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Song Bird by Larry Weiner

Song Bird - Larry M. Weiner, Kelli O'Hara, Ed Asner, Shirley Jones, Tom Dheere, Radio Repertory Company of America

Set in the same future universe as the much enjoyed Anne Manx series, rises this new tale. Maureen Barnett, a once famous singer and performer, is now lucky to be performing at a smokey dive. She’s constantly arguing with her teenage daughter, Holly, who she pretty much ignored as a kid as she focused on her career. But now she desperately wants that familial connection. Then Amelia Storm walks into her life telling her a fantastical tale of a song that grants the singer premonitions. Of course, Maureen doesn’t believe her. Then her daughter goes missing and she’s willing to give anything a try to get her back, including counting on the recently retired police officer Henry Powell.

This story didn’t have near as much scifi flair as the Anne Manx series that I adore but it was still quite enjoyable. The dialogue was crisp and full of small jokes for the reader to catch and chuckle at. The characters were fun and interesting. Maureen really steals the show in this story. She’s got issues. She’s a bit of a diva, but a diva who had a breakdown not too long ago and realized that her baby daughter was nearly all grown up and she didn’t know her at all. So she takes these small singing jobs at little restaurants, bars, and nightclubs (partly because she’s still paralyzed by large crowds, but also so she can stay in one place and be a part of Holly’s life). She’s not perfect but she is trying.

The rest of the characters have their flaws too and each plays off the other and that adds to the both the plot and the humor. Holly has a lot of anger towards her mom (and probably rightly so) but she’s also being a bit of a spoiled brat. So I didn’t feel too bad for her when things started to go awry and she went missing. Henry is bitter about essentially being forced into retirement but he’s still got something to give to society. Amelia floats into the story as either our savior with her magical song or as the crack pot that might still incidentally save the day. It’s a great combination of character traits divvied up among these engaging characters. There is some light adult humor bantered around which should be fine for most kids and a family car trip. It did bring out the teen in me, leaving me sniggering a few times.

The plot started off pretty simple. Strained relationship between mother and daughter, then a missing daughter, plus that magical song. It’s a solid start to a story. Once Henry (who is now a private investigator) gets pulled into the story, the plot really starts to move along and we get a few twists. I have to admit, I did not see the ending coming. I was pleasantly surprised by who did what and why. Another fine addition to the RRCA catalog!

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  The audio performance was of the same great quality as we have come to know and expect from the Anne Manx series. The dialogue comes through clearly with the background sound effects and/or music never drowning it out. This particular story has snippets of song throughout and those snippets were performed to the same high standard. O’Hara’s performance of Maureen when she was having her nightmarish premonitions was very well done. Think about how hard it is to get across to a listener that a character is asleep having a bad dream. I really enjoyed Jones’s performance in the big reveal scene. She kept in character while also showing this new side. Asner was great as both disgruntled cop and love-smitten retiree. Kevin Crawley was the voice of Jeff (Holly’s boyfriend) and I loved his voice as he fawned over Maureen Barnett. All around, another great performance!