Review – Acts of Desperation Podcast

Today I’m reviewing Acts of Desperation by Tim Dodge.

Synopsis: Ray Davis is newly divorced, going nowhere at a dead-end job in a warehouse, and has almost worked off the debts his ex-wife rang up. Then his underinsured brother’s need for a liver transplant forces Ray to come up with a lot of money, fast. When he attempts to recover the profit he made with an old business partner, Ray discovers that the partner is dead and his investment has fallen into the hands of a drug dealer. The dealer has used the cash to buy a large supply of cocaine; he and his gun are not inclined to return the proceeds. Ray enlists a crude private eye to help him get it back, and he falls in love with Jenna, a beautiful waitress. His struggle to recover the money soon takes him deep into a swamp of crime, drugs, murder and revenge. Caught in a war between rival dealers, he comes to realize that the stakes have risen beyond the woman he loves or the money he needs to save his brother. He’s fighting for his life.

Production: Production is this podcast novel’s weakest point. Tim makes use of music on occasion and while the music itself is okay, the placement is inconsistent and distracting. He was trying to use it to up the dramatic tension during certain scenes and it had the opposite effect. There are times where the music doesn’t fade out when it should, instead stopping abruptly. He also changes his intro music at least once. Finally, I was able to hear paper rattling as he read, though it wasn’t particularly loud. Generally the audio of the reading itself was clean, but the rest of the errors could have been easily remedied.

Grade: C-

Cast: This is a straight read by Tim. He’s got a good voice and uses it to dramatic effect on a number of occasions. It’s definitely more of a performance than a read at certain points and he really gets into it.

Grade: B+

Story: The story kept me coming back in spite of the issues with the production. It’s told from Ray’s point of view, in the first person. It worked well in this case. I kept thinking of Breaking Bad throughout the course of the story, not at all a bad thing. I love stories that take the protagonist and force them into desperate acts, making them come out on the other side a different person. I have mixed feelings about the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I felt like it robbed a little from the overall impact of the story and Ray’s journey. Still, it was a good deal of fun.

I’m not sure if this is Tim’s first novel length work, but it felt like an early novel. There were a few issues with the writing. Some events could have been tightened up and it was a little rough in spots. He hit a few things spot on. Ray’s inexperience with guns and the effect it had on certain action scenes was well done. The character flaws that Ray had were also well exploited.

Grade: B+

Verdict: I definitely recommend giving this a listen. It’s a fun and at times brutal story, especially towards the end. If you’re offended by strong language and violence, give it a pass.

Grade: B

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