Now, How to Disappear is a podcast novel, which makes it almost a separate genre — not quite as different as a film or a complete audio drama, but still an experience of the ear more than the eye. And what Bartlett brings to the genre is considerable — a British accent, a flair for voices, the perfect music for bumpers and transitions. So it’s fun to listen to. But bad audio can ruin a good story more easily than good audio can save a bad story, and How to Disappear is a good story.
Briefly, it’s a sort of urban fantasy/noir detective with romance. And it’s about parallel worlds — an arena that has appealed to me ever since I fell in love with Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz as a kid.
So how does Bartlett create a world so engaging that I can’t stop listening to the story? That I record on CD and then “read” three times in a row, twice for entertainment and once for technique? The answer is the magic of the basics: characters you care about what happens to in situations that make you wonder how it will all turn out. A flair for detail and surprising situations. It doesn’t hurt that his detectives are time travelers and that they seem to wander a territory like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
By the way, when I went looking for the website, I learned that the next in the Kilbey Salmon series, My Chalk Outline, has begun.