Friday, July 29, 2011

"The Friends of Hector Jouvet" by James Powell

Source: SFFaudio podcast (mp3)
Length: 34 minutes
Reader: J. J. Campanella

The story: When a Canadian tourist named Brown climbs to a cliff overlooking a European mini-nation, he notices an old man following him. Confronting the old man, Brown learns about the city and the old man himself. Through this conversation, the hidden agendas of both Brown and the old man peel back layer by layer until they realize a new secret that neither of them know on his own.

In this efficient little piece, Powell puts an interesting twist on the classic mystery story. All the action takes place within a conversation, but the characters are so interesting that my attention was gripped through the ending. Jouvet's character, with its French speech patterns and diffident manner, reminds me of Agatha Christie's Poirot. This is an enjoyable story full of humor and misdirection that packs several "Aha!" moments into a short time.

Rating: 8 / 10

The reader: Campanella is a familiar voice at Free Listens, having read stories ranging from Ted Chiang's time-travelling novellette "The Merchant and the Alchemist Gate" to P.G. Wodehouse's hilarious Jeeves in the Morning. Campanella's greatest strength is his ability to do interesting and personality-filled voices for different characters. Here, he performs the French accent of Jouvet to perfection. The recording is excellent both in narrator quality and freedom from technical errors.

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