Story Rating: 5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo
Length: 10 hours, 43 minutes
Leland’s first thought when he sees the man all in black heading to the very house he is also staking out should be questioning how the guy got there without Leland seeing him. After all, Leland is nothing if not observant, and going by the guy’s inability to scale a fence without dropping his pants in the process, spotting him should have been easy. And also, what a fine ass…and that sums up Leland, aka, the Sandman in a nutshell. He is great at his job as a hitman, but lousy at keeping his interest on just one thing for very long. Still Jackson, the private investigator, is very captivating and Leland just has to get to know him better. So begins Leland’s pursuit of Jackson, who finds the notorious serial killer attractive, but also frustrating, a bit psycho, and way too happy with an extraordinary amount of weaponry.
As Jackson gets to know Leland better, two things don’t quite jell. First is that he is way too young to have committed all the murders attributed to his Sandman name and second is the guy is one of the happiest serial killers Jackson has ever met—not that he’s met that many. Somehow, all the hype surrounding Leland seems off and when the man basically smashes his car into Jackson’s tree, Jackson must decide to either harbor a criminal and help him recover from his wounds or turn him over and walk away—neither is an easy choice to make.
Alice Winters has released the audio version of The Hitman’s Guide to Making Friends and Finding Love and it is absolutely hilarious. This novel received rave reviews prior to the audio release and I have to tell you that narrator Michael Ferraiuolo takes what is a great novel and makes it even better with an incredible array of differing voices and pacing that highlights the humor so often found in this author’s works. Before I speak more about Ferraiuolo and his talents, I must address the real highlights in this story.
Both main characters, Jackson and Leland, are fully fleshed out and have equal screen time, so to speak, with the story being presented in alternating points of view. Leland exhibits classic ADD tendencies, with a penchant for being easily distracted, often bored and reeling off a stream of consciousness style of speaking that is just hilarious. He most definitely keeps Jackson on his toes and more than once pulls the wool over the man’s eyes only to show up the next second to rub it in and do something crazy like fill his car with sex toys and paint obscene pictures on his face with a sharpie. That would be after Leland interrupts the questioning of a possible informant, which gets Jackson knocked out, which allows Leland to put the guy in his car, fill it with toys, and paint his face and that pretty much sums up how these two guys work together.
Jackson is former military turned private investigator who hates the fact that tracking down cheating spouses is the bread and butter of his agency. However, that doesn’t stop him from trying to help the police when a client comes to him in order to find his kidnapped daughter and that leads to meeting Leland, who is also tracking the kidnapper—albeit for money and not necessarily to help the cops. But it’s discovering what motivates Leland and his fairly heartbreaking past that really makes him so very loveable. Jackson cannot help but want to shelter the younger man and try and motivate him to give up the hitman job for good. All in all, this story is just another fabulous contribution by an author who is definitely on my auto-buy list. The humor and witty repartee, along with the intricate plot and fast-paced action, makes Winters’ stories a delight to read.
How wonderful then that the author managed to snag a brilliant narrator for this story. Michael Ferraiuolo uses his vocal talents to give multiple characters distinctive voices and actually enhance the humor already in place in this novel. From feminine voices to the rough, gravel tones of the police detective, I was in awe of the different choices Ferraiuolo made to bring each person to life. The only glitch I heard happened a few times while transitioning straight from one voice to another. At times, the pitch of the previous speaker would bleed into the next voice, making it a little difficult momentarily to determine who was talking. However, that really happened only a few times and the amazing scope of all the different voices this narrator used was really impressive. I felt he really added to the novel overall in the way he presented his narration.