Desert Isle Keeper
Sins and Needles
Narrated by Veronica Den
I wonder what it says about me that I’ve always liked reading about con artists and people on the run. There’s a certain amount of desperation in books with that plot line, and it draws me in. That’s exactly what happened when I started listening to Sins and Needles, the first book in Karina Halle’s Artist Trilogy.
Ellie Watt has been living her life on the run. Her parents were thieves who taught her their craft but never offered her their protection. As a teenager, Ellie was injured helping her parents pull off a con, and they haven’t spoken since.
Ellie wants to think she’s done with crime. She barely made it out alive the last time she tried to scam someone. All she wants is a little peace and quiet and a steady job to help her back on her feet. With these things in mind, Ellie returns to her uncle’s farm in a small California town. It’s the closest thing to a home she’s ever had.
Camden McQueen has never forgotten Ellie Watt. They were the best of friends in high school, until Ellie turned on him, in hopes of becoming popular. He wants to hate her, to blame her for the way his life has turned out, but something in him remembers Ellie as sad and beautiful, instead of cold and calculating. When she moves back to town and attempts to rob him, Camden has her just where he wants her. Sure, he loves her, but since when does loving someone mean you can’t use them if you need to?
Narrator Veronica Den did an excellent job with Sins and Needles. This was the first book I’d ever heard her narrate, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more of her work.
Both Ellie and Camden are deeply flawed. Karina Halle brought them to life on the printed page, but Veronica Den gave them voice. For me, listening to a book is a sort of three-dimensional experience, whereas reading print (or Braille, in my case) lacks a certain something. Den is one of those narrators who gets inside the minds of the characters and this is a definite bonus.
All were all distinctly voiced. The book didn’t allow for a wide range of accents to be used. There were a few characters who spoke with Hispanic accents, something Den pulled off without a problem. Everyone else was from California. Even without accents, I never had trouble differentiating one from another.
Den helps the listener get to know Ellie, flaws and all. I was able to hear her inner struggles. Should she try for one last con, something that would set her up for life, or should she keep herself from betraying Camden again? Will she ever be able to make amends to Camden and the others she has wronged, or is she just another worthless crook? These thoughts are Ellie’s constant inner dialogue. Even when she’s speaking to someone else, Den allows us to hear Ellie’s vulnerability.
Camden has his own issues with trust. He is despised by his father and his ex barely allows him to see his son. Now that Ellie is back in his life, he doesn’t know whether he can trust her. His head tells him no, but his heart says something altogether different. The battle he wages is clear in his every word as Den gives him an almost tortured way of speaking. The pain radiates from him, through her, and right into the heart of the listener. I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job.
How much will you sacrifice for the person you love most in this world? Both Ellie and Camden are forced to answer this question as they try to stay a step ahead of those who would harm them. Their romance is believable. I could totally understand the trust issues each of them had, and I practically cheered when they finally admitted they were in love. Unfortunately, life circumstances won’t make it easy for them.
This book ends with a definite cliffhanger. Luckily, Shooting Scars, Book 2 in the trilogy, was ready and waiting at Audible. I bought it as soon as I finished Sins and Needles. It won’t be long before I start listening to it.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: A and Book Content: A
Unabridged. Length – 8 hours 44 minutes