Dreamcage Media Group / Spokenworld Audio / Ladbroke Audio Ltd, out now
Can Detective Lobo track down a deranged serial killer before it all gets too personal?
Warning up front: this story contains swearing. A lot of f***ing swearing. In fact, if you cut out all the uses of the f-word, it would probably be two-thirds of its current length. It’s the way that the character thinks – the whole story is told first person by Lobo – and you may well reach a point where you almost don’t notice it any more, particularly when Lobo suddenly checks himself from using the word in dialogue by referring to a “bad word”.
That said, Kneel Downe’s tale works very well on audio. The original stories are all told in short sentences (tweet-length, to be precise), which lend themselves naturally to the audio format, where too long sentences can be a real problem. If you’re not familiar with the Virulent Noir world, then various clues are doled out as to the nature of the narrator and the others with whom he works – the name Lobo is a pretty good clue (even if most of the other characters’ names don’t particularly match their species) – and you’re drawn in quickly to this dystopia, even if you’re not really sure how it’s set up. The murderer on the loose has ties to Lobo’s past, and they are going to yank the detective’s chain as far as they can.
Greg Patmore’s growly tones work well for Lobo, and he adopts suitable voices for the other characters – there’s a sequence in an asylum where you’ll think there are multiple actors involved – with Howard Carter’s sound design evoking exactly the effects desired in the different locations, and the minimal music score providing that extra edge. The sparseness of the text gives director Neil Gardner plenty of scope, and between him and Patmore, Downe’s text comes to gravelly life.
Verdict: As long as the constant repetition of the f-word doesn’t offend, there’s much to enjoy in this SF noir tale. 8/10
Visit www.virulentblurb.com for more access to the universe of Kneel Downe.