Author: Jeff Abbott
Publisher: ISIS Audio Books 
Length: 11hrs 20mins
Evan Casher is a young documentary film maker whose life is thrown into turmoil when his mother urges him to return to his home town of Austin Texas immediately. When he does, he discovers her body on the kitchen floor of their family home and the killers are still there. Believing Evan has some information they want, the killers torture him then leave him for dead but he is rescued by someone claiming to be one of the good guys. What follows is a wild ride with spies, double agents and lots of unnecessary killing.
This is a perfectly serviceable thriller in which a normal person is thrown into extraordinary circumstances. There’s action a-plenty and a main character who is charming enough that I wanted him to beat the bad guys (however unlikely it should have been). However, I found the plot overly complex but not as engaging as it might have been. There seemed to be a few too many unnecessary twists on top of what was basically a story about a list of names. At no point during the entire book did I care a jot whose name was on the list or what happened to it and when the list was all anyone was talking about it made for some dull spots.
As with all thrillers of this type you have to suspend your disbelief about whether or not an average bloke could suddenly develop the skills to take on a gang of well-trained mercenaries and the CIA in MacGyver-like fashion but I found it more difficult than it should have been to do that here. However I’ll acknowledge that if I’d enjoyed the story more I’d have been less picky about the absurdities of Evan’s success against all the well-trained killers he faced.
To be fair to the author, part of my problem with this particular reading experience had nothing to do with the author. The narrator of the audio version I listened to struggled quite a bit to maintain the separate voices for each character (perhaps due to their large number) and some of the voices were just plain jarring to the ear. In particular the voice of one of the two main bad guys annoyed me intensely and, although there weren’t many of them, the bits of action that involved British characters were plain awful.
To me there was nothing unique about this thriller but it’s the kind of thing lots of people, including the types who commission Hollywood movies these days, really enjoy. There’s loads of action sequences, a decent amount of interesting deaths, a particularly nasty villain, an explosion or two and minimal character development. I’d have preferred a touch more credibility and a few less fight sequences but that’s just me. If you’re going to tackle Panic though I really wouldn’t recommend this audio version.
My rating 3/5