I’ve long been a fan of The Roundtable Podcast, so when I heard that Brion Humphrey had a podcast novel out, I was excited to give it a listen. I love thrillers. I felt pretty confident that the story would be good and the reading very good. So how do I feel about Sense Memory? Read on.
Synopsis: If our memory is the thing that shapes and defines us, that informs who we are at our very core, then God help us all…for memory, is a wicked and deceitful wretch. Thrust into a search for his own sister’s killer, Benjamin Cady flees Colorado and the only world he understands to scour the streets of Los Angeles, plagued by headaches and memories of murder. He quickly discovers that L.A. is not unknown to him, and as his memories of his sister’s death become clearer, so does the possibility that Ben himself may be the murderer. Lieutenant Jim Banquer has plenty of bodies, but every witness seems to be suffering from a mysterious form of amnesia. Investigating these deaths means he must piece together the scattered shards of a deadly power scheme that goes well beyond murder, and Ben is the key. Sense Memory is a psychological thriller that weaves an intricate web of doubt and intrigue as it goes, leaving no thread unstrung. A sure page-burner, this story will stay with you long after the smoke clears.
Production: The sound quality is excellent. The music chosen for the intro is appropriate. I didn’t notice any flubs or repeats.
Cast: Brion provides all of the voices for this podcast. He has a theater background and it shows. His touch with female character voices is light but appropriate. There’s one character voice that jars me out of the story nearly every time its so over the top, but that almost makes sense, since the character himself is also over the top.
Story: This is the first novel that Brion has put out there for us to savor. It’s a good first outing. The first couple of episodes are setting up the characters. For some people that may make the pace seem a little slow. The last few chapters make up for that apparent slowness.
The characters are fairly well done. In a few cases they threaten to slip into caricatures/archetypes. In one or two cases they fall right into the thick if them. I’m fond of Ben, the protagonist, but the character I would have loved to see more of was Sonia.
I have a couple of gripes with the story. The first and largest is the supernatural/paranormal aspect. I won’t go into detail, but the “power” displayed and how the people who wield it do so are a bit uneven. How they got the power and how they’re connected is also pretty vague. I don’t mind a bit of ambiguity in my story, but if you’re going to do something new in this realm at least a little explanation of what’s going on is appreciated.
My second gripe revolves around point of view. There’s some degree of head hopping going on. That makes some degree of sense given the subject matter. For me it’s a matter of personal preference, but if you’re going to tell a story in third person limited, then save the POV changes for chapter breaks. Don’t do it within the chapter. I would have loved this story strictly from Ben’s point of view.
So, how’s the writing? In a story that’s called “Sense Memory” you can imagine that the role of senses is important. Brion does a bang up job describing things, almost to a fault. This leads to some repetition and that can slow down the pace. That’s something that you don’t want in a thriller. The sensuousness lent it an almost lurid, pulpy feel. I liked that where it wasn’t excessive.
Verdict: I enjoyed this story, but I enjoyed Brion’s performance more. There were chunks early on where I might have strayed if I’d been reading this. His solid voice acting kept me coming back. I will definitely be coming back when Brion puts out his next works. As I understand there will be more with these characters down the line.