Each month Audible.com offers two “free” Audible Originals out of a curated selection of six titles as part of my subscription. I didn’t subscribe to Audible.com for this service; it was added about a year ago. Since my subscription price did not go up, I consider these to be free. The effect of the new offering by Audible.com has been to spur my interest in listening to books. In common with a stereotypical male failing, I cannot multitask so when I listen to a book; it requires just as much attention from me as if I were reading a book.
Killer by Nature was written by Jan Smith and read by so many narrators I can’t count them. The listening experience took up about four and one-half hours of my time. The story moved fast, and I was never tempted to stop and come back for later listening. If I called it a page-turner, I’m sure I would get comments pointing out how that is impossible. The selection is not typical of most audiobooks I listen to because of the number of narrators. I didn’t realize how many there were until the end of the selection when the voice credits went on forever. The number of performers might be one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much as compared to a title with only one narrator. One narrator attempting to be all characters, especially when the characters are of different genders, sounds forced.
A listener can almost know the plot from the title. There is a killer. There is something wrong in the makeup of the killer, either genetic or learned, so we have at least a couple of mysteries from the beginning. Why is the killer like this? How does the killer select victims? How can the killer be caught?
In addition to police, the mystery has Dr. Buckley, or Buckly, how can I know the spelling with an audiobook? Dr. Diane Buckley assesses Alfred Dinkledge, the killer, as to his threat to society. Dinkledge might be eligible for confinement in a lower level security facility. Alfred might be available for a new trial with an insanity defense. Dr. Buckley is an essential component of Alfred’s future. Dinkledge was known as the “playground killer.” At the same time as Buckley’s assessment, there has been a spate of copycat crimes. It wasn’t Dinkledge; he is in jail. Law enforcement and Buckley focus on Dinkledge’s former associates and classmates.
In this well-constructed story, there are several plots with varying levels of importance. Dr. Buckley lives at home with son Finn and daughter Megan. Where is her husband? She kicked him out four to five years previously. Listeners will want to know why. Dr. Buckley is a partner with Dr. Carl Hawks. The pair run a business as forensic psychiatrists, thus giving competency to Dr. Buckley to evaluate Dinkledge. However, Dr. Buckley has problems at home with Megan that should occupy at least the same amount of attention Buckley gives her work. Megan likes to act out. She captures attention by challenging teachers to include spitting on them and setting up one teacher to appear the teacher was carrying knives in school. Megan is a well-developed character through most of the story but ends up as a whiner.
Both Dinkledge and Buckley are well-developed characters, and equal emphasis is given in plots which describe their problems. Dinkledge is a creepy psychopath who started liking killing while young. To what extent did he influence others so that now a copycat killer is emulating him? Does Dinkledge know who the copycat killer is? Listeners will enjoy hearing how the police investigation tries to connect dots. Dr. Buckley is a psychiatrist who listeners might think should be able to solve her family problems with Megan. Is Dr. Buckley a flawed character who can’t hold a marriage together? Her lab assistant, Tyson Wilberforce is smitten with her. There is a possibility Buckley hasn’t gotten over a fling from the past with Bill Winterman, a lead detective in the efforts to find the copycat killer.
Killer by Nature has complex plots which are easily followed but still intriguing. There is a surprise ending that I do not believe any listener will, or can, anticipate. With only one character (Finn, Buckley’s son) extra and unneeded, I gave this audiobook five Amazon stars. I will look for more work by this author. With such a large performance cast, I don’t know whether a comparable work can be anticipated.