Audiobook review: Black Vault by Alma Katsu
As a big fan of mysterious phenomena and conspiracy stories, I spotted the blurb on Black Vault and I was excited to grab it up. The author and narrator were new to me, but that just increased my anticipation for this short thriller with a minor sci-fi element.
Black Vault is considered a short story and it was in the technical sense, but it turned out to be a well-layered fully-developed rich story of action and character plotting told in two timelines.
Near his retirement, Craig Norton is assigned to a taskforce investigating the CIA’s files on inexplicable aerial displays. This is Craig’s shot at getting answers after all those years of being stonewalled, jeered, and being sidelined. I loved seeing the beginning of the story feeling gray, hopeless, and brittly jaded when professional hubris landed him in the super with his career and marriage. Then, with the investigation into that past incident getting treated seriously, he is invigorated and slowly shedding the bitter skepticism that has filled him for so long. He tentatively started to believe in people and trying at life, even with his son after years of emotional distance.
It was a neat character piece, but it was more than that. When Craig and the others on the taskforce start sifting through the pieces, they find evidence that someone wanted Craig’s report buried and discredited and that someone doesn’t want it revived. Good suspense there.
As to Craig’s experience itself, much of the story one is kept wondering what it was he did actually see out there in the Mongolian desert which made for the cool sci-fi mystery part.
David DeVries had a lovely deep voice and caught the emotions of Craig’s story so well and he voiced the characters from women to those with foreign accents along with Craig’s narrative brilliantly.
Black Vault was all I could hope for when I picked it up as a sci-fi thriller and I hope the author writes more.
About the Book:
When CIA officer Craig Norton glimpses an unexplainable object in the sky over Mongolia, he can’t quite believe it. Frankly, he isn’t sure Langley will either. Despite his misgivings, Craig reports the sighting in a cable to headquarters detailing the incident.
Fast-forward fifteen years. Craig is still reeling from the report that tanked his career and his personal life. That fleeting moment on the Mongolian steppe made him a pariah at the Agency, and he still hasn’t recovered. At this point, he doubts he ever will.
But when the navy confirms on national television reports of unexplained aerial phenomena, Craig finds himself pulled back into the fold. Assigned to a CIA task force investigating sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena—including his own—Craig stumbles upon a mystery that could strain global relations and expose an international cover-up.
For a spy humbled by his own instincts, the search for the truth could finally mean a chance at redemption—or place him directly in the path of a dangerous conspiracy.
Author: Alma Katsu
Narrator: David de Vries
Genre: Thriller with Sci-Fi elements
Audiobook Release Date: August 8, 2023
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Length: 2 hours; 28 minutes
Source: Brilliance Audio
Audio Speed: 1.0x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)