out who wants him dead, and the list of suspects is a mighty long one.

The second novella, Little Boy Tenor, finds Nick hired by a reverend to find out who killed the church choir's star tenor, but the man’s reasons for wanting to know are not clear cut and run far more personal than the good reverend may want to know. While investigating the young man’s death, Nick is also asked by his best friend, Ross, to learn the real truth about how his former lover, Earl Silver, died.

I listened to the unabridged audio book version of Boystown 3: Two Nick Nowak Novellas and at times, read the print version while at home. Reading a Nick Nowak mystery is like slipping on a well-worn leather coat, comfortable and warm, but a little rough and faded around the edges. By rough, I don’t mean the writing – which is stellar, of course – I’m talking about Nick Nowak, the person. He’s a tough, no nonsense private detective who can take care of himself and those around him. The feeling I get reading a novel in the Boystown series is the same I got years ago reading the Henry Rios series by Michael Nava when they were released starting in the 80s. Ironically, the Boystown series is set in the early eighties, but instead of Los Angeles, takes place in Chicago. Though Nick is somewhat of a horn dog, one need only to recall the times before the emergence of the AIDs crisis, which is there in the background of the series working its way into the fabric of the stories like a coiled snake ready to strike.

By the end of this novel, however, fans of Nick and Harker will finally learn what they’ve wanted to know all along. To tell more would be to sacrifice the great surprise and ruin the deliciously warm feeling fans no doubt deserve.         

Once again I appreciated listening to the same voice of narrator, Brad Langer, who has narrated the first two Nick Nowak mysteries. Langer’s deep, virile voice is perfect as Nick, and he slips in and out of the other characters’ inflections with professional ease. I highly recommend Boystown 3: Two Nick Nowak Novellas, and the entire Nick Nowak mystery series.