After the Storm.
By Linda Castillo. Read by Kathleen
2015. 11hr. Macmillan, CD, $39.99 (9781427260963).
In the aftermath of a tornado, a group of
Boy Scouts cleaning an Amish barn finds a
human skull and some bones in the debris.
Chief of Police Kate Burkholder soon learns
that the hands and the feet have been chewed
off, most likely by a hog. As she searches for
an identity of the victim, Kate is attacked, and
deep family secrets are revealed as the danger of her discovering Amish family secrets
escalates. In this seventh novel in the popular Burkholder series, narrator McInerney
expertly creates distinctive and convincing
characters, especially the chief—who is wrestling with her own personal turmoil—and her
love interest, John Tomasetti, an agent for the
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, by
using varied tones, inflections, and regional
accents. Kate, who was raised Amish and
chose to leave the faith, speaks Pennsylvania
Dutch and shows an appreciation and respect
for the habits and the long-standing traditions
of the people. Maintaining a fast pace with
the grisly discoveries, the tension builds to a
satisfying conclusion in this mystery with an
intriguing cultural content. —Cheryl Ward
Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the
Innovation That Launched the Military-
By Michael Hiltzik. Read by Bob Souer.
2015. 15hr. HighBridge, CD, $44.99 (9781622318872).
Big scientific ideas take “big science” to explain them. One of the scientists who moved
beyond individual experiments to teams of
researchers working together to develop revolutionary practices was Nobel Prize Winner
Ernest Lawrence, the inventor of the cyclotron.
In the first half of the twentieth century, Lawrence became an expert fund-raiser and media
celebrity as well as a top scientist. His story is
packed with insights into the world of physics
as well as a probing look at American politics,
history, and the influence of big business on
technology. Souer has a deep, pleasant voice
and reads the occasionally complex but surprisingly accessible text clearly and thoughtfully.
He fields foreign names and phrases with ease
and seems completely at home in the world of
atoms and nuclear physics. The early years of
physics were filled with big personalities and
life-altering breakthroughs, and listeners who
enjoy history with some substance will be intrigued. —Candace Smith
Black Eyed Susans.
By Julia Heaberlin. Read by Whitney
Dykhouse and others.
2015. 10hr. Brilliance, CD, $69.97 (9781501237393).
Kidnapped as a teenager and dumped with
the bodies of three young women, Tessa was
the only survivor among the so-called Black
Eyed Susans, and her testimony convicted a
man for murder. Now an adult and mother
of a teenager, Tessa still remembers little, but
of one thing she is certain: the killer is still at
large. Narrator Karen Peakes propels listeners
into Tessa’s nightmare. She gives adult Tessa a
husky alto, but for the flashbacks, her voice
is higher-pitched and tentative, suggesting
Tessa’s age and unreliable memory. In both
time periods, Peakes projects her fears and her
desire to do right—and stay alive. As Lydia,
Tessie’s closest friend, Dykhouse speaks with
a Texas drawl and a sassy style that reflects
her personality, while Eric Dove characterizes
Tessie’s psychiatrist in a gruff, grandfatherly
voice. The mesmerizing narration captures the
book’s haunting, edgy, and unsettling mood.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
By David Lagercrantz. Read by Simon
2015. 13.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $45 (9780553550719).
Lisbeth Salander is back! Although the
author is new, the narrator is the same, and
Vance delivers another sterling performance.
In this extension of the popular series, savvy
punk computer hacker Salander battles the
Swedish security agency, the Russian Mob,
industrial spies from Silicon Valley, and the
U.S National Security Agency, while crusading journalist Blomkvist watches her back and
struggles to keep Millennium magazine afloat.
Vance voices Salander with an edgy toughness
and with occasional touches of vulnerability.
Salander’s nemesis, her terrifyingly beautiful
and amoral fraternal twin, speaks in husky,
seductive tones, while Blomkvist maintains a
smooth, educated air. Occasionally, secondary
characters in the large cast speak too similarly
to differentiate among them, but the plot unspools at such a frantic pace that listeners are
quickly back on track. Fans of the series and
Vance’s narrative skill won’t want to miss this
performance. —Joyce Saricks
By Stephanie Kallos. Read by Tavia
2015. 12.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $92.75
Since Gilbert has also narrated Kallos’ two
previous novels, it’s no wonder that her exqui-
site performance is so perfectly attuned to the
author’s tone and cadence. In the current day
and through flashbacks, listeners meet high-
school language-arts teacher Charles Marlow;
his ex-wife, Alison; and their children, severely
autistic Cody and college-bound Emmy. The
present-day action puts them at a crossroads,
needing to decide how to continue Cody’s care
now that he is an adult. In the process, secrets
from the past, slowly revealed as the layered
story unfolds, come to light. Gilbert portrays
Charles and Alison insightfully and convinc-
ingly. Lowering her voice for Charles, Gilbert
reveals his sensitive, sensible nature. Alison
speaks more force-
fully but with loving
ious to motivate
her husband to
make decisions and
to face unpleasant
truths about the
past. Cody, whose
language disappeared early in his life, vocalizes
with grunts and chirps, while Charles’ autis-
tic grade-school classmate, seen in flashbacks,
speaks in an authentic-sounding cadence. Gil-
bert’s lovely singing voice is also on display in
sections featuring Sister Giorgio, who lives in
Cody’s facility and rambles on in lyrical Italian.
While this novel explores the ways we commu-
nicate and survive, Gilbert’s masterful reading
communicates on a deeper level, evoking the
vividly drawn characters and their stories in a
particularly heartwarming and heart-wrench-
ing manner. —Joyce Saricks
By Michael Koryta. Read by Robert
2015. 15hr. Hachette, CD, $25.98 (9781478903901).
Still reeling from the unsolved murder of his
wife two years earlier, investigator Mark No-vak, now in danger of losing his job, is sent
to Indiana to evaluate a possible case for his
firm, which reviews death-row convictions.
Although uncharged, caver Ridley Barnes has
remained under suspicion after carrying the
body of a dead girl out of Trapdoor Caverns
10 years earlier. Petkoff’s low-key narration underlines the foreboding and building suspense.
Mark’s grief and his desperate need to investigate his wife’s murder at the expense of his work
are tangible in Petkoff’s sympathetic baritone.
Barnes, on the other hand, may be mad—he
claims the cave speaks to him—and listeners
will sense his fragile hold on sanity in Petkoff’s
gravelly voice and ragged cadence. The tone
shifts to menacing when the story moves inside
the cave, and the edgy performance echoes the
fears of characters and listeners alike. Claustrophobes, beware! —Joyce Saricks
The Library at Mount Char.
By Scott Hawkins. Read by Hillary
2015. 16.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $44.99 (9781622317721).
This twisted tale, full of grotesque scenes
of stomach-dropping anxiety, is not so much
a horror novel as it is a dark fantasy with elements of magic realism and a wonderfully
wicked view of the inner workings of the world.
Carolyn and her 11 siblings were trained by
the mysterious man they called Father (now
deceased—or is he?), each developing a powerful specialty. Narrator Huber tackles the story’s
uniqueness with impressive skill. Huber skillfully handles the portrayal of the cast of strong,
well-defined personalities, keeping the voices