Title: The Consultant
Author: Bentley Little
Published: 2015
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Audiobook Narrator: Ramiz Monsef

Have you ever had the experience that the creator of that book or movie you’re consuming doesn’t quite “get” what they’re talking about because they happen to be referencing something you’re intimately familiar with? That’s the feeling that kept creeping up on me while reading Bentley Little’s The Consultant. I’m not an expert in the word of corporate America, of course, but I have worked in a corporate office setting that was quite similar to the one Little creates here for years, even in a similar position to that of our main character, and the events that go down in The Consultant were just too much for me to buy into. I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief like I was with the other two Little books I’ve finished this month, and this resulted in anything but a fun reading experience.

This time around, Bentley Little tells the story of CompWare, a video game company, that needs to pick up the pieces after a merger fails to go through. The CEO, Austin Matthews, decides to call in BFG, a consulting company, to help right the ship. This is how Regus Patoff is introduced to the company, and he immediately starts making his mark in all of the most inappropriate ways.

The reader follows Craig most closely. He has a wife, and a young boy, who we meet throughout the story. His outcome, and what happens with his family, is really the driving factor behind the emotion in the story. As a character, Craig is likable. He seems like an intelligent guy who cares about his company, his co-workers, and his family. This creates one of the major problems with this book: he seems like the type of person that would know better than to allow the consulting agency to get away with the things they do. It would take any real human being in this position one interview with the consultant to quit and sue the company for sexual harassment. That first interview that Patoff has with Craig is where the book started to lose me, and it only got crazier from there.

In true Little fashion, there are scenes of brutality – and scenes of sexual encounters – that come out of nowhere, and these are the best moments of The Consultant. The problem is the context around all of these scenes are so absurd that it doesn’t work like it does in his other novels. There is so much that happens in this book that would result in the company being shut down instantly, or, at the very least, closed for quite some time, and the characters return the next morning as if nothing happened. It makes no logical sense. That wouldn’t be a big problem if I was able to suspend my disbelief, but the novel didn’t do enough to allow me to do that.

The audiobook, which was available on Hoopla from my library, was narrated by Ramiz Monsef. Like the novel itself, I had a lot of issues with the narration. The voice acting itself was fine; Monsef doesn’t do a ton to differentiate between the characters, and, at some points, I wasn’t able to tell who was talking until it was spelled out. Still, the acting end was acceptable. On the technical side, though, there were some bigger problems. It was easy to tell when Monsef went in to re-record a line, and then spliced it into the narration, because the audio would sound different, even having a different volume at points. I’m used to the narrator sounding a little different between chapters, and that doesn’t usually bother me, but with The Consultant, these breaks would come mid-chapter, and even mid-sentence sometimes. There was not the consistency of sound I have come to expect from professional audiobook narrations, and it really took me out of the story.

There were way too many times I found myself laughing, or yelling, out loud at some of the absurdity of The Consultant, and it lacked the shine of Little’s other novels. It is definitely in the same vein as his other work, and his writing talent is still present, but, unfortunately, I wasn’t buying in. The Consultant was a bumpy ride that proved even the best authors can produce some duds.