AUDIO BOOK REVIEWS
by Jonathan Lowe
| You begin to
wonder just how bad the situation is in Afghanistan with the
Taliban after hearing the well researched fictional suspense
SHADOW PATROL by Alex Berenson. Is the U.S. military
somehow connected to a drug trafficking operation there? Is
the CIA really as ineffective as it seems? Berenson's character
John Wells is sent to investigate the situation after a trusted
Jordanian doctor turns out to be a double agent and blows
himself up, along with some of the station's senior officers.
The culpability of an American falls under scrutiny in this
novel (one of over 800) narrated by veteran
reader George Guidall. As usual, Guidall
is superb in guiding the narrative forward, keeping the listener
engaged, and disappearing behind the story with a low key
but effective tone.
GIRL by Erin Duffy a female Wall Street bond
trader goes to work at Cromwell Pierce, with a dreaded boss
similar to the one in The Devil Wears Prada.
The theme of this chick-lit novel is 'men are jerks,' or
'can't live with'em, can't live without'em.' The theme is
softened a bit, later on, but despite the author's claim
that she wanted to portray the industry as something other
than one populated by greedy pricks, she sets off by establishing
that from the beginning. There is much humor here, though,
and it's filled with quirky characters, most of whom are
one-and-a-half dimensional. Narrator Robin Gwyne
gives an exuberant performance, sounding much like a twenty-ish
college student with juicy gossip to share. The first person
confessional tone to it rings true, just remember to bring
your bubble gum while listening on your shopping trip to
Catherine Scott penned a post Civil War historical
CHILD OF THE SOUTH that
is a sequel to "The
Road from Chapel Hill." The book centers
on Eugenia May Spotswood, who returns home to North Carolina
to search of her birth mother, and to pick up the pieces
of her life. Tension between freed slaves and those who
oppose reconstruction, together with Eugenia's relationship
with her senator/benefactor, supply the backdrop for this
portrait of the South, when education and medical attention
were needed as much as carpentry and bricklaying skills.
There are racial and social devisions to be set aside if
any progress can be made, and romance also enters the story,
which is narrated with theatrical effect
by Karen White. While it could have been easier
to simply read the book with a straightforward, low key
narration, White has chosen to dazzle us with a fully sustained
interpretation of character voices, making it seem almost
as though listening to a radio drama. Even the point of
view character never steps out of character in her breathy
summation of events, making this more of an audio movie
than a dry recitation of the narrative. Effective and different.
do you get when you add a rich man's bet over a lake monster
to a fake cruise ship doctor's attempt to evade murderous
mobsters and a deranged lady paleontologist?
WILD THING by Josh Bazell is
narrated by Robert Petkoff, who lends to
the satirical and street wise text an air of cynical bravura.
This is an offbeat, (sometimes goofy, sometime dense) novel
that attempts to be both fiction and non-fiction, interposing
a wide variety of topics while balancing itself across a
tightrope of plot conventions. The balancing act of obscenity-heavy
situation comedy versus science-versus-religion argument
is successfully maintained by Petkoff until the end, where
an political appendix is added, narrated by Stephanie Wolfe.
At this point I imagine most conservative Republicans will
be running for the exit and holding their ears.
THAT PARTICULAR FLAVOR science fiction author
William Gibson weaves techno-poetry into concise
analyses of pop cultural transformations to plumb the zeitgeist
of the early 21st Century. These essays, taken from various
sources, offer surprises of reasoning and prediction for
the future of media, society, and technology. Narrator
Robertson Dean is likewise precise and engaging
in rendering a suitably appropriate tone to the discussions.