Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, September 27, 2013

Week ending September 27, 2013

starred review starCrowley, Roger. City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781461842729. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; digital download. HIST
After covering the fall of Constantinople (Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453) and the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century (Empire of the Sea), Crowley returns to the world of the early modern Mediterranean, this time exploring the vibrant republic of Venice. Crowley’s opulent tale ably traces the great power’s rise and fall, from the 1204 sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade to the waning of the Venetian empire during the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499–1503. In between, the lagoon dwellers engage in a mad scramble for wealth, battling pirates, taking on the rising Genoese, and fighting counterinsurgencies in their quest for hegemony in the Mediterranean basin. Edoardo Ballerini brings his honeyed tone, complete with rich Italian accent, to Crowley’s splendid tale of corporate greed on the high seas.
Verdict An excellent diversion, recommended to readers of Mediterranean and Italian history as well fans of Thomas Madden’s Venice: A New History.—Brian Odom, Birmingham, AL

Hood, Ann. The Obituary Writer. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781470842765. $ 69; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Hood’s (Red Thread) historical novel allow listeners to connect with events that affect and strengthen the characters. In the 1960s, young pregnant mother Claire is trying to decide whether to leave a safe but dull marriage for a man she loves. In 1919, Vivien Lowe is searching for her lover, who disappeared in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Through her obituary writing, Vivien helps others work through their grief and also comes to terms with her own loss. The women actually share the same purpose of leaving their past and moving forward with their future. Tavia Gilbert’s narration brings the characters to life.
Verdict All in all, a lovely story that will leave listeners feeling hopeful and with smiles on their faces. Recommended to listeners of historical fiction. [“Pushcart Prize winner Hood artfully blends two stories that converge in an emotional, poignant ending.… A well-constructed story leading readers from secrets of the past toward illuminating truths of the present,” read the starred review of the Norton hc, LJ 2/15/13.—Ed.]—Doodie Taylor-Knox, Coleman, TX

Läckberg, Camilla. The Stranger. (Patrik Hedström, Bk. 4). 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611746266. $36.95; 9 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
In Läckberg’s (The Stone Cutter) latest novel featuring Patrik Hedström, detective in the Tanumshede police station, and his partner, Erica Falck, Patrik must investigate the car accident that killed a local resident. The victim was a teetotaler, but her postmortem blood tests show she was at several times the legal limit. Meanwhile, a reality TV show is filming in the district, with producers encouraging drama and conflict. When one of the young stars is killed, chaos ensues for the Tanumshede police. Läckberg’s strength so far has been her ability to build exciting, plot-driven drama on the back of conflict and damage inflicted in the distant past, and The Stranger is no exception.
Verdict Simon Vance is new to the series and provides a great reading, though with a noticeably more Anglicized pronunciation style than in the readings of Läckberg’s previous novels. Still, not to be missed. Highly recommended. [“Läckberg presents a change from the usual Nordic mystery in her protagonist Patrik Hedström, who’s not the typical deeply flawed, moody, and despairing character many detectives are in this genre. Highly recommended for Läckberg’s many devotees as well as fans of cozy police procedurals,” read the starred review of the Pegasus Crime hc, LJ 3/1/13.—Ed.]—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA

Olsson, Linda. The Memory of Love. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470326364. $77.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. F
Beautifully narrated by British actress Susan Lyons, this haunting story moves back and forth from the present to the near past to the distant past. All the scenes are memories that have been compartmentalized in the mind of Marion, a 50-year-old doctor who lives in a rugged, coastal area of New Zealand. She only begins to examine the memories when she befriends a young, abused boy she meets on the beach and later saves from drowning, turning her attention to thoughts of family members, friends, and lovers in order to make sense of the past. Lyons’s narration is deliberate and introspective, like the novel. She does a masterly job of using pauses, tone, and expression to match the author’s writing.
Verdict Highly recommended for public library collections.—Karen Perry, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro

Todd, Charles. Proof of Guilt. (Ian Rutledge, Bk. 15). 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 9780792796886. $74.95; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Insp. Ian Rutledge is at the top of his form in Todd’s latest (after The Confession), puzzling his way through a convoluted mystery and avoiding getting caught up in the internal politics of Scotland Yard. Two unidentified bodies, two missing men, and a jilted woman who makes a suspiciously ideal suspect form only part of the puzzle that has Rutledge chasing even the most minor clues. As the series develops, his souvenirs of World War I—shell shock and a resident ghost—seem to be loosening their control over his life, but an inconvenient flashback has him briefly in the trenches again. Award-winning narrator Simon Prebble performs with his usual excellence.
Verdict This program will appeal to current Todd fans and would stand alone for listeners unfamiliar with the series.—Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC

Zahn, Timothy. Scoundrels: Star Wars. MP3 digital download. retail ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Random Audio. 2013. ISBN 9780449808351. $22.50; MP3 digital download. library ed. Recorded Bks.; 13 CDs. library/retail eds. F
Led by smuggler Han Solo, a group of nefarious characters, past friends, and possible enemies come together to perform a heist of credits from a highly visible and influential member of a crime syndicate. This caper story is filled with the requisite assemblage of specialists, complicated plans, unforeseen plot twists, questioned loyalties, and plenty of action—all firmly set in the beloved world of Star Wars. Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian lend expertise and more than a few sarcastic one-liners to this rollicking adventure. Reader Marc Thompson’s dramatic presentation coupled with the familiar background noises, sound effects, and music found in the movies and television series draw listeners into the journey. Occasionally the background noise is so faint that the volume must be raised to get the full atmospheric effect. Thompson offers fully individualized voices for each of the novels’ multitude of characters.
Verdict This is a true treat for fans of the Star Wars expanded universe, for families looking for a group listening experience, and for individuals who enjoy fast-moving adventure.—Lisa Youngblood, Harker Heights P.L., 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"