Bottom Line
Audio Book Review
Big winds and shadow men

Jonathan Lowe
audio book reviewer

“The Breathtaker” by Alice Blanchard is a suspense novel about a serial killer who chases tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas because it provides him with the perfect cover to commit murder. Unafraid of the horrific chaos, the killer is tracked by a police chief who soon has his own personal reason to discover the truth. As read with controlled power by actor Peter Coyote, and with gripping yet unobtrusive sound effects throughout, this Time Warner audio book possesses a narrative drive that never slows enough to lose listener interest — nor does an obligatory romance or overlong back story interfere with the force of the telling. On track like a tornado, the audio book moves at a relentless pace toward a breathtaking conclusion, aided by fine writing and rare originality. If you like the movie “Twister,” here is that movie on steroids, with better research — and even a nod to the wisdom of truckers. It is among the two or three best audio books I’ve heard so far this year. ˜˜˜˜˜

David Colacci reads “Shadow Men” by Jonathon King for Brilliance Audio. It’s a suspense novel involving an 80-year-old mystery in the Florida Everglades. It involves some laborers who disappeared while building the first road through the swamp. A descendent of one of the three who disappeared has recently uncovered a series of letters with clues to their fate, and now Max Freeman, a former Philadelphia police officer turned investigator, has been hired to dig through the muck of decades. What he finds is resistance at every turn, and I don’t mean rocks in the soil. Someone wants the past to remain buried, and is willing to bury Max if need be, too. Colacci is a good choice for narrator here, and the moody descriptions belie an offbeat and original story line. I hope to hear more from King in the future. ˜˜˜½

Finally, Norman Dietz reads “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux for Recorded Books. In this case “safari” means journey, as the veteran travel writer endures heat, mosquitoes, unexpected interruptions and even bullets on his way from Cairo to Cape Town via car, train, boat and cattle truck. But this is no reality show, and Theroux is no empty-headed TV contestant on a race. He’s a philosophical observer in no hurry to discover modern Africa, where he also once lived and taught. What’s the most surprising truth repeated throughout this 23-hour production? Despite all the charity work done over decades, almost nothing has changed for the better because Africans themselves are left out of participating in any of the so-called solutions. It’s an interesting and yet sobering audio book, and an indictment of corruption on all levels. ˜˜˜˜

These books can be rented from Audio Adventures in truck stops or by calling 1-800-551-6692. While you're at it, be sure to ask for "Awakening Storm," which Audiobook Cafe calls "an engaging, compelling story with a great narrator and unexpected ending."