Adult Reviews
Fiction
*David Baldacci. One Good Deed.
Read by Edoardo Ballerini.
10 CDs. 12 hrs.
Hachette. 2019. 978-1-5491-5194-1.


In Baldacci's latest novel, the setting is 1949. War veteran Aloysius Archer is on parole, having been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. He is a straight-talking and sympathetic character who arrives in Poca City determined not to do anything that will land him back in jail. He quickly learns that this small town is more dangerous than it appears and with a desperate need for money is quickly hired to collect a debt owed to Hank Pittleman, a rich and powerful local businessman. Murders and thefts ensue with Archer in the middle of it all as a prime suspect. Edoardo Ballerini was awarded the 2013 and 2019 Audie Award for Solo Male Narration. He is also a winner of a Society of Voice Arts Award. On screen he has appeared in over fifty films and TV series. He has a nice, reassuring voice as Archer, and great voices for all the characters, including a hard-boiled detective with whom Archer works to solve the crimes. For Baldacci fans, this is a bit different – not action-packed or with a suspenseful trial, but with a more cerebral and psychological slant – engaging nonetheless.

David Baldacci is a global bestselling author, and one of the world's favorite storytellers. His works have been adapted for both feature film and television. David Baldacci is also the co-founder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America.

Reviewed by Sue Rosenzweig


Marie Bostwick. Hope on the Inside.
Performed by Hillary Huber.
10 CDs. 11.5 hours.
HighBridge (a division of Recorded Books). 2019. 978-1-6844-1750-6.

Hope on the Inside is a heartwarming story of discovery of oneself, taking risks and trying something new. Hope Carpenter is in a precarious situation. With deepening financial worries following her husband's forced retirement, Hope pursues an opportunity to teach crafts to the inmates at a woman's prison. Hope gets a cool reception from the inmates at first and is challenged by a skeptical warden. She has little support from her husband whose lack of self-worth and depression has made him jealous and angry. In time, Hope begins to bond with some of the inmates and they take on ambitious quilting projects that have all the women thinking of the greater good as they turn their situations around.

Narrated by Hillary Huber, Hope on the Inside is easy and entertaining listening. An award winner and finalist, Huber has recorded almost 300 titles. Although there is little voice differentiation between the characters it is still easy to follow each. Hillary's voice takes us inside the prison walls and presents the listener with a growing, positive journey.

Marie Bostwick was born and raised in the northwest. In the three decades since her marriage, Marie and her family have moved frequently, living in eight different states at eighteen different addresses. These experiences have given Marie a unique perspective that enables her to write about people from all walks of life and corners of the country with insight and authenticity. Marie currently resides in Portland, where she enjoys writing, spending time with family, gardening, collecting fabric, and stitching quilts. Visit her at www.mariebostwick.com.

Reviewed by Robin Demas
C. J. Box. Wolf Pack. A Joe Pickett Novel.
Read by David Chandler.
9 CDs. 9.75 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2019. 978-1-9800-2172-8.


Joe Picket is happy to have his job as Wyoming game warden back, and agrees to help a neighboring warden, Katelynn Hamm, with her investigation of drones being used to stampede elk, killing many of the animals. Unfortunately, the owner of the drone is the father of a boy Pickett's daughter Lucy is dating. The case is complicated by the DOJ and FBI's requests for Joe and Katelyn to stand down and meanwhile dead bodies are piling up, which Joe suspects are victims of the Wolfpack, a group of killers working for the Sinaloa cartel. So there is plenty of action and suspense for narrator David Chandler, who has appeared on Broadway and in numerous Off-Broadway productions. His film and television credits include The Grey Zone, Hide and Seek, Death of a Salesman, Upheaval, The Portrait, Her Alibi, Seinfeld, Third Rock from the Sun, Arliss, and Law & Order. His voices are good and ring true. His pace is a bit slow and deliberate, perhaps too much so for the storyline. However, this will be enjoyed by the wide audience that C.J. Box has garnered.

C. J. Box is the bestselling author of the Joe Pickett series, five stand-alone novels, and the story collection Shots Fired. He has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and two Barry awards, as well as the French Prix Calibre .38 and a French Elle magazine literary award. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He and his wife Laurie split their time between their home and ranch in Wyoming.

Reviewed by Sue Rosenzweig
*Nicole Dennis-Benn. Patsy.
Read by Sharon Gordon.
14 CDs. 17.25 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019. 978-1-6844-1981-4.


Sharon Gordon does a wonderful job narrating Nicole Dennis-Benn's second novel Patsy.. This novel has many characters from diverse classes and cultures. Gordon makes them delightfully distinct from each other. This is no small feat in a novel with so many characters, situated in both Jamaica and America. This is a dark novel, but everything in it is realistic.

The eponymous heroine of the novel Patsy is an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica living in New York. This is an immigrant story and a very good one. Patsy leaves her native Jamaica for New York, ostensibly to remake herself and to reunite with her childhood friend, Cicely, with whom she is in love. In Jamaica she abandons her religiously obsessed mother and young daughter Tru. The novel alternates between Patsy's life in New York and Tru's life in Jamaica. The experiences of Tru and Patsy in their different milieus are often harrowing and sad. There is sex and love and pain; there is humor and suffering.

Patsy is written in a wonderful prose style that has a discernible rhythm like Caribbean speech, a singsong twang to it. Gordon in her brilliant narration lets us hear the song in the prose and her singing is appropriate to this wonderful novel. Her narration is seamless and authentic; her rendering of the Jamaica patois which most of the characters speak is genuine, replete with the lilting cadence, tone and rhythm of the dialect; she is equally adept at the American lingua, and seamlessly switches from patois to American speech from character to character. Her pacing is appropriately quick, reminiscent of the prose of the novel, like a stream careening over stone, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, always moving forward. Gordon's rendering of the teenager Tru is particularly good; her voice suggests the child's angst, anomie and confusion which is made poignant and breathtakingly sad. She does the same for the adults, their emotions are made real and raw. The pacing is steady and the characters are made unforgettable. Patsy is a genuinely good novel and narrator Sharon Gordon is wonderfully suited to it and thoroughly understands the characters and their lives; you can hear it in her reading.

Nicole Dennis-Benn is a Lambda Literary Award winner and New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship recipient. She's also a finalist for the 2016 John Leonard Prize National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the 2017 Young Lions Fiction Award for her debut novel, Here Comes the Sun-- a New York Times Notable Book of the year, an NPR, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2016. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Elle, Electric Literature, Ebony, and the Feminist Wire. She was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviewed by Berkley W. Semple
Paul Doiron. Almost Midnight.
Read by Henry Leyva.
8 CDs. 9 hrs.
Macmillan. 2019. 978-1-2502-2035-6.


While on an early spring vacation in Maine's North Woods, Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch receives a strident call for help from his long-time friend, Billy Cronk, who is currently residing in the state prison following a questionable murder conviction. Mike responds immediately, because he still feels guilty that his testimony put Billy behind bars. Billy asks him to investigate the new female prison guard, but won't give Mike the reason. Shortly after, Mike walks into the prison, interrupting a crisis in which inmates are involved in a knife attack on the new female guard, resulting in deaths. Billy, seriously wounded while saving the new guard's life, ends up in surgery and intensive care. Then, a second call for help comes from a vet who is treating an injured wolf, brought in with a crossbow bolt through one of his lungs -- a wolf-hybrid Mike had rescued and raised until the time that Shadow escaped. Mike vows to locate the person who shot Shadow with a very unique type of bolt. Mike knows both the woods and the law, as well as how to skirt both carefully and successfully, but can he save Billy, Billy's family, and Shadow? Mike seems to have many enemies – those wanting to see Billy put away for good and those blocking Mike's efforts to identify the wolf's attacker. As usual, the Maine dialect comes through loud and clear, as law enforcement members, backwoodsmen and women, speak in their "native dialect" (almost a little too caricatured by narrator, Henry Leyva). Almost Midnight, the tenth in the series of Mike Bowditch books, will keep listeners on the edge of their chairs, as Doiron spins another complex tale of Mike's struggle, against all odds, to achieve justice in the face of personal threats and violent criminals in northern Maine.

A native of Maine, bestselling author Paul Doiron attended Yale University, where he graduated with a degree in English. The Poacher's Son, the first book in the Mike Bowditch series, won the Barry award, the Strand award for best first novel, and has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity awards in the same category. He is a Registered Maine Guide specializing in fly fishing and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine with his wife, Kristen Lindquist.

Reviewed by Susan Allison
Elizabeth Gilbert. City of Girls.
Read by Blair Brown. 12 CDs. 14 hrs.
Penguin/Random House Audio. 2019. 978-1-9848-8846-4.


It is 1940, and at 19, Vivian Morris is bored with Vassar College and her upper middle class life in upstate New York. She is delighted with the chance to scamper off to New York City and live with her Aunt Pegsy, who is operating a shabby, far-off-Broadway theater which stages tacky musical comedies for the neighborhood residents.

Without a qualm she chooses one of the glamorous showgirls (former burlesque performers) for a best friend and plunges happily into a ceaseless round of drinking, dancing, and picking up men at the chic clubs and eateries of Manhattan. Fortunately, her grandmother taught her to be an expert seamstress, and she can be of some use designing and making costumes for the theatrical company.

When a famous British actress and her handsome, brainless husband, seeking refuge from German bombing of London, arrive in New York, they perform in a raunchy comedy at Aunt Pegsy's that becomes an enormous, money-making hit. Unfortunately, Vivian misbehaves with the husband and is exiled back to her home town.

War begins, and Aunt Pegsy calls her back to Brooklyn, needing help with skits to entertain and inspire the war workers at the Navy Yard. At war's end, though, Vivian is jobless. She partners with an old friend and turns her couturier talent to making unique and costly wedding dresses. They prosper, and Vivian continues her independent and uncaring ways, including her penchant for pleasurable sexual adventures.

All this is told in the form of a letter written in 2010 to Angela, the daughter of a policeman Vivian knew long in the past and remembers in later life.

Since the narrator is the protagonist of the book, veteran actress Blair Brown adopts the persona of the heroine's mannered self-absorption, unapologetic for her adventurous and unconventional life, and keeps her saga moving along briskly, clearly, and entertainingly. Occasionally she inserts an English accent for the British star and a touch of the Bronx for the showgirls, but basically she is always in the role of Vivian Morris.

Elizabeth Gilbert is the bestselling author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love, as well as several other internationally bestselling books. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a best book of 2013 by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine,The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker.

Reviewed by Pat Dole
*Mario Giordano. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna.
Translated by John Brownjohn.
Read by Matt Addis.
8 CDs. 9.5 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2019. 978-1-5019-7707-7.


Aunti Poldi is one of those older women detective characters like Miss Marple who accidentally gets into investigating murders in her small town in her own distinctive style. Two of the significant differences are that Auntie Poldi is German, of Sicilian descent, now living in Sicily (to be nearer relatives) and that she is very much more active in a very sexy way. Much of the novel is tinged with Sicilian spice and the dialogue and narration are delightful, in spite of the facts that there is a killer on the loose in the vineyards, a pet dog is poisoned, and a body is found in the vineyard. There is also a known criminal family in the area and Auntie Poldi, with the help from her friend and sometime lover Chief Inspector Montana and her nephew (the narrator in the story), puts herself in danger in every way, including by driving her car with the same cavalier disdain for caution as she has for the rest of her life.

Audiobook narrator Matt Addes gives Aunti Poldi's nephew a sophisticated, well enunciated, British dialect; he provides many other dialects as well and thus distinguishes between the many characters remarkably well. This was a fun story, full of details of the Sicilian lifestyle, especially its food, wine, culture and scenery, as interpreted by a totally unique, and very charming, character. (Ed. note: Fans of Andrea Camillieri's Montalbano series will love this.)

Mario Giordano, the son of Italian immigrants, was born in Munich. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, his first novel translated into English, was an Indie Next Pick, a B&N Discover Selection, an Amazon Top Ten Best Book of the Month, and a Costco staff pick.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss

*Samantha Harvey. The Western Wind.
Read by Nyasha Hatendi.
9 CDs. 11 hrs.
Recorded books. 2018. 978-1-9800-1707-3.


Samantha Harvey's fourth novel is set in the small village of Oakham in Somerset near Bruton. It is Shrove Tuesday in 1491 and a tragedy has occurred. The wealthiest man in the poor town is missing and presumed drowned. Thomas Newman is a self-made man, well-traveled but a Protestant. He frequently has debates with the parish priest, John Reve, about the nature of God. On the Saturday before Ash Wednesday he went down to inspect the bridge he had started to build in order to connect Oakham with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it had collapsed. He went into the fast-moving river and all that was left was his shirt, caught among the rushes. Was it an accident, suicide, or murder? The rural dead, a harsh man, arrives and orders Reve to get the entire population to come to confession in the hopes of catching a killer. Reve is bored by the confessions he hears--superstitions, minor failings, some illicit sex. But Reve narrates the story beginning on day four and tells the story backwards. Not that there aren't suspects. Lord Townshend is a local landowner who wants to start a cheese business but has sold land to Newman to fund this ridiculous enterprise. Another suspect is young Herry Carter, who thought of Newman as a father, but shows signs of guilt. Sarah Spenser, a good friend of Reve's sister, is very ill and confesses, hoping that she will be executed to put her out of her misery. And the officious rural dean, in order to gain a reputation, insists on personally searching every house in town. And Reve is not without his secrets, including his doubt that God listens to prayers. He has been praying for the west wind, with no success.

The novel is a marvel of medieval detail, realistic characters, and surprising revelations. Themes of faith and guilt are brilliantly developed. It is narrated by Nyasha Hatendi, a Zimbabwean/English actor, director, writer, and producer who has attended Eton and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. His presentation is evocative and his Latin excellent. Both the novel and its narration are highly recommended.

Samantha Harvey is the author of The Wilderness, All Is Song and Dear Thief. She appeared on the longlists for the Bailey's Prize and the Man Booker, and the shortlists of the James Tait Black Award, the Orange Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. The Wilderness won the Betty Trask Award in 2009. She is a tutor on the MA course in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Reviewed by Janet Julian
*Philip Kerr. Metropolis. A Bernie Gunther Novel.
Read by John Lee.
9 CDs. 11 hrs.
Books on Tape. 2019. 978-1-9848-4064-6.


This is a prequel to Philip Kerr's series of Berlin Detective Bernie Gunther books, his origins as he begins his new job on the Murder Commission, set in Berlin, in 1928, in the Weimar Republic filled with maimed veterans of WWI, seedy sideshows, sex clubs, and roaming gangs. Metropolis is the last of the 14 novels that Kerr wrote featuring Gunther and it captures the germs of Nazification evident in the city and its police department that Kerr explores throughout the entire series. Philip Kerr died in 2018 so this novel featuring Gunther's backstory will be particularly interesting to his fans.

Narrator John Lee can be heard on numerous audiobooks and has acted in productions at the Mark Taper Forum and A Noise Within. His voice can also be heard on MTV's Aeon Flux and HBO's Spawn. He does an excellent job describing the setting and atmosphere both of which are critical to the story. His voices and accents are excellent, as always, and are the key to understanding the beginnings both of Gunther's career and Hitler's rise.

Philip Kerr was the bestselling author of the acclaimed Bernie Gunther novels, three of which--Field Gray, The Lady from Zagreb, and Prussian Blue--were finalists for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Kerr also won several Shamus Awards and the British Crime Writers' Association Ellis Peters Award for Historical Crime Fiction. Just before his death in 2018, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. as P.B. Kerr, he was the author of the much-loved young adult fantasy series Children of the Lamp.

Reviewed by Sue Rosenzweig
*Khaled Khalifa. Death is Hard Work. A Novel.
Translated by Leri Price.
Read by Neil Shah.
5 CDs. 6 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019 978-1-6844-1863-3.


How easy is it to put aside mundane family squabbles when your country is embroiled in a perpetual war? Bolbol, the protagonist of Death is Hard Work, assumes that the closeness he once felt for his brother, Hussein, and sister, Fatima, might re-emerge with the death of their father, the courageous activist Abdel Latif. But as anyone who has ever dealt with family drama knows, the resentments and misunderstandings of decades will not fade overnight, even when all are in mourning. To make matters worse, Abdel Latif has not only asked his children to mourn him, he has also requested that his body be brought to his hometown, a two-hour drive from Aleppo, where they all now live. In Syria, this is not a matter of hopping in the car in the morning and being in the village in time for lunch. Forget about finding anyone to help prepare the corpse for burial, because there are so many dead bodies that all of the morgues are overwhelmed, and an old man's undramatic death is uninteresting in comparison to the sacrifice of martyrs to the revolution. When Hussein, who works as a driver, reluctantly agrees to drive Bolbol, Fatima, and their father's body to the village, the siblings must contend with endless checkpoints, which not only requires waiting in line for hours, but also involves delicate maneuvering in order to get through and stay out of prison. Should you emphasize your ties to the revolution or hide them? Can you find the right relative or bigwig to vouch for you, when you decide incorrectly? Do you have enough money for bribes, and can you deliver them without causing offense? How should you answer the perplexed soldiers' questions about the reasons why you are transporting a corpse? And what IS a corpse, exactly? Luggage? A person who requires identity papers? Oh yes, and there are bombs exploding all around you, and the body is smelling worse as the two-hour tour becomes many days. But despite all of this, the most fraught moments in Death is Hard Work are the interpersonal ones between these siblings, who consider how the trajectory of their lives has disappointed them, whether it be in spouse, career, or wealth, and who might be to blame. The fact that Bolbol, Hussein and Fatima have the mental space to carry these seemingly petty burdens around while the world is literally exploding around them is the brilliance (and dark humor) of Death is Hard Work. And while the story's goal is to get Abdel to his final resting place, the listener will find herself hooked to the narrative of whether these characters will set aside their petty grievances once and for all.

Narrator Neil Shah has a flexible voice that easily modulates between the three siblings, doing justice to the masculine voices without turning Fatima into a caricature. Shah can express the more dramatic moments, such as when Bolbol remembers a family friend who set herself on fire in protest, as well as the more comedic moments, like when Hussein struggles to find the right inane aphorism for every situation, with equal skill.

Khaled Khalifa was born in 1964 in a village close to Aleppo, Syria. He has written numerous screenplays and is the author of several novels, including In Praise of Hatred, which was short-listed for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, which won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2013. He lives in Damascus, a city he has refused to abandon despite the danger posed by the ongoing Syrian civil war. Leri Price is the translator of Khaled Khalifa's In Praise of Hatred and No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, as well as literature from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

Reviewed by Joanna Theiss

*Debbie Macomber. A Mrs. Miracle Christmas.
Read by Cassandra Campbell.
5 CDs. 5.5 hrs.
Random House Audio. 2019. 978-0-525-49157-6.


Debbie Macomber's sentimental tale set during the Christmas season is filled with disappointment, struggles, and then joy as listeners follow Zac and Laurel McCullough's journey through infertility, all while living with Laurel's aging grandmother. When stresses are at their peak, the couple employs Mrs. Merkel, aka. Mrs. Miracle, as Nana's daytime aide. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Miracle, and her cast of angelic friends, is just what the family needs.

Audiobook narrator Cassandra Campbell is, as Nana in A Mrs. Miracle Christmas would say, the cat's meow. Her efforts to bring titles to life, including Macomber's holiday tale, are natural and flawless. In this tale, Campbell is able to convincingly personify a myriad of characters, including elderly Helen, twenty-something couple Zac and Laurel, a collection of elementary school-age children, and even a handful of angels. Campbell's pacing is authentic and her vocals are believable. She handles emotional swings well and is a natural with humor. It's no wonder so many authors have called on her to bring their stories to life.

Campbell has narrated hundreds of titles, including bestsellers Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Debbie Macomber, the author of Window on the Bay, Cottage by the Sea, Any Dream Will Do, If Not for You, and the Rose Harbor Inn series, is a leading voice in women's fiction. Thirteen of her novels have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller lists, and five of her beloved Christmas novels have been hit movies on the Hallmark Channel, including Mrs. Miracle and Mr. Miracle. Hallmark Channel also produced the original series Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, based on Macomber's Cedar Cove books. She is as well the author of the cookbook Debbie Macomber's Table. There are more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Reviewed by Lisa Arnold

Debbie Macomber. Window on The Bay.
Read by Tavia Gilbert, Erin Bennett, and Karissa Vacker.
8 CDs. 9.5 hrs.
Books on Tape. 978-0-525-49167-5.


This listen was a guilty pleasure. As a big fan of Debbie Macomber, I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at a BookExpo program a few years ago. She is delightful, funny and down to earth. Window on the Bay is typical of her stories. Friendships flourish, relationships build and grown children are confused. Best friends Jenna Boltz and Maureen Zelinski are single mothers with adult children. With satisfying careers as an ICU nurse and librarian, respectively, they are ready to take a long planned trip to Paris. As usual, life conspires to postpone the trip but when both women reluctantly find themselves entering into relationships, they learn to accept that love is worth having and fighting for.

The audio cast is terrific. Narrators Tavia Gilbert, Erin Bennett and Karissa Vacker give tremendous portrayals of each character. All are multiple award winners and have, combined, recorded hundreds of titles. They have experience across the board in acting and film. The readings are convincing and pleasurable with the possible exception of the very realistic whining voice of Jenna's daughter (meant to be that way, I'm certain.)

For an enjoyable listening experience that feels like a day out with the girls, listen to Window On The Bay. It's a great choice.

Debbie Macomber, the author of Cottage by the Sea, Any Dream Will Do, If Not for You, and the Rose Harbor Inn series, is a leading voice in women's fiction. Thirteen of her novels have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller lists, and five of her beloved Christmas novels have been hit movies on the Hallmark Channel, including Mrs. Miracle and Mr. Miracle. Hallmark Channel also produced the original series Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, based on Macomber's Cedar Cove books. She is also the author of the cookbook Debbie Macomber's Table. There are more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Reviewed by Robin Demas
*Chris Pavone. The Paris Diversion.
Read by Mozhan Marno.
10 CDs. 12 hrs.
Books on Tape. 2019. 978-1-9848-4527-6.


This is the third of Pavone's books that feature spy handler Kate Moore (after The Accident and The Expats), all of which are very complex stories that take a long time to unravel. Moore is living in Paris with her husband and two children when there is a terrorist scare of bombs and a suicide bomber. Added to this is the fact that Kate's husband is in the financial market and might either make or lose millions of dollars. For readers who are unfamiliar with the first two, it is almost impossible to follow, with wheels-within-wheels, and chapters that move back and forth in time, place, and characters. However, award winning narrator Mozhan Marno provides an interesting narration, with impeccable French. Her film and TV credits include The Stoning of Soraya M., Charlie Wilson's War, Hung, The Mentalist, Bones, and House of Cards. For those who have read the first two books this will be a rewarding listening experience. Those who have not might find it tough going and will have to pay very close attention to follow the plot.

Chris Pavone is the New York Times bestselling author of The Expats, winner of the Edgar and Anthony awards for best first novel, The Accident, The Travelers, and most recently The Paris Diversion. He was a book editor for nearly two decades, and lives in New York City with his family.

Reviewed by Sue Rosenzweig
*Seabury Quinn. The Dark Angel. The complete tales of Jules De Grandin, Vol. 3.
Read by Paul Woodson.
20 CDs. 24.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019. 978-1-6844-1995-1.


The Dark Angel is the third volume in a five-volume collection of the published works of Seabury Quinn titled The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin which includes Vol. 1: The Horror on the Links, Vol. 2: The Devil's Rosary, Vol. 4: A Rival from the Grave, and Vol. 5: Black Moon. There is also an informative Foreword and Introduction to the five-volume series in this volume. The ninety-two short stories and one serialized novel in this series were originally published in the pulp fiction magazine Weird Tales between 1925 and 1951 alongside the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Dr. Jules de Grandin is a delightful French occult detective who combats all manner of adversaries including vampires, mummies, ghosts, and devil worshippers in venues around the world in these captivating fantasy tales. De Grandin knows a great deal of strange mythological and supernatural lore from many lands which he uses effectively to solve the often mysterious cases he is asked to solve. These unedited tales do contain some outdated characterizations including some offensive racist language due to the era of their writing. The Dark Angel contains eleven of Seabury's popular tales including the six-installment "The Devil's Bride." Paul Woodson's semi-voiced reading is masterful. He reads with a range of accents and voices that capture the emotions and the tensions of the characters in these engaging tales.

Seabury Quinn was a pulp magazine author, whose popular stories of the occult detective Jules de Grandin were published in Weird Tales between 1925 and 1951. Quinn penned ninety-two short stories and one full-length novel featuring 'the occult Hercule Poirot,' which were enormously popular with readers. Quinn lived in Washington, D.C., United States, and died in 1969.

Reviewed by Hugh M. Flick, Jr.
*Steven Rowley. The Editor.
Read by Michael Urie.
9 CDs. 10.5 hrs.
Books on Tape. 2019. 978-1-9848-3961-9.


This touching novel explores the relationship between a mother and son and a very famous mother and son. James is a young writer who has completed a book about his relationship with his mother in the last years of the 20th Century in New York. He is able to get an agent and the agent gets James' novel to Doubleday publishers. He receives a call to come for an interview about his book. He is very nervous and is astonished to find that his editor is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Mrs. Onassis or Mrs. Kennedy or Jacqueline or Jackie, all names used by James as their relationship grows and changes, is a respectful and interested editor who can also be a tough critic. She finally tells him that the relationship he describes with his mother is not truthful and he must change the ending. Since he is barely speaking to his mother because he has revealed to her that he is gay and in love with a young man, he is hopeful that the fact that Jackie likes his book will soften his mother toward him, but it doesn't. Rowley captures the many mixed messages about gender, gender equality, love and marriage at that time. It also paints what seems to be an accurate, loving and respectful relationship between the author and the editor, though fictional. And the relationships among all the family members also seem authentic.

Narrator Michael Urie provides an excellent reading. Although the timeframe doesn't cover a long period of time, many things happen to change and mature the main character and Urie's voice, tone and attitude reflect this. The other characters, such as Jackie and his mother, are two sides to a similar coin and their voices show it, but don't exaggerate it.

Steven Rowley is the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, which has been translated into nineteen languages. He has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist, and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, Rowley is a graduate of Emerson College. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss
*Bernard Schaffer. An Unsettled Grave.
Read by Neil Hellegers.
8 CDs. 9.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019. 978-1-6844-1302-7.


A victim claims she was raped on a back road by a man in a police uniform. Rookie police detective Carrie Santero proposes a plan to test the DNA of local policemen to rule them out as suspects. Her angered Chief, claiming he has already identified the rapist, sends her to an evolving case in the hills of Pennsylvania, admonishing her to stay out of trouble. In the woods, a local hunter unearths remains of a child's foot, and other remains emerge as the search for the victim continues. Twelve-year-old Hope Pugh disappeared in 1981…at the same time that a police officer was murdered and another committed suicide. This cold case holds many secrets, especially for former police officer, Jacob Rein, who is often able to get inside the mind of the killer. Hope had been the young Jacob's girlfriend, and the officer, the suicide victim, was his uncle. Jacob was Carrie's mentor in police training, but after their last case, Jacob's life had collapsed. He now wants Carrie to solve this case, so that he can resume his life. Carrie, however, must fight an uphill battle with uncooperative local police who don't feel the case can be solved some 30 years after its occurrence. Discovery of missing case files, the existence and arrival of a motorcycle gang of Nam vets, uncovering Jacob Rein's troubled childhood, and Carrie's persistence and grit in the face of the misogynistic local police culture make this a gripping, exciting, and suspenseful audiobook. Will solving the mysteries surrounding the Hope Pugh case be enough to turn around Jacob's life?

Narrator Neil Hellegers contributes significantly to the suspense by his even delivery and somber tone, conveying the sense of mystery and complexity. This story contains language that may be offensive to some, and violence, including the rape scene and motorcycle gang conflagration. Schaffer crafts a great story and makes listeners want to read his previous The Thief of All Light (2019), the first in the Santero and Rein series (2019). A great audiobook for adults and mature teens who love police thrillers, mysteries, and talented, professional female protagonists.

Bernard Schaffer launched his Santero and Rein series with the widely acclaimed thriller The Thief of All Light. A full-time police detective, he is a decorated criminal investigator, narcotics expert, and child forensic interviewer. Schaffer, a father of two, is the author of numerous independently published books and series. He lives and works in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA.

Reviewed by Susan Allison
*Whitney Scharer. The Age of Light. A Novel.
Read by Therese Plummer.
10 CDs. 12 hrs.
Hachette Audio. 2019. 978-1-5491-7342-4.


Whitney Scharer's fictionalized biography of Lee Miller brings to light another amazing woman who created her own art in the company of a male superstar artist, in this case, photographer Man Ray.

Lee Miller was born in the U.S. and was raped by a family friend as a child and suffered from gonorrhea. She was known as a sex symbol, a photographer and a famous Vogue model in the U.S. and Europe but primarily she is most well-known because of her beauty, because many simply could not believe that such a beautiful woman could also be so artistically gifted. The audiobook skips around chronologically. Most of the story is based on her younger life and then breaks to tell of some of her experience in the Nazi camps. She manages to break up with Man and continue her modeling and photography, becoming a famous war correspondent who photographed the interior of Hitler's house and the inside of Hitler's death camps and throughout was often written off as "just" a beauty. The story seems to end after a special triumph and her breakup with Man and then takes us to the 1970's when she lives with her husband, an artist and a renowned person in the art world himself when he works with a museum to feature her art and her work shortly before she dies of cancer. Much of her art, especially her photography was credited to Man Ray and other male artists.

Listeners will probably want to read more about Lee Miller to fill in the blanks and give her full credit for her impact on art.

Narrator Therese Plummer's gifts in using accents in very unique ways brings out the atmosphere of the times before, during and after the war in Europe. There are many graphic sex scenes and scenes of the horrors of the labor camps but it all seems very believable as narrated.

Whitney Scharer earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her short fiction has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Cimarron Review, and other journals. She's received an Emerging Artist Award in Literature from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, a Somerville Arts Council Artists grant, and been awarded a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The Age of Light is her first novel.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss
*B.A. Shapiro. The Collector's Apprentice. A Novel.
Read by Xe Sands.
9 CDs. 10.5 hrs.
HighBridge Audio. 2018. 978-1-6844-1646-2.


B. A. Shapiro's novel, set in the art world of 1920s Paris, is filled with ambiance, love and betrayal. The main characters are Paulien Martens, later known as Vivienne Gregsby, and Georges Evard, who takes on multiple personalities as he is a master of disguise and deceit as he cons art lovers and collectors into schemes where they lose their money and often their art. One of these victims is Paulien's father and Paulien is blamed as well. She is disowned by her family and friends. Two things she doesn't lose are her love and knowledge of art. She leaves her home in Belgium and moves to France, where she changes her name to Vivienne Gregsby. She meets many other famous characters of the times, including Gertrude Stein and she falls in love with Henri Matisse. Meanwhile, Georges Evard keeps reinventing his own persona and showing up in Vivienne's life, further complicating it. Narrator Xe Sands reads, changing languages, accents, gender and age as called for. The narration really projects the main character's intrepidness and resolve to clear her name while also learning more about and loving art that she first was exposed to by her father in her childhood.

B. A. Shapiro is the author of the award-winning The Art Forger and the bestseller The Muralist. She has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University and lives in Boston with her husband, Dan, and their dog, Sagan.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss


*Danielle Steel. Turning Point. A Novel.
Read by Todd McLaren.
8 CDs. 9 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2019. 978-1-5019-5340-8.


What happens when four American trauma doctors and four French trauma doctors meet for a two-week-long visit in Paris and another two-week-long visit in San Francisco to compare challenges and methods for dealing with violent emergencies? Each highly recommended doctor brings his or her own personal history, training, family situations, and needs. For many this medical/cultural exchange will be a turning point in both their personal lives and professional careers. The San Francisco team includes trauma doctor Bill Browning, who has been divorced for several years and is devoted to his two daughters who lives in England with his ex-wife. Stephanie Lawrence, on the staff of a UCSF teaching hospital, finds she can't achieve a satisfactory balance between her career and her family -- two sons and a frustrated writer/husband who has of necessity become the "stay-at-home" dad in their shaky marriage. Wendy Jones, a trauma doctor at Stanford, is locked in a long-term relationship with a married cardiac surgeon, who treats her as his "Wednesday night special." And "Lothario" Tom Wylie, a doctor at the Oakland medical center, avoids any extended female commitments because of his troubled past. Arriving in Paris, the four meet their counterparts: Marie Lore, the city administrator who deals with civil emergencies; Gabriel Marchand, a cardiologist looking for the typical "French" fling; Paul Martine, an ER doctor and surgeon by day, and bar hopper by night; and Valerie Florent, a psychologist treating trauma victims, whose career occupies her whole life. All eight medical professionals jointly confront a very real terrorist emergency situation when a shooter enters an elementary school, firing at and killing over 100 students and faculty members. In the course of the visit, each doctor comes to understand new ways of viewing his or her own personal issues. Their stories continue to play out when they all come to San Francisco to complete their program. Narrator Todd McLaren provides good differentiation in the eight major voices in this story, based on age, nationality, sex, and social position. An interesting juxtaposition of characters, personalities, backgrounds and problems, as well as a propelling plot in a medical setting, will make this Danielle Steel audiobook intriguing to listeners of all ages.

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors, with almost a billion copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Beauchamp Hall, In His Father's Footsteps, The Good Fight, The Cast, Accidental Heroes, Fall From Grace, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina's life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children's books Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood.

Reviewed by Susan Allison
*Fred Vargas. This Poison Will Remain. Commissaire Adamsberg Series.
Translated from the French by Sian Reynolds.
Read by Chris MacDonnell.
11 CDs. 13 hrs.
HighBridge/A Division of Recorded Books. 2017/2019. 978-1-6845-7164-2.


Paris Police Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, head of the Paris Serious Crime Squad is as iconic, fascinating, creative, thoughtful, and accomplished in solving complex crimes as are Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Andrea Camillieri's Commissario Salvo Montalbano, Georges Simenon's Commissaire Jules Maigret and Henning Mankell's police inspector Kurt Wallander. Adamsberg's team of colleagues and the gradual collection of suspects is as equally varied.

In this 9th in the series, This Poison Will Remain, set in Paris, Nimes, and on the west coast of France, Adamsberg tackles three crimes - a 'simple' hit and run; stopping a stalker, and potential rapist, from harassing a police colleague (at the same time keeping it from the colleague for reasons carefully explained); and the deaths of increasing numbers of older men in different parts of France by recluse spiders. Were the deaths from recluse venom accidental or murder? The key word here is "recluse" which comes into play on many levels. If these spiders are indeed so "reclusive" (i.e. shy), why would they kill? And as it would take a large amount of their venom to kill, how could it be accomplished? Listeners will learn much more than they ever might want to know about such spiders, in graphic detail. Recluse spiders are not, as it turns out, always as deadly as they seem (especially the ones in France) but other "recluses" may be more so, and for very good reason. Connections between clues pop up in odd places. Listeners will learn much about Adamsberg's brilliant ability to solve cryptic crimes.

Vargas's expertise in French social, cultural, religious, medieval history is gripping here, as is her exploration of cruel and abusive treatment of and by children and the horrors that can result. Commissaire Adamsberg is nothing if not determined to solve these deaths, despite skepticism from superiors and colleagues. His persistence is notable. Listeners learn much about Adamsberg's team and why he is the boss.

Talented, quirky narrator Chris MacDonnell is perfect for this very long book, though, I confess, I initially questioned the use of a British actor as narrator in a very French series. In fact, I initially almost gave up after the first disk, but as Vargas is a #1 bestselling author in France, Italy and Germany, I persisted. MacDonnell's careful, plodding pace (most of police work is plodding) and British "regional" accents for the many characters, work very well in capturing the many personalities and plot as the details come together. Even repetition works in this lengthy tale. MacDonnell is a classically trained actor who has appeared on London's West End and the Royal National Theatre. He has also appeared on British television, radio and film. His experience shows. Translator Sian Reynolds also explains (carefully) French idioms, humor, and character traits through her excellent translation. Mesmerizing. Highly recommended. I can't imagine how I missed Vargas so far and now I can't wait listen to the other volumes in the series as soon as they become available.

Fred Vargas was born in Paris in 1957. A noted French archeologist and medieval historian by profession, she is now a bestselling author in France, Italy, and Germany. Vargas was the winner of the inaugural British Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie International Dagger for her novel The Three Evangelists, and is the first author to achieve such an honor. She is the winner of four International Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Association, In 2018, Vargas won the Princess of Asturias Prize for letters.

Reviewed by Jean Palmer, Editor of Sound Commentary
Nonfiction
Cris Beam. I Feel You. The Surprising Power of Extreme Empathy.
Read by Susan Ericksen.
8 CDs. 9.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019. 978-1-6844-1734-6.


As journalist Cris Beam points out in I Feel You, empathy is one of those concepts that we think we understand. But when we attempt to explain it, we realize it is actually quite hard to pin down. We're also not sure whether empathy is innate, or whether it can (or should) be taught. But empathy is today's buzzword, one that has been embraced by marketers, human resources departments, and educators. As Beam notes, self-esteem was the word of the 80s, and empathy is now our touchstone.

Luckily, Beam is adept at studying this squishy term from many different angles, investigating the neurological underpinnings for empathy, its use as a teaching tool, and the way it has been harnessed to help victims and perpetrators heal from genocide and state-sponsored oppression in a nonviolent way. Throughout the almost 10 hours of I Feel You, Beam wrestles with the precise meaning of empathy by learning about how it is used and understood in drastically different contexts. She ventures from the laboratory, where scientists are attempting to pinpoint brain activity directly connected to empathy, to a university in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where administrators used empathy rather than punishment as a means to address racism on campus. She also considers how empathy, and its lack, have shaped her own experiences, from growing up with a mentally-ill parent to raising a foster child herself. Given her extensive investigations and talent in simplifying some of the more mystifying scientific endeavors to understand empathy, I was surprised that the work did not deliver on its title: I found that I did not know what "extreme" (as opposed to, for example, "moderate" empathy) is, and what the surprising power of it is, because some of the situations in which empathy is harnessed as a tool or a balm do not always solve the problem. As Beam points out, using empathy to relate to a person of differing political beliefs often feels pointless, when they do not exhibit the same empathy towards you. And while this may be a case of a title over promising to hook the listener – or to deliver the impossible – I felt myself wanting more guideposts about how empathy, extreme or otherwise, can cure what ails us.

I Feel You is read by Susan Ericksen, whose warm and pleasant voice is an excellent match for the tone of this work. She has sufficient range to simply describe scientific studies but can also bring plenty of emotion to the descriptions of the traumatic experiences of many of the people that Beam interviews, and those of the author herself.

CRIS BEAM is the author of several award-winning books, including To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care and Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers. She teaches creative writing at Columbia, NYU, and Bayview Women's Correctional Facility.

Reviewed by Joanna Theiss
*Colin G. Calloway. The Indian World of George Washington. The First President, The First Americans, and The Birth of the Nation.
Read by Paul Heitsch.
HighBridge Audio, 19 CDs, 23.5 hrs. 2018 978-1-6844-1548-9.


The first president and the first Americans and the birth of the nation. But first, there were the Indians. Call them Indians, indigenous people, first Americans, native Americans--they were here hunting, farming, fishing, fighting with one another before the Europeans arrived. They ranged from the southern states, into New York and Ohio, Michigan, Canada--all over the continent. The five civilized tribes were the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles. The five nations of the Iroquois League were the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and later the Tuscarora. The Iroquois Confederacy comprised the Lenape, Miami, Creek and Delaware tribes.

Noted Indian leaders were Shingas, Tanaghrisson, Bloody Fellow, Joseph Brant, Red Jacket, Little Turtle, and White Eyes. As president, Washington hosted dinners for Indian leaders in Philadelphia in 1793. They called him "father." Wars were fought and treaties negotiated but he was still eager to acquire more Indian land. It was vital to the future of the new country.

When Washington was born in 1732 into a wealthy Virginia family, there were Indians around as slaves on his half-brother Lawrence's estate at Mount Vernon. He certainly saw some when he became a surveyor for the Culpepper Company at 16. His father had been a surveyor as well. He came to covet land belonging to the Indians and bought some when he was only 18. After his brother Lawrence died he inherited Mount Vernon and eventually owned 100,000 acres as well as numerous slaves.

Calloway presents this complicated relationship between Indians and their "conquerors" in great detail. Washington was helped by Indians and he valued their aid but he also knew that to prosper the Indian land must belong to settlers, some of whom were thieves and murderers.

This important history is narrated by Paul Heitsch, a producer and director of audiobooks for over 20 years. His rendition is perfect. There are battles and land speculation and politics to be navigated. Forts to be built, an army to be raised to defeat an Indian war. Even Jefferson approved a 3,000-man army at the cost of one million dollars in 1791. Washington, who had been "father," was now dubbed "town destroyer." But when he died in 1799, Washington believed he had saved the Indians by "civilizing" them, by turning them into settlers, farmers, and slave holders. Some Indians lamented his passing and praised him. But some of his 300 slaves ran away from Mount Vernon. The Civil War was inevitable. This book is highly recommended. Anyone interested in Indian history should read it.

Reviewed by Janet Julian
*Matti Friedman. Spies of No Country. Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel.
Read by Simon Vance.
5 CDs. 6 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019 978-1-6845-7126-0.


In late 1947/1948 when the fate of a state of Israel was in the balance, Friedman takes a detailed look at the spy network used by the British military and Jewish militia in Palestine during WW II and afterward. He focuses on four members of the group known as the Arab Section to tell this true story. They were all Jewish, but born in the Arab world and therefore fluent in both Hebrew and Arabic With a minimal knowledge of spycraft but particularly adept at improvising, it is generally acknowledged that the Arab Section led to the birth of the Mossad, the powerful Israeli intelligence agency.

Actor Simon Vance is an audiobook narrator extraordinaire who performs contemporary literary works as well as classics, children's books, and nonfiction. He has won 16 Audie Awards since 2002. He has also narrated audiobooks under the names of Richard Matthews and Robert Whitfield. As always, his meticulous preparation is obvious, with impeccable Hebrew and Arabic. Vance's performances are always a joy to listen to. However, despite his wonderful reading, listening to this book requires substantial background and knowledge and despite making some interesting observations, will appeal to a very limited audience.

Matti Friedman's 2016 book Pumpkinflowers was selected as one of the year's best by Booklist, Mother Jones, Foreign Affairs, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail. His first book, The Aleppo Codex, won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the ALA's Sophie Brody Medal, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for history. A former Associated Press correspondent, Friedman has reported from Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Moscow, the Caucasus, and Washington, DC, and his writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. Friedman grew up in Toronto and now lives with his family in Jerusalem.

Reviewed by Sue Rosenzweig
Megan Koreman. The Escape Line. How The Ordinary Heroes of Dutch-Paris Resisted The Nazi Occupation of Western Europe.
Read by Christa Lewis.
9 CDs. 11.5 hrs.
HighBridge Audio. 2018. 978-1-6844-1584-7.


Dutch-Paris was a courageous group that aided more than 3,000 Jews, political refugees, freedom fighters, and downed Allied airmen to escape German occupiers in three countries, Holland, Belgium, and France during World War II. Jean Weidner, a Dutchman living in France and son of a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, began the group when he helped a Dutch Jew escape with his family to neutral territory.

The Escape Line. How The Ordinary Heroes of Dutch-Paris Resisted the Nazi Occupation of Western Europe is a minutely detailed account, narrated in a clear and easy to listen to voice by Christa Lewis who has been nominated for an Audie Award and was a 2018 Listener's Choice finalist and whose narrations have become Audible bestsellers in YA and literary fiction online. Christa is a classically trained actress who got her start as the voice of an international television station, and has been a regular on hundreds of cartoons, museum guides, documentaries, and commercials. Christa is bilingual—she speaks accent-free German fluently and can offer a variety of accents and dialects. An experienced teacher and director, Christa teaches commercial voice-over and audiobook narration. She also speaks excellent French as well as other languages as she weaves the complicated story of Dutch-Paris with great facility. The many, many names of people and places (including addresses) in multiple languages makes keeping track very difficult in audiobook format. This will appeal to a listening audience that is very well informed and is passionate about the subject.

Megan Koreman was formerly Associate Professor of History at Texas Tech University. She has spent a decade researching and writing about the Dutch-Paris escape line. She is the daughter of Dutch parents who took part in the resistance and was given exclusive access to archives of the era.

Reviewed by Sue Rosenzweig

*Tea Krulos. Apocalypse Any Day Now. Deep Underground with America's Doomsday Preppers.
Read by Eric Michael Summerer.
7 CDs. 7.5 hrs.
Tantor.com. 2019 978-1-6180-3452-6.


This is an interesting look at America's doomsday preppers, members of society whose activities and outlook are focused on TEOTWAWKI, The End of the World As We Know It, and it should appeal to those who are interested in the various proponents of this movement, those who are intrigued by this politically- and environmentally-tinged outlook on our country's future, and those who are drawn to this non-fiction presentation by their enjoyment of post-apocalyptic tales.

The author, a journalist by trade, covers a very wide range of topics, all of which he participated in personally whenever possible. So there is sure to be at least one segment with high appeal for most listeners. Krulos starts with a survey of religious zealots from various eras with their End of Days predictions, and then moves on to explore Prepper gatherings and survivalist weekends; the Zombie Squad and their growth from film buffs to a disaster preparedness forum; the real estate opportunities (for the very wealthy) offered at the Survival Condos, a repurposed missile silo offering luxury accommodations for the post-disaster elite; and a wild & enjoyable Wasteland Weekend where Mad Max is melded with Burning Man.

Narrator Eric Michael Summerer presents these wide-ranging topics in a warm, personable, matter-of-fact style which lacks judgment of even the craziest aspects of prepperdom, making for easy and absorbing listening. This is a relatively quick listen and almost always intriguing to many listeners, making it a solid general purchase for libraries.

Tea Krulos is a freelance journalist and the author of Heroes in the Night and Monster Hunters. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Reviewed by Carol Reich
*Tony Spawforth. The Story of Greece and Rome.
Read by Steven Crossley.
14 CDs. 16 hrs. Recorded Books. 2018. 978-1-9800-1105-7.


This thoroughly researched history by Tony Spawforth, emeritus professor of ancient history at Newcastle University and a presenter of 8 archaeological documentaries for BBC2, is enlivened with personal accounts of his own explorations and travels in the lands he describes.

Ancient Greece was settled by about 3500 BC and influenced by the Minoans of Crete and later by the Mycenaens, about whom Homer wrote his epic poems. The first Greek city-states began with Athens and trade with Egypt and Syria. Athens and Sparta worked together and then warred with one another. Athens became a democratic state and Sparta became a military one, with the emphasis on universal military training and service. Greece was invaded by the Persians but Athens emerged as the leader of Greece and the formation of the Delian League. Under the leadership of Pericles Athens enjoyed a golden age but jealousy ended it with the defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). Rome first became involved in Greek affairs in 220 BC Eventually Greece suffered from barbaric invasions and it became part of the Ottoman Empire after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD.

According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus, descendants of the Trojan prince Aeneas. Until around 500 BC the area around Rome was controlled by the Etruscans. Warfare was continuous, however. Rome defeated Carthage in the Punic Wars and expanded into Greece and Asia Minor as well as Gaul (58 AD) and England (43 AD). Eventually Christianity was resurrected (no pun intended) by Constantine. Important names to remember: Socrates, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Livy, Tacitus, Cicero, Spartacus--they are all here in vivid detail.

This monumental work is narrated by Steven Crossley, British narrator, award-winning impressive talent. Both the book and its narration are highly recommended.

Tony Spawforth is emeritus professor of ancient history at Newcastle University, presenter of eight archaeological documentaries in the "Ancient Voices" series on BBC2, and author of numerous books, including Greece and the Augustan Cultural Revolution. He lives in Brighton, UK.

Reviewed by Janet Julian
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