Podcast Review #109: 65 Below

Title: 65 Below
Author: Basil Sands
Genre: Military Action
Released: 12 March 2008 – 4 April 2008
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: podcast and ebook
Rating: R for violence

Lately, I’ve been seeking out new authors. It isn’t because I’m tired of my old authors, it is simply because I am caught up on most of the podiobooks written by authors I have known for any amount of time. I regularly scour Podiobooks.com story synopsis looking for something that will catch my attention. And that is exactly what 65 Below by Basil Sands did.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: After twenty years hunting terrorists under orders to “render harmless”, USMC Master Sergeant Marcus Orlando Johnson, Mojo to his friends, settles into a quiet rural retirement on his childhood home in the Alaskan backwoods. But the idyllic retirement is shattered when Marcus comes across soldiers of America’s staunchest enemy who are about to unleash a nightmarish biological weapon on the world from the most unexpected of places.

With the help of his ex-fiancee, the beautiful Korean born State Trooper Lonnie Wyatt, and the chance reunion of his old special operations buddy Harley Wasner, they race to stop a potentially devastating terrorist attack with worldwide implications but even nature is against them as the temperatures plummet to 65 below.(Stolen from the Author’s site.. if there is a longer synopsis somewhere, I couldn’t find it.)

Production: Rarely do I give A’s for production. Why? Simply because so few podcasts are consistently able to maintain a high level of all the production elements they choose to use. I don’t say this as biting criticism. As I’ve said before, I grade myself a C in production (and use myself as the rule to which all others are measured) in the podcast version of these reviews. It is the simple truth as I hear it. Some podcasts are “mostly” superior with an ep or two with issues. Some are the reverse with only an occasional superior ep. I am happy to say that I truly have nothing negative to say about the production of 65 Below. This podcast is crystal clear and all the production elements (consisting mainly of a well told story) are superb. There is very little “hiss” and absolutely no environmental noises. Truly, a great sound.

Grade: A

Cast: I’ve never met Basil Sands. I don’t think I’d even heard his name before listening to 65 Below. However, I won’t forget his name in the future, and if I were to ever need voices for a podcast, I would be calling Mr. Sands. Simply stated, I’ve never heard self read done quite this well before. While most of the voices used are easily able to be identified as Mr. Sands, they are varied enough to make you wonder if they were electronically manipulated. However, I don’t believe they were simply because they are too perfect. Even the female voices, included one of a 12 year old girl, seemed to be relatively easy for Mr. Sands to nail. I simply have never heard a self read done this well.

Grade: the rare A+

Story: 65 Below will appeal to those amongst us that enjoy Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum or W.E.B. Griffin have found an author to listen to in Basil Sands. He nails the military genre and creates a compelling story without being too pedantic.

Grade: A

Verdict: I greatly enjoyed this story and will be looking forward to following up on more of Mr. Sands’ stories. About the only thing about 65 Below that I didn’t enjoy was the chapters alternating between the current time stream and a set of flashbacks that are used to set up a thread in the current story line. I enjoyed both story lines equally, I just would have preferred each to have been told sequentially.

Disclaimer: I’ve never met or tweeted with Mr. Sands but after listening to this podcast, I did a bit of research and discovered he’s a broadcaster by trade and nails the setting because he does indeed live in Alaska.

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