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AUDIO REVIEWS: Fiction — a thriller, biography, love story

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By Saturday, Jun 16, 2018 Arts & Entertainment

Fiction dominates today’s reviews with one thriller, one novel based on fact and two easy-going tales from established authors.

The Other Einstein
Marie Benedict; read by Mozhan Marno
Random House Audio; seven CDs; eight hours and 30 minutes; $40/www.audible.com download; $28

Mitza Maric met Albert Einstein in 1896 Zurich when she was one of the very few women attending the university. They dated and married, after which she receded to the shadows, though there has always been speculation that Maric contributed greatly to Einstein’s much-lauded theories. This fictional account of their relationship appears well researched (play the author’s note at the end). Marno reads with emotion, subtly expressing joy, frustration and anger. Though she doesn’t attempt foreign accents, she does lower her vocal register for men. She also keeps the story flowing along when it occasionally bogs down, as it is rather somber and sometimes repetitive. Grade: B-plus

Tom Clancy True Faith and Allegiance
Mark Greaney; read by Scott Brick
Random House Audio; 16 CDs; 20 hours; $55/www.audible.com download; $38.50

Scott Brick brings his usual A-game to this lengthy techno-thriller written in the style of Tom Clancy. However, unlike Clancy’s original material, this is bloated and we never really connect to the characters on an emotional level. Several different subplots are woven into a story in which international terrorists are targeting Americans on U.S. soil. It starts out a bit slow and somewhat clichéd, but picks up steam as the story unfolds. Brick reads the narrative with his usual even pace and smooth delivery, successfully slipping into different voices for dialogue. This material is adult-themed. Grade: B-plus

An Irish Country Love Story
Patrick Taylor; read by John Keating
Macmillian Audio; 11 CDs; 13 hours and 30 minutes; $39.99/www.audible.com download; $27.99

Though this audio rambles a bit, it remains charming throughout as it continues the stories of Taylor’s much beloved characters. Think of this as the audio version of a benign, long-playing sitcom from the 1960s. Not much happens, but the characters are engaging. In this, the 11th installment of the series, numerous love stories, both platonic and romantic, pepper the landscape. One couple finally plans to marry, an elderly patient longs for his lost dog and the good doctor must battle civic improvements in order to hang onto his home and surgery. Keating has an Irish brogue and a warm manner that infuses the story with a peppy energy. Overall it is entertaining but unremarkable. Grade: B

The Whole Town’s Talking
Fanny Flagg; read by Kimberly Farr
Random House Audio; 10 CDs; 12 hours; $40/www.audible.com download; $31.50

Reminding one of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” the latest novel from Flagg depicts a town from birth to death, and does the same for the inhabitants who live and die and then continue gossiping at the graveyard, commenting on cultural and social changes from beyond the grave. Farr reads with a slow and steady pace, adopting different voices for various characters. Sometimes one wishes Farr would pick up the pace a little but, otherwise, she is easy on the ears — less so for the novel, which is not up to Flagg’s usual standards and lacks a cohesive plot before a sudden shift in the narrative.  B-minus

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