Narrated by the incomparable Nick J. Russo, who did the author's fantastic mil-thrill erotic SF adventures--Sarge and Murphy, MAX the audio-version took a deeply disturbing psychological study of manipulation and control to an entirely new level.
Author: Bey Deckard
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Genre: Erotic thriller, erotica, gay fiction
Page count: 201
Publisher: Authors Republic
Buy Link: AMAZON
Fresh out of school, Dr. Crane takes on a new patient who both intrigues and unnerves him. Charming, manipulative, and amoral, Max has exactly the sort of mind Crane finds himself drawn to with fictional characters.
As Max weaves himself into Crane's life, Crane realizes that while fiction might be safe, Max certainly is not.
When the professional line between them thins, who gets to define where one man ends and the other begins?
Max is a study in contrasts, a war zone where hubris and the collapse of superego duke it out in an arena of narcissistic violence and sly manipulation. Max is the ultimate predator, conducting the hunt with precision and control. But Max also likes to play with his food. It’s the reason they incarcerate his kind behind layers of barricades.
One wonders… who are they trying to protect?
Crane is a neophyte and clearly not prepared for the sophisticated performance Max and his alter-ego execute under the guise of seeking his professional help, and from the get-go control shifts in a smoke and mirrors game with Crane mesmerized, confused and complicit.
Trained to ask questions, Crane the psychologist attempts to parse the inner space of his patient-client, to explore the answers to those questions, to enlighten, to understand. The trick is figuring out that sometimes answers are the last thing you want or need.
Watching Crane implode under the sheer audacity and allure of Max’s pathologies is fascinating… and terrifying. A train wreck, roadkill you can’t turn away from… dissection and resection… Max vs Crane is a tour de force of sensual transgression. Will you take sides—Team Max or Team Crane? I dare you not to.
Bottom line: read Max at your peril.
But read it.
Are you a speed reader? Do you tend to rush through a story that has you by the short and curlies? Do you, perchance, think that listening to an audiobook might slow down that momentum you’ve built in your mind’s eye, thus detracting from the whole experience?
Guilty as charged… but boy howdy, how I’ve changed my tune after listening to some truly gifted narrators who brought a new depth and appreciation for the characters and the narrative flow that was unexpected. Narrators aren’t just reading the story into a microphone, not at all. They bring nuance, points of emphasis, interpretation and, most importantly… the best compel us to savor the experience in ways no ordinary scanning of words on a page can quite match.
Nick J. Russo took that tour de force of sexual transgression and lit a fire under it by re-imagining, for me, that subtext of amorality underlying the complexity that is Max. In the ebook, I got it… Max being manipulative, seductive, charming. But I hadn’t completely bought how alluring he could be for Crane until I heard the fey otherworldliness undercutting the veneer of control he exercises during the hunt for Crane’s capitulation and ultimate corruption.
Max uses every device in a master manipulator’s toolbox: intonation, body language, sex appeal, and of course vulnerability—using voice to underscore the maxim… it’s not what you say but how you say it that matters.
Russo’s interpretation of Crane, the young, inexperienced therapist placed on a hot seat not of his making, is also spot on. His fascination with Max’s pathologies quickly devolves from professional interest to a complete dissolution of his own moral center. What begins as acquiescence becomes a glorious addiction.
After reading the ebook, I’d been on the fence: Team Max or Team Crane? As the story unfolded, as I listened, really listened… the scale gradually tipped in favor of Team Crane—for the sheer audacity of his choices and the uncertain future he embraced.
MAX is one of those books you will revisit often. It is a deeply layered, psychological thriller with mind-bending subtext, and an ending that will leave you pondering.
Five stars for story.
Five stars for narration.
Five enthusiastic stars across the board and highly recommended.