Donoghue, Emma. Astray. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. AudioGO. 2012. ISBN 9781619695313. $54.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Elephant trainers, counterfeiters, prostitutes, and slaves are among the intriguing historical characters who wander the pages of Irish author Donoghue’s short stories. Each of the restless characters goes astray in search of love, money, security, or a better life. In a fascinating afterword, Donoghue reveals that the idea for the collection came from her own experiences as an emigrant (she moved from Dublin to England and then to Canada). Each tale is based on an event or person whose story the author unearthed from an old newspaper or archive and is followed by information on some of the research involved. Many of these richly detailed shorts are told in the first person, and the fabulous cadre of narrators (James Langton, Khristine Hvam, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren, and Dion Graham) bring these little gems vividly to life. VERDICT For all fans of literary or historical fiction. [“Working in a different vein from the wrenching Room, Donoghue has created masterly pieces that show what short fiction can do. Not just for devotees of the form,” read the review of the Little, Brown hc, LJ 6/15/12.—Ed.]—Beth Farrell, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib.
Hammett, Dashiell. Return of the Thin Man. 6 CDs. retail. ed. unabridged. 7¼ hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611749090. $34.95; 1 MP3 CD. retail ed.; 6 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
HighBridge Audio, the answer to hard-boiled mystery lovers’ dreams for more than a year with its outstanding “Black Mask Stories” series, now offers a double dose of Dash! This fun package sports Hammett’s two detailed treatments for sequels to the film adaptation of his novel The Thin Man (TTM) featuring ace detective Nick Charles and his wife, Nora. After the Thin Man picks up directly at TTM’s conclusion, while Another Thin Man is set roughly two years later and finds the couple with infant Nick Jr. While not fully fleshed-out novels, the dual treatments are significant to American letters as Hammett’s last two pieces of long writing. There’s additional scholarly merit in a lengthy introduction by top Hammett biographer Richard Layman and afterwords by the master’s granddaughter Julie M. Rivett. A bonus is Hammett’s brief description of a possible TTM sequel incorporating the lead characters from the original novel and film. Narrator Scott Brick and an ensemble cast perform both titles, with Peter Gamin as an overly droll Nick, Nicola Barber as Nora, and a bevy of others. VERDICT Offering two solid mysteries plus scholarly extras, Return of the Thin Man is a hunk of Hammett heaven worth celebrating. Drinks are on Nick and Nora!—Mike Rogers, Library Journal
Tereba, Tere. Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452609560. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. BIOG/TRUE CRIME
Tereba presents a fascinating account of the interconnection among organized crime, politics, and Hollywood. Mickey Cohen (1913–76), a rough kid who unsuccessfully tried his hand at boxing, later became involved in organized crime and rose through the ranks in the Cleveland, New York, and Los Angeles mobs. When Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was murdered in 1947, Cohen stepped in and took control of most of the criminal activity in L.A. The colorful Cohen enjoyed fancy clothes, publicity, gambling, and rubbing shoulders with movie stars and producers, the police, and politicians. However, he was hampered by infighting among mobsters and constantly hounded by federal investigations that resulted in his being jailed twice for tax evasion. Another inmate attacked Cohen during his second prison stay, leaving him permanently disabled. This fascinating audiobook provides an excellent overview of racketeering and how it shaped L.A. during the middle of the 20th century. Narrator Kate Reading does an excellent job of presenting the story. VERDICT This work is recommended to anyone interested in true crime. [“For readers who revel in old movies, stories about gangsters in double-breasted suits, and midcentury Los Angeles,” read the review of the ECW hc, LJ5/1/12. Sean Penn’s new film Gangster Squad about the life of Cohen should attract attention to this title as well.—Ed.]—Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Parkersburg Lib.
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The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Fiffer, Sharon. Lucky Stuff. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7½ hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611227590. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. MYS
Gillham, David R. City of Women. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611761276. $39.95; digital download. F
Grant, Donna. Midnight’s Master. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452609065. $83.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. ROMaNCE
Hubbard, L. Ron. The Black Sultan. ISBN 9781592121458.
Hubbard, L. Ron. The Devil with Wings. ISBN 9781592123100.
ea. vol: 2 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 2 hrs. Galaxy Audio. 2013. $12.95; digital download. F
Thomason, Dustin. 12.21. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Random Audio. 2012. ISBN 9780449011591. $45; digital download. THRILLER
Bechtle, Mike. People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5¼ hrs. Oasis Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781613752654. $22.99; digital download. SELF-HELP
Johnson, Paul. Darwin: Portrait of a Genius. 4 CDs. library ed. 4½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2012. ISBN 9781464046605. $51.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. BIOG
McPherson, James M. War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861–1865. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9¼ hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781470827359. $90; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
Schwalbe, Will. The End of Your Life Book Club. 8 CDs. library ed. 9½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 9780449806654. $35; digital download. MEMOIR
Young, Neil. Waging Heavy Peace. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. Penguin Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611761139. $39.95; 9 CDs. library ed. MEMOIR/MUSIC