AUDIOBOOKS: Mystery, memoir and essays

This week we have a mystery, a memoir and a collection of essays to keep us amused while we are keeping apart.

This week we have a mystery, a memoir and a collection of essays to keep us amused while we are keeping apart. All titles are available for rental or purchase from local bookstores and libraries.

The Night Fire
Michael Connelly; read by Titus Welliver and Christine Lakin
Hachette Audio, 10 hours, nine CDs, $40/www.audible.com, $30.79 

This is Connelly’s 22nd book about LA detective Harry Bosch, and the third featuring his sidekick Renee Ballard, but you can jump right in without feeling that you are missing half the story. Bosch, now retired, takes on private cases and helps his buddy, a surfing detective stuck on the night shift after speaking out against sexual harassment. The two cover several cases and work well together, giving us plenty of clever repartee. Welliver and Lakin are well matched, with his deep, slightly gravelly voice and no-nonsense manner working well against her softer approach and ability to conjure up various accents and intonations. Grade: A-minus

In the Country of Women
Susan Straight; read by Donna Postel
HighBridge Audio, 11 hours and 30 minutes, nine CDs, $34.99/www.audible.com, $17.49

Author Straight begins her memoir by bemoaning the fact that women are never given the hero’s journey, are never the subject of epic tales. She then details the journeys made by her ancestors that eventually resulted in her own discoveries and wanderings and creations. A standout in the growing mountain of memoir in audiobookland, this is entertaining, honest, humorous, insightful and difficult to turn off. Narrator Postel sounds both authoritative and friendly, capturing the warmth and appreciation Straight brings to a story that is part history lesson, part cultural observation, and part personal revelation regarding the multicultural and diverse group she calls her family. Grade: A-minus

Little Weirds
Jenny Slate; read by the author
Hachette Audio, four hours and 30 minutes, four CDs, $35/www.audible.com, $29.65

“Weird” is an apt description for this audiobook, though it can also be described as imaginative, revelatory, enlightening and delightful. Each essay is a descriptive stream of consciousness about one subject or another from her days as a “fast, bad baby” to eating in a restaurant, dating, sexuality, family, Valentine’s Day, ghosts and pets. Her topics are mundane, but her writing is like poetry. A stand-up comedian and successful screenwriter, she has a great sense of timing and a high-pitched voice and fast delivery that very much enhance this odd but enjoyable production. This is best heard one essay at a time, as her writing is contemplative and needs savoring. Grade: A-minus