Sunday, September 21

Audio Review: Unleashed by Emily Kimelman


Sydney Rye, #1
Emily Kimelman

Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Self-Published
Narrator: Sonja Field
Date of Publication: August 11, 2014
Abridged or Unabridged: Unabridged
Length of Production: 10 hrs and 7 mins

Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     Audible

UNLEASHED is the first book in Emily Kimelman's best-selling Sydney Rye series of mysteries. This audiobook is narrated by Sonja Field.

When the series begins Sydney Rye is named Joy Humbolt. She does not like people telling her what to do, so it comes as no surprise that she was just fired from her last job. When she buys Charlene Miller's dog-walking business on Manhattan's exclusive upper-east-side, it seems like the perfect fit: Quiet environment, minimal contact with people.

But then one of her clients turns up dead, and Charlene disappears. Rumors say Charlene was having an affair with the victim--and of course, everyone assumes Joy must know where she is. Joy begins to look into the crime, first out of curiosity then out of anger when there is another murder and threats start to come her way.

When police detective Mulberry is assigned to the case, Joy finds a kindred spirit--cynical and none-too-fond of the human race. As they dig deep into the secrets of Manhattan's elite, they not only get closer to the killer but also to a point of no return. One last murder sends Joy Humbolt hurtling over the edge. Her only chance of survival is to become Sydney Rye.
I am not sure exactly what I was kind of book this would be when I requested it from Audiobook Jukebox. I have seen the series around, downloaded the first book for free from Amazon, and even did a Choose the Narrator Tour for the series back in March. But I hadn't read it. One thing I can say: this is not a cozy mystery. It is very much a cross between a thriller and a detective mystery interwined with a coming of age story.  Because that's what Joy Humbolt does in the book, she grows up the hard way.

The book opens on Joy Humbolt telling us she became Sydney Rye, how it all started. Joy is a young woman, who's biggest problem each day is how blitzed to get when she goes out with her brother and friends. As a pretentious barista in a non chain coffee shop, and recently breaking up with her loser boyfriend Marcus, she snaps and loses in the middle of her shift.  The victim, a middle aged woman who comes in orders a drink, really wanting a Frappuccino® trademark item, but clueless about what she will really be getting. Needless to say the manager fires her, especially after she makes a comment about him masturbating in the beans. Yes, Joy is that young and stupid.

In a fit of pique, she heads off to the pound to get a dog. One that will give her the unconditional love and support that she hasn't been able to find from either a boyfriend or her mother. She ends up with Blue. Blue has one blue eye, one brown eye, has the head shape of a collie, with the body size of a great dane and the coloring of a siberian husky. He is a big, big dog, but she falls in love with him at first glance.  It is Blue that leads her neighbor to tell Joy about a friend of a friend who knows someone who has a dog walking business she wants to sell. Which leads to her discovering a dead body and eventually becoming Sydney Rye.

This wasn't like anything I have read before. I tend to stick to cozy mysteries, though I am a fan of soft-boiled mysteries. This was darker, harder, grittier. Joy had to grow up fast and is left to deal with the consequences of her actions and how they affect other people. She ends up seeing the darker side of humanity, both in others and in herself.

Sonja Field had an interesting take on Joy. Sonja really nailed a lot of the voices, especially that New York Jewish motherly tone and the bored socialites. One voice in particular, I didn't agree with, at least not until after the book ended and I really thought about it. Now I think she was foreshadowing with her voice. Scary good job. The most interesting thing was the change in Joy's voice and tone. She starts as an annoying Young Adult and gradually progresses into something more mature and seasoned.

This reminded me very much of the Holly Barker series by Stuart Woods. It's definitely not for everyone, but I do think I will be going back for seconds. There are several books in the series out, and I am sure that more audiobooks will follow.  This earned 3 stars from me.


  1. I was tempted to request this one when I saw it come up for review on Audiobook Jukebox, but now after reading your review I'm kind of glad that I didn't. There's a story for every listener, however I don't think that this one is for me. Thanks for the heads up that it's NOT a cozy mystery.

    1. Yes, it is definitely not a cozy and if you went into expecting one, would be disappointed. And you are correct, this wouldn't be for everyone. If you aren't a fan of the harder detective novel, it could be quite a shock. Lucky for me I like to mix in a little of the darker side of things now and again. :)

  2. Thanks for taking the time to review my audiobook. I was surprised that you didn't realize it was a dark book until I went to the audible site and saw that my 18+ warning is not in the description as it is in all my ebooks. I'm not sure why that got cut out but I'll be contacting them about it. I'm glad you managed to enjoy the book despite it's harder edge. I hope that you'll give the rest of the series a try... though I'll warn you it doesn't get lighter.

    1. Thanks for coming by! Yes, when I was pulling the link on Amazon I finally saw the disclaimer and then going back to Goodreads realized it was there on the print version as well. I wouldn't think it was any grittier than others that I have read, including Iris Johansen or Sue Grafton and I have never seen a warning on their books. I am really hoping to enjoy the next book more, now that Joy/Sdyney will hopefully have outgrown some of her more YA/NA tendencies.


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