AUDIOBOOKS: New authors

This week we have three authors new to this audiophile.

This week we have three authors new to this audiophile. All audiobooks are available for download at independent bookstores and at your local library.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Ruth Ware; read by Imogen Church
Random House Audiobooks, 14 hours, 12 CDs, $19.99/ download, $27.99

When young Hal receives a letter telling her of an inheritance, she thinks she has found an escape from poverty and her debt to a loan shark. What she finds is a family she is not sure she should trust, an inheritance so large that the responsibility frightens her, and a creepy housekeeper who could have walked out of a Gothic novel. That’s just for starters. Ware’s writing recalls Ruth Rendell thanks to all those brooding and sketchy characters, dark clues and unexpected twists. Church narrates with sublime finesse, bringing this engaging audiobook to life. Each persona is unique from the rest and her voices, including male voices, are believable and expressive — perfect for evenings around a campfire. Grade: A-plus

The Perfume Burned His Eyes
Michael Imperioli; read by the author
HighBridge Audio, five hours, four CDs, $29.99/ download, $20.99

This is akin to the Beat version of “The Catcher in the Rye,” replete with drugs, booze, sex, and rock-n-roll via Lou Reed. Young Matthew is at loose ends. His father and grandfather are both suddenly gone; his mother is becoming more dependent on pills; and he finds himself adrift in a new neighborhood with a new school, a new girlfriend and a weird relationship with his upstairs neighbor, Lou Reed. Imperioli’s imagery is evocative, sometimes lurid, but never uninteresting in this debut novel. It comes as no surprise that his narration is spot-on being that he is a trained actor. His narration is tinged with longing, grief, confusion and fear as his young protagonist enters into new and frightening territory. Grade: B-plus 

Dreams of Falling
Karen White; read by Shannon McManus, Cassandra Campbell, Susan Larkin
Penguin Audio, 16 hours and 30 minutes, 13 CDs, $45/ download, $31.50

This multigenerational Southern fiction aimed at women gives us plot twists and plenty of dreams to interpret, but never quite captures our attention. There is a lot of back and forth between characters as they appear and reappear in different decades. There is a secret, there is a romance, and there are too many words. Had this been more carefully edited, it may have been more compelling, but the best aspect of this novel is the narration. All three women clearly and deftly represent various ages and accents and vocal personalities; it is too bad the story is so lackluster. Grade: B-minus