Review: Pressure by Jeff Strand (audiobook)

Review:

pressure

My original Pressure audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Pressure can be defined as the exertion of force upon something by something else, as well mental or physical distress. Either definition is appropriate for Jeff Strand’s aptly titled suspense thriller, Pressure. At its core, this a story of two forces impacting one another, forcefully and violently, and the result is a hefty dose of distress.

Alex and Darren are two boarding school brats, their friendship cemented by a late-night excursion into the woods behind a strip club, where they hide out and hope to catch sight of the action inside. Darren, though, has a secret, and once Alex and their schoolmates discover Darren’s morbid fascinations nothing is the same. What follows is a decades-long story of friendship, adversarial rivalry, and gruesome deeds that can only leave one of them alive.

Strand does a terrific job building his characters, giving them enough dimension and subtle shadings to make them relateable, even if you don’t particularly want to relate to them. And although Darren’s actions are often outside the din of understanding, you at least get what motivates him, even if the results are terribly aberrant. Alex is a solid every-man character caught up in a situation beyond his control and struggling to cope, struggling to make sense, and, mostly, struggling to find a solution to the problem that is Darren. The first-person viewpoint Strand uses allows us to see the world from Alex’s point of view, and while the story itself is pretty pitch-black, Strand, via Alex, is able to interject enough levity and enduring positivity to keep Pressure from collapsing under its own misery.

Pressure is narrated by Scott Thomas, whose voice talents I greatly enjoyed in a prior Strand title, Wolf Hunt. Here, Thomas exhibits a nice a range and listeners are unlikely to confuse characters during stretches of dialogue. While the story belongs to Alex, Thomas injects plenty of different voices and speech styles to mark the other characters that inhabit Pressure. Soundwise, this is a cleanly narrated book, with terrific production quality and no technical issues to speak of.

Clocking in at seven hours, Pressure is a solid psychological suspense thriller with dashes of Strand’s typical wry humor, and packed with plenty of history between the central antagonist and his nemesis. It’s entertaining, occasionally bleak, but highly worthy of attention. Between the two works I’ve listened to that Strand and Thomas have collaborated on, I think it’s fair to say they make quite a good team. As long as Strand keeps writing, and Thomas keeps giving a voice to those words, I’ll be listening.

[Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com.]

 

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Review: Pressure by Jeff Strand (audiobook)

Review: Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand (audiobook)

Review:

Wolf-Hunt

My original WOLF HUNT audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

 

I imagine Jeff Strand’s elevator pitch for Wolf Hunt being along the lines of ‘The Sopranos Meet The Wolfman.’ If this intrigues you, then it’s really about all that needs to be said of Strand’s funny, bloody werewolf romp. Frankly, it’s all I would have needed to be hooked straightaway. If this does not intrigue you, then I’m afraid I can’t help you.

George and Lou are not exactly made guys, and deny even being mobsters at all, but they are clearly some well-connected thugs who have little problem breaking thumbs over debts owed to their bosses. They’re tasked with transporting a bad dude named Ivan across Florida to a crime lord, with Ivan locked in a cage. Strand sets up his story in a fun way, with a lot of dispute over Ivan’s credentials as a werewolf and plenty of is-he or isn’t-he back and forth (George and Lou aren’t buying it, and Ivan has fun stringing them along). Things quickly go south, and after saving and accidentally kidnapping Michelle, the thugs are in a race to stop Ivan before he can wreak all kinds of carnage across the Sunshine State.

Strand does a beautiful job balancing wit with werewolf violence, and one early scene in particular stands out as being a gruesomely effective showcase to Ivan’s psychopathy, while also solidifying the bloody courtship between he and George. Although Wolf Hunt has a number of gory instances, there’s a certain lightness to the work as a whole thanks to a lot of humorous banter and a handful of characters that are actually fun to spend seven hours with.

Besides Stand’s quirkiness, a lot of this fun is owed to narrator Scott Thomas, who seems to be enjoying himself quite a bit and effortlessly brings the material to life. He provides each character with a distinct voice and speech pattern, which makes it easy to discern who is saying what during stretches of dialogue, and keeps the listen fresh throughout. Thomas hits all the right notes and delivers an excellent performance. The production values are fine, too, and Thomas’ work comes through without a hitch.

If you’re looking for a genuinely fun and comedic horror listen, Wolf Hunt definitely stands out from the pack.

[Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com]

 

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Original post:
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Review: Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand (audiobook)

Review: Facial by Jeff Strand

facial

About Facial

Greg has just killed the man he hired to kill one of his wife’s many lovers. He’s now got a dead body in his office.

Carlton, Greg’s brother, desperately needs a dead body. It’s kind of related to the lion corpse that he found in his basement.

This is the normal part of the story.

From Jeff Strand, the author of Benjamin’s ParasiteThe Sinister Mr. Corpse, and Fangboy, comes a tale that’s weird even by his standards.

Facial. It’s not about what you’re thinking. Well, okay, part of it is…


About the Author

Jeff Strand was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but moved to Fairbanks, Alaska when he was six months old, so his memories of Baltimore are hazy. He grew up in the cold, where he desperately wanted to be a cartoonist. Then he wanted to make video games. Then he wanted to write movies. Actually, he still wants to do all of those things, but for now he’s quite happy writing lots of demented novels.

He was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. His novel PRESSURE has been optioned for film; he’s hoping the movie will be made soon so he can scream “My baby! What have you done to my precious baby?!?”

His novels are usually classified as horror, but they’re really all over the place, from comedies to thrillers to drama to, yes, even a fairy tale.

Because he doesn’t do cold weather anymore, he lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and a deaf cat.


My Thoughts

Throughout my reading of Jeff Strand’s Facial, one thought repeatedly crossed my mind, primarily in it’s long, NSFW form: WTF.

I’ve read a few strange books over the years, but this one takes the cake and may very well be on of the most farcical horror stories I’ve ever read.

Despite it bold oddness, the story is actually pretty simple and summed up pretty well during a moment of exposition when Greg explains his, and his brother’s, predicament to his cheating wife by telling her:

[T]his scary face appeared on the floor of Carlton’s basement, and it gave us gold coins in exchange for feeding it severed heads, and we figured that if we had to kill people, it might as well be people who are cuckholding me, so I’m a monster!

And that’s Facial in a nutshell. It’s a trippy, hallucinogenic story of bloodlust and murder, with a comedic bent. It’s a quick, short read, and the story flops around between alternating viewpoints from Greg, Carlton, Felicia (Greg’s cheating wife), and a few of their victims.

Unfortunately, this novella didn’t quite work for me. I typically don’t have a problem with shifting narrators, but here, they all carried the same voice and personality, and sense of humor. Overall, it was just a little too Looney Tunes for my palette, a little too off-wall and improbable, a little too long and a bit too one-note.

That said, the one thing that is strongly apparent in this work is its originality. I can honestly say I have not read anything quite like it before! And given that, I am very curious to see what else Strand has up his sleeve and will be checking out some of his other works in the near-future.

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Review: Facial by Jeff Strand