Soul of the Matter

Fiction - Audiobook
260 Pages
Reviewed on 04/25/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I grew up in California’s Ojai Valley in the 1950s. After graduating college in 1965 (UC Berkeley), I taught English for 3 years in a Chinese secondary school in Malaysian Borneo (Peace Corps).

I am an award-winning writer in the field of criminal justice, and have been published widely in such newspapers as The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, as well as in publications from The Nation and Progressive magazine, to Women’s World. My story about witnessing California’s first execution in the “modern era” (“The Unquiet Death of Robert Harris”) appeared as The Nation’s cover story on July 2, 1992 and in Utne Reader, Nov./Dec., 1992. Some of these pieces can be found on my web page:

I have written one memoir (Beijing and Beyond) about a tour of China’s criminal justice system in the post-Mao era, and this, my first novel (Soul of the Matter).

Currently, I lead writing workshops in numerous Bay Area juvenile halls.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Soul of the Matter is a work of psychological mystery, suicide and personal drama penned by author Michael A. Kroll, and narrated in audiobook format by its author. Its central character is Harrison Ovitz, a compassionate man who finds himself witnessing the suicide of another man on the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. When the aptly-dubbed Soul Man throws himself into the murky waters, Harrison is so powerfully affected that it begins a quest to know more about the fascinating figure and understand his incredible past and what might have led him to such a dire fate.

Author Michael A. Kroll writes with a great sense of relatability for his characters, giving them unique turns of phrase and those little personal touches in the narration that make them feel truly real. The origin and development of JJ / Soul Man’s story are delivered in a great piece-by-piece format that is sure to keep readers interested, and this is accompanied by wonderful atmospheric details of the location that add to the emotional highs and lows of the tale.

In terms of audiobook quality, the author really knows what he wants from Harrison and connects us very deeply to the central figure’s thoughts and emotions. We are transported by a convincing narrative voice to see everything through his eyes, and the voice work on other characters was distinctive and sincere. The overall quality and mastering are also excellent, so as not to detract from a fantastic story. Overall, Soul of the Matter is both a harrowing and compelling listening experience and comes highly recommended for mystery and drama fans everywhere.