Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Tristan James
Length: 5 hours, 37 minutes
Hawes Madigan was given the nickname The Prince of Killers, and while he doesn’t like it, it serves him well when needed. Hawes is one step away from being king to an organization of assassins, made up of his closest family, that deals in vengeance killing. Hawes takes it all seriously as after one innocent person was killed, Hawes has vowed never to let that happen ever again. All of the responsibility weighs heavy on Hawes and while he knows he shouldn’t trust outsiders, when he meets Dante Perry, his life gets a tiny bit brighter.
Dante is all swagger and confidence when he walks into Hawes’ life, telling him that someone inside his organization wants to kill him. As a private investigator, Dante claims to have inside information, and no sooner does Dante speak than someone makes their move.
With a lot of moving pieces at play and lives on the line, Hawes and his siblings, along with Dante, work to figure out who is behind the attacks. Long ago, Hawes resigned himself to be being alone, but Dante quiets the chaos in his mind and Hawes starts to see a new future for himself. But Hawes has one secret he is not ready to reveal and Hawes may not know all there is to know about Dante Perry. With traitors ready to make their move and secrets set to explode, for Hawes and Dante, nothing will be the same once the truth is revealed.
The first installment of the Fog City trilogy has some vigilant style justice and action. Hawes is the man everyone looks to most of the time. He and his siblings run a legitimate cold storage business that then also fronts them as assassins. Hawes is mostly tired. He believes in what they do, but he has to keep track of everyone and everything and with his grandfather, the King, terminally ill, more responsibility will fall to Hawes permanently.
The book sort of picks up in the middle. We learn early on that there is a traitor in the organization trying to take Hawes down, but we haven’t seen any of the relationship Hawes has built with these people so the betrayal was a little lackluster for me. Dante inserts himself into Hawes’ life early on and it was difficult for me to trust him.
I did have a little trouble fully buying into this premise here. Hawes never lets anyone in. His business doesn’t allow for this. Yet, he lets Dante get close, really close, in a matter of days, even hours. Sure, they did a background check on him and sure they investigated him as much as they could, but this is what this family does, and it all came off as amateurish for me. [spoiler] I never once did trust Dante and knew he had ulterior motives and the only thing that surprised me was that it wasn’t obvious to everyone. So, with that, it was more difficult to buy into the feelings Hawes develops so quickly for Dante.[/spoiler] We do not get POV from Dante and his actions came off as if he was simply playing Hawes, so the spark and the dynamics that were supposed to be there were lacking for me.
We see one scene of the family in their vigilante mode, but again, the target had not been built into the story so his demise then didn’t have a great impact for me. I also would have liked more background on how the family got into this business in the first place. Overall, this was average for me, but I am interested in seeing how their relationship will continue as the series progresses and I will look to see if the next one is a bit more engaging.
Tristan James offered the narration here. The recording is professional, but his delivery may also have contributed to my lack of engagement with the book. James has a distinct tone that is the overall voice for every audiobook of his I have heard. The differences between Hawes and Dante speaking were minor and the men sounded mostly the same. Every female character has almost the same voice with a tone that sounds much older than the characters are. The delivery is also even and James’ inflection doesn’t change much between an action scene or an intimate scene or a family scene, which then makes it a more basic presentation. This is fine if you like his voice and want to hear this book, but I would have liked a more engaging performance.