Faye Kellerman,
Street Dreams
(Time Warner, 2003)

You may already know Officer Cindy Decker from the L.A.P.D. -- or at least her father, L.A. Homicide Det. Peter Decker -- from such Faye Kellerman novels as Stone Kiss, The Ritual Bath and Sanctuary. As such, you know to expect a "whodunnit" story. With the audiobook version of Street Dreams, these characters come more to life as they now have an actual voice.

This book focuses on Cindy. On patrol one evening, she comes across a newborn discarded in a trash dumpster behind a restaurant. Although her work is technically done once the child is safely deposited in to the care of a local hospital, Cindy takes a special interest in the case. On the one hand, what type of mother would abandon a perfectly healthy infant like this when there are more viable alternatives available? On the other, it would give her a chance to go see that cute male nurse again as she hunts for clues. After all, she needs to get the lab results from him to help narrow down genetic clues to the parents.

So, this audio tale has two parts. Mainly, Cindy plays a detective slowly discovering that this is not a simple case of ditch-and-run. As it turns out, the mother is just as much a victim here as being guilty of the crime of abandonment. Cindy turns to her father for help when the investigation leads to an attempt on her own life! But let us put her professional life aside and get back to that cute nurse. He's perfect -- intelligent, caring, Jewish just like her family. At least this part of her life is going smooth, right? Oh! Did I fail to mention that Cindy is white and her new boyfriend is black and was born in Ethiopia? Should race matter? Aren't we past that nowadays? Apparently not.

Nancy McKeon, probably best known as Jo on The Facts of Life, narrates Street Dreams. She does a pretty good job of changing her voice enough to differentiate between the various characters. Not surprisingly, though, everybody in L.A. sounds like they are a transplant from the Northeast, especially when they get an attitude! As for Kellerman, she has arguably written better books. Or perhaps the issue is with the abridging of the text. Street Dreams maintains a consistent pace until CD No. 5 of this 6.5-hour audiobook. With little time left on the last CD, the story is pretty much wrapped up in a "by the way, let me tell you quickly what happened" method. Where is the climax? I am not interested in a bunch of action increasing the tension only to have it released by a passive voice!

Street Dreams is a story of love, rape and attempted murder. The first six hours are somewhat engaging even if you know that southern Californians don't all sound like Yankees. The ending, unfortunately, left a bad taste in my mouth. Or rather, no taste at all because the dessert of this meal was replaced with a low-fat substitute. And that taints the entire work. Instead of a dream, I found this audiobook more of a disappointment.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 6 December 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.