July 2020
Adult Reviews
Fiction
*Isabel Allende. A Long Petal of The Sea.
Read by Edoardo Ballerini.
8 CDs. 10 hrs.
Penguin/Random House Audio. 2020.


According to the poet and activist Pablo Neruda, often quoted throughout the book, the "long petal" is Chile, stretching down the west coast of South America and a haven for Spaniards fleeing the regime of Francisco Franco and fascism just before WWII in Spain. The story begins in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War with Republican Victor Dalmau, a medical student, ministering to the wounded, and follows his life after his escape from his homeland to Chile and ends in 1994. Interwoven with the era's many historical details is Victor's relationship with Roser, his brother Guillam's pregnant sweetheart. Because Guillam has died in battle, Victor rescues her with a marriage of convenience and ensures her passage on the SS Winniipeg, a ship sailing with refugees to South America. They develop a very close and caring friendship, which survives years of problems and crushed hopes.

The popular and accomplished Edoado Ballerini narrates this blend of everlasting love amidst political upheaval dramatically and briskly. He delineates the characters by using varied and louder tones for the men and softer voices for the women. His fast pace is appropriate for the constantly changing, often distressing, circumstances.

Reviewed by Pat Dole
*Tamara Berry. Potions Are For Pushovers. An Eleanor Wilde Mystery.
Read by Sarah Zimmerman.
7 CDs. 9 hrs.
HighBridge Audio. 2019.


Tamara Berry's second book in her Eleanor Wilde Mysteries is delightful, witty, and keeps you guessing until the very end. Eleanor Wilde is an American faux witch/psychic who has made a small village in Sussex, England her new home. She supports herself by selling her potions to the local villagers. They are merely water with botanicals, and a splash of vodka. But not all the villagers have welcomed Eleanor with open arms. They either are suspect of her talents or afraid of her. Her psychic skills were born from necessity. Eleanor's sister was severely ill, and this was the only way she could raise money for Winnie's healthcare. Oddly enough, once Winnie passed, Eleanor suddenly developed the aptitude for hearing her voice. Coerced into attending the village church fete planning meeting, one of the members drops dead. When the police discover she was poisoned, Eleanor becomes the number one suspect and is told by the police she has to put a stopper on her potion making. With her two apprentices, Eleanor takes matters into her own hands by investigating the murder to save her livelihood.

Audie-nominated narrator Sarah Zimmerman has more than 150 books to her credit. Graduate of the Boston Conservatory and The Old Globe Theater, her acting talents shine here in a semi-voiced reading. The characters come to life, especially Eleanor. Listeners will look forward to the next in the series.

Tamara Berry is also the author of romance novels under the name Tamara Morgan and Lucy Gilmore.

Reviewed by Mercedes Smith
*Sara Blaedel. The Third Sister
Narrated by Molly Parker-Myers
8 CDs. 8 hours.
Hachette Audio. 2020


Accomplished Danish author and actress, Sara Blaedel does not disappoint in the conclusion of the long-awaited Family Secrets trilogy. This is a story where everything you thought you knew, just changed and keeps changing. Ilka has left her native Denmark for Wisconsin to settle up her father's affairs after he has died. He deserted her and her mother when Ilka was young, causing much trauma. Now it appears that he has had a funeral home business and a new family in Wisconsin! There are so many charming aspects to this story, one being all the likable characters. Yes, there are some bad guys – but all of the main characters are decent, likable heroes to be cheered on, Ilka most of all. Ilka is so present, so human that it would be impossible not to root for her. It is difficult to say much as nearly everything that happens is a spoiler, but this is a wonderful story with Molly Parker-Myers excelling once again narrating all the voices be they Danish or American.


Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
*Emily Bleeker. What it Seems. A Novel.
Read by Jess Nahikian.
8 CDs. 9.5 hrs.
Brilliance Audio. 2020.


This is the fifth novel by Chicagoan Emily Bleeker.

Tara's foster mother (Tara must call her "Mother") has told Tara that her parents gave her up at the age of eight because she was so impossible, behaved so badly, that she is very lucky that Mother has taken her in when no one else would have her. Tara's foster-mother has changed her name and her birthday. She has taught her to steal items that can then be sold on ebay. It's a miserable life being frequently locked in the closet and starved. All she has are her dolls who are her friends, the only ones she has to talk to – and the reality family, the Feeleys, whom she watches religiously online. She knows everything about them and longs to have a family like theirs. And her chance comes! The Feeleys are looking for a summer intern to join their crew – and Tara applies, using her real name, Angela. She is also pregnant, though not really; it is a disguise to gain sympathy from others while she is stealing. Though the Feeleys amazingly Do want her, choose her, she knows it is impossible – until Mother hits her so hard, she gets a concussion. She must escape. Obviously the story is very tense, with all the demons (Mother) lurking around the corner.

Narrator Jess Nahikian becomes Tara/Angela and every other character in the story. A self-proclaimed vagabond, trained in London, she brings all of Tara's fear, hesitations, longings into play along with the demon horror, Mother. She has narrated more than twenty audiobooks.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
*Jerome Charyn. Cesare: A Novel of War-Torn Berlin.
Read by David Colacci.
9 CDS. 11.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2020.


Cesare, award-winning prolific author Jerome Charyn's latest novel, is perhaps best described as a misfit mix of characters unlucky enough to be living in Berlin during the Nazi regime. Much of the plot relies on coincidences, beginning with the biggest one of a young half-Jewish naval sub cadet courageously rescuing a man who looks like a tramp from a bunch of thugs and saves his life. This man turns out to be Adm. Wilhelm Canaris, head of the chief of German military intelligence, who takes him under his wing and nicknames him Cesare after a character in a movie. Canaris ultimately worked against the Nazi regime. Sometimes Cesare's work seems to be helping the Gestapo and other times he is assigned to rescue Jews in Berlin, especially those being sent to Theresienstadt, the phony city in Czechoslovakia filled with a facade of restaurants, hotels, etc. that hid a train station that transferred millions to death camps like Auschwitz. When Cesare's half-Jewish girlfriend is sent there, Cesare works hard to rescue her. While the story is based on stories of Berlin and WWII and involves real people, there are many coincidences and seemingly changing allegiances that I found, and possibly listeners might find, confusing in places.

The excellent dramatic narration by David Collaci is reminiscent of WWII black and white movies which added to the tension of the book. Recommended.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss
Peter Colt. The Off-Islander.
Read by Keith Sellon-Wright.
6 CDs. 7.5 hrs.
HighBridge Audio. 2019.


Author Peter Colt was born in Boston and shortly thereafter moved to Nantucket. The Off-Islander takes place in both Boston and Nantucket with The Off-Islander his first novel that also takes place in Boston and Nantucket.

Andy Roark went to college following his time as a Green Beret in Vietnam. He dropped out and became a cop. He dropped that and became a private investigator. It's 1982; his time in Vietnam haunts him, causes nightmares and flashbacks. An old friend sets him up with a job that involves trying to locate the long-disappeared father of a woman whose husband is running for political office, not wanting to discover any surprises in her absent father's life to interfere with the political aspirations. Andy is not a very attractive protagonist with his non-stop drinking and incessant smoking but he is dedicated to his work which involves traveling back and forth between Boston and Nantucket.

There are few characters so there is not a lot of opportunity for Keith Sellon-Wright, a seasoned actor who has narrated a number of audiobooks, to display his expertise with voices but what he does is done well.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
*Fiona Cummins. The Family Next Door.
Read by Gemma Dawson.
8 CDs. 9.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2020.


Award-winning journalist and author Fiona Cummins spins a nightmarish tale of murder and mystery that will keep listeners mesmerized to the very end.

Architect Garrick Lockwood moves his family into 25 The Avenue with dreams of remodeling, flipping, and making a tidy profit. The house was a steal, and for a reason. 25 The Avenue has a history of revolving owners, and the Lockwood family will soon discover why. Four dead bodies have been found in the woods behind their new house, and a fifth is found on the day they move in. The Avenue has kept secrets that has haunted the street for decades and now the "Doll Maker" serial killings are menacing the neighborhood. The Lockwood family quickly gets caught up in the macabre happenings of The Avenue and it's inhabitants. Will one of them become the next Doll Maker victim?

Narrator Gemma Dawson does an amazing job bringing this book to life. A classically trained British actress, with over 60 audiobooks to her credit, her narrative style adds another dimension to the books. Her fully-voiced reading gives each character a true, individual personality. Her tone and style adds to the drama of the plot. Her theater background shines throughout the book making it a very pleasurable listening experience.

Reviewed by Mercedes Smith
*Ian Doescher & Jacopo Della Quericia. MacTrump. A Shakespearean Tragicomedy of The Trump Administration, Part 1.
Read by full cast. Susan Bennett, Rachel Botchan, Eliza Foss, Christopher Gebauer, Johnny Heller, Brian Hutchison, Jennifer O'Donnell, Thomas Picasso, Jonathan Todd Ross, T Ryder Smith, Henry Strozier, Jaine Ye and Adam Grupper.
4 CDs. 5 hrs.
HighBridge Audio. 2019.


Any lover of parody and satire, especially Democrats and the Disillusioned, will laugh out loud repeatedly at this play. Authors Ian Doescher (best-selling author of William Shakespeare's Star Wars and the Pop Shakespeare series) and Jacopo Della Quercia (pseudonym for a former Obama staffer, a scholar with the New York Council for the Humanities, and a history writer who has authored more than 100 articles for the comedy website Cracked.com) transform the United States into the United Feifdoms and provide an askew, very funny picture of what happened in the first two years of MacTrump's reign. Listeners may grumble or laugh at this Shakespearian send up, but they may find it hard not to admire the skill of the writing and the performances by the many players.

I didn't recognize the voices of all the narrators, but I did hear the voices of famous actors who must be disguised by pseudonyms, including one of the authors, a former Obama staffer. They were all great, though MacDuff and Lady Disdivanka were especially good and the two MacTrump sons, Donnison and Ericson are the perfect foils or fools. Even if you don't remember every ridiculous thing or character that happened in or to the early reign of MacTrump, you will see that MacTrump has not improved as a monarch at all.

MacTrump, A Shakespearean Tragicomedy of the Trump Administration is an excellent, hilarious send up and I look forward to the treatment of the impeachment and the afternoon briefings, etc. by the authors in Part II, when and if it is written.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss

Louise Doughty. Platform Seven.
Read by Olivia Dowd.
10 CDs. 12.25 hrs.
Clipper Audio/Recorded Books. 2019


The station attendant watches as a man walks to the edge of platform seven. He knows what the man intends to do. A woman, Lisa Evans, is watching, too, but she is dead. Thus begins the story of how Lisa Evans, a schoolteacher in her late 30s, met her death from the same platform. Flashbacks tell us of the relationship Lisa entered into with Matthew, a psychopathic doctor. Started out great, lots of fun and happiness; he moves into her place and bit by bit he works on destroying her. Phantom Lisa has been watching everyone from the outside, watching their actions, wishing she could warn them – and herself.

Louise Doughty has written nine novels now but is also a playwright, journalist, and a BBC Radio 4 presenter. Her writing has garnered many awards; she was granted an Honorary Doctorate from the University of East Anglia.

Olivia Dowd is a seasoned narrator with many titles under her belt. She expertly becomes Lisa Evans, Lisa's parents and friends, the station attendants, the police and the evil Matthew.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka

*Joseph Finder. House on Fire. Nick Heller #4.
Read by Holter Graham.
8 CDs. 10 hrs.
Penguin/Random House Audio. 2020.


Joseph Finder is the author of fifteen previous novels, his first being the Moscow Club in 1991. Finder majored in Russian Studies at Yale and received his Master's at the Harvard Russian Research Center. He has won many awards and one of his novels (High Crimes) was made into a movie.

House on Fire is the fourth entry in Finder's Nick Heller series. Nick was previously Special Forces but now is a Boston PI. This story begins with Nick attending the funeral of a very close friend who has died of an opioid overdose. Nick is sought out by the daughter of a man who has made a fortune producing an opioid drug for the pharmaceutical industry. The daughter hires Nick to find a buried report that proves her father knew how dangerously addictive the drug was before marketing it. The suspense and tension build quickly as Nick breaks into the man's study and safe in search of the hidden papers that would prove the producer's guilt. Finder is obviously a master in the thriller realm.

Professional narrator and actor Holter Graham is more than adept at conveying The novel's tension and equally comfortable with women's voices as men's. Listeners will not be disappointed with this entry in the series.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
Wendy J. Fox. If The Ice Had Held.
Read by Sarah Mollo-Christensen.
6 CDs. 7.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019.


If the Ice Had Held centers around one pivotal event: the death of a teenage boy, Sammy, who fell into an icy river in 1974. When he dies, his girlfriend is only fourteen and newly pregnant. We also learn about the rather dismal, lonely life of Melanie, a woman in her early thirties struggling to find contentment in her job and relationships, and how her story connects back to Sammy's death. The novel folds in multiple other points of view as well, from Sammy's girlfriend, Irene, as she mourns for Sammy and also scrambles to figure out her life now that he is gone, and Sammy's sister, Kathleen, desperate not to follow the path of her mother and sisters but determined to do right by Sammy's unborn child. Other characters who are touched by Sammy's death, even tangentially, are also given their own point-of-view narratives, including one of the married men with whom Melanie has a brief fling, and the man's wife, who turns out to be connected to Melanie in other, more complex ways.

Time periods fluctuate liberally as well, with many chapters taking place around the time of Sammy's death, but also including the mid-1980s and 2007, when Melanie is an adult.

Although the story contains beautiful imagery, including descriptions of a Colorado wildfire and the dramatic weather patterns of that part of the country, the frequent shifts between perspective and time period were difficult to follow in audiobook form. The disorientation is furthered by the similarities between characters, with a plethora of introverted, only children with missing fathers and a sense of mystery about the significance of their past. Although novels need not wrap up all the dangling endings in a neat bow to be successful, I yearned for more closure to these characters' sad stories.

Narrator Sarah Mollo-Christensen has a somber, mellow voice that matches the downbeat tone of this novel very well. She was also able to modulate her reading to suggest male voices without making a caricature of them.

Reviewed by Joanna Theiss
*Lisa Gardner. The Guy Who Died Twice. A Detective D.D. Warren Story.
Read by Kirsten Potter.
2 CDs. 1.75 hrs.
Brilliance Audio. 2019.

Police Detective D.D. Warren is at it again. This time a man walks into the police station and swears that he is dead. They can not convince him otherwise and eventually, he goes home. The next day Warren is called to a house where the same man now has a knife sticking out of his back. Now she must find out who murdered this man who already thought he was dead. Was it the wife, the doctor, the driver, the cook, or the maid? Who had the most to gain?

A Shakespearean trained actress, Kirsten Potter provides an amazing voice for the gruff, no-nonsense detective, brings her and all the other characters to life. Listeners will always know which character is speaking. Listeners will be in each scene. She has narrated other D.D. Warren novels. Fans of the series will enjoy Potter's reading and listeners will definitely want to listen to Potter as D.D. Warren again.

Reviewed by Meghan Yost
*Michael C. Grumley. Mosaic. A Breakthrough Story. book 5.
Read by Scott Brick.
15 CDs. 17.5 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2019.


Mosaic is the final volume of Grumley's innovative five-part science fiction Breakthrough series (with Breakthrough, Leap, Catalyst, and Ripple). Grumley effectively mixes real science and real technology with his science fiction plots adding elements of plausibility to narrative. Although this installment does wrap up a few of the plot lines in the series, it also leaves lots of room for a sixth book or for a new series.

This is a very entertaining series, highly recommended. The various teams of scientists and warriors within the secret United States government project that was established to protect the information about the ancient space ship that was discovered deep in the ocean keep working on their various projects. These projects include finding a way to enter the sunken space ship, locating some of the cargo that was removed from the sunken space ship that are hidden in secret vaults around the world, trying to understand how the DNA-altering cargo of the space ship affected human and animal evolution in the past, rescuing and protecting a young Chinese woman who was injected with some of the DNA-altering material found in the vaults, and thwarting the plans for vengeance of the United States CIA Director who wants to control the project. The various teams make use of the secret computer program which can communicate with dolphins and primates to gain information that helps to thwart some serious threats to their activities.

Scott Brick's reading is excellent in all respects. He captures the nuances of the different characters and the different situations very effectively.


Reviewed by Hugh M. Flick, Jr.
*Michael C. Grumley. Ripple. a Breakthrough Story.
Read by Scott Brick.
11 CDs. 12.25 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2020.


Ripple is the fourth volume of Michael C. Grumley's innovative five-part science fiction/fantasy Breakthrough series (with Breakthrough, Leap, and Catalyst). Since I hadn't read or listened to any of the first three books in the series, it was difficult at first to understand what was happening in Ripple since several plot lines are continued in this installment. The main plot line follows the decision by the leaders of a top-secret American research project to relocate its activities because these activities have been compromised and have become the target of Chinese and Russian attempts to steal the special information, the equipment, and the biological samples that the project has amassed. The special information involves the location of a huge space ship deep in the ocean and the location of some vaults of active biochemical agents that were left in various places around the world by aliens. The equipment involves a computer system developed by American IT specialists in this top-secret project that has been able to communicate with dolphins and with primates. The biochemical agents found in the vaults have special properties that can alter biological DNA and that may have been responsible for human evolution. Another plot line follows a young Chinese woman who has ingested some of the DNA-altering chemicals and who is trying to escape from the Chinese agents who are pursuing her. There is also a plot line about several members of the American task force who are returning a young gorilla and a young monkey to Africa as they search for another vault of the alien biochemical samples. In addition, there is a group of aliens who have come to Earth to find ways to save their own planet which has become environmentally damaged. All-in-all, these plot lines create a very interesting narrative. Brick's semi-voiced reading is excellent in all respects. He captures the nuances of the different characters and the different situations very well.

Reviewed by Hugh M. Flick, Jr.
*Darynda Jones. A Bad Day for Sunshine. A Novel.
Read by Lorelei King.
10 CDs. 11.5 hrs.
Macmillan Audio. 2020.


Darynda Jones has been writing for many years with a number of different series, most prolific being the Charley Davidson. A Bad Day for Sunshine marks the first of a new series: the Sunshine Vicram series with Sheriff Sunshine Vicram finding herself elected sheriff of a small town in New Mexico where she grew up. She did not enter the race, but here she is. The magic with this story is the light/heaviness. There is a lot of humor yet the cases Sunshine is trying to solve are pretty serious. Luckily she is aided by her best friend and fellow officer, Quincey, and her teenage daughter Auri. A teenage friend of Auri's has been kidnapped and has been warned that she will be killed before she turns 15, a few days off. Can she be found before that happens?

Reader Lorelei King is an actress and screen writer who has narrated numerous audiobooks. She is excellent here mastering the voices of Sunshine, Quincey, teenager Auri, the grandparents, Sunshine's love, Levi, and all other characters in this wonderful story.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
*Jonathan Kellerman. The Museum of Desire. An Alex Delaware Novel. 35th in the series. Read by John Rubinstein.
9 CDs. 11 hrs.
Random House Audio. 2020.

LAPD Lieutenant Milos Sturgis has no hesitation about calling in his psychologist friend Dr. Alex Delaware for help with a bizarre massacre of four people left in a limousine in a deserted mansion in Bel Air. The victims seem to be laid out as if in scene from a painting. Narrator John Rubinstein has perfect voices for the characters. The characters' voices will be recognized by listeners addicted to the series because the reader has narrated many, if not all, of the previous Delaware/Sturgis books. Gender voices are excellent, as are the accents (note Yiddish waiter) and Rubinstein's sarcastic edge is unbeatable. Gripping from beginning to end, Rubinstein's performances are always terrific, but this one is a standout.

Reviewed by Susan Rosenzweig

*Jayne Ann Krentz. The Vanishing. Fogg Lake, Book 1.
Read by Sandra Michelle.
7 CDs. 8.25 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2020


The Vanishing is the first in Jayne Ann Krentz's new paranormal trilogy, Fogg Lake.

Many years ago, an explosion in the underground caves of the small town of Fogg Lake released gases which caused the residents to sleep for 2 days. When the people woke up, they discovered they had changed, and all not in the same way; some had visions, some heard voices but when scientists arrived to do testing, everyone blamed their side effects on food poisoning, which let things fade so everyone could go on with their lives. Then descendants started showing effects of the poisonous gas as well.

Catalina and Olivia, best friends from childhood in Fogg Lake. They witnessed a murder in Fogg Lake but were talked out of that as just a hallucination from being in the cave overnight. Moving onto life after college Catalina and Olivia start a paranormal investigation agency together in Seattle. Much changes when Olivia disappears on her way to meet her boyfriend. Slater shows up from the mysterious 'Foundation,' a paranormal agency, to help with the search for Olivia, using his talents and Cat's to find Olivia and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding what happened so long ago.

Sandra Michelle, an actress who lives in Australia with her husband, provides an excellent narration. She reads in a brisk manner and keeps all the many characters differentiated very well. Prolific author Krentz's excellent story and Michelle's brisk reading will keep listeners listening.

Reviewed by Terry Cervantes
*Donna Leon. Trace Elements.
Read by David Colacci.
10 CDs. 10 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2020.


In another gripping novel featuring Venetian police Comissario Guido Brunetti and Claudia Griffoni, they must pursue actively a case concerning the mysterious last words of a woman dying in a hospice which concern the death of her husband, an inspector of water purity, and money she calls "bad," which involved him.

Assisted by their compatriot, the computer genius Signorina Elettra, Brunetti and Griffoni conduct a thorough investigation of a possible murder and a definite threat to the safety of the communal water supply involving possible cover-ups of illegal dumping of toxic substances into a river. The distressing conclusion is an accusation of human greed and self interest. As in all Leon's books, the decaying city of Venice, with its unique citizens, culture, crowds of tourists and often inclement weather, is a fascinating background for these crimes.

Actor David Colacci is an excellent narrator. He gives appropriate Italian cadence to the dialogue and differentiates the characters skillfully. By changing the pitch of his voice he portrays a variety of women individually, He animates the story expressively, brings out the touches of humor, and keeps up the listener's interest throughout.

I have always enjoyed Leon's tales of modern Venice, and this is not an exception, but she has written better ones. Trace Elements, it seems to me, is more formulaic and less compact. However, the decency of Brunetti, his family, most of his associates at the Questura, and many ordinary citizens versus the greed and deception of the oligarchy is notable. I was in Venice in 1949, shortly after the end of WW2 and before tourismo flooded sidewalks. It was fabulous; amazingly, since they had recently been our enemies, the Italians were far more warmly friendly to us than our allies the French and British.

Reviewed by Pat Dole
*Emily St. John Mandel. The Glass Hotel.
Read by Dylan Moore.
9 CDs. 10.5 hrs.
Penguin/Random House Audio 2020.


This is the fifth novel by Emily St. John (her middle name) Mandel. What is unique about the story, for me anyway, is that I never was sure where it was going, what it was actually about. I kept waiting for the pieces to fall into place. And they do – but it is more a slice of life story about a number of different people who are all well-developed. And somewhat mysterious. Vincent is the half-sister of Paul; she marries Jonathan (everyone thinks so but they never actually marry), a wealthy investment banker, who turns out to be a crook who makes off with people's life savings. We follow Vincent through her job as a bartender, companion to a wealthy crook to living at sea for the rest of her life. We visit Jonathan in prison who is serving more than 100 years for his many thefts. We also have glimpses of her brother Paul's life and some of the people that Jonathan has swindled.

Dylan Moore is an actress and producer who has narrated a number of other audiobooks. She shines here depicting each character's emotions of anger, fear, bewilderment and happiness, be they male or female.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
*Liam McIlvanney. The Quaker. A D.I. McCormack Mystery.
Read by Angus King.
9 CDs. 11 hrs.
HighBridge Audio. 2018.

In this thriller, set in Glasgow in 1969, the entire city is on edge because of a serial killer who has murdered three young women from dance halls and the police have no clue as to who is the predator. During the same period a jewelry heist occurs and the question arises as to whether or not all the events are connected. D.I. Duncan McCormack is brought in from the Highlands to help solve the crimes and is given a very cold welcome, to say the least. As he delves into the city's secrets, his own are revealed, and how he goes about solving the crime is a fascinating psychological experience. The atmosphere is grim and gritty and is utterly convincing. Angus King's Scottish burr is perfect. Adding a new twist, each of the murdered girls' ghosts tell their stories and the characters' voices are amazingly believable. A surprise ending is the cherry on the cake. Winner of the 2018 Scottish Crime Book of the Year, hopefully this is the beginning of a series.

Reviewed by Susan Rosenzweig
*Amanda Prowse. The Light in the Hallway.
Read by the author.
8 CDs. 10 hrs.
Brilliance Audio. 2019.


The Light in The Hallway by popular British author Amanda Prowse is a lovely and gritty story of a family that live in a small town in England and experiences many ups and downs. It focuses on Nick, a man in his forties who has recently lost his wife, Kerry, to cancer and whose son, Olly, is just starting university. These are real people, grieving. They love each other, they hurt each other, they do stupid things, they are forgiven and they manage life's hurdles. Their problems are universal, but their solutions are unique.

Kerry and Nick married at eighteen because she was pregnant; they are mostly happy. Nick works in the same factory as his Dad that produces strung lights for celebrations, Christmas lights, fairy lights, etc. As a kid, he is close to his Dad who teaches him many things before his relatively early death. Overhearing Nick and his friends lusting for new bikes, he gets Nick half of a bicycle and Nick and his friends have to figure out what to get to make it whole. Nick remains best friends with one of the boys, Erik, for the rest of his life. Unlike Erik's mother who deserts him and treats him badly as does his Dad, Nick's mum accepts Erik and is always ready to feed him even as an adult.

When Olly goes off to University, Nick struggles to figure out his own life, but just when he starts his own quest, Olly calls with an emergency, which reveals both of their fallibilities. When Nick starts "seeing" a woman from work and Olly finds out about it, they have to get past the hurdle and when the factory he and his friends have worked at for their whole lives closes, they have to deal with the repercussions of that. The story is told with flashbacks to 1992, when Nick and his friends are dealing with growing up as kids to the present when they are growing up as grown men.

Author/narrator Amanda Prowse has a wonderful voice with just the right accent and the dialects are wonderful. The author obviously loves and forgives her characters for their foibles as she expresses the emotions of all of them delightfully. You will probably not be able to resist repeating some of the slang as you listen.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss
*Ruth Rendell. The Crocodile Bird.
Read by Jill Tanner.
11 CDs. 12.25 hrs.
Recorded Books. 1993/2019.


Ruth Rendell (1930-2015) was a prolific, award-winning English author of thrillers and psychological murder mysteries. The Crocodile Bird, a novel about obsession, murder, and a controlling mother, is arresting (no pun intended) and almost magical.

Imagine that you are 4-year-old Liza Beck looking out your bedroom window in the gatehouse of the stately Shrove House manor. You see your mother Eve set the estate owner's two Doberman pinschers on a strange man and when they don't quite kill him, get out a gun and finish the job. You learn later that Eve has hidden the body in the woods on the estate. And as you grow up with this weird woman, you learn that she has murdered more than one man. You tell no one because Eve has kept you away from the world, educating you herself and when you are young, locking you up while she goes to Shrove House to clean. The gatehouse has no bathroom and no phone, so you learn nothing about the outside world. All you know is your mother's obsession with Shrove House, which she was once due to inherit from old Mr. Tobias, for whom she was caring during his last illness. When she was forced to be away for a time, he changed his will and left the estate to his son Jonathan, with whom Eve had grown up. She had then expected Jonathan to wed her but he married elsewhere and traveled the world. It is only when she is almost 17 that Liza gets to tell her life story, like Scheherazade, to her boyfriend Sean, a handyman on the estate. As he hears of Eve's behavior, Sean is horrified, but Liza defends her mother, like the crocodile bird which lives near the dangerous killer and tends for it lovingly. I will not tell you what happens to Eve or Liza, but their lives will intrigue you.

The novel is narrated by Jill Tanner, born in England, and an actor in plays on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in most major theaters in the United States. She has recorded more than 100 books. In England she trained at the Royal Academy of Art. Her reading of this novel does this thrilling and complicated book justice. It comes alive with Liza's coming of age and her deep devotion to an 'over-protective' mother. Both the novel and its narration are highly recommended.

Reviewed by Janet Julian
*Karen Robards. The Fifth Doctrine. A Novel.
Read by Julia Whelan.
8 CDs. 10 hrs.
Brilliance. 2019.


Karen Robards' sexy thriller The Fifth Doctrine will have listeners yearning for more before the end of the first chapter. The storyline follows super spy/thief Bianca St. Ives as she unwillingly poses as an NSA contractor who is trying to sell sensitive government documents to the North Koreans while working with "former" love interest Colin Rogan. Car chases, bombings, espionage, and suspense fill the pages of this dynamic thriller.

It would be difficult to find a more convincing audiobook narrator than Julia Whelan. Whelan's mastery of vocal ranges shows as she brings Bianca and Colin, along with their bevy of cohorts from various countries, to life. Keeping it cool under extreme pressure, regardless of the situation—being shot at, escaping tortuous conditions in a hidden prison camp, resisting (mostly) smoldering passions—Whelan keeps her characters under control and believably superhuman. Both Colin and Bianca work hard to control their emotions and not let those around them become aware of their true thoughts. An internal dialogue seamlessly flows between the dynamic duo, as if their connection includes mind reading. Whelan's mastery of several languages and dialogues adds to her performance. Both men and women will enjoy this performance.

Whelan has narrated countless titles, including Kristen Hannah's The Great Alone, Linda Holmes' Evvie Drake Starts Over, Tara Westover's Educated, Nora Roberts' The Witness, and Jojo Myes' The Giver of Stars.

Reviewed by Lisa Arnold
*LJ Ross. Impostor. An Alexander Gregory Thriller.
Read by Hugh Dancy.
6 CDs. 7 hrs.
Clipper Audio/Recorded Books. 2019/2020


Impostor, the first of LJ Ross's Dr. Alexander Gregory series, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2020 Crime Thriller of the Year. It is a thrilling psychological murder mystery set in beautiful County Mayo Ireland, in the small town of Ballyfinny.

Dr. Alexander Gregory is a London Forensic Psychiatrist who has the gift of getting deep into people's minds. At the request of his mentor, Dr. William Douglas, Gregory goes to Ireland to help a small township with a very baffling murder. Ballyfinny mayor, Maggie Byrne, whose two sons, Niall and Conner, happen to be the Garda Investigators in charge of the investigation, requests Gregory prepare a criminal psychological profile, in hopes it could lead to solving the murder of a local teacher. Gregory is soon caught up in the intrigue of small town politics and a bizarre murder. Racing against the clock, Gregory fears the "Ballyfinny Butcher" may strike again. He finds himself being road blocked at every turn. The Garda are not pleased to have an outsider interfering, and the town does not want a stranger, especially someone from London, exposing their small town secrets.

Narrator Hugh Dancy is the well known English stage and screen actor, best known for his portrayal of a criminal profiler on the NBC television show Hannibal. Dancy's narration of Impostor is an added bonus in this audiobook. His semi-voiced narration is thoroughly enjoyable and mesmerizing. His English accent gives his recording authenticity since the main character is British. LJ Ross is also the author of the DCI Ryan Series.

Reviewed by Mercedes Smith
Erica Spindler. The Look-Alike.
Read by Tavia Gilbert

Digital download. 11.25 hrs.
Macmillan Audio. 2020.

Sienna Scott is traumatized after an event that happened on her college campus. The coincidences are so many that she believes she should have been the victim of the crime. After living in London, Sienna returns home to the place where it all happened as well as the place where she is known as the daughter of "Crazy Mrs. Scott."

Sienna's mother suffers from a psychosis that causes paranoia. Sienna looks just like her mother and fears that she may be like her in more ways than just a physical appearance. Does she suffer from the same psychosis as her mother? Some people certainly think so. As she moves back into her childhood home, mysterious events make her think that the killer
This claustrophobic thriller is perfect for fans of fast paced action. There's many twists and turns, some that are easy to predict and others not. In fact, at times it feels like there are too many twists and turns, so the reader may need to suspend their disbelief for a moment or two. This might not be for readers who prefer to be "shown" more than "told" but it will appeal to readers who want a book they can tear through in one sitting.

Narrator Tavia Gilbert deftly handles the cast of characters and her voice adds a sense of urgency to the mystery, adeptly capturing Sienna's emotions as she struggles to find the truth.

Reviewed by Lynn Blair
Faith Sullivan. Ruby & Roland. A Novel.
Read by Chloe Cannon.
5 CDs. 6.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019


Prolific author Faith Sullivan's novel follows the story of Ruby Drake, a fortunate child with loving parents with poetic natures and with love and full support in a small town in Illinois farm country and a future in education. It is early 1900s. Everything that seems possible for 10-year-old Ruby ends with the death of her parents who are killed in a carriage ride in the snow. Her aunt takes care of her for a while. Then when she is 12, she is hired out to a farm family as their "hired girl" in Harvester, Minnesota on another small family farm, then to another family when the first family can no longer keep her. The third home is a good fit. Luckily the family she works for like and respect her. The wife Emma especially cares for her and makes her feel valuable and good. Ruby self-educates through library books. She stays in contact with a Professor who was friend of her parents and who sends her money and encouragement.

Across the road live Roland and his wife Dora. Ruby has a crush on Roland and pities him because his wife behaves like an invalid. Ruby thinks it is only work and Roland who seem to make her sick. Roland and Ruby have a secret affair which pleases both. When Dora hears rumors, she tries to kill herself but instead injures herself severely. Ruby is given the job of helping her and there is instant dislike between them. A misunderstanding leads Dora to believe that someone else is Roland's lover and Ruby and Dora become friends.

When Ruby is offered an opportunity to move to Salisbury, Iowa and live with her Aunt Bertha and then in a woman's boarding house, she takes advantage of it. She gets a job at the University, thanks to the professor who, of course, is in love with her.

The story covers the span of the years from Ruby's childhood to her late adulthood and narrator Chloe Cannon captures the spirit of the dreamy parents, the young and older Ruby and the other women in the story. But to me, neither Roland nor the Professor seemed real.

Reviewed by Nola Theiss
Christian White. The Wife and the Widow
Read by Caz Prescott.
6 CDs. 7 hrs.
Macmillan Audio. 2020

Two families. Abby (the wife), her husband, Ray and their son live on an island off Australia's coast. Kate (widow) lives in Melbourne with her husband John and their daughter. When Kate's husband does not return from a business trip, he is reported missing. She goes to the island to look for him.

Abby's husband is acting really strange and hostile. What's going on? As the stories and the characters intertwine, the mystery grows and grows. Bit by bit the reader learns what is going on but this one pretty much keeps you guessing until the end. Caz Prescott does an excellent job of presenting all the characters, Men, Women, teenagers, children, grandparents. She is superb.

Christian White is an Australian author and screenwriter. The Wife and the Widow is his second novel.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
Nonfiction
*The Hebrew Bible. Translation with commentary by Robert Alter.
Read by Edoardo Ballerini.
54 CDs. 64 Hours.
Recorded Books. 2019.


In this interesting new translation of the Bible, Robert Alter caps a lifetime of distinguished scholarly work.He has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. His achievements in scholarship ranging from the eighteenth-century European novel to contemporary Hebrew and American literature earned Alter the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. In this 3-volume set (54 CDs), Alter provides long and scholarly introductions to the entire work and to each section. However, listeners should be aware that the commentaries (which are in the books) are not included. This is not so much an omission, but logistically it was impossible to include them in an audio version. In the books, each commentary for the verses that appear on the page is on the bottom of the page (a line separates the text from the commentary in the books). And each is numbered according to the verse number. Ballerini was recognized as a Golden Voice by Audiofile . He is a beautiful and popular reader. His narration is wonderful – dramatic and poetic – reading with great feeling and passion. What stands out in this very long work is that his voice is fresh and animated throughout, from the first CD to the last. One difficulty for the listener is that the audio is comprised of 54 CDs with no hint as to what is contained on each CD. Such information is not provided on each CD label either, making it impossible to find a particular book, section, or verse. It is really a shame that such a wonderful narration is marred by the difficulty in finding particular sections. This scholarly and academic work might have a limited audience of scholars but for those lay people with an interest, it is a worthwhile listening experience. For those desiring to delve more deeply by reading the commentaries, the PDF is: https://www.academia.edu/40352517/The_Hebrew_Bible_A_Translation_with_Commentary_Vol._Three-Volume_Set_by_Robert_Alter

Reviewed by Susan Rosenzweig
*Molly Case. How to Treat People. A Nurse's notes.
Read by Henrietta Meire.
6 CDs. 7 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019.


Molly Case is a writer, poet, and cardiac nurse specialist at St. George's Hospital in London. She was born and raised in London. In this memoir, Molly describes nurses' daily duties, tests, collecting medical histories and symptoms. She also explains everything in a concise, easy to grasp way which makes it easy to understand what the patient is being tested for or diagnosed with. Reader Henrietta Meire does an excellent job bringing the author's words and characters to the forefront of Molly's story so you want to hear what is going to happen as the narrative continues.

Molly shares personal stories: her grandmother's death and her own experiences as a teenager when she had an operation that helped to save her life. Both experiences enabled her to see nurses and how they work and were the beginning of her dream to become a nurse. She takes us through the learning process of becoming a nurse, as well as being caring and compassionate to the people in her charge. She also takes listeners through the initial stages of her father's heart condition starting with her first questions of his symptoms, taking listeners along with his testing and having his subsequent surgery at the hospital where she is a cardiac nurse specialist. Molly also shares the care, understanding, and responsibility of respectfully taking care of those who have died.

Reviewed by Terry Cervantes
James Loewen. Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (2nd Edition).
Narrated by L. J. Ganser
Digital Download. 18.5 hours.
Recorded Books. 2019


Have you ever read a historical marker and really thought about the words there? The message it's trying to convey? What it ISN'T saying? Who is responsible for erecting it? Are the words misleading, or downright false? After listening to James Loewen's Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (2nd Edition), any person who visits a historic site or reads a historical marker will ask themselves these questions and more. Loewen provides a meticulously researched account of instances in all fifty states of museums and markers that don't tell the whole story, or even convey a laughably false narrative. He also discusses what some historical sites have gotten right. This second edition is revised for 2019, with updates on some of the places mentioned in the first edition. Some have corrected their misinformation based on their appearance in that book. The appendices include a list of statues that should be toppled that is particularly timely, though Loewen is quick to assert that he doesn't mean the word literally; he believes in civil discourse as a precursor to removing and/or rehoming statues in museums where they can be explained in context.

Narrator L. J. Ganser is a member of SAG-AFTRA, and an accomplished narrator. He has performed hundreds of titles in various genres. His narration here is clear and compelling, delivered with a balance between weighty and witty. The only fault this reviewer could find with the production is a soft undercurrent of snoring at around the 12:09:30 mark! Rest assured, listeners, the book shouldn't put anyone to sleep! Recommend this to history lovers, especially those who would like to learn more about the United States' troubled and troubling history of white supremacy and Confederate worship. (Ed. note: Loewen is also the author of the popular Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.)

Reviewed by Olivia Durant
*Moby. Then it Fell Apart.
Read by the author.
9 CDs. 10.25 hrs.
Clipper Audio/Recorded Books. 2019.


This is the second volume in Moby's life.

I have been aware of Moby for a long time but only because of his involvement with Farm Sanctuary and animal rights. I had no idea he was so successful that he could afford a seven-million-dollar apartment overlooking Central Park in NYC. I didn't know he could be found at a party in Australia with Ewan MacGregor and Russell Crowe. I have never listened to his recordings. So I also obviously did not know that he grew up quite poor with a mother on food stamps and welfare, where his clothes came from Salvation Army and Goodwill. Moby tells his story alternating between the past – when he was poor – and the present where he is wealthy. He wants to be successful and famous – and he attains that goal but he somehow cannot meld his past with his present. He drinks so much and takes so many different drugs that it is quite amazing he is still alive. It takes an awful lot for him to accept that he is an alcoholic and a drug addict. Though he is scrupulously forthright, he remains somewhat of a mystery.

His story is fascinating and very well told – and very well narrated by himself.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
Kathy Peiss. Information Hunters. When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe.
Read by Suzanne Toren.
10 CDs. 11.5 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2020.


Just when you thought everything there was to be known about WWII had already been published, along comes Information Hunters by Kathy Peiss, Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania, to reveal the little-known story of librarians, archivists, scholars, political figures, and the Library of Congress among others, who set out to retrieve, save from destruction, and collect (not always with honorable intent), books, papers, maps, documents etc. from Germany and other European countries. Some time is spent on the ethics of destroying Germany's cultural history, and the issue of restitution is addressed. However, the reality is that most of the materials went to the Library of Congress and private universities and the Hoover Institute. Peiss is a cultural historian, whose grandfather happened to be among the people chosen to carry out this enormous task. The book is meticulously researched and very detailed. Lots of organizations were involved so there are many, many acronyms to keep track of, as well as the large number of people taking part. They were, in essence, the "Monuments Men" for the written word rather than the arts.

Narrator Suzanne Toren's voice is very pleasant to listen to, and though giving each character a unique voice was obviously impossible, she does distinguish gender voices and provides occasional accents. She reads with a nice tempo that moves the story along nicely. Toren was inducted as a Golden Voice, AudioFile's lifetime achievement honor for audiobook narrators.

Information Hunters will most appeal to librarians, scholars, and those who have a specific interest in the topic.

Reviewed by Susan Rosenzweig
Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi. *Stamped. Racism, Antiracism, and You. A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning.
Read by Jason Reynolds. Introduction read by Ibram X. Kendi.
4 CDs. 4 hrs.
Hachette Audio. 2020.


Having lived on the south side of Chicago during the 1960's in the time of the Blackstone Rangers and the death of Martin Luther King and having recently visited many of South Carolina's pre-Civil War plantations this past winter, I was interested in hearing this audiobook about race, segregation, and antiracism. Stamped is a "reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning," written by Jason Reynolds, American author of notable books for middle and teen readers. As narrator Reynolds says right off – this is NOT a history book. It is a book about here and now, a book about race, and a book to help us understand why we are where we are. He proceeds to trace ideas about race from ancient civilization to the present day, showing how racism spread, how racism became a part of the texture of this country. Frequently, Reynolds reinterprets the actions of various historical figures in a new perspective, in the light of their subtle, and not so subtle, racist beliefs. His presentation is quite unorthodox, infiltrated by loud, shocking music which serves to break up the sections of the story. Reynolds seems to be speaking directly to you, sometimes poking fun at you, sometimes injecting humor into the telling, sometimes bringing you sharply back to his message. He frequently poses the question to you, the listener – Are you a racist? A segregationist? Or an antiracist? He makes you think about what you personally believe. For this reason, especially in our present day world and country, everyone should listen to this audiobook, particularly teens, because the problem of racism surfaces every day in America. This is an excellent audiobook for people interested in the racism question, in history in general, in politics, in social history, and in relationships between peoples.

Reviewed by Susan Allison
*Kori Rumore, Marianne Mather. He had It Coming. Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories. The True Stories That Inspired the Musical Chicago.
Read by Tanya Eby.
3 CDs. 3.5 hrs.
HighBridge. 2019.


Even if you're not a fan of musical theater, you're likely familiar with Chicago, the 1920's-era story of four women on death row. And while the musical Chicago is famous for its choreography, female-dominated cast, and depictions of sexy murderesses, the true stories of the women upon which the play was based were not so glamorous. In He Had It Coming, journalists Kori Rumore and Marianne Mather dive deep into the Chicago Tribune's archives to uncover the real lives of the women accused of killing their husbands and lovers, on whom reporter and playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins based her play. Through newspaper coverage of their arrests and trials, many written by Dallas Watkins herself, we are reintroduced to the women of Chicago. Rather than the dangerous sexpots that the play, and the reporting at the time, created, the real women endured poverty, violence, and discrimination. While all of the women's lives included tragedy, Sabella Nitti's terrible experience included anti-immigrant motivations that will be familiar to modern readers a hundred years after the fact. An Italian immigrant, Nitti, who was arrested on thin evidence for the murder of her husband, was portrayed in the press and at her trial using every anti-immigrant, anti-Italian, and misogynistic stereotype available. But Nitti probably knew very little of that; because there was no available interpreter for the dialect of Italian that she spoke, she didn't understand the evidence against her, nor the arguments made by prosecutors seeking to put her to death.

Rumore and Mather's investigation of these four women, as well as their examination of Dallas Watkins' own interesting life, forces a critical, and well-timed, scrutiny of stories like Chicago, and should be included in the canon of other modern re-analyses of women's stories.

He Had It Coming also includes essays from theater and film critics, who discuss the significance of the staging, choreography, and performances in the musical and movie adaptations of the play. And while inclusion of these essays means that the listener endures some repetition, especially on the rough outlines of the plot, the essays help those who may be less familiar with Chicago understand the story's cultural impact even as they learn the truth about the women on whom the story is based.

Tanya Eby was an excellent choice as the reader for He Had It Coming. She has a strong, vivid voice and some flair for drama, like when she's quoting some of the more salacious headlines about the women whose lives became newspaper fodder, but she isn't shy about expressing emotion when appropriate.

Reviewed by Joanna Theiss
Christine Stein. Climbing out of the Wreck. A Survivor's Tale.
Read by Almarie Guerra.
5 CDs. 6 hrs.
HighBridge. 2020.


Educated this is not.

Christine Stein is the pseudonym of a photographer who also runs a horse sanctuary. For me, her account of growing up in a dysfunctional family sounded more like airing dirty laundry and having an excuse to use as much vulgar language in quoting family members that she could. She also illustrates just how much she rose above these circumstances though none of her siblings or parents did.

Narrator Almarie Guerra is an actress who has narrated a number of audiobooks, both fiction and non-fiction and for both children and adults. As she is bilingual she has also narrated a number of books in Spanish. She does a good job here; the material requires a lot of anger and rage, which she most creatively displays.

Reviewed by Katrina Yurenka
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