Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, February 28, 2014

Week ending February 28, 2014

Hayder, Mo. Ritual. (Jack Caffery/Flea Marley, Bk. 3). 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12¼ hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781629230429. $59.99; 10 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Disturbing and bloody African rituals seem to be increasingly part of Bristol’s modern criminal landscape in Hayder’s series third book (after Birdman and The Treatment). Maverick DI Jack Caffery and police diver Flea Marley discover a pair of recently amputated hands, buried in what seems to be a ritualistic manner—their introduction to this sinister trend. As they investigate, Flea struggles to find new ways of dealing with the deaths of her parents in a diving accident the year before. Both Jack and Flea are tough and appealing characters, both of whom are balancing their policing skills with their personal demons. Reader Andrew Wincott brings skill and verve to a variety of British dialects.
Verdict Recommended.—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA

Jess-Cooke, Carolyn. The Boy Who Could See Demons. MP3 digital download. retail ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. Random Audio. 2013. ISBN 9780385367998. $20. (no CD edition.) F
On the fourth anniversary of her young daughter’s suicide, renowned child psychiatrist Dr. Anya Molokova begrudgingly accepts a new case. Ten-year-old Alex Connelly saved his mother from her fourth suicide attempt, and his only friend is a 9,000-year-old demon named Ruen. Anya is brought in to evaluate his mental stability. Alex’s story unfolds through his diary entries and Anya’s narrative. Ruen and Alex talk frequently, and their relationship teeters precariously from friendship to betrayal as Ruen manipulates Alex into performing acts of physical violence. As Anya explores Alex’s past, linking his mother’s suicide attempts with the terrorist activities of his father, she tries to figure out how to help him while questioning the physical reality of demons herself. This is a tense, psychological drama that pulls the reader in, exposing the mind’s fragility as Anya and Alex deal with their demons. Anya’s scenes are read by the author, whose voice changes in tone and depth as she narrates her experiences with Alex and her memories of her daughter, Poppy. Alex is read by Bruce Mann; his childlike Irish accent is clever and endearing but also heartbreaking, as he releases the feelings of fear and need in his relationship with the spirits he encounters.
Verdict Recommended for listeners who enjoyed Emma Donoghue’s Room or other suspenseful tales with young characters written for adults.—Laura Brosie, Abilene, TX

Lu, Marie. Prodigy. (Legend, Bk. 2). 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781629230108. $59.99; 8 CDs. retail ed. Penguin Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F
After an environmental and societal collapse, what remains of the United States has been divided into three warring factions in the northwest quadrant of the country. Wounded and hungry, June and Day have escaped the Republic’s grasp and boarded a freight train bound for Las Vegas to enlist the help of the Patriots once again. Patriot leader Razor strikes a deal with June and Day that guarantees them help in finding Day’s younger brother as well as safe passage to the Colonies. In return, June and Day must agree to take part in an elaborate plan to assassinate the new Elector to the Republic. At the zero hour, June acquires information that sets her on a course to derail the assassination, leaving Day to handle the fallout and question her loyalty. Narrators Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern successfully build a vivid dystopian image of postapocalyptic life. Using several tones and inflections for different characters, the narrators carry listeners on an exhilarating wave of nonstop action and suspense.
Verdict This fast-paced sequel to Legend is an emotionally charged story that will captivate and delight young adult readers and adults who enjoy YA titles with crossover appeal.—JoAnn Funderburk, South Garland Branch Lib., TX

starred review starMazzetti, Mark. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470364670. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. POLITICS
wayoftheknife022814Detailing dozens of black ops that the War on Terror has carried out in foreign countries since 9/11, this first book from New York Times journalist Mazzetti is crackerjack. Painstakingly thorough reporting details assassination campaigns by the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the White House in Afghanistan and similar missions in lesser-known conflicts in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Evidence about America’s proclivity to hunt actively enemy kingpins is persuasive, providing ample material for listeners prone to critique. Where other books detail singular events, this constructs a picture of de facto American “policy” from many stories and also explains how the United States has eclipsed its former passive operational style. Narrator Richard Ferrone’s even-toned gravity is an appropriate choice.
Verdict With a cast of thousands and a wide span in geography and years, this demands engaged listeners; a good option for history buffs, military aficionados, and those interested in the interplay among politics, national security, and action.—Douglas C. Lord, New Britain P.L., CT

Schwegel, Theresa. The Good Boy. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427229397. $39.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Chicago police officer Pete Murphy’s professional and personal lives are both in turmoil. A past scandal derailed his career, and he now serves as a K9 officer, handling his dog, Butchie. The questionable arrest of a gang member and the subsequent lawsuit reopen past wounds. Meanwhile, financial problems have forced his family to sell their home and move into less desirable surroundings. Pete’s marriage is on shaky ground, and his teenage daughter has become involved with a young man with ties to gang members. Throughout all these problems, Pete’s intelligent son, Joel, goes largely unnoticed by the family. However, after witnessing a shooting at a party, Joel and Butchie go on the run. Pete is determined to find them, even if it means risking an encounter with gangbangers bent on revenge. Reader Luke Daniels does an excellent job.
Verdict This very compelling work combines a crime story with the examination of a troubled family. Recommended to all listeners.—Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Parkersburg Lib.