We appear to be living in a golden age of crime stories, with podcasts and series galore, but this popular fascination is truly timeless, everlasting and ever evolving. L.R. Dorn’s debut novel, The Anatomy of Desire (8 hours), updates Theodore Dreiser’s classic 1925 crime drama, An American Tragedy, by using the documentary format to explore whether Instagram influencer Cleo Ray murdered her ex-girlfriend in the middle of a lake.
Dorn uses interview transcripts, director commentary and courtroom clips to strip away Cleo’s “all-American girl” social media personality and expose the traumas fueling her relentless ambition. This narrative structure is perfect for the audiobook format, and it’s compellingly and convincingly performed by a fine ensemble cast. Tony Award winner Santino Fontana stands out as the documentary director Duncan McMillan, and Marin Ireland portrays a formidable defense attorney, but Shelby Young absolutely shines as Cleo. From Cleo’s chirpy pretrial Instagram posts to her gut-wrenching testimony, Young delivers a performance that is as vulnerable as it is ruthless, as loving as it is spiteful.
Make some popcorn, settle in, and get ready to devour an extremely enjoyable story.