By Wayne D. Overholser. Read by Traber
Burns and Jim Meskimen.
2017. 6hr. Blackstone, CD, $29.95 (9781504786799).
Overholser’s young heroes return to their
roots and come of age facing deadly challenges
in two fine western stories, “Gun in His Hand”
and “Black Mike.” In the first, Burns portrays
Dane Coe, who returns home and discovers
that the neighboring rancher will resort to anything—including murder—to win the railroad
contract over Dane’s father. In the title story,
Meskimen’s light baritone depicts Sam Cassidy,
whose homecoming is marred by a confrontation with his blustering father, who is dismayed
by Sam’s decision to join the sheriff. Sam’s skill
with guns and words are tested when trouble
arises between cattlemen and sheep-rancher
Black Mike. Both narrators excel in depicting
the villains of each tale and offer tense, blow-by-blow accounts of confrontations. They aptly
contrast the language of the opposing sides:
menacing threats and rough language from the
bad guys versus more elegantly phrased reactions from the white hats. Satisfying western
fare for fans of compelling, old-fashioned stories. —Joyce Saricks
The Case against Sugar.
By Gary Taubes. Read by Mike
2016. 11.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9781524709075).
Are all calories equal? Is refined sugar as
addictive as tobacco? Is sugar the reason for
obesity, diabetes, heart problems, gout, and so
on? These and many other issues are researched
and explained by author Taubes but, luckily for
listeners, read by narrator Chamberlain. With
clear enunciation and steady pacing, Chamberlain ensures that all scientific terms are
understood, names of scientists are distinguishable from one another, and the overwhelming
amount of research described is palatable. The
reading is bias-free, although some of the text
is not, as Taubes’ opinions about the danger of
sugar are evident. Chamberlain instead offers
the author’s words in a neutral atmosphere,
enabling the listener to contemplate the information and make a personal decision about
sugar, weighing the facts cited about its usage
and impact on many diseases. A fine example
of a nonfiction title turned into a compelling
listening experience. —Pam Spencer Holley
Crossing the Horizon.
By Laurie Notaro. Read by Hillary Huber.
2016. 14.5hr. Tantor, CD, $49.99 (9781515914785).
In 1927, three women—a society widow, a
beauty-pageant winner, and the daughter of
an English earl—vie to be the first woman
to fly across the Atlantic. In this breathlessly
paced historical novel, nothing matters except
getting into the air and besting Charles Lind-
bergh, who just completed the first successful
solo flight to Paris. Narrator Huber distinctly
characterizes each woman: Mabel, the seem-
ingly helpless society widow, has a grating
Boston accent and isn’t shy about expressing
her dream; Ruth, the beauty-pageant winner,
speaks in soft, even tones, but her willingness
to do anything for fame is portrayed cun-
ningly; Elsie, the English socialite, speaks in
haughty, edgy tones that evoke a woman who
knows her own mind. This fascinating, char-
acter-driven novel has just enough suspense to
keep the story soaring and is a great sugges-
tion for all historical-fiction lovers, especially
those who enjoy listening to fully realized fe-
male characters. —Joy Matteson
The Girl in Green.
By Derek B. Miller. Read by Will Damron.
2016. 12.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $34.99 (9781681684710).
American soldier Arwood Hobbes and British reporter Thomas Benton first met during
the cease-fire in the Gulf War. In a fragile and
dangerous moment, Arwood rescued Benton and a young Shiite girl in green from an
Iraqi attack, escaping to safety only to find the
young girl later murdered by an Iraqi colonel.
Both men return home broken inside and
haunted by their ordeal. Twenty-two years
later, Arwood sees the Girl in Green in a video
of an attack in Iraq and convinces himself this
is the same girl. Benton joins him in Syria, and
the two attempt to find her and assuage their
guilt. Damron’s gripping narration heightens
tension and suspense and keeps the story moving quickly, without losing its complexity. The
diverse cast demands a myriad of accents, and
Damron clearly distinguishes among characters. Complex personal, social, and moral issues
underlie the action, and Damron’s careful reading enhances those themes. —Emily Borsa
By Louis L’Amour. Read by Ari Fliakos.
2017. 5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $30 (9780735286108).
Tap Duvarney, who fought in the Civil War
and on the western frontier, decides to leave
soldiering behind and join forces with an old
army buddy, Tom Kittery, and raise cattle in
Texas. When he arrives in Matagorda, he finds
himself embroiled in the deadly feud between
Kittery and the Munson clan, and all his skills
in strategy and leadership are called to the
fore. Fliakos proves a congenial companion
in this western adventure, immersing listen-
ers in the politics of the feud, gunfights, and
a cattle drive, not to mention a hurricane.
He differentiates precisely among the many
Southern-accented characters, male and fe-
male, through cadence and tone. A satisfying
western tale with all the familiar tropes—bad
guys (and gals) and good, danger from man
and the elements, and a beautifully evoked
landscape and sense of place. Thanks to Books
on Tape for producing these excellent audio re-
cordings that help keep L’Amour’s legacy, as a
great American storyteller, alive. —Joyce Saricks
By Catherine Anderson. Read by Kate
2017. 13.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75
Sissy Bentley’s past has taught her to never
trust men, leaving her determined to resist
rancher Ben Sterling. But when her 80 chickens run away, Ben and his dog, Finn, come to
the rescue. After time spent together as Ben
builds her beloved hens a proper home, Sissy
can no longer deny his decency. Turnbull deftly articulates Sissy’s emotional transformation
from fear toward joy. Likewise, she expresses
Ben’s mixture of gentleness and determination,
creating a believable salt-of-the-earth hero.
Turnbull makes Anderson’s lush descriptions
enchanting, while her effervescent tones reflect the humor provided by numerous animals
and town folk. Dashes of suspense are added
by a “ghost” thief and a “death row” catnapping. However, the truly dangerous climax
brings the legacy of child abuse to the fore. The
third book in the Mystic Creek contemporary
romance series, this works equally well as a
stand-alone. —Karen Toonen
The Second Mrs. Hockaday.
By Susan Rivers. Read by James Patrick
Cronin and Julie McKay.
2017. 7hr. HighBridge, CD, $29.99 (9781681682044).
Through a series of letters and memoirs, this
Civil War–set novel recounts the marriage of
Confederate Major Gryffth Hockaday and
his young wife, Placidia. Shortly after the
marriage, Hockaday returns to his regiment,
leaving Placidia to run his farm at Holland
Creek. After two years, Hockaday returns to
rumors that his wife has had a child and killed
it. He repudiates her, and she is held in custody until he discovers her memoir and recants
his accusations. In an aristocratic Southern
accent, McKay sets the tone, making clear
how threatening the world is for this desperate, lonely woman left to run the farm with
a war raging around her. Cronin’s narration
makes Hockaday’s love real, despite the short
time the couple has had together. The twisted
skeins of truth and lies, the complicated racial
relations within the family, and the constant
threat of danger allow the narrators to show
how dramatically the social order of the South
was transformed by the war. —Mary McCay
See Also Murder.
By Larry D. Sweazy. Read by a full cast.
2016. 6hr. GraphicAudio, CD, $19.99 (9781628512953).
Marjorie Trumaine took up book indexing,
which enabled her to keep the family farm
afloat after her husband suffered a hunting accident, rendering him an invalid. When her
closest neighbors are savagely murdered, the
sheriff asks her to investigate an amulet found
on one of the victims. Conveyed partially in
index format, with clues carefully listed with
see and see also references, this story translates