Audiobook Review: The Vaults by Toby Ball

December 1, 2011 Audiobook, Crime Fiction, Dystopian fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Review, St. Martin's Press 6

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length:9 hours and 6 minutes
  • Program Type:Audiobook
  • Version:Unabridged
  • Publisher:Iambik Audio Inc
  • Source: Publisher


In a dystopian 1930’s America, archivist Arthur Puskis discovers a duplicate file in the Vaults, a dark, desolate underground hall containing the city’s criminal justice records for the past seven decades.  Puskis has devoted the last twenty-seven years of his life to the Vaults and he holds a sort of reverence for the power and honor the Vaults hold. To find a duplicate file throws him off base, the existence of this second file is impossible. The name on the file: DeGraffenreid, a man convicted of murder but apparently hasn’t served a day of jail time. What throws him off is the differences in pictures in the files.  Which one of these men is DeGraffenreid? Obsessed with the perfection that is the Vaults, Puskis attempts to track down more information on DeGraffenreid’s case.

The reader meets Private Detective and socialist union leader Ethan Poole in the process of attempting to blackmail a prominent leader with incriminating photographs for the purpose of getting said leader to agree to the demands of the union. This first impression isn’t exactly the best, but the overall opinion of Poole changes when he accepts an assignment to track down the location of a desperate woman’s son.

Frank Frings is a journalist scrounging up sources and evidence of corruption in the office of Red Henry, the city’s mayor.  Unknown to Frings & Poole, they are hitting up the same source.  Frings, Poole, & Puskis are initially strangers, brought together by one case of deep corruption.

I’m unique in that I both read and listened to the audio production of The Vaults. In the print edition, there is a vibrancy in many of the characters that just isn’t quite carried over into the audio production.  Agreeably, Puskis is a lone, almost hermit-like man, the majority of his time spent in the Vaults. The narrator, Michael Agostini, does a stellar job at portraying the voice of Puskis.  Unfortunately, the tone he uses carries over to the other characters as well. Frings and Pool are completely unlike Puskis in personality. They are more animated, “alive” than he is. It’s a shame that these characteristics of these two men didn’t carry over into the audio book. Oftentimes, the pacing of the book lagged, mainly because the lack of expression in the narrator’s voice.

That said, I highly recommend The Vaults itself, in print format. It covers a wide range of subject matter, including political corruption, and is reminiscent of classical novels dealing with class struggle. I look forward to reading more of Toby Ball’s work, he has quite a bit of potential in him!

6 Responses to “Audiobook Review: The Vaults by Toby Ball”

  1. Jen Forbus
    Twitter: jenforbus

    I’m glad to read your review, Jenn. I had the same feeling about the audio and wondered if part of my feelings had to do with the writing as well as the narrating, but it sounds like that isn’t the case. Nice to have that duel perspective. Thanks!

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I don’t think I’ve ever both read and listened to a book (I considered it in order to get through Monsters of Men on vacation, but never did). I will make sure if I read this book, it is in print. Not every time is audio the winner of the two options.

  3. Karen White
    Twitter: karenwhitereads

    I don’t know if you know Jenn, but Iambik does not pay it’s narrators – they are offered a royalty share on the books (which from what I’ve heard rarely pays anywhere near what an upfront fee would do).