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AUDIOBOOKS: Three thrillers and a suspenseful memoir

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By Saturday, Dec 8, 2018 Arts & Entertainment

Three thrillers and a memoir by a writer of suspenseful adventures are on the docket this week. 

The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue
Frederick Forsyth; read by Robert Powell
Penguin Audio; eight CDs; 10 hours and 30 minutes; $40; www.audible.com download, $28

Forsyth, author of “The Day of the Jackal” and 14 other novels, recounts his life in a series of strung-together vignettes. These bawdy tales sometimes sound a little too tall, but are eminently entertaining. English actor Powell is upbeat and energetic; we can hear the wry humor in his voice as he recounts escapades that rival Forsyth’s fiction. The author was a happy schoolboy who chased adventure with abandon, learning both to fly and fight bulls as a teenager before his days in the foreign service and as a journalist led up to those best-selling thrillers. Grade: A-minus

The Guest Room
Chris Bohjalian; read by Mozhan Marno and Grace Experience
Random House Audio; eight CDs; 10 hours, $35; www.audible.com download, $28

A bachelor party that turns violent changes the lives of everyone involved in this chilling novel. It is told from the perspective of the party’s host; from one of the performers, a young Armenian woman brought to America against her will; and from the host’s wife, whose life is irreversibly tainted by the crimes committed in her home. The story keeps you enmeshed and works as both an expose and a thriller. Less successful is narrator Experience, who sometimes loses her Armenian accent, though she does sound young and scared. Marno is a strong talent, easily navigating both male and female voices with confidence. Grade: B-plus

Slade House
David Mitchell; read by Thomas Judd and Tania Rodrigues
Random House Audio; six CDs; seven hours; $32; www.audible.com download, $24.50

An old-fashioned ghost story unraveling over several decades, this may be a bit muddled, but is overall a chilling listen as fiendish Victorians attempt immortality by stealing souls. Really more of a companion piece than a true sequel to Mitchell’s novel “The Bone Clocks,” it stands alone but lacks some of the nuance of his earlier fiction. Narrators Judd and Rodrigues deliver a myriad of voices that equal the creativity of the novel and help it along when it hits literary bumps in the road, such as when Mitchell awkwardly explains all the supernatural elements at work in the novel in one quick chapter. Grade: B-plus 

Career of Evil
Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling); read by Robert Glenister
Hatchette Audio; 15 CDs; 17 hours; www.audible.com download, $29.65

The third in the Cormoran Strike novels by Galbraith is a bit over-written and grisly in a heavy-handed way, but still worth a listen. Lyrics by Blue Oyster Cult introduce each chapter as a serial killer terrifies London. The ever-evolving characters are the best feature, especially Strike’s assistant, Robin, who is as tenacious and intelligent as her boss. Glenister is even more enjoyable than in the previous novels, as he’s toned down the female voices but still reads with plenty of élan and vigor. He’s especially believable as the gruff, hotheaded Strike, though proves chilling when reading for the flat, dull-sounding psychotic murderer. Grade: B-minus

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