Podcast Review #107: Serve it Cold

originally published November 14, 2011

Title: Serve it Cold
Author: Ronnie Blackwell
Genre: Mystery
Released: 24 May 2007 – 21 December 2007
Located: iTunesPodiobooks
Formats Available: podcast only I believe
Rating: R for language, violence, adult situations and drug use

Serve it Cold has been on my reading list for quite some time. How long? I don’t’ really know. Who recommended it? I haven’t a clue. Why did it take me so long to listen? Well, my preference on most days is speculative fiction of one type or another. Mostly fantasy (in all of its many incarnations) and science fiction. Occasionally though, I enjoy a good mystery, adventure, military action or other type of non spec fic work. I have to be in the right mood for these though, and even when I am, then I quite often have a favorite author or series, such as Dan Sawyer’s Clarke Lantham series, that I choose to fill my time with. So, when I finally got around to listening to Serve it Cold much of the original reasons that I had placed it in my queue had slipped my mind.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis:  Detective Jonny C. Speed’s life can’t get much better. He’s booked into the French Quarter’s most luxurious guesthouse, and his day job as convenience store manager is 104 miles behind him in Catherine, Mississippi. He’s already taken care of one pro-bono missing persons job since he’s been in New Orleans, and his paying client’s cheating wife is a beautiful and very accommodating exhibitionist. Are things too good to be true? Of course they are. Jonny starts to worry when his client turns up dead, but when the suspects start dropping, Jonny and his crack team of beauty queens, recovering addicts, professional athletes, computer hackers, and pampered dogs find themselves caught in a twisted scheme of revenge that threatens to turn the town of Catherine inside out.  (stolen from podiobooks.com)

Production: Dancing Cat Studios is credited with the production of this book. I love a story that introduces me to new experiences outside of the simply the story itself. Serve it Cold had some really, really terrific music in it. The theme was sung by Michelle Malone. After having located some of her music on iTunes, I can say that I’m now a fan; and I owe that to Serve it Cold. The story is told as a full cast audiobook with equal parts narration and dialogue. All voices are at appropriate levels and sound very good. There is a pretty constant sound effects layer that always enhances, and never disrupts, the story. There are few stories I’ve listened to that exude the slick production qualities that Serve it Cold does. I have no idea who Dancing Cat Studios is, (nor did I bother to google it) but this cat has some serious moves!

One final production note. Long time readers of this blog know full well the disdain I hold for “The story so far”. Well, this one got me. It got me good. I was listening to episode 7 and asking myself why each episode since ep 2 had started with a strange non-character phone call to another non-character. All they did was gossip about everything that had all ready happened. Yeah. I’m slow. I admit it. Guys, if you’re going to do a “The story so far”, do it like Tee Morris did with Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword, or as it is done here. Truly, while still not needed, at least I didn’t find myself seething during the retelling of the previous episodes cognizant points.

Grade: A+

Cast: The cast for this story is rather large. I admit I’ve never heard of most of them with the exception of Paul Fischer (whom is credited with a small role). However, this truly could be because I simply haven’t heard the “right” stories, because this merry band of voice actors knows how to get into character and have a bit of fun with a story. I enjoyed each voice and never really found myself distracted by a character that didn’t seem to fit. Kudos to all voices involved.

Grade: A

Story: Serve it Cold is a pretty straightforward mystery. An unusual event happens in the first ep which turns out to be tied into a case that the lead character is drug into along the way. The story moves back and forth between a “small” city (hey, I grew up in a town of less than 5,000) in Mississippi and New Orleans. There are the prerequisite number of larger than life supporting characters and the obligatory hidden backstory that so many mysteries seem to carry.

Grade: C

Verdict: I enjoyed listening to Serve it Cold simply because of the production. I usually put up with production being subpar when the story is good. I rarely put up with a mediocre story because it is “fun to listen to”. Serve it Cold was one of these for me. Mr. Blackwell wrote a story that had, to me, a more interesting back story than the one he wrote. I looked, on three occasions no less, to verify that this was not the second or third book in a series. If it is, I never found that information. Don’t get me wrong, this story does stand on its own, but the listener still might feel (I know I did) that some of the characters mentioned are much more developed than a non seen character usually is.

I also had issues with one of the larger plot points in the story. *Spoiler alert: At the beginning of the story a rather large amount of an unusually potent strain of marijuana is introduced into the storyline. Throughout the story we follow this drug around Mississippi and New Orleans. Before the end of the story however, it seems that everyone loses interest in where it came from, why it happened to make its way to small city Mississippi and any repercussions any characters might have had because of it. The epilogue also felt a bit forced to me, trying to force the listener to accept rather than just allowing us along for the ride. This is really too bad, because although the drug and adult content was more than I needed, Serve it Cold started with an interesting concept that deserved a better implementation. I believe that a good editor could help Mr. Blackwell take this story, which I felt was no more than average, and help him turn it into a very good mystery novel.

Disclaimer: I do not follow Ronnie Blackwell on Twitter. I do not recognize or follow any of the voice talent either, with the exception of Mr. Paul Fischer. I was not asked to provide a review of this novel and received nothing in return.

~ by odin1eye on 16 January, 2020.

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