Audiobooks from Galloway, Harbour, Stevens, plus a Beach Read Debut | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 22, 2014

Galloway, Steven. The Confabulist. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9½ hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. ISBN 9781629236384. $59.99; digital download. F
Harry Houdini was a fascinating person, both in his personal life and as a magician if Galloway’s (The Cellist of Sarajevo) fictionalized account of the man is to be believed. Houdini’s story is intertwined with that of Martin Strauss, the man whose punch into Houdini’s stomach supposedly burst his appendix and caused his death. As the title of the book suggests, Galloway cleverly weaves false or misinterpreted memories with fact. Magic and spiritualism were Houdini’s claim to fame and both are explored here in great detail. Strauss, who suffers from a rare memory disorder, tells his often unreliable story interspersed with Houdini’s. Narrated competently by Jason Culp.
Verdict Listeners who can follow the sometimes nonlinear plot will be satisfied with this clever tale based on actual events.—Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI

Harbour, Katherine. Thorn Jack. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781480596818. $25.99; digital download. F
thornjack082214Still reeling a year after her older sister’s suicide, 18-year-old Finn Sullivan is unprepared for the pervasive strangeness she finds when she and her father, a professor of mythology, move from San Francisco to Fair Hollow, NY. The small town is ruled by the Fatas, a rich, fascinating, frightening family whose members, Finn comes to realize, bear more than a passing resemblance to the figures in her father’s lectures. Finn’s curiosity, which often overrules her sense of self-preservation, leads her to wonder what is really happening in Fair Hollow and what it all has to do with the mysterious entries she finds in her dead sister’s journal. Narrator Kate Rudd does a great job distinguishing the voices of the human characters from those who are other and perfectly captures the dark atmosphere of this novel.
Verdict This spine-tingling tale would be a good addition to any collection where the paranormal is popular.—Nicole Williams, Rochelle Park Lib., NJ

Maum, Courtney. I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. ISBN 9781629238609. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Maum’s debut novel, set in 2002, concerns Richard Haddon, a successful British artist living in Paris with his wife, Anne, a French lawyer, and their young daughter. His young American mistress leaves him, his wife kicks him out when she learns of his infidelity, and self-absorbed, self-indulgent Richard whines and complains about both his amazing wife and having to deal with the consequences of his actions while he tries to win her. The story also includes forays into Brittany and London and contains witty and engaging descriptions of the food, culture, and beauty of those areas. Richard is not a sympathetic character, the story is rather bland and formulaic, with a touch of political statement about the Iraq crisis, and the ending seems rushed. Narrator Sam Devereaux lends his strong voice to this summer beach read.
Verdict Might be of interest to fans of midlife crisis romance stories.—Denise Garofalo, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib, Newburgh, NY

Stevens, Taylor. The Catch. (Vanessa Michael Monroe, Bk. 4). 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780804165792. $45; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In Stevens’s latest series installment (after The Vessel), the polyglot troubleshooter is masquerading as a man when she escapes a cargo ship being hijacked off the coast of Somalia. Larger than life, Michael single-handedly dashes, slashes, and smashes through the African underworld to free the ship and avenge a friend’s death. Narrator Hillary Huber is able to intone the intelligence and grit attributed to a heroine frequently compared to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Her reading fortifies procedural writing in which Michael ricochets through a production line of action scenes.
Verdict As part of a popular series, this purchase would make sense in a library that circulates Stevens’s previous novels.—Judith Robinson, Dept. of Lib. & Information Studies, Univ. at Buffalo