Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, June 7, 2013

Week ending June 7, 2013

Baldacci, David. Total Control. 15 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 18 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9780788798528. $123.75; Playaway digital; digital download. F
The night that a plane crash kills 181 souls including her husband, Jason, Sidney Archer is unwittingly thrust into a tailspin of her own. When the FBI fingers Jason as the plane’s saboteur, other deceptions are revealed, and Sidney is forced to seek the truth. After receiving a shocking phone call from Jason telling her that he is innocent and to trust no one, Sidney employs her skills as a high-powered corporate attorney on a dangerous quest to prove her husband’s innocence. Sidney avoids the FBI and skirts those who would see her dead. Her only hope is a password-protected floppy disk containing information that can prove her husband’s innocence. Given that Baldacci published this best seller in 1997, story elements central to the plot are quite dated, making the novel somewhat anticlimactic. Narrator Jonathan Marosz reads well and gives this outdated tale the energy it needs to keep listeners intrigued.
Verdict Not recommended for small libraries with limited space and budgets. However, libraries collecting a larger scope of popular authors’ works might consider adding this audiobook for their die-hard Baldacci fans. [“No one is immune here from high-tech snooping and violent death. Baldacci writes strictly for action, not wasting time developing characters or setting. Few books have higher heaps of dead millionaires at their conclusion,” read the review of the Warner hc, LJ 1/97.—Ed.]—JoAnn Funderburk, South Garland Branch Lib., TX

Banville, John. Ancient Light. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9¾ hrs. Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 9780449013441. $35; digital download. F
Retired actor Alexander Cleave plumbs his memory to describe his first “love,” a 15-year-old’s unlikely affair with his best friend’s mother. Early on, Alex confides he is sure that the affair’s inevitable discovery will be devastating to both, spending the greater part of the novel (with many close calls) elsewhere before revealing that discovery. All this relates somehow to the shaping—or misshaping—of Alex’s psyche in relation to his daughter, Cass, featured in two prior Alexander Cleave novels, who died by suicide. Despite the sordid plot and a muddled subplot involving Alex costarring in a motion picture, the book is given a terrific reading by Robin Sachs.
Verdict This will likely be of considerable interest to award-winning author Banville’s (The Infinities) fans and so is recommended for adult fiction collections.—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

Delinsky, Barbara. Chances Are. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7¼ hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624064951. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds. F
New York City publicist Liz Jerome is happy with her successful career and her friendships, and she feels she is finally in control of her life. When she is assigned to handle a tough public relations issue for Donovan Grant’s company, however, she starts to feel that control slip away. Donovan has no qualms about blurring the line between professional and personal, and he makes it clear he’ll stop at nothing in pursuit of Liz.
Verdict What may have seemed like attractive male sexual dominance upon the book’s original 1985 release now reads more like cringe-worthy workplace harassment and sexual assault. While Breeda Kelly Miller reads the text with ample nuance and feeling, there are plenty of newer, better romance titles that will leave readers feeling much more satisfied.—Amy Koester, St. Charles City-Cty. Lib. Dist, Wentzville, MO

Parker, T. Jefferson. The Famous and the Dead. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781455818075. $69.97; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy Charlie Hood works undercover for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to try to slow the flow of guns over the U.S.-Mexico border. The sixth and final volume in the Hood series (after The Jaguar) attempts to resolve issues and character relationships from the earlier books and will almost certainly be puzzling to those unfamiliar with the saga. Despite occasional bursts of violence and intrusions by the supernatural, this thriller runs at a pace that is unusually slow for the genre. David Colacci’s expert handling of voices and accents is more impressive than Parker’s sometimes sluggish tale.
Verdict Recommended only for fans of the series, and they may be disappointed by the conclusion. [“Parker pulls it all together in a rather complex plotline that first-time readers might find confusing and slow-paced for a police procedural. But series fans will want this,” read the review of the New York Times best-selling Dutton hc, LJ 3/1/13.—Ed.]—Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr., New York

Wolfe, Inger Ash. A Door in the River: A Hazel Micallef Mystery. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. AudioGO, 2012. ISBN 9780792791676. $74.95; digital download. F
A local man’s death is pegged as anaphylaxis from an insect bite until Canadian detective inspector Hazel Micallef’s sleuthing proves it was a homicide. The murder investigation leads her team to a sex-trafficking business that places her officers in grave danger. This third Hazel Micallef mystery, featuring the testy, 60ish detective with a tendency to bend rules, continues a story line that began in The Calling. It was accompanied by the announcement that Inger Ash Wolfe is actually a pseudonym for award-winning novelist Michael Redhill (Consolation). Narrator Bernadette Dunne inhabits each character and their moods with an actor’s finesse.
Verdict Mystery and police procedural fans will be gripped by Wolfe’s unpredictable and somewhat grueling plot, as unable to foresee its conclusion as Detective Micallef herself. [“For fans and new readers, this is another solid series entry. New readers should start with the earlier books,” read the review of the Pegasus Crime hc, LJ 9/15/12.—Ed.]—Judith Robinson, Univ. at Buffalo

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"


  1. Pamelyn Wooten says:

    What a great review by Mrs. Funderburk! It was refreshing to read a review that was based on honesty.

  2. Kristin Curtis says:

    I am not normally interested in government-cover up conspiracy novels but Mrs. Funderburk piqued my interest with her review of “Total Control”. I’ll probably check it out! :)

    • JoAnn Funderburk says:

      Good to hear that you are considering trying a genre outside your normal reading interests. Enjoy!

  3. Gina says:

    Enjoyed the Funderburk review…good to see such honesty and balance. Don’t think I’ll read this one but look forward to Mrs. Funderburk’s next review.