Monday, October 13, 2014

Cop Out - Audiobook Review

Title: Cop Out
Author: Ellery Queen
Narrator: Robert Fass
Unabridged Length: 6 h, 3 m
Published by Blackstone Audio, 2014
Genres: Mysteries & Thrillers

From the Publisher:
Who are you, Malone? Just a little while ago you were a cop. That was before the two punks and their girl hit town. That was before they boosted a payroll and shot down a man and took your nine-year-old daughter as insurance to cover their getaway. Now you’re just a man. Scared. Not for yourself—that would be easy. But for your child, the only thing in the world you love enough to make you play ball with the kind of scum you’ve hated all your life.

My Review
My memory of Ellery Queen was from the 1975 television series that featured Jim Hutton as Ellery Queen and David Wayne as his dad, Inspector Queen. The series had a slew of celebrity guests and the viewer was challenged each week to solve the mystery based on the facts presented. These were pretty lightweight and non-graphic who-done-its. However, that is not what we find with Cop Out. To start with, neither Ellery Queen nor Inspector Queen are in this audiobook. Cop Out was written in 1969 as standalone, outside of the series of Queen mystery novels.

Cop Out is also a pretty intense suspense novel that really isn’t a mystery, as we immediately know the bad guys and there is no who-done-it element. It is far more violent than the lighter Ellery Queen mysteries from the 40s and 50s.

In the quiet town of New Bradford, Mr. Howland the bookkeeper for Aztec Paper Products has decided to steal the payroll in what is supposed to appear as a robbery. He conspires with Furia, a psychopathic but not too bright hoodlum; his henchman, aptly named Hinch; and Furia’s girlfriend Goldie, who happens to have grown up in New Bradford. The payroll is $24,000 and the split is supposed to be $6000 each. Furia decides to increase their own shares by killing the bookkeeper. This starts an immediate murder investigation as the clerks body is found before the crooks can get out of town.

From there, local police officer Wesley Malone gets involved in things far more than expected as the loot gets stashed in his home and his daughter Bibby is kidnapped by the gang to assure the police don’t find them until they can figure out a way to get the loot out of town, through a police dragnet.

Furia and Hinch seem like dumb and dumber. Goldie is the bright one (she had a year of college) and has a significant role throughout, something not normal for that genre in the 60s. The ending was done very well and it saved the story for me, as I had begun to lose interest in the characters as the story lagged in the middle after a fast start. This cop novel could have easily been adapted to a movie, particularly with its big finish. That’s all I’ll say about the story as I don’t care to give away the plot twists.

All said, Cop Out was a pretty decent crime novel from the late 60s. It does have a lot of dated references and expressions from that era. We encounter terms such as “groovy”, and “Nehru jacket” as well as the use of “sock it to them” and even a reference to a Walther PPK, the iconic handgun of James Bond in the films and Ian Fleming novels of that era; although Bond is not mentioned.

Robert Fass voiced Cop Out and did a good job with all of the character voices. Each was distinct. The accents were appropriate for the characters and setting, and he kept it moving well, picking up the pace or building suspense, as required by the story.

A review copy of Cop Out was provided by Blackstone Audio through the Solid Gold Reviewer program of Audiobook Jukebox.

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