Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, January 24, 2014

 Week ending January 24, 2014

starred review starAndrews, Ilona. Magic Rises. (Kate Daniels, Bk. 6). 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470376413. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
magicrises012414The latest in Andrews’s series (after Magic Slays) finds Kate and her partner, werelion Curran, departing an alternate Atlanta for the Black Sea. Many of their Pack’s shape-shifting children are not surviving to adulthood, and they’re on a quest to find something to help. Exciting and fast-paced, the story is filled with pirates, romance, Middle Eastern history and mythology, and monsters. Andrews, the nom de plume of husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona and Andrew Gordon, is a gem of the paranormal fantasy genre. Plot and characters are well motivated and feel natural. Andrews’s new audio publisher Recorded Books—previous audiobooks were released by Tantor—has retained Renee Raudman, who voiced the previous books in this series. Her gentle voice softens a sometimes violent and gory tale.
Verdict This is paranormal fiction at its best. Recommend to readers of the genre including existing fans and those new to the series, who will be able to jump in with no problem.—Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC

Brown, Sandra. Deadline. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781609419240. $35; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Brown (Low Pressure) offers up a real treat for listeners with this dark look at how people can never truly escape their past. War-weary journalist Dawson Scott has returned from Afghanistan damaged in spirit. As a favor to his godfather, he goes to Savannah to cover the sensational trial of a murdered former marine, Jeremy Wesson, who happens to be the secret biological son of one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals. Dawson finds himself drawn to the victim’s ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons, but when her nanny is killed, Dawson becomes a suspect. The story is well written, fast paced, and full of plot twists. Stephen Lang’s narration is masterly both in accents and cadence and is an immense asset to the listening experience.
Verdict Highly Recommended.—Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.

Collins, Manda. Why Dukes Say I Do. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452614328. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Collins (How To Entice an Earl) launches the “Wicked Widows” trilogy with this gothic-tinged Regency romance set in Yorkshire and London in the first half of 1800s. Lady Isabella Wharton is blackmailed by her godmother into visiting the reclusive Duke of Ormond, Trevor Carey. On a dark and stormy night, her carriage breaks down on the moors. When she is rescued by a large, rough-mannered, and handsome country fellow, she doesn’t know whether to be grateful or fearful. The rude fellow takes control and is revealed to be the very duke for whom she is looking. The plot thickens when she begins to receive threats and Trevor finds out that the carriage was sabotaged. As this is a trilogy, not all the threads are tied up at the end of this delightful romp, but enough are to make it a satisfying listening experience. Anne Flosnick does a very good job handling the varying accents of characters at all levels of British society.
Verdict Recommended for all historical romance fans.—Kathy L. Bell, Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Lib., Brenham, TX

Cooper, Mike. Full Ratchet. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470364045. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. F
This follow-up to Clawback (2012) again features Silas Cade, the auditor to call when you need one with special forces skills. More likely to use a gun than a calculator, Silas leaves his beloved Manhattan for rural Pennsylvania to investigate sleaze at a manufacturing plant. His efforts bring the attention of some Russian thugs and a squad of heavies led by a blonde beauty named Harmony. Silas’s wisecracking humor and savoir faire help the decidedly rambling plot move swiftly; when Silas adds his long-lost brother and his earthy wit to his team, things get even funnier. While most of Henry Leyva’s narration is delivered in an agreeable monotone with little differentiation among characters, the voices of minor characters will occasionally jar readers out of the story.
Verdict Fans of thrillers will find this an adequate tale of suspense.—Douglas C. Lord, Middletown, CT

Fairstein, Linda. Death Angel. (Alexandra Cooper, Bk. 15). 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470364229. $123.75; 11 CDs. retail ed. Penguin Audio; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In Fairstein’s 15th Alexandra Cooper thriller (after Night Watch), Alex and Det. Mike Chapman try to find the killer and identity of a young woman whose corpse is found in one of Central Park’s lakes. As they try to work out whether the case is connected to earlier deaths, another young woman is attacked. The park itself becomes one of the main characters in this thriller; Fairstein discusses the history and topography of the magnificent, human-made landscape. Narrator Barbara Rosenblat makes the novel come alive by giving the characters their own nuanced New York regional accent.
Verdict Recommended for all crime thriller fans and patrons, especially those who are fascinated by Central Park and its environs.—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland

McCall Smith, Alexander. Trains and Lovers. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 97810470340902. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD/5 CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
On a train journey from Scotland to London, four travelers share surprisingly intimate details of their lives and the reasons for making the trip. Love, constancy, trust, mystery, and unfulfilled longing all figure in their stories. McCall Smith (The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon) crafts his characters with care, providing details that give them depth and feeling. The audiobook is well read with different accents for each character by Robert Ian McKenzie.
Verdict Recommended. [“Subtle wit, leisurely pacing, copious references to W.H. Auden—the hallmarks of McCall Smith’s storytelling are in full force here, as is his penchant for quiet vignettes,” read the review of the Pantheon hc, LJ 5/15/13.]—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence

Zan, Koethi. The Never List. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611761917. $39.95; digital download. F
In Zan’s debut, ten years after Sarah survived being abducted and tortured, she still mourns the death of her best friend, Jennifer, at the hands of their abductor and struggles vainly to lead a “normal” life. The scheduled parole hearing of their kidnapper energizes Sarah into an active investigation in search of further evidence to keep him incarcerated, and she discovers that her own ordeal was only a small part of a much bigger story. This is a respectable debut thriller—the action itself pulls the reader along—but, like a sketchy outline of a much longer novel, the story also lacks the detail, texture, and description of a truly engrossing page-turner. Reader Kristen Sieh provides a serviceable but unmemorable narration.
Verdict Recommended only where demand warrants.—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA