(this is a review of the audiobook)
“The Lesser Book”
Having listened to two other Buehlman novels: Between Two Fires and Those Across The River, both superb listens, my expectations were understandably heightened for this latest novel. Thus my headline: The Lesser Book.
The story starts out very well with Buehlman’s masterful prose setting the scene in roughly 1970s New York City. Another item that needs to be mentioned right off the bat is that Buehlman himself does the narrating and is quite good with a variety of accents.
The story is told from a first-person perspective of Joey Peacock, a vampire who was turned into a vampire in his teenage years. However, he grew up during the Great Depression, so is quite learned and hardened beyond his years.
The novel goes into some backstory of Joey’s life before becoming a vampire, how he became a vampire, and other characters he’s gotten to know throughout his years. There are times when the story rambles and meanders (and you might excuse that to a rambling first-person narrator), but whether a story is told first-person or third-person, these odd side-streets take away from the overall momentum of the narrative.
The novel kicks into high gear when Joey Peacock meets some children (turned vampires) whom are a lot more dangerous and sinister than he first realizes. This was my favorite part of the book.
The reason (two actually) why this novel really fails in its climax is that Buehlman attempts both an unreliable narrator and a twist ending, both of which do not work at all. It seemed rather a silly bait-and-switch at the end and I was wondering why I’d listen to the entire story in the first place. Primal Fear had a fantastic twist ending. This did not. It was more like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, then changing it to a dove and saying, “Haha, fooled you!” Stories can be great 99% of the way, but if they fail to pay off at the end, it just kinda ruins the whole thing.
On a positive note, Buehlman really is a fantastic narrator!