Greenlight, Benjamin Stevenson

Review Written By
Andrea Thompson

GREENLIGHT works extremely well as an audio title as the conspiratorial way it has been written lends itself beautifully to that platform of intimacy.  In our ears it’s all quietly confessed secrets and the discovery of lies as we move around with producer Jack Quick in the shadows of a country town.  This is not necessarily a sleepy town.  This is wine country.

If you’ve ever stayed in an Australian wine region, you might feel that you recognize the (fictional) setting and some of the townsfolk who feature in GREENLIGHT.   Wine towns ride on the back of tourism, but the locals aren’t always friendly to anyone who rides in to dabble in the business of winemaking, or to involve themselves in transactions of buying and selling wine.   In Jack Quick we have someone trying to do right whilst acknowledging the wrongs that had been tactically employed along the way. He’s a curious character, and not the alpha male we normally see leading the charge in crime fiction.  We’ve had enough of those.  People who are able to mess up, be beaten up, and then get up again when required are way more interesting to read of. 

GREENLIGHT combines the appeal of the two fastest growing forms of digital entertainment that we have right now - podcasts and audio books.  Today’s time poor readers have leaped on to both of these mediums with increasing gusto in the last two years or so and it’s all to the good.  GREENLIGHT is an absorbing work of fiction that gives us the required time with each character, somehow managing to gallop us past what we should have been paying our most keen attention to.  Multiple voice actors are used here in the podcast excerpts that are inserted judiciously into Jack’s narrative.  The lead voice actor here is brilliant at differentiating the characters he plays in Jack’s scenes, so there’s never any confusion as to whose voice it is that we are hearing. 

The mental health issues raised in this novel are not often addressed in fiction in relation to the males of our species.  This is quite enlightening to read of, as negotiating your everyday working life around a full blown eating disorder is just another difficulty to your day.  Jack’s character and life outside of his career are fully fleshed, and the read is all the better for it.

GREENLIGHT is a polished debut work of crime fiction that offers up the trifecta of entertainment; it is engaging, topical, and satisfying.  The excellent voice work in this Audible production adds much to the experience of being immersed in the struggles of Jack as he questions his own motivations and the cost of success in our entertainment obsessed world.

P.S. This reviewer lives in a wine region.  Wine IS art.

Year of Publication

Four years ago Eliza Dacey was brutally murdered.

Within hours, her killer was caught.

Wasn’t he?

So reads the opening titles of Jack Quick’s new true-crime documentary.

A skilled producer, Jack knows that the bigger the conspiracy, the higher the ratings. Curtis Wade, convicted of Eliza’s murder on circumstantial evidence and victim of a biased police force, is the perfect subject. Millions of viewers agree.

Just before the finale, Jack uncovers a minor detail that may prove Curtis guilty after all. Convinced it will ruin his show, Jack disposes of the evidence and delivers the finale unedited: proposing that Curtis is innocent.

But when Curtis is released, and a new victim is found bearing horrifying similarities to the original murder, Jack realises that he may have helped a guilty man out of jail. And, as the only one who knows the real evidence of the case, he is the only one who can send him back … 

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