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AUDIOBOOKS: Three mysteries and a novel

This week we are traveling around the world, from Britain to Japan and New Jersey to the Oregon coast as we hear three mysteries and a sweet novel.

This week we are traveling around the world, from Britain to Japan and New Jersey to the Oregon coast as we hear three mysteries and a sweet novel. All titles are available to download from 

Hounded, An Andy Carpenter Mystery
David Rosenfelt; Read by Grover Gardner
Listen & Live Audio; 6 CDs; 7 hours; $29.95

A fun and funny series, one can jump in anywhere and not feel like one is missing half the story, though this installment made me want to go back and start at the beginning. Carpenter, a smart and smart-mouthed New Jersey lawyer, is asked to defend a policeman buddy accused of murder and take the victim’s young son home with him to keep him out of the foster care system. Gardner, a favorite narrator, sounds like a character actor from the 1930s. He knows how to nail a sarcastic remark and his voice is a little high-pitched and a little gravelly, which makes it very interesting. Grade: A-minus

Asta’s Book
Barbara Vine; Read by Harriet Walter
Brilliance Audio; 12 CDs; 14 hours and 24 minutes; $14.99

For this historical whodunit, Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, creates Danish characters living in London. The story begins in 1905 when Asta, an unhappy immigrant, is writing her secret diary. Two generations later the diaries have been found and published by her daughter, Swanny, to great acclaim. The third pivotal character is Ann, Asta’s granddaughter. She uses the diaries to help solve a family mystery and an old, unsolved murder that may be connected to her grandmother. The novel appears to be meticulously researched, from locations to the claustrophobic clothing and accommodations of the Edwardians. Narrator Walker sounds a little reticent and breathy at first, but she does a plausible Danish accent and underscores the novel’s emotion. Grade: A-minus

Malice: A Mystery
Keigo Higashino; Read by Jeff Woodman
Macmillan Audio; 6 CDs; 7.5 hours; $29.99

An acclaimed bestselling novelist is found murdered in his home on the night before he’s planning to leave Japan for Vancouver. His wife and his best friend find his body in his locked office, in his locked house. The police detective recognizes Osamu Nonoguchi, the writer’s best friend, from early days when both were teachers. The canny detective plays an intellectual game of cat and mouse with Nonoguchi, who has a lot more up his sleeve than we are first led to believe. Slower-paced and more intellectual than American crime fiction, this is intriguing because it is so different. Well-seasoned though he may be, narrator Woodman sounds (unpleasantly) like an American impersonating someone of Japanese descent. Grade: B

Mink River
Brian Doyle; Read by David Drummond
Tantor Media; 10 CDs; 12.5 hours; $39.99

This reminds one of “Our Town,” only with a heavy dose of magical realism. Set in Neawanaka along the coastal Oregon coast, this blends small-town life with nature and the oral traditions of the town’s population of Native Americans and Irish immigrants. It doesn’t so much tell a story as it describes a place and a time that is lovely to hear for its mythic undertones, intriguing characters and lovely language; however, it is written in a staccato manner that eventually begins to annoy. Drummond does a fine job with the narration and adds some characterization to the town’s inhabitants, though it is subtle. Grade: B


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The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.