Week ending September 12, 2014
Cotterill, Colin. The Axe Factor. (Jimm Juree, Bk. 3). 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781622312993. $32.95; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; digital download. F
Jimm is trying to balance her investigation into the disappearance of two local women against a new romance with a charming foreign author, who is obsessed with axes, supposedly research for his latest crime novel. But as the oddities and threats pile up, Jimm discovers that her eccentric family is not the most challenging thing with which she has to deal. Excellent plotting, an exotic setting, understated humor, and memorable characters all add up to a gem of a story. Kim Mai Guest continues as narrator from the second installation (Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach) and leaves the listener with little doubt that anyone could be better for the role.
Verdict Cotterill is internationally known for a reason: his unforgettable stories. This will appeal to fans of the series and to fans of K.J. Larson’s Cat deLuca mysteries or Lisa Lutz’s “Spellman Files.”—Donna Bachowski, Orange Cty. Lib. Syst., Orlando, FL
De Sa, Anthony. Kicking the Sky. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9¾ hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781622312726. $34.95; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
It is 1977, and Toronto’s Portuguese community has been shaken by the murder of a boy who was promised a high-paying job by a group of men but instead was raped and murdered. In spite of the fear that crime engenders, a trio of 12-year-old boys is allowed to roam freely and totally unsupervised through their neighborhood, smoking cigarettes, stealing bicycles, and committing petty crimes. When a strange man moves in, the boys befriend him and begin working for him, knowing very little about why he is in their community. The story is told through the eyes of young Antonio, who learns a lot about judging people and figuring out whom to trust. De Sa grew up in a Portuguese neighborhood in Toronto and uses that experience to good effect; the real-life murder of a young boy, Emanuel Jaques, was the starting point for this novel. Narrator Thomas Marsh voices the various characters very impressively.
Verdict Recommended for fans of male coming-of age-stories and literary fiction. [“These heartfelt, intertwining stories depict the immigration of Antonio and his father, Manuel, to Canada, and deserves a key place in immigration literature. A complete success,” read the starred review of the Algonquin hc, LJ 4/1/14.]—Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI
DiLouie, Craig. Suffer the Children. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781494500276. $39.99; 9 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; digital download. F
A virus called Herod’s Syndrome suddenly causes all prepubescent children around the globe to drop dead, with no warning. Families and communities are left reeling, and nations are on the edge of economic collapse. As the world mourns the loss of an entire generation, sorrow turns to joy when the children begin returning from the dead. But the children are hungry, and desperate parents find that they are willing to sacrifice anything to quench that hunger. R.C. Bray gives a superb performance, reading with great feeling and energy, establishing a convincing foundation for the imagination. He uses multiple character inflections and intonations, so distinguishing the characters is effortless.
Verdict In this thought-provoking and horrific tale, DiLouie (The Killing Floor) offers a different spin on the postapocalyptic tale that is sure to delight readers of this genre. A great addition to libraries of any size.—JoAnn Funderburk, South Garland Branch Lib., TX
Koch, Herman. Summer House with Swimming Pool. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781480543799. $29.99; 10 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Filled with unlikable characters and told by a narrator who seems none too trustworthy, Koch’s second book to be published in America is in the same vein as the previous novel, The Dinner. In this new work, Ralph Meier, a famous actor, is dead, and his doctor Marc Schlosser may be at fault. Schlosser, the narrator of the novel, has a personal history with Meier and his family, a history full of sex, misogyny, and, ultimately, terrible violence. Actor Peter Berkrot perfectly captures Schlosser’s malicious and self-centered humor in a fine performance. As with The Dinner, this novel is being touted by some as a summertime thriller. It is closer, however, to a horror story, one that will not be to everyone’s taste. This is not the horror of monsters and demons; instead, the “things” we need to be most afraid of are the people around us.
Verdict Recommended to fans of unsettling literary fiction. [“Koch continues to illuminate ways in which our Freudian unconscious takes dreadful revenge on the ego, often disproportionate to the perceived slight,” read the starred review of the Hogarth: Crown hc, LJ 5/11/14.]—Wendy Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn
Mackrell, Judith. Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation. 15 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 18¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781490623740. $123.75; digital download. BIOG
After the devastations of World War I, the social and cultural milieu of the 1920s seemed to offer an autonomy and independence to women never before seen. Mackrell (Bloomsbury Ballerina) develops this theme by focusing on six women: British socialites Diana Cooper and Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, actress Tallulah Bankhead, entertainer Josephine Baker, and Russian painter Tamara de Lempicka. Entertaining and well researched, the six biographical threads are skillfully interwoven and cumulatively provide an illuminating portrait of the 1920s. Reader Julia Franklin has a rich, slightly arch British voice that suits the content very well, although she falters somewhat with the Southern accents required in the Bankhead and Fitzgerald sections.
Verdict Nevertheless, highly recommended for history and women’s studies collections.—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA
Quick, Amanda. Otherwise Engaged. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. ISBN 9781470368272. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Amity Doncaster is an accomplished Victorian-era travel writer whose quick wits make her a delightful foil for Benedict Stanbridge, the gentleman engineer and sometimes spy whose life she saves in the book’s opening. She nurses him back to health, and the two grow close as they sail from the island of Saint Clair to New York City. There they part ways, but rumors of their extended closeness reach London by the time Amity returns home, raising a minor scandal and leading to her being attacked by a serial killer called the Bridegroom. Upon Benedict’s return to London several weeks later, he is horrified to learn that their association has placed Amity in danger and convinces her to enter into a sham engagement with him to protect her from both gossip and the Bridegroom, who was injured but not captured during his attack on Amity. Veteran novelist Quick (a pen name of Jayne Ann Krentz) is in top form in this enjoyable blend of romance, mystery, and historical fiction. Narrator Louisa Jane Underwood does a great job of illustrating characters’ gender and class differences with only subtle changes in inflection.
Verdict Highly recommended for fans of romantic historical suspense. [“Intrigue and mystery abound in this witty, cleverly crafted tale that treats fans to a charming double romance and heralds Quick’s return to nonparanormal, suspenseful historicals—at least for the moment,” read the review of the Putnam hc, LJ 4/15/14.]—Nicole Williams, Rochelle Park Lib., NJ
Sandford, John & Michele Cook. Uncaged. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11¾ hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780553395501. $45; digital download. F
Bouncing from home to home in the foster care system, Shay Remby has had to worry only about herself and her autistic but brilliant brother, Odin. Then Odin calls Shay in the middle of the night. Distressed and talking about the horrible experiments of a company he and some animal rights activists hit, Odin says that he has to disappear for a while with one of the experiments, a dog. When the Singular agents disguised as the police come looking for Odin, Shay knows that he is in big trouble and that she must find him before they do. Sandford (Lucas Davenport novels) and Cook venture into the young adult genre with this fast-paced book, which launches the “Singular Menace” series. Narrator Tara Sands does a wonderful job voicing Shay, getting teenage sarcasm down perfectly.
Verdict Recommended for fans of crossover YA thrillers; adult and teen readers who enjoyed D.J. MacHale’s “Sylo” series will want to give this story a try.—Jessi Brown, Huntington City Twp. P.L., IN