If you’re reading this in July of 2014, you are among the first visitors to my new audiobook narrator site, VoiceOfTheDamned.com. When you look at the home page, you’ll see one of the audiobooks listed is, appropriately, Sharecropper Hell by Jim Thompson. His twisted characters were about as damned as you could get. Nobody got into the first person criminal mind as effectively as he did.

Thompson’s book (originally titled Cropper’s Cabin upon its initial release in 1952) is closely followed on the home page by David Goodis’ The Secret Squad. Goodis, also quite familiar with those who are damned, was himself a somewhat tragic figure, leaving behind a wealth of literature that has at long last taken its place alongside the best noir writings ever.

I was thrilled to have been selected to narrate and produce Three Early Stories, a collection of “lost” short stories by JD Salinger. They were among the first things he ever published, appearing in obscure magazines back in the early 1940s. They have not seen the light of day since. This is the first time they’ve appeared in audio form AND it’s the first legitimate publication of any Salinger work in 50 years, and I’m honored to be part of this historic event.

Then, there’s Borderline, a steamy noir tale by Lawrence Block. He wrote this under a pen name back in the 1960s and it has recently been re-released by Hard Case Crime. This is the first audio version ever. It’s a terrific noir novel about four individuals who, for their own troubling reasons, move back and forth across the Rio Grande between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, México. Also included in this package are three short stories, also penned by Block back in the day.

In addition, you’ll see books by Janette Anderson (Sons Of The Father), Karlos Prince (Glimmer), and Dana King (Grind Joint), each of whom has explored in his/her own way the dark side of the human condition. I’m very proud to have been a part of all these books. I want to say right now — and I’m sure other audiobook narrators will agree wholeheartedly — that my job as a narrator is made infinitely easier by having a well-written book to work with. These books I’ve mentioned, while they only represent a fraction of the titles I’ve completed — are a good representation of the high quality of writing any narrator would desire.

Also, I want to take a moment to express my deep gratitude to the great Leslie Michaelis, who designed and built this website. Without her cognitive mind and computer prowess, I’d be out in the cold, my nose pressed against the frosty windowpane.

Well, that’s about it for this initial post. Thanks very much for checking out my site, and I hope you’ll be a regular visitor.

The Secret Squad

David Goodis must have led a pretty depressing life. Virtually all of his novels are set amid grimy urban surroundings, usually his hometown of Philadelphia, and they’re populated by characters who live lives of utter hopelessness. I like to think of Goodis’ locales as being where despair goes to die.

In any case, The Secret Squad (DeVault-Graves Agency, 2014) fits right in the heart of the Goodis catalog. Originally titled Night Squad when it was first published in 1961, it is set in an area of “the big city” known as “the Swamp”, block after block of seedy bars, filthy cafés, rat-infested tenements, and violent criminals on every street corner.

Unlike the protagonists of other Goodis novels, the central character in The Secret Squad, Corey Bradford, knows he’s on the down slope of his life and knows he has no one to blame but himself. A disgraced ex-cop who is offered one last chance at redemption, Bradford takes it and, like so many noir characters in literature, makes wrong choices at every turn.

This novel, under its original title, was released as an audiocassette in 1991, narrated by Kevin Spacey. It was heavily abridged, however, losing nearly half of the text. This new audiobook, which I’ve narrated, is unabridged, complete with full text as written by David Goodis, and is now available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.