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The Devil's Chaplain

Narrated by: Neal Arango
Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
3 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

"Brilliant... A highly entertaining mystery." (Ken Bruen) 

Disillusioned with her corporate legal career, attorney Charlotte Ambler volunteers to handle the final appeal of Christopher Ritter, a Florida death row inmate whose execution is imminent. Ritter had been a prominent biologist before being convicted 10 years earlier for the brutal murder of a prostitute. He denies killing the woman but is tormented by guilt for other, secret transgressions. The only appeal he will allow is to prove that he is innocent - a kind of appeal which is almost impossible to succeed. 

As Ritter relates his sordid life story, Charlotte discovers that innocence is more complicated than she thought. Ritter claims to have been framed by a shadowy figure named Craft, but as Charlotte studies the evidence she concludes that he is a dangerous psychopath who should not go free. Then a piece of evidence turns up that confirms a key part of his story. Pursuing her investigation, she is thwarted by hidden forces that seem determined to see him executed. In a race against the clock, she searches for the elusive Craft and fights to save Ritter in spite of himself. 

The Devil's Chaplain is a legal thriller in the tradition of Scott Turow and John Grisham - a gripping tale of deception and self-deception, betrayal and violence, in which lawyer and client find common ground in their quest for justice and human values. 

"A riveting story that hinges on clues so elusive that the tension is exquisitely drawn." (Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review)

©2018 Bruce Hartman (P)2018 Bruce Hartman

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To look the truth in the eye and not blink.

Ten years ago, Chris Ritter was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death for the brutal torture and killing of Helene Vargas, a prostitute with whom he had been having an affair for several years. It had taken the jury only two hours to convict him. Appeals had been made and lost. Now his time had run out and he was to die from lethal injection in just fifteen days. He still claimed he was innocent of the crime for which he was about to be killed.

Nobody believed him. Not his wife, now divorced from him and remarried, not his old and dearest friends, not even the lawyer who had conducted his defence. A new lawyer, Charlotte, was sent to assess if a last minute appeal should be pursued given that a stay of execution could save him from the death penalty - the Florida law was likely to change within a few months. But Chris was not interested in a postponement, only in his being cleared: actual innocence - which, even if proven would not automatically save him. And his story was ridiculous ...

The Devil's Chaplain is an excellent book in so many ways. Well written and presented, the story alternates between Chris'first person recollections of the events preceding the murder as well as his own musings on his own beliefs and the other people with whom he has contact in the prison, and the ongoing visits of Charlotte both to see Chris and any others who might in any way shine a light on what had happened ten years before. As the date of execution comes ever closer, there is a countdown which grows ever more rapid as hat day approaches, adding real tension to the story. Because as unlikable as the prisoner is, and without knowing what is true and if he was, in fact, innocent or guilty, it is hard not to be drawn into the race to save Chris' life, even if only for a few more weeks.
But in addition to being a tension filled detective story, the reader is also given so much extra to think about - the workings of the law and justice system, a belief in good and evil, the theories of evolution, of religion, and the nature of man, all seamlessly slipped into the text.

The book is very well performed by Neal WranglingTo look the truth in the eye and not blink."
Ten years ago, Chris Ritter was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death for the brutal torture and killing of Helene Vargas, a prostitute with whom he had been having an affair for several years. It had taken the jury only two hours to convict him. Appeals had been made and lost. Now his time had run out and he was to die from lethal injection in just fifteen days. He still claimed he was innocent of the crime for which he was about to be killed.

Nobody believed him. Not his wife, now divorced from him and remarried, not his old and dearest friends, not even the lawyer who had conducted his defence. A new lawyer, Charlotte, was sent to assess if a last minute appeal should be pursued given that a stay of execution could save him from the death penalty - the Florida law was likely to change within a few months. But Chris was not interested in a postponement, only in his being cleared: actual innocence - which, even if proven would not automatically save him. And his story was ridiculous ...

The Devil's Chaplain is an excellent book in so many ways. Well written and presented, the story alternates between Chris'first person recollections of the events preceding the murder as well as his own musings on his own beliefs and the other people with whom he has contact in the prison, and the ongoing visits of Charlotte both to see Chris and any others who might in any way shine a light on what had happened ten years before. As the date of execution comes ever closer, there is a countdown which grows ever more rapid as hat day approaches, adding real tension to the story. Because as unlikable as the prisoner is, and without knowing what is true and if he was, in fact, innocent or guilty, it is hard not to be drawn into the race to save Chris' life, even if only for a few more weeks.
But in addition to being a tension filled detective story, the reader is also given so much extra to think about - the workings of the law and justice system, a belief in good and evil, the theories of evolution, of religion, and the nature of man, all seamlessly slipped into the text.

The book is very well performed by Neal Arango, who not only takes on the persona of Chris Ritter himself, but also reads the text with calm clarity, well paced and modulated, as well as also breathing extra life into the other characters with distinctive voicings. So good, he disappeared, leaving only the book to speak for itself.

I was extremely fortunate in being freely gifted, at my request, a complimentary copy of The Devil's Chaplain, by the rights holder via Audiobook Boom. Thank you so much. It is not perfect,for me the ending seemed a little rushed, but the book held me, mesmerised, throughout, not knowing until the very last pages, the, dare I say it? truth behind the murder. With such a perfect pairing of author and narrator, this is a book I can warmly recommend to everyone. Excellents, who not only takes on the persona of Chris Ritter himself, but also reads the text with calm clarity, well paced and modulated, as well as also breathing extra life into the other characters with distinctive voicings. So good, he disappeared, leaving only the book to speak for itself.

I was extremely fortunate in being freely gifted, at my request, a complimentary copy of The Devil's Chaplain, by the rights holder via Audiobook Boom. Thank you so much. It is not perfect,for me the ending seemed a little rushed, but the book held me, mesmerised, throughout, not knowing until the very last pages, the, dare I say it? truth behind the murder. With such a perfect pairing of author and narrator, this is a book I can warmly recommend to everyone. Excellent.

  • Overall
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Ohmidays!

Despite finding the main character, Chris Ritter, a thoroughly unpleasant and unlikable character, this was a most enjoyable listen. Not only that, despite my best intentions, I ended up warming to Chris, and by the end of the book, genuinely felt that he had a chance at a normal life. Of course, therein lies the genius of the book, I totally believed in the character. All the players in this tale were believable, and I found I cared about them very much. I worried for Charlotte, despised 'Billy-Bub and Bubba' and even Teague. Neal Arango, narrating, did an excellent job, with a number of different characters to voice, and most of them male, he succeeded in making each person distinctive, no mean feat. Mr Arango certainly added to the enjoyment of the book. This is my first book by author Bruce Hartman, but it certainly won't be last. A good job done by everyone involved in this Audible production.

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  • Dee
  • 28-07-18

Riveting!

This book was a mix of sociology and psychology, religion and religiousness, moral and immoral choices, love and marriage, and life and death. It was Nietzsche 101.

The main character, Chris Ritter, did not believe in God and had a very loose relationship with right and wrong. He was a not a very likable guy and his choices found him on death row. The majority of the story focused on how to get Chris's death penalty overturned. The social and psychological backstory was intense and held my absolute attention.

I loved the narrator. There were quite a few characters to portray and they were all distinct and well-presented. There were some disturbing aspects to this story but it was riveting, nonetheless.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Darc
  • 29-05-19

Death Row

Chris Ritter, once a prominent biologist, has spent the last ten years in Florida on death row and is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection within a few short weeks. Enter Charlotte Ambler, disillusioned corporate lawyer, who, in an effort to restore her faith in her career choice, is doing some pro bono work with the Titus foundation. The Titus foundation represents only the innocent and so Charlotte must make a judgement as to whether on not Chris is innocent before she can take his case. Chris Ritter was convicted after only two hours of Jury deliberation; his wife, his friends and colleagues, even his lawyer did not believe his story of innocence and how he was framed by an elusive and invisible character called Craft. Ritter, resigned to his execution, has been represented by other appeal attorneys unsuccessfully, and will only allow an appeal based on actual innocence. At first Charlotte is convinced that Chris is a lying sociopath and should be executed, but then some new evidence turns up that confirms a key part of his story and Charlotte races with the clock to get a stay of execution, with many twists and threats along the way. Hartman has done an excellent job with this book and just when you think the end is nearly here a new twist appears and on you go to the next fork in the road. But in addition to the good detective plot there is much more to think about, the workings of the legal system, the existence of good and evil, or is it all in the mind, theories of evolution, and religion. Narration by Neal Arango was excellent as he had several different voices with which to portray the various characters. I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • blueskies982
  • 20-02-19

Philosophical study on right, wrong, and justice

This is much more than the story of a man on death row and the lawyers trying to save his life - it's a look at human mortality, the ethics of right and wrong, guilt and innocence, and justice.

Chris Ritter is on Floridia death row awaiting his appointed date with lethal injection. When lawyer Charlotte Ambler volunteers to handle Ritter's final appeal, even though it seems like a truly lost cause. As the story unfolds, we learn the series of events that led to Chris' conviction while taking a journey. Charlotte begins her investigation and soon finds herself racing against the clock when new evidence surfaces.

This story is much more than the thriller I expected. Hartman creates a space to explore some difficult philosophical questions.

The narration is excellent! The voices of different characters are handled expertly and the reading adds to the mystery and tension.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Claire
  • 23-08-18

Gripping

I loved this book! The characters are well developed, the story detailed and intriguing, I was hooked from the first page and I wasn't let go until the book ended. Just when I thought I had everything figured out a new twist would occur that changed something important. The planning this book must have taken is impressive.

Beautifully written the story, the story pulled me in and held me emotionally captive, I felt for and with the lead characters.

The narration is well done, the delivery was dynamic and well paced, I liked the character voices, they were clear and distinct, however Charlotte's voice doesn't match the authors description of it.

I received a free copy of this book from the author and/or narrator and/or publisher and I voluntarily wrote this honest review.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • mandy
  • 18-08-18

so good!

This was a super intense audio and I couldn't stop listening. Narration was really well done.


I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • timj26
  • 21-05-19

Excellent

This was a fantastic story
The way the author uses philosophy and plot twists made for a great final reveal
Neal does a great job narrating I would recommend to any mystery thriller fan
I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily left this review

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca Azizov
  • 31-05-19

a book that will make you think

ow !!! wow!!!!! that book ! wow I just can't explain how unusual and heart raising this book is you have so much to think and feel in this story it touches every subject possible.... and it makes keep going and going and you can't stop and in the end you feel like a loose person with a tin of things rashing in your head....

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Courtney Odor
  • 21-05-19

Surprisingly enticing and captivating.

First, I have to start off by stating that I got this book free of charge in exchange for a review, but as I always state, this does not in any way impact my review. My reviews are always honest and my own.

The Devil's Chaplain was AMAZING. Chilling, entertaining, literally kept you on the edge of your seat! Highly recommend. Neal did an amazing job of narrating this audiobook, you felt all the emotions that the author Bruce intended you to feel. All around a great novel.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Victoria Haugen
  • 02-09-18

COMPELLING & SUSPENSEFUL!

Great story! Very suspenseful and filled with twists & turns, it kept my interest throughout. I'm really into forensic psychology and psychiatry and these types of stories are so interesting, getting into their mind to try and figure them out. That's why I LOVE Stephen King, no one can get into someone's head better than he.
Thought this book was awesome, really enjoyed both writing/story and narration, and would definitely read/listen to more from both in the future, really good stuff! :)
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Teresa
  • 15-04-19

A Book That Makes You Think

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

When the story starts Chris is on death row awaiting his execution. In a retrospective look at his disreputable life, we learn to pity him at first, feel sorry for his fate, reluctantly accept his innocence, finally learn to love his character regardless of his human failings. Charlotte, the lawyer that takes on a case bigger than life, shows how dogged determination can conquer anything. The story is suspenseful, intricate, grabbing. Well written and well narrated, it will absorb your attention until the very end with unexpected twists and a surprising conclusion. The character I liked the least is Chris's wife. I know I should have felt sorry for her, for the way Chris treated her, but I couldn't get myself to sympathize with her plight. She surfaces as a cold person, too vain and entitled. At the end, she gets more than she deserves. This is a legal thriller that will make you stop and think about human imperfections.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful