This was an okay read and I am not sad I spent my time on it. But I didn't love it which I think is a me issue and not the book's issue. I will definitely give J.A. Crawford another read in the future.
📚 #BOOKREVIEW 📚
Jove Brand Is Near Death by J.A. Crawford
⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Pages: 307 / Genre: Mysteries & Thrillers / Narrator: Tim Campbell
Jove Brand is a super spy in a movie franchise similar to James Bond. Ken Allen was one of the actors who played Brand some 18 years ago. When the latest actor to play the part is murdered, Ken finds himself as the most likely suspect. In order to clear his name, he goes into full Jove Brand mode to find the killer while trying not to be killed himself.
Written in a very slapstick way, I found this funny in parts but also a little annoying. Tim Campbell narrated it and did a decent enough job to make it entertaining. A solid three stars from me.
Thank you @netgalley for the audiobook of this for review.
4.5 rounded up
Was pleasantly surprised by this one.. sounded like a love it or hate kind of book and I loved it..
Ken Allen is a great character. This is a fun story and full of action.
Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook
Pure entertainment from start to finish!
"Jove Brand is Near Death" is fun and quirky, and immensely entertaining. I was hooked from the start. Parodying such successful movie franchises as James Bond, Marvel, and DC Comics, I laughed out loud in delight at the fun parallels (and remembering my own experiences going to the cons; the descriptions are spot on!) The throwbacks to the past are fabulous, but there are also up-to-the-minute cultural references, making the whole story fresh and funny. Ken’s devotion to his diet and the frequent inclusion of trendy food choices had me smiling. The writing is easy to read, and the dialogue sparkles as Ken investigates the murder.
Ken is a genuinely nice guy, and he’s got a solid circle of friends who have his back. I particularly enjoyed Yuen Hung, his former "Near Death" co-star and convention partner. I hope he returns in future books. The effects master, Ray Ford, provides awesome working props that he engineers to Ken’s needs. I loved his whole persona and vibe.
The plot is a solid mystery with constant action as Ken follows his instincts and chases down possible leads. The story is more complex than I expected and kept me guessing.
Tim Campbell narrates the audiobook edition, and I thought he was perfect as Ken Allen. He has a wonderful voice and delivery and uses it to get perfect results. He is my Ken Allen now. I will also be looking for more audiobooks that he’s voiced.
I recommend JOVE BRAND IS NEAR DEATH to mystery readers, especially those with a fun interest in spy movie thrillers and comic book-themed film series. However, no knowledge of either would keep a reader from enjoying this delightful book.
This was just a fun read/listen. Ken Brand is an actor/MMA fighter trainer/PI and now he is on the run from whoever is murdering people and making it look like kills from his movie and setting him up. Since he is the prime suspect, he sets out to find the murderer himself and along the way is pulled into such an interesting undercurrent of intrigue. The entire premise of this book was great and I hope this is the start of more.
This surprised me. I assumed it was James Bond fan fiction was was delighted it wasn’t the kind of fan fiction I expected. It was also nice to have an amateur sleuth who wasn’t a white lady or podcaster. Ken is very likable and I hope this series continues
Ken Allen got the chance to play Jove Brand on the big screen. The billion-dollar spy movie franchise has seen many Jove Brands and Allen was just one of them. When people associated with the movies started ending up dead in Ken Allen/Jove Brand fashion, there was only one suspect. Now Allen is working against the clock to clear his name, and his P.I. skill set comes from being an actor.
Jove Brand is Near Death by J.A. Crawford is an action-packed spy thriller. The first of the Ken Allen Super Sleuth book series. This mystery is everything but cozy, and the similarities to another billion-dollar spy franchise make for fun easter eggs. Even the villains are Bond worthy, er I mean Brand worthy. The similarities stop there. Crawford’s who-done-it has a life of its own with a fun protagonist in Ken Allen. Tim Campbell gives voice to the actor turned spy in the audiobook. This entertaining prolog to Crawford’s Ken Allen Super Sleuth novels.
Thank you to NetGalley and CatCam Publishing for giving me a copy of the Jove Brand Is Near Death Audiobook. All thoughts and opinions are mine!
So before I get into my review of the book itself, I wanted to talk about the audiobook narration. The narrator was Tim Campbell, a popular voice actor and he did a fantastic job. I probably would have given up about at 10% if it wasn't for his work. He brings a likable drollness that nails both the noir tone and Ken's unique perspective. He really shows how funny and tragic of a character Ken Allen really is. His performance especially shone during the last act. I really hope if Crawford does a sequel, Campbell comes back because he is Ken Allen for me.
That said, I do have a major problem with the narration: In chapter 6, Ken goes to visit a pair of legendary Chinese producers and the narrator does what is basically vocal yellowface, speaking with an old, gravelly voice and a faux Chinese accent. Thankfully, it isn't much dialog and but I wanted to call this out. I won't stand on my soapbox about how this is harmful to Asian people but at the end of the day, this was a lazy and unneeded choice that cheapened the hard work that came before it. It was especially gross because Crawford's writing didn't indicate any accent of any kind. I don't know if this was a call by the director but this went past numerous people and they said nothing. DO BETTER.
Now as for the book itself, it wasn't my usual fare but I otherwise enjoyed it. Crawford is a clear fan of both spy thrillers and noirs and it shows. The mystery soon sucked me in and he did a great job planting his big reveals without giving too much away. I spent the last 30 minutes of the audiobook leaning forward, screaming "I knew it!" and "OF COURSE, IT WAS THERE ALL ALONG!"
I also enjoyed how Crawford used the old tropes of spy thrillers and noirs: The dusky and blonde women from Ken's past, the quartermaster fitting him with his spy gear, the old beater of a car AND a motorcycle, the dark secret following our lead, they're all here gang. Unfortunately, there are some tropes that were best left in the past, namely regarding the queer characters and the aforementioned scene when Ken meets with the Chinese producers. I'm not queer or Chinese so I can't speak for those groups but it was a bit cringe.
I also would have liked fewer descriptions of Ken's diet. As someone with bad experiences with diet culture, it was less triggering and just annoying.
Still, even with the parts I didn't enjoy, this was a fun read and I'll likely read the next book. Crawford is a gifted writer.
TW: Blood, Violence, mentions of human trafficking/enslavement, death, gun violence,
This is Book 1 in J.A. Crawford’s Ken Allen Super Sleuth series, and although it’s a great setup for the series, it is satisfying on its own. It’s a fun, fast-paced Bond parody filled with likable characters, mystery, action, suspense, and humor.
Failed actor, martial artist, and trainer to the stars Ken Allen is a humble, resourceful, likable main character. The secondary characters were also interesting, and I particularly liked Ray, Allen’s very own Q. I loved their banter and all of the crazy inventions Ray designs. I look forward to discovering what’s next for these characters in the subsequent books.
The plot was interesting and kept me guessing. I enjoyed the mystery and suspense, and although I’m not normally a fan, the way the fight scenes were described held my interest. Although the book contains a lot of violence, it never felt gratuitous or overly graphic.
I was captivated by Tim Campbell’s narration. His pacing is good, he is able to convey humor and emotion, and his voices fit the characters. I definitely recommend the audiobook.
I received a free copy of the audiobook through NetGalley. I volunteered to provide an honest review.
Jove Brand is so uniquely creative. It has all the best parts of 007, gadgets, fight scenes, car chases but with an interesting twist. Loved it! Looking forward to the next adventure!
Jove Brand Is Near Death is tons of fun. Ken Allen, is a personal trainer and martial arts expert in LA. His 15 minutes of fame came years ago when he played fictional spy, Jove Brand, in a single film in the blockbuster franchise. He had the looks and the action hero moves, but his acting was awful and the script was not much better. It was the worst Brand movie, but Ken has moved on, more or less. Until a new Brand is announced, and people connected to the series start turning up dead, killed with one of Ken’s signature movie moves. Now Ken has to prove he’s innocent – and figure out who the killer is.
This was a perfect summer read, with plenty of action and gadgets galore. The characters are a varied lot, from Hollywood royalty to the cop who is sure Ken must have something to do with the murders to the special effects guy who helps outfit Ken for his real-life Brand adventure. They all have their quirks, which seems appropriate for LA. Ken himself is great. He’s a talented martial artist, has a dry sense of humor, and is actually a good guy. The plot is convoluted and over the top in the best possible way.
I listened to the audio and the narrator did an awesome job. I’m not sure where the series is going to go from here, but I’m looking forward to the ride. The second book comes out today, so I will maybe listen to it before the month’s out.
I am slightly embarrassed to admit that it took me a moment to realize the stag was a motorcycle, not a souped-up mechanical deer.
I'm not sure if it was the narrator, or the story as I listened to the audiobook version of this title, but I just could not get into it. I felt very bored with the story and could not stick with it. I tried really hard to tough it out but I just could not finish the story.
I liked this one but it was a little uneven for me.. There are brilliant moments of satirical, hilarious send-up of Hollywood culture, action heroes, and fandom. But there are also stretches where it felt like the story needed a tight edit to keep the story moving along. This wasn't a book for introspection, but one for entertainment - but at times it felt like it got a little too descriptive and meandered a bit too much for the type of story it was..
I thought the narrator did an excellent job and enjoyed it as a whole, although my rating would have definitely increased had it been edited a little more tightly to keep things moving at the whip-crack action-movie pace established in the beginning.
Awesomely entertaining! I had no idea what to expect. What a fun tongue-in-cheek Bond sendup. I am not really an MMA fan, but the concise and matter of fact explanations and fight descriptions kept even the most ignorant listener on top of the action. Looking forward to more of this character! Highly recommend.
I went to see an author friend speak today, and it turns out the nice guy I was chatting with in the audience was a debut novelist. And this is his novel. Talking to him, I was intrigued, not just by the premise of this book, but where he envisioned the series going. High concept, and very cool!
But, if I've said it once, I've said it a million times: Execution is everything. Happily, in this case, the execution is excellent!
Our protagonist, Ken Allen, is a personal trainer and martial arts expert in LA. His 15 minutes came years ago when he played fictional spy Jove Brand in a single film in the blockbuster franchise. He had the looks, he had the moves, he couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. There was the requisite humiliation, and then he moved on. He's a good guy. Unfortunately, a new Jove Brand has just been announced, and it appears to be the catalyst for a series of grisly murders implicating Ken. An amateur sleuth is born.
Is it obvious yet that this is a satire of the James Bond franchise? Because it very much is. Do you need to be a Bond fan to appreciate it? No. I'm not, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Ken is a great protagonist. So many amateur sleuths are perky women who do needlecrafts or work in bookstores. As noted above, Ken's a good guy, but he's got a real masculinity about him. He's also got action hero fighting skills. And J.A. Crawford writes a more than passable action sequence. In general, the book moves at a good clip, keeping readers turning pages. The other thing that stood out was the quality of the dialogue. Don't get me wrong, this is commercial fiction, but I've read a lot of wooden dialogue over the years, and this was a cut above.
We're introduced to several supporting cast in this book, but I'm not sure who we'll see again. There are a couple of characters that I'd definitely love to see back. Notable among them are his former co-star. There's such nice rapport between them. Definitely the makings of a bromance! And another character who supplies hardware would be too much fun not to bring back. Kudos to Mr. Crawford for not wedging an unnecessary romance into the plot!
I know about an elevator pitch-worth more than the general public of what will come next, but those tiny hints are enough to make me excited about the next two books in this series, and to leave me wondering what will come after them! This was a debut novel that slipped under my radar, but it's an entertaining mystery well worth checking out.
Ken Allen each right tries to live right and even makes the best of his busted acting career but while doing a talk show so the latest Jove brand Sir Collin could hand the rains off to the newest Mr. brand Nigel Sir Colin is murdered the same way the bad guy was and the only Jove Brand film that failed… His. He’s also going to be the only one to solve it because detective Stern thinks he did it and despite her love for his coffees she’s no help. Relying on old friends and his own common sense he needs to get to the bottom of this before life as he knows it is no longer. Let me say upfront I think Tim Campbell did an awesome job now reading this book. I always say a great narrator can make a good book better and this book was already awesome. It has a noire feel but at the same time is modern and funny. I loved the characters especially Ken Allen it was just an all-around great book. I want to thank the publisher and Net Gally for the ARC copy. Please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate most of my review, but all opinions are definitely my own.
A farcical tale about a former actor who must investigate murders to prevent himself from being arrested for them. Ken Allen is a former Jove Brand (a la James Bond) who was in one film that was a flop. Years later, he is at a convention and the newest Brand is announced. Soon after the actor who previously was Brand is found murdered. Allen is suspected of the murder as the victim was killed the same way as the villain in his film. He starts to investigate and finds a windy path of clues, Russian mobsters, and others trying to kill him.
I liked a lot of this book, but the narrator took away from my enjoyment of the audiobook. I think I would've enjoyed it more if I had read a traditional book as there were a few lines that I laughed out loud at (in a good way), indicating that I did enjoy the writing, just not the narration.
I went into this one wanting to try something a little different but per usual went in relatively blind. What I was rewarded with was a fun action book with some sarcasm and humor. And I'm calling that a win in a book.
Ken Allen was Brand, Jove Brand. (okay they don't use that but otherwise it's a total knock off of a James Bond situation). Ken played Jove Brand for one movie due to a right time, right place situation and a lot of desperation. He was a trained fighter and could do his own stunts and again out desperation his movie was made. Since then he has been a trainer to the stars and lives his day to day life with some heavy guilt on his shoulders.
This book takes places as the Jove Brand torch is about to be passed once again but suddenly Ken finds himself the #1 suspect in the murder of two deaths. He has to figure out who the real murderer is and protect possible future victims all while not being arrested himself.
To solve the crime Ken must fight his way (literally) through several obstacles. What we end up with is a lot of detailed fight scenes, which went a bit over my head, but will be appreciated by action movie or mma fans.
After finishing this one and missing some Ken Allen in my life I'm hoping for a book 2!
The narration was great and will definitely listen to more by this author.