Written by William Giraldi, narrated by Richard Ferrone — The essentials of William Giraldi’s icy thriller were covered in our review of the book, which you’ll find here. In brief, the story centers around a case in which two, then three, children are stolen by wolves from a small village in remote Alaska. The mother of the third missing child also disappears, just as it becomes evident she murdered him. The reaction to these events ends up pitting the police and what might be termed ‘the forces of order’ against the boy’s father and his friend, an Alaska Native named Cheeon. The bloody lengths the two men will go to in order to preserve their secrets and their way of being in the world are, like the tundra itself, without boundaries. Giraldi is the fiction editor of the Boston University literary magazine Agni, and he writes memorably about the wildness and the isolating cold, both of which are intimately connected to the dark in this novel’s world.
The audio version is narrated by New York actor Richard Ferrone, who has received three AudioFile magazine Earphone Awards for Best Voice in Mystery and Suspense, deserves special mention, as Ferrone’s talents are shown to advantage here. His special gift in narrating Hold the Dark is an ability to convey through his delivery the alien perspective of the Alaska Natives, especially the pivotal character Cheeon. His reading is deliberate, careful, as people must be who are operating in extreme cold, when even a small miscalculation can mean death. In that way, Ferrone achieves a perfect fit between form and content. He has a gravelly, masculine voice, well suited to the thrillers he often narrates (including John Sandford’s Prey series), though his portrayal of the several women of the novel is completely natural and believable. In every respect, a persuasive six hour and 41 minute performance.
If you like the sound of some Arctic crime fiction, try MJ McGrath’s White Heat as well.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars