Black, Lisa. Defensive Wounds. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781611203837. $59.99; 8 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. MYS
This fourth novel featuring forensic investigator Theresa MacLean starts out with the death of a defense attorney. While the police shed few tears for the aggressive and determined lawyer, the investigative team put their feelings aside to work through several hundred possible suspects as the murder occurred in a hotel hosting a defense-attorney convention. When a second and then a third lawyer who attended the same gathering are found dead, the investigation becomes more difficult as the connection among the three must be the motive. MacLean’s daughter, who works at the hotel, might be in danger because of her newfound friend with a sealed juvenile record. Narrator Kristen Potter does a masterly job of blending the young/old, female/male characters in a performance that is smooth and well integrated to the story. For mystery and C.S.I. fans.‚ J. Sara Paulk, Wythe-Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA
Bohjalian, Chris. The Night Strangers. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307940797. $40; 1 MP3-CD. library ed. Recorded Bks.; 11 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. THRILLER
Bohjalian’s 15th novel opens with the crash landing of a jet into Lake Champlain and then plunges his characters into a desolate Victorian house in Bethel, NH. The surviving pilot, Chip Linton, is haunted not just with posttraumatic stress disorder but with his new home and the mysterious and very helpful neighbors who take a special interest in his ten-year-old twin girls and wife. The author moves from the pilot’s second-person narration that allows listeners to view the crash in multiple ways, as well as his obsession with the cellar door sealed shut with 39 carriage bolts, to the various views of his family and neighbors, creating a modern gothic novel. The story is enhanced by the masterly readers, as Mark Bramhill in particular strikes the right chords with Chip and Alison Fraser with the herbalists and the twins. The audiobook includes an interview with Bohjalian and executive producer/director Kelly Gildea. Recommended. [Bohjalian (Secrets of Eden) has crafted a genre-defying novel, both a compelling story of a family in trauma and a psychological thriller that is truly frightening, read the starred review of the New York Times best-selling Crown hc, LJ 6/15/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo
Burke, James Lee. Feast Day of Fools. 14 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 16¬º hrs. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9781461805786. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; 14 CDs. retail ed. S. & S. Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In this third book in the Hack Holland series (Lay Down My Sword and Shield; Rain Gods), the ongoing war between good and evil is ratcheted up as Hack faces threats from many sides. He will be revisited by some of the most evil men he has known, and around every turn there will be yet more danger in his small Texas border town. Will Patton gives his usual perfect performance, and the reader will soon begin to realize that this book is Burke at his best. He has won the Edgar Award twice, and three of his books have been made into movies. [This rich novel will satisfy Burke's fans and should draw new ones who have not yet had the privilege of reading his works, read the review of the New York Times best-selling S. & S. hc, LJ 8/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ. Lib., Russellville
Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One. 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15¬Ω hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307970060. $40; 13 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. SF
Likable teenager Wade Watts lives in a depressing, hopeless world in the year 2044. He escapes his dismal reality by logging into the Oasis, a virtual world created by the now deceased James Halliday. Before dying, Halliday initiated a virtual contest whose solution is hidden in late 20th-century pop culture, with the winner inheriting Halliday’s immense fortune. Wil Wheaton, Wesley Crusher on TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, does an excellent job reading this sf coming-of-age novel, capturing Wade’s tension and determination. Recommended for sf and 20th-century pop culture aficionados. [This debut is a great geek beach book, an unapologetic romp with brains and style, read the review of the New York Times best-selling Crown hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 7/7/11; the Broadway pb will publish in June 2012.‚ Ed.]‚ Ilka Gordon, Siegal Coll. of Judaic Studies Lib., Cleveland
Ebert, Roger. Life Itself. 12 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781609410353. $34.98; digital download. AUTOBIOG/FILM
Ebert, one of the most influential film critics of our time, has written an engaging memoir that is poignant and richly reflective. He recounts his vivid childhood memories of growing up in Urbana, IL, getting into the newspaper business as a teenager, and, of course, his career at the Chicago Sun-Times, which led to At the Movies, his popular television show with the late Gene Siskel. Lovingly eloquent essays profile some of the greats of show business with whom he became acquainted‚ John Wayne, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Mitchum, and others. He writes with remarkable candor about personal issues such as struggles with alcoholism (both he and his mother), his marriage, his views on religion and politics, and his bout with thyroid cancer resulting in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, and speak. Excellently narrated by Tony and Emmy Award‚ winning actor Edward Herrmann, Ebert’s story is highly recommend for fans of biography and film. [Of most interest to those fascinated by the old-time legendary leading men of Hollywood and to movie fans influenced by Ebert's often acerbic film critiques, read the review of the New York Times best-selling Grand Central hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 8/15/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence
Marlantes, Karl. What It Is Like To Go to War. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781455114108. $38; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
Yale- and Oxford-educated Marlantes (Matter horn) served as a Marine infantry officer in Vietnam and here presents his very personal and emotional musings on the nature of war, courage, and all the multiple and often contradictory emotions one endures in combat. His point is that while we prepare our warriors in the technical and tactical aspects of war, we do not prepare them for the emotional toll that it will exact from those who survive. Bronson Pinchot reads with a relatively soft and understated baritone that is actually quite engaging. He becomes, in this performance, Marlantes‚ recalling incidents of combat and the horror and exhilaration that one withstands. Public, academic, and military libraries should purchase. [Humanizing, empathetic, and wise, this reading experience will light corners in the human experience often judged dark, read the review, also starred, of the New York Times best-selling Atlantic Monthly hc, LJ 9/15/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll. Lib., Lynchburg
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The following titles are reviewed in the February print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.
Block, Lawrence. Not Comin’ Home to You. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 6¬Ω hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781611203981. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. MYS
Block is one of the best American crime writers. His Matt Scudder tough guy stories, Bernie Rhodenbarr comic burglar yarns, and early hard-boiled tales are uniformly excellent. Block tried something different in this 1976 novel inspired by the 1958 Charles Starkweather murder spree. For unexplained reasons, 22-year-old Jimmie John Hall begins roaming the American West shooting people. Along the way, he is joined by teenager Betty Dienhardt, who is eager to escape an unhappy home life. The writing, as always, is excellent, especially in Jimmie John’s accounts of two incidents toward the end, but Block seems more concerned with sociology than psychology. That such stories of serial killers have become more commonplace undercuts some of Block’s dramatic tension. Award-winning narrator Alan Sklar employs a slightly sing-song approach, with inflections rising at the ends of sentences for no obvious reason, further weakening the novel’s impact. Only Block devotees are likely to be interested.‚ Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Lib.
Brandman, Michael. Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues: A Jesse Stone Novel. 4 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 4¬Ω hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307751553. $32; 4 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. F
This title is the tenth entry in Parker’s Jesse Stone series. Brandman, Parker’s longtime television collaborator, was chosen by the Parker estate to continue the series, with mixed results. Jesse, the police chief in small-town Paradise, MA, here stoically faces a crime wave, including car thefts, nighttime pet-nappings, and high school bullying, as the summer tourist season gets rolling. Jesse also embarks on a romance with a woman who might be on the wrong side of the law. Narrator James Naughton contributes a spare, no-nonsense voice, reminiscent of the TV series Stone, Tom Selleck. Despite Brandman’s authorship, this title will be popular owing to Parker’s continuing appeal. Recommended. [The Putnam hc, published in September, was a New York Times best seller.‚ Ed.]‚ Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA
Brown, Sandra. Lethal. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12¬Ω hrs. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9781609419172. $45.75; 8 CDs.
library ed. abridged. NA hrs.; 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. Hachette Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In this potboiler, undercover FBI agent Lee Coburn is framed for a brutal multiple murder, which he witnessed and escaped. Lee pursues his original investigation while on the run, trying to identify the local kingpin behind the transportation of illegal drugs. His probe collides with the quiet lives of a young widow and her daughter, who are scooped up into his plight. Unfortunately, the plot is quick, but contrived; the characters are memorable but cartoonish; the reading by actor Victor Slezak is adequate but uninspired. Libraries should buy only as demand warrants. [Fast paced and full of surprises, this taut thriller features a large cast of superbly drawn characters and the perfect amounts of realistic dialog and descriptive prose, read the more positive starred review of the New York Times best-selling Grand Central hc, LJ 7/11; the Grand Central pb will publish this month.‚ Ed.]‚ Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA
Ewan, Chris. The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. AudioGO. 2011. ISBN 9780792780649. $64.95;
digital download. MYS
Ewan’s Charlie Howard series is unusual because the protagonist both writes crime novels about a burglar and is one himself. Each tale is set in a different city. In this second outing, Howard, in Paris to publicize his latest work, is finagled into stealing a painting of no obvious value. Soon, he discovers that nothing is as it seems and finds himself suspected of murder. Howard is a delightful creation‚ smart, clever, and a bit na√Øve. Simon Vance, an excellent reader of thrillers, ably conveys the character’s mixture of duplicity, bumbling innocence, and charm. Ewan provides light entertainment with a bit of an edge while capturing the glamour and magic of the setting. This program should appeal to fans of thieves, exotic locales, and, especially, Lawrence Block’s similar Bernie Rhodenbarr novels.‚ Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Lib.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Five by Fitzgerald. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5 hrs. AudioGO. 2011. ISBN 9780792782452. $54.95; digital download. SHORT STORIES
Whether you are revisiting these classic stories or just discovering them, this audio presentation is excellent. Narrators Bronson Pinchot and Stephen Thorne avoid any melodrama and let the listener detect Fitzgerald’s irony. Bernice Bobs Her Hair offers an awkward country girl seeking advice from her snobby city cousin in order to become popular with the country club set. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the fantastic tale of a man who lives his life in reverse: born an old man, he dies as an infant. In A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, John Unger goes out West to spend the summer with a prep school classmate. That family’s Montana compound is on a mountain-sized diamond. The extravagance that this fabulous wealth affords comes at the price of a siege mentality and an explosive end. Dalrymple Goes Wrong concerns a war hero who basks too long in celebrity. Unable to find a job that provides the kind of living he thinks he deserves, he becomes a successful criminal. In Head and Shoulders, Horace Tarbox is a gifted teenage scholar, studying philosophy at Princeton. He answers a knock on his door to find Marcia, a chorus girl. Improbably, they fall in love and marry. All told, a treat for fans of short stories and the inimitable Fitzgerald.‚ Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL
King, Stephen. 11/22/63. 25 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 30¬æ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9781461805835. $123.75; 3 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds. Recorded Bks./S. & S. Audio; digital download. F
The interesting accents of actor Craig Wasson bring King’s time-travel, what-if novel to life. Maine English teacher Jake Epping learns of a time-travel portal in the pantry of a friend’s diner. He is urged to go back and prevent the 1963 Kennedy assassination. It takes several attempts for Jake to get the hang of changing things in the past because at times it seems that the past doesn’t want to be changed‚ it can be best to leave it alone! Interesting period detail brings this era into focus, and King subtly alludes to his other novels, including Christine and It, through mentions of characters. This book is recommended to King’s fans, historic fiction listeners, and speculative fiction devotees. Of interest is the afterword read by the author himself. [King remains an excellent storyteller, and his evocation of mid-20th-century America is deft, read the review of the New York Times best-selling Scribner hc, LJ 9/15/11.‚ Ed.]‚ David Faucheux, Louisiana Audio Information & Reading Svc., Lafayette
Cooper, Andrew Scott. The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East. 16 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 19¬æ hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307970640. $50; 16 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. HIST
This long and detailed history chronicles the rise of Saudi Arabia and Iran as oil powers and how they began to use that resource as a tool to achieve their goals on the international stage. Using recently declassified and other source materials, Cooper depicts the sordid world of which politics is made. Still, this work helps to put current events in the Middle East in historical context. Narrator Rob Shapiro’s deeply resonant, sonorous bass-baritone conveys a deliberate, confident pace. He is able to read the vast number of names accurately; his voice is a nice match of text and reader that will keep a listener’s interest. Public libraries may wish to consider.‚ Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll. Lib., Lynchburg
Garner, James & Jon Winokur. The Garner Files. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9¬Ω hrs. Tantor Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781452634913. $62.99; 8 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. AUTOBIOG/TV
Actor Garner, whose television series Maverick and The Rockford Files endeared him to millions of fans, looks back on his life and career in this candid memoir. He writes about his difficult childhood in Norman, OK, his military service in Korea, and his foray into acting in the late 1950s, a profession that he was at first reluctant to follow. He reflects on his experiences (both good and bad) with costars, his legal conflicts with Hollywood studios, his politics, and his passion for racing cars and golf. Colleagues, friends, and family supply anecdotes in the final chapter. Narrator Michael Kramer effectively captures the actor’s easygoing manner and humor. Recommended for Garner fans and those who enjoy celebrity memoirs. [An enjoyable look into the life of one of our most beloved actors. Recommended for all libraries, read the review of the New York Times best-selling S. & S. hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 11/10/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence
Oboler, Arch. Catwife and Baby: Provocative Dramas. 1 CD. retail ed. unabridged. 1 hr. Abaton Bk. Co. 2011. UPC 675130545822. $6. DRAMA
Obler was a popular radio playwright in the 1930s and 1940s, writing largely for radio although he did experience success in television and film. This recording contains two radio plays that are definitely dated and quite odd. Catwife is the story of a man who learns that his wife only married him for his money. He tells her she’s a cat, and, lo and behold, she is turned into one. She’s a pretty loud and whiny critter, causing him trouble with neighbors. He ends up murdering one and is blinded by the cat before he shoots her. It’s all very weird and old-fashioned. Baby is mostly a monolog by a young wife who has just learned she is pregnant. Heading home, she worries about telling her feckless husband. She also worries that the inevitability of war means future sorrow for her child. Still, the story ends happily. The actors in this multicharacter reading give it their all.The sound effects, organ music, and dated methods of storytelling create the impression that one is listening to old-time radio. Strictly a marginal purchase.‚ B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L., Goleta Branch, CA
Steinberg, Jacques. You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781452634234. $83.99; 9 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. SPORTS
As he did in The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College, Steinberg follows six subjects through a rigorous set of tasks. This time, instead of gaining admission to a Little Ivy League school, it’s completing Ironman Arizona in 2009. Detailed background profiles of the triathletes show that each came to the event for different reasons ranging from the mundane to the inspiring. Former couch potato Bryan, for example, was getting in shape after he was declared a heart attack waiting to happen. Scott, however, loved challenging himself after a double lung transplant that stemmed from his lifelong struggle against cystic fibrosis. Because the book bounces back and forth among the athletes’ stories, training regimens, and lives, it’s sometimes difficult to keep track. Steinberg doesn’t miss an opportunity to dramatize the difficulty of the sport; though some of this comes from the competitors themselves, it quickly becomes grating. Kirby Heyborne clearly and carefully narrates, but the overly serious tone makes for a slow listen. This is an optional purchase for libraries where triathlon is popular. [The Penguin pb will publish in June 2012.‚ Ed.]‚ Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Middletown