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The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & the Currently Accepted Habits of Nature - Audiobook Review

The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & the Currently Accepted Habits of Nature, by David Niall Wilson, read by Joe Geoffrey. Unabridged (3 hrs, 32 min) Crossroad Press, 2010

Not much happens in the backwater town of Old Mill, North Carolina. It’s so quiet that Jasper, the local air-conditioner repairman, decides to let his customers swelter just one more day while he goes fishing. But on his arrival at his favorite fishing hole, Jasper discovers a partially submerged body in the middle of his fishing spot. The upper torso and head are hidden under the dark water and Jasper has no desire to see what lies beneath.

Because he pre-tuned for an afternoon of fishing with a few beers, reporting this situation to the local sheriff is not an option. So Jasper heads over to the trailer of his best friend, Cletus J. Diggs. Cletus is a man of many monikers, telling anyone who will listen that he’s an ordained minister, a common law attorney, a private investigator, and a writer for the Weekly Globe Examiner.

Cletus and the Sheriff agree to meet at the crime scene, where they decide they should pull the corpse out of the water. What lies under the water is not what they expect – it’s not even human! Both men are horrified to see the head of a deer (an eight-point, white-tailed buck, to be exact) sitting neatly atop a human body. The state police are called in to investigate, and while they search for a crazed taxidermist, Cletus knows that it’s going to be up to him to solve this mystery. 

So begins a bizarre who-done-it tale that delivers a delightful mix of humor and horror, with the author skillfully balancing what some might consider two emotional extremes. You never know if the next scene is going to be terribly gruesome or cleverly funny, providing an unusual element of surprise that keeps you hanging on every word.  

Narrator Joe Geoffrey does his part to make this unlikely story come to life. His work especially shines when voicing the good ol’ boy characters that Cletus enlists to help him investigate the mystery. Bob, Jasper, Pap, and Earl have accents that would make any redneck proud (and being from Kentucky, I can say this with authority). Geoffrey’s voice is a deep, rumbling bass that is pleasant on the ears. He also does a great job with pacing and intonation, which helps listeners appreciate the humorous asides and off-handed comments liberally sprinkled throughout the book.

As the story unfolds, clues as to the whereabouts of the perpetrators of the crime point toward Eternity, a reclusive community on the edge of the swamp that doesn’t welcome strangers. There’s something about Eternity’s First Church of Light and Starry Wisdom that just doesn’t seem right and Cletus is determined to find out what it is. Before it’s all over, Cletus must deal with a kidnapping, a swamp witch, mad scientists, an ancient pagan fertility god, and a possible alien abduction.

Although these familiar horror/science fiction elements might, at first glance, seem a bit trite, the author effectively uses them to drive the story forward. And best of all, he gives the characters enough personality that they can make you believe (or at least enjoy) each and every situation Cletus and his buddies manage to get themselves into – paranormal, abnormal, or otherwise. It’s a short, fun and entertaining listen.  

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