Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, October 4, 2013

Week ending October 4, 2013

starred review starKeane, Mary Beth. Fever. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470344825. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed. S. & S. Audio. digital download. F
Since the early 20th century, Typhoid Mary has been a punch line in the American public consciousness. Robustly healthy herself, Mary didn’t realize she was infecting the wealthy families for whom she served as cook. Thanks to an emerging science called epidemiology, her role was pinpointed and, for the last 23 years of her life, she was kept under house arrest in a hospital. Keane (The Walking People) here uses historical and court records to bring to life Irish immigrant Mary Mallon’s story. The detail with which she invokes Mary’s point of view merges with narrator Candace Thaxton’s Irish brogue, transforming Mary from historical cipher to fully wrought person the listener will care about and even root for.
Verdict The result is hauntingly vivid; an affecting read that spans history, medical mystery, and even love. Highly recommended.—Judith Robinson, Univ. at Buffalo

Kinsella, Sophie. Wedding Night. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385361682. $40; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Kinsella, the best-selling novelist of the “Shopaholic” series, offers yet one more hysterical comedy. Devastated by another failed romance, Lottie decides to take a more traditional approach to obtaining a husband—marriage first, sex later. When providence brings her ex-fling Ben back into her life, he is just the man for the job. Meanwhile, Sophie’s big sister Fliss, embittered by her recent divorce, is determined to protect her little sister. Using her clout in the travel industry, Fliss attempts to thwart the happy new couple by preventing the consummation of their marriage on the wedding night. The alternating narration of Jayne Entwistle and Fiona Hardingham elevates the slapstick and keeps readers laughing and groaning along the way. A cameo by Mark Bramhall helps to highlight the novel’s occasionally elusive theme, while at the same time contributing to the hilarity.
Verdict Recommended for Kinsella’s fans and fans of romantic comedy. [“Kinsella continues to delight in creating quirky characters and over-the-top situations, and this title is a perfect choice for those craving a great escape,” read the review of the New York Times best-selling Dial hc, LJ 6/1/13.—Ed.]—Erin Forson, Bradford Sch., Columbus, OH

starred review starle Carré, John. A Delicate Truth. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611761757. $39.95; 9 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
As demonstrated in his masterpiece, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, le Carré shines when writing about the infighting among the powerbrokers within the British government and the subsequent revelations about human frailty and the difficulty of recognizing evil. These themes are at play on a smaller scale here, building slowly to a chilling conclusion reminiscent of the end of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. This minor work may succeed better on audio than the printed page because of the consistent excellence of the reading. Le Carré’s fiction is all about nuance and rhythm, and who better to know when to change emphasis and pace than the writer himself? While many authors are somewhat stilted when interpreting their works, le Carré is as skillful as any professional reader. It would be a joy to hear his Graham Greene or Eric Ambler.
Verdict Highly recommended for all collections. [“This is a guaranteed hair-raising cerebral fright, especially for anyone who enjoyed Robert Harris’s The Ghost or who just knows his or her email account has been hacked,” read the starred review of the Viking hc, LJ 4/15/13.—Ed.]—Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr., New York

Leon, Donna. The Golden Egg. (Commissario Guido Brunetti, Bk. 22). 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 9781624604997. $69.95; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Those who follow Leon should listen as Venetian policeman Commissario Guido Brunetti, in his inimitable, articulate manner, solves a murder and comments on the social ills of his beloved city in this 22nd entry (after Beastly Things) in the series. Brunetti’s wife, Paola, tells him that an employee at their dry cleaner’s, a mentally handicapped man, has just died of a sleeping pill overdose. Brunetti investigates and is surprised when he can’t find a birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, or anything else to prove that the man had ever existed. Before long, powerful people are implicated, but why would they want the man dead? As usual, beautifully narrated by David Rintoul and not to be missed.
Verdict Recommended to those who enjoy mysteries set in unusual settings with great characters, such as Louise Penny’s “Armand Gamache” series. [The Atlantic hc was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—Sandra Clariday, Tennessee Wesleyan Coll., Athens

McKinley, Robin. Beauty. 6 CDS. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470360238. $51.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
McKinley’s 1993 retelling of Beauty and the Beast is available for the first time as an audiobook. Honor, nicknamed Beauty, has lived a charmed life with her two sisters and their father until tragedy strikes their father’s business. They set off to live a much simpler life in the countryside, far from the city. When their father picks a forbidden rose, Beauty decides she will go live at the Beast’s castle, a decision that will spare her father’s life. This tale of family and finding love in unexpected places is brought to life by narrator Charlotte Parry, whose reading is smooth and instantly draws you back into Beauty’s world.
Verdict This beloved novel’s audiobook is well worth purchasing for your collection.—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom P. L., MI

McVeigh, Jennifer. The Fever Tree. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624066290. $59.99; digital download. F
In this accomplished first novel, McVeigh portrays the life of Francis Irvine, whose father has died and left her destitute As a woman in Victorian times, her two choices are to become an overworked nanny in a relative’s household or to marry a distant relative, a doctor, Edwin Matthews, and emigrate to South Africa. She chooses marriage and while on the ship to South Africa becomes enamored with fellow passenger William Westbrook. Selfish and pampered, Francis struggles with her impoverished life as a doctor’s wife, while retaining her connection with William and ignoring evidence that he might not be the man she thinks he is. After Edwin becomes involved in treating a smallpox epidemic that might bring down the diamond industry, Francis has to choose between the two men. McVeigh skillfully depicts the era and the geography, describing brutality, racism, epidemics, the diamond trade, a drought, and the landscape. Jayne Paterson reads smoothly and unobtrusively.
Verdict Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction. [“Although it is crafted around a protagonist who is naive to the point of frustration and while the story line is slow to get off the ground and requires much patience on the part of the reader, the writing is solid and delivers in the end. Fans of historical fiction with romantic elements will enjoy this one,” read the review of the Putnam hc, LJ 3/15/13.—Ed.]—Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI

Malliet, G.M. Death at the Alma Mater. (St. Just Mystery, Bk. 3). 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8¼ hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624062827. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In Malliet’s latest series installment (after Death and the Lit Chick), St. Mike’s College Cambridge is crumbling and needs money for repairs, so the school hosts a fundraising weekend for wealthy alumni. All goes well until one of the alumni is found dead. Det. Insp. Arthur St. Just works his way through an impressive list of suspects with shared history, clashing egos, and lots of secrets. Malliet delivers a witty, classic British cozy mystery with just a touch of romance. Davina Porter delivers an elegantly rendered performance.
Verdict Fans of cozy or classic mysteries will find this a delightful treat. Recommended for public libraries.—Cynthia Jensen, Gladys Harrington Lib., Plano, TX

Shafak, Elif. Honor. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470351069. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Shafak’s (The Bastard of Istanbul; The Forty Rules of Love and Honor) complicated story uses multiple voices and nonchronological chapters to good effect to explore twin sisters in a troubled Kurdish family. Not being male children may have set their life patterns, and when Jamila, a midwife, remains in her village while Pembe goes to London, they both face discontent, misunderstandings, and disconnections that strain their bond across the distances. Pembe’s disrupted dreams of a new life for her children are chillingly told, particularly for the two sons—Iskender, jailed for murder, and seven-year-old Yunus, who is far too wise for his years. Narrators Mozhan Marno and Piter Marik do a good job voicing the various characters, but there are odd, longish pauses caused by the three-minute track spacing that some listeners may find distracting.
Verdict A dark but engrossing read that requires careful attention. Highly recommended for contemporary international fiction audiences.—Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., 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"