In "Black Mountain” by Les Standiford, the governor of New York goes on vacation to Yellowstone and becomes the target for unseen assassins in this wilderness thriller. Cut off from the world, policeman Richard Corrigan tries to untangle a mystery while protecting a security team that is dropping like flies. Taut and moody, this novel has the perfect narrator in Richard Ferrone, who not only sounds like he's wearing hiking boots, but is ready to give lessons in survival as well. (9.75 hrs./Recorded Books/ISBN 0-7887-5005-4)
In the world of detective fiction there are PIs and there are police investigators. The PIs tend to be free-wheeling, while the police investigators grudingly go by the book. In "Ground Lions” by Lou Campanozzi we have another series, this one featuring Lt. Mike Amato. His search for the killer of a kid he once knew redefines the irony of lost innocence. David Griffin narrates this tale of mob disguises with a gruff voice paced to deliver the punches. Occasional sound effects enhance a production that is appropriately atmospheric. (6 hrs./Americana Audio/ISBN 158807064-6)
For some actual lessons in survival, listen to Burt Reynolds narrating "The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook,” and discover how to fend off a shark, jump from a moving vehicle, survive a poisonous snakebite or deliver a baby beside the road. Compiled by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, the advice here comes from dozens of experts. Let's hope you never have to escape from quicksand or wrestle an alligator, but if you ever do … (2 hrs./Listen & Live Audio/ISBN 1-885408-69-2)
J.A. Jance is big with truckers, who enjoy her novels featuring detective J.P. Beaumont. In "Birds of Prey,” Beaumont has accompanied his newlywed grandmother on an Alaskan cruise where a passenger is thrown overboard. Read by actor Cotter Smith. (6 hrs./Harper Audio/ISBN 0-694-52499-9) For an unabridged reading of this and other J.A. Jance titles by the masterful Gene Eugene, try renting the audio books from Books in Motion at truckstops or call 1-800-752-3199.
"Letters From Atlantis” by Robert Silverberg is a science fiction tale that follows researchers Roy and Lora as they travel back in time to inhabit the consciousness of Atlantians (or Athilans) and discover what happens to the fabled city. This is a short novel of three hours on one MP3-CD, playable on computer or on the new CD-R compatible players. The MP3 files are indexed by chapter and play similarly to a standard CD. Narrator Tom Parker (alias for Grover Gardner) does an excellent job with his crisp enunciation and characteristic phrasing. Thumbs up as well to Blackstone for pioneering a format which, if others follow, will become the future of audio books – with up to 12 hours on one CD. (3 hrs./Blackstone Audiobooks/ISBN 0-7861-9622-X)
A folksinger is haunted by the memory of a song in Sharyn McCrumb's "The Songcatcher.” In this tale of generations and memories, a lyrical harmony is achieved through the voices and superb acting talents of performers James Daniels and Aasne Vigesaa. The song, whose story is told in the novel, is written and performed by McCrumb on the audio book. (10 hrs; Brilliance Audio; ISBN 1-58788-130-6)
Brian Haig's first novel, "Secret Sanction,” tells a story about a military JAG officer sent to investigate a purported massacre by U.S. troops during the war in Bosnia. Actor John Rubenstein is an excellent choice to read this suspense. He's well spoken while maintaining a feel of discovery for the plot. Do the ends ever justify the means? That's the question this novel addresses and boldly answers. (6 hrs./Time Warner Audiobooks/ISBN 1-58621-138-2)
For sale or rental of most audio books, call 1-800-5EARFUL. Reviewer Jonathan Lowe is author of "Caribbean Coup” and "Dark Fire,” both for rent from Books in Motion at truckstops or by calling 1-800-752-3199.