Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, August 2, 2013

Week ending August 2, 2013

starred review starGuthrie, A.B., Jr. The Big Sky. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14½ hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624062889. $19.99; digital download. F
The Big Sky, the first book in Guthrie’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Western series, was first published in 1947 to considerable praise. The novel tells the story of the West’s Mountain Man era through Boone Caudill, a Kentucky runaway who heads west to grow up with the country. Boone and traveling companions Jim Deakins and Dick Summers join a Missouri keelboat, become mountain trappers, and, ultimately, join with an Indian tribe until tragedy sends them back East to brood on the disappearing frontier. Guthrie’s fast-paced, gritty novel pulls no punches, and narrator Kevin Foley’s hard-hitting delivery matches the action.
Verdict This worthy audio treatment is essential for all Western audio collections.—Mark John Swails, Johnson Cty. Community Coll., Overland Park, KS

Hambly, Barbara. Good Man Friday. (Benjamin January, Bk. 12). 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624066177. $59.99; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Times are hard in 1838 New Orleans; with the end of the Bank of the United States, people are cash poor. Benjamin January, a French-trained physician–turned–musician and a free man of color, is having a tough time supporting his family. So he agrees to take on an assignment from Henri Viellard, the white protector of his sister Dominique, to go to Washington and look for a missing friend. January must deal with dangerous people and situations as he conducts his search. Hambly (Ran Away) delivers a skillfully woven blend of fact and fiction to create Benjamin January’s world, and she fills it with well-drawn characters. Kirsten Potter adds much to the listener’s enjoyment with her deft performance that makes you want to keep listening.
Verdict This is a strong series entry that will appeal to fans of both mysteries and historical fiction.—Cynthia Jensen, Gladys Harrington Lib., Plano, TX

Harris, Charlaine. Dead Ever After. (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk. 13). 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781449818142. $102.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In Harris’s (Deadlocked) final installment in her series about Louisiana waitress and telepath Sookie Stackhouse, a murder hits close to home for the town of Bon Temps. When Sookie falls under suspicion, old friends—and several enemies—come out of the woodwork. Many characters return from earlier titles, and as a result the story feels crowded, while some fan-favorite vamps get pushed to the side. Longtime fans of the series will either love or hate the way Harris ties up loose ends, but they will all want to find out what happens to Sookie. Narrator Johanna Parker channels Sookie’s down-home drawl perfectly.
Verdict Recommended for paranormal fiction readers and fans of the series in particular. [The Ace hc was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—Jen Talley, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor

Harvey, Michael. The Innocence Game. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804120500. $60; digital download. F
Three bright, ambitious, and naive journalism students enrolled in the exclusive “innocence graduate seminar” struggle to clear the name of a seemingly innocent man convicted of the murder of a young boy. Even though the crime occurred 14 years ago and the accused was killed in prison, Ian, Sarah, and Jake pursue the case, but someone with connections in the police department attempts to stop their investigation. Robbie Daymond and Robertson Dean do an excellent job reading the book. Their voices are very different, and the change in reader is disconcerting at first, but listeners will get used to it. Both readers keep the suspense and excitement level high.
Verdict Recommended for fans of legal thrillers and those interested in the pursuits of organizations such as the Innocence Project.—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland

Who Done It? ed. by Jon Scieszka. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 9780792798354. $64.95. F
Herman Q. Mildew is a renowned editor, mostly known for his cruelty toward the authors he works with, and he’s throwing a party at an abandoned pickle factory; he has blackmailed more than 80 authors into attending. Unsurprisingly, Mildew is found dead at the party. This anthology is composed of the suspects’ alibis, each entry written by one of the authors accused of the heinous—but possibly justified—crime. Contributing authors include Lemony Snicket, Dave Eggers, Lev Grossman, and John Green. The casual talk of murder and a few instances of understandable adult language make this anthology more suited for 12 year olds and up. Rebecca Gibel’s narrating is a bit theatrical, but considering she is impersonating a group of authors who are describing the wrongs inflicted upon them by an evil editor, it is appropriate. Listeners may want to start with Scieszka’s “Introductory Interrogation,” then skip around to their favorite authors’ contributions (try Patrick Carmen’s and Elizabeth Craft’s alibis), and end with the “Verdict,” which is also by Scieszka. The tracks are nicely laid out, with one for each author, which makes moving around a breeze.
Verdict Recommended for fans of YA and locked-room mysteries.—Samantha Matush, Clara B. Mounce P.L., Bryant, TX

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"