AUDIOBOOKS: Legal thriller, memoir and essays

A legal thriller, a memoir, and a witty collection of essays are on menu this week.

A legal thriller, a memoir, and a witty collection of essays are on menu this week. Please note that all audiobooks are available for download at independent bookstores and at your local library. 

Tara Westover; read by Julia Whelan
Random House Audio, 12 hours, 10 CDs, $40/ download, $28

This compelling memoir tells a harrowing tale of isolationism, religious zealotry and familial love. Raised in Idaho by a father who refused to allow his family to attend school, see a doctor or partake in anything tainted by the government, Westover was brutalized and denied basic rights by a father who believed he was a true Mormon. She became an autodidact who first entered a classroom at 17 when she attended college. Matching this rather amazing story is Whelan’s narration. You can hear fear and surprise in her voice as Westover’s brother torments her and joy when she discovers her capabilities. Best and most inspiring is when you can hear her forgiveness. Grade: A

Look Alive Out There
Sloane Crosley; read by the author
Macmillan Audio, six hours, five CDs, $29.99/ download, $27.99

After listening to Crosley read her essays, you may want to hunt her down and force her to have a glass of wine with you just to hear how her day went. But don’t — she will probably write about you. Witty, slyly funny, observant and self-deprecating, these 16 essays explore life at the verge of middle age, illness when one has never really experienced it, a very funny and badly planned trip to climb a mountain in Ecuador, and the chore of freezing one’s eggs. She is an energetic and articulate narrator who is polished without sounding overly rehearsed. Both the essays and the author are so enjoyable to hear that you may be scrambling, as was this reviewer, for her other essay collections. Grade: A-minus

The Third Victim
Phillip Margolin; read by Therese Plummer
Macmillan Audio, nine hours, seven CDs, $29.99/ download, $20.99

Phillip Margolin writes a sturdy, enjoyable legal thriller, and this is no exception. It may not be the kind of audiobook that will stick in your memory, but it will make for great summer listening in that it is not too taxing but is also never dumb. The novel begins with a kidnap victim who escapes her tormentor, but then descends down a twisty path in which nothing is what it seems. You can unwind the ending far too easily, but the characters are well-developed and worthy of the series that is to follow. Providing a wide range of voices, timbres and pacing, Plummer brings the story to life and is extremely adept at creating male characters. Grade: B-plus