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Audio Book Review
Hitchers, liars and fat-burning follies

Jonathan Lowe
Audio Book Reviewer

Back in 1978, Ray Charles wrote an autobiography which was updated in 1992, 2003 and 2004 by David Ritz. “Brother Ray” is now available on audio for the first time in its updated format. The Chicago Sun-Times called it “candid, explicit, sometimes embarrassing, often hilarious, always warm, touching and deeply human – just like his music.”

It documents Charles in his own words, from a heroin addict to a deeply romantic yet troubled icon. The word “honesty” comes to mind, because nothing is hidden here, either in terms of events or language, as the true personality of the man steps boldly into the spotlight, flaws and all.

If James Brown is the godfather of soul, then Ray Charles was indisputably one of its founding fathers, its creator, its king. Always in control of what he did, yet growing from his mistakes, Charles chose to become a man of compassion, and so is now a legend, as revealed in this book narrated by Andrew L. Barnes. (Blackstone Audio/13.5 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜˜

Ridley Pearson has a new suspense novel titled “Cut and Run” about a witness protection marshal who falls in love with a woman whose testimony helped jail several members of the Romero crime family. The twist is Hope Stevens has now entered the program and so has disappeared. Roland Larson must find her when the master list of witnesses is stolen, and Hope – among others – is endangered by hit men out for revenge.

Naturally, a particularly sadistic killer has targeted Hope, and both he and Roland hope to find her, even though a warning has gone out and all the witnesses are now hiding elsewhere.

Here is a case where the narrator takes an otherwise average yet well-written novel and makes it more real and dramatic than it would seem in print. Thanks for that rests with Dick Hill, a veteran reader whose characterizations and voice acting skills could probably animate a laundry list into something interesting. (Brilliance Audio/10 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜

A more original plot resides with “In the Company of Liars” by David Ellis, also read by Dick Hill and his wife Susie Breck. Like a tag team, these two take on the personalities of the various male and female characters in a story which is told in reverse chronological order.

The plot involves a woman on trial for murder, who may or may not know something about a cover-up involving a drug to be used by terrorists. Both the terrorists and the FBI are circling her, but the truth is only revealed by what happened in the beginning.

So the story starts with the epilogue, and works its way backward, day by day, until at the murder itself we see who has been fooling whom. Certainly more interesting than if told from point A to point ZZZ. (Brilliance Audio/10 hours unabridged)˜˜˜1/2

Next, you’re in for a comic treat with the release of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – The Tertiary Phase” by Douglas Adams. It’s a new full-cast radio dramatization of the classic satire “Life, The Universe and Everything.”

Produced for the BBC, its release coincides with the release of the movie here in the United States. Six half-hour episodes are included in a plot that’s impossible to describe. Suffice it to say, Adams’ universe is dominated by killer robots who play cricket with supernova bombs, a starship bridge that looks like an Italian cafe (don’t touch that breadstick) and a time-traveling sofa.

So if you think Darth Vader looks silly in that plastic suit, join Arthur Dent as played by Simon Jones instead, and let your own imagination serve up the special effects as you laugh and listen. (Audio Partners/3 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜˜

Finally, it was inevitable that, with all the money to be made on fad diets, you haven’t heard the end of them, even after Atkins pushed out “The Zone” and the “South Beach” for the top spot. Introducing “The 3-Hour Diet” by Jorge Cruise, weight loss coach for AOL.

Jorge’s new book is narrated on audio by Holter Graham, and includes audio testimonies from people who’ve lost from 13 to 155 pounds following his regimen. 

What’s the angle here? Well, that you should avoid large meals, and instead eat something small every three hours. That’s about it.

What does this do for you? The magic fact that Jorge has stumbled upon is that your body goes into “fat storage mode” after three hours of not eating anything, and starts burning muscle instead. So your magic bullet is to trick it into avoiding this evil mode by eating something – anything – every three hours, starting with when you first awaken.


You now know pretty much everything there is to know about this diet, because the remaining three hours of the audio book is devoted to visualizations about being thin, and denigrations of other diets.

My problem with this rhythm method of eating is not that it may help people lose weight, but rather that this thin concept is the basis for trying to create a fad while allowing folks to eat junk food without the mention of exercise. A better idea is to try what I’ll call the “Audio Book Diet.” Take a walk with it in your personal CD player instead of watching TV, you won’t be near a refrigerator at all! Sound like a plan? Now, where’s Oprah when I need her? (Harper Audio/3.5 hours abridged) ˜

These audio books may be rented from Audio Adventures in truck stops or by calling 1-800-551-6692. Jonathan Lowe’s satirical audio adventure novel “Fame Island” is now available as an e-book at