Some tread cautiously, fearfully; some walk right in; but all of the characters in the stories by Joyce Carol Oates collected in High Crime Area explore the dark side of themselves and their relationships. Taken together, this collection of disturbing stories leaves readers with the feeling of unease or dread and only human nature to blame it on — no monsters or paranormal phenomena.
Read by an a variety of actors and well-known audiobook narrators and subtitled “Tales of Darkness and Dread,” the audio edition of High Crime Area was one I listened to for RIP IX but didn’t get reviewed in time for Halloween as intended.
The stories in High Crime Area focus on people in dangerous, or potentially dangerous, situations. In some the danger is present and immediate, but in most, it’s there in the sense of foreboding and dread, or growing panic, felt by the characters and the reader. In all of the stories, the characters have gotten themselves into the dangerous situations, but in completely believable ways. Their thoughts and emotions, as described by the author, make their actions understandable, though often regrettable.
Narrators Julia Whelan, Ray Chase, Donna Postel, Luci Christian, Tamara Marston, and Chris Patton are all excellent. Chris Patton is a new favorite narrator of mine. Julia Whelan has apparently narrated over a hundred audiobooks, but I think she may have been new to me here. I’ve heard Ray Chase read before, but I’m not sure where. He’s the narrator you hear in the audio excerpt here.
Without any overacting or dramatization, each narrator brings out the gradual, subtle horror of each of these stories. Recommended for readers of psychological suspense or literary fiction tinged with horror.
The stories in High Crime Area:
- “The Home at Craigmillnar” read by Ray Chase
- “High” read by Donna Postel
- “Toad-Baby” read by Luci Christian
- “Demon” read by Chris Patton
- “Lorelei” read by Tamara Marston
- “The Rescuer” read by Julia Whelan
- “The Last Man of Letters” ready by Ray Chase
- “High Crime Area” read by Julia Whelan
High Crime Area
Oates, Joyce Carol
HighBridge Audio, 2014
Disclosure: I received a copy of this title on CD for the purposes of review through Audiobook Jukebox.
Other opinions on this audiobook: