The Witness

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am

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The Witness
by Nora Roberts (read by Julia Whelan)
Brilliance Audio (audiobook)

Nora Roberts, like Tess Gerritsen, is a mistress of two trades: romance and crime. The Witness has a bit of both: guns and roses, if you will. Elizabeth Fitch is a tightly wound teenager with a demanding mother; her father is absent, having originated in a test tube. One night, weary of mum's demands that she become a neurosurgeon, the 16-year-old hooks up with a handsome Russian, hits a Chicago night spot and witnesses a gangland murder, which forces her into hiding. A dozen years later, Elizabeth is 'Abigail' and living in the small town of Bickford. She meets local sheriff Brooks Gleason who quickly becomes convinced there is more to Abigail than meets the eye and sets out to discover her past. Roberts is not the finest prose stylist. Nor is she the worst. Sentences such as 'Elizabeth - never Liz or Lizzie or Beth - spoke fluent Spanish, French, Italian, passable Russian and rudimentary Japanese', are wooden and tellingly concise: with a stroke, Roberts catches Elizabeth's superficial prim cleverness. Sadly, Julia Whelan reads as if unsure where stresses should fall in the English language. Her solution is to STRESS EVERYTHING. It makes for a somewhat exhausting read. A shame, as The Witness is just fine.