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James Siegel
Audio Book Abridged
Read by Dylan Baker
5 CDs
Warner Books 2006

I do not know if this is a general rule but whoever abridged Deceit by James Siegel for the audio book version of this mystery novel did an excellent job. Deceit is the story of  Tom Valle, a journalist lucky to be working for a small town California newspaper after being caught making up some fifty-six stories for a major New York paper. He comes across his predecessor's notes and the story of a life time. The problem is no one believes him and government agents are cleverly planting elements of some of the stories he made up in the story he is trying to uncover to take away any credibility he may still have. Deceit is a strange case of the audio book (abridged) being better than the mystery novel itself.

I had always been curious about abridged audio book versions. The old joke about such things is we've all read the Reader's Digest's A Tale Of A City, Around The World in 60 Days, or Tolstoy's War and U.N. Resolution. Thanks to a very nice person at Warner Books I was able to get my hands on both the hardcover and audiobook version of Deceit and, after reading the hardcover and listening to the audio book, decided to listen to the version of Deceit read by Dylan Baker as I read parts of the book again.

Usually, a themed collection of short stories, mystery or otherwise, give editorial credit to the person who put them together. This should also be the case for audio book versions such as this one. The audio version of James Siegel's Deceit is not missing a single clue or important moment. What has been excised are the two or three extra descriptions, words used to reinforce the idea or the mood the author wants to create. In this particular case, it has been done with elegance and intimate knowledge of the novel. The listener is not missing out in any way and, in fact, gains by Dylan Baker's reading and interpretation.

Deceit by James Siegel is somehow better as an abridged audio book than the mystery novel is itself. This could also be because there is less commitment by the reader towards an audiobook than there is towards a physical book. It could also be because Dylan Baker (Curt Connors in the Spider-Man movies) does a better job reading this mystery than I did. While I heard Tom Valle, the main character in Deceit as a bit of a whiner, Baker gives him a voice that makes him a lot more interesting. Baker is especially good at conveying the main character's mental state and anguish in the last few chapters of this mystery audio book novel. He is, as all other audio book voices, limited a bit by the many characters he has to give a distinct voice to, but of the few such audio experiences I have had, he does the best job of giving voice to the main character.