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Audio Book Review
A thriller, a chiller, trash talk and killers

Jonathan Lowe
Audio Book Reviewer

“Bury the Lead” by David Rosenfelt is a legal thriller about a half-baked criminal defense attorney in New Jersey who must come to the aid of a local newspaper editor when a star reporter starts getting messages from a brutal serial killer. Oh sure, I know there are enough serial killer books on the market as it is, but the saving grace to this one is that the protagonist doesn’t take himself too seriously, and Rosenfelt is good at snappy, funny dialogue and unexpected plot twists, too. Having Grover Gardner narrate is another big plus. Gardner’s golden voice can be heard on more than 500 audio books so far, including the “9/11 Commission Report,” because he has probably the most listener-friendly voice in the business. Put another way, you could say he’s one smooth talker who reads something here that’s actually entertaining to listen to. (Listen & Live Audio/six hours abridged) ˜˜˜˜

Imagine that, to take a new job, you’ve just moved to a small town in North Carolina with your growing family only to find that young boys are disappearing there, with no ransom demands following. Then your troubles at work for a software company are mirrored in your own son’s troubles at school, leading to his retreat into a mysterious computer game. Now add this eerie kicker: Your son’s imaginary online friends share the same names as the town’s missing boys. There you have the gist of“Lost Boys” by Orson Scott Card, first written in 1992, but just now coming out on audio. This odd mix of family drama and supernatural suspense disguised as mystery possesses a final twist that will remind you of a certain horror movie, but this is not really horror, either. Card is usually a science fiction author who likes to blur the genres, and narrator Stefan Rudnicki’s gravelly voice aids in maintaining this off-kilter effect. (Blackstone Audio/16 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜½

Actor Dennis Boutsikaris reads “Sandstorm” by James Rollins, an adventure novel with one of the most bizarre plots I’ve ever heard — an explosion in a London museum leads the curator to uncover a lost city under the Arabian desert. Now add an ancient meteor containing a rare form of energy and some covert government agents hoping to prevent terrorists from getting possession of it, and you have some discovery under the sand. Boutsikaris negotiates the unusual twists with the care of a documentarian on a tightrope, while never losing his footing or stride. You end up with a tale of intrigue that manages to remain credible by a hair, but which is certainly well written and narrated. And that’s better than a boring plot about some psycho being chased by Keystone cops. (Harper Audio/6 hours abridged) ˜˜˜

Appropriately enough, it is Wendy Williams, the “Queen of Radio,” who reads “The Wendy Williams Experience.” She’s a talk show host in New York known for being daring and opinionated when it comes to divas and rap stars — those flashy or trashy moguls who tool around in limos while wearing enough gold chains to anchor a battleship. Besides dishing the dirt on scandalous gangster rappers, Wendy also performs a spirited recreation of her interview with Whitney Houston at the height of Whitney’s tabloid trouble. Whether you’re a hip-hop fan or not, you have to admire this African-American woman’s bravery and charisma. Although Wendy sometimes “disses” those who hate being “dissed,” she also seems in awe of money and power, and is a fan of plastic surgery too. Well, nobody’s perfect, right? You go, girl. (Penguin Audio/5.5 hours abridged) ˜˜˜

The master of wild adventure is, of course, Clive Cussler. Teaming with Paul Kemprecos in order to produce more books, his latest Kurt Austin tale features another bizarre plot and is titled “Lost City.” It’s about the discovery of a life-prolonging enzyme, and the people who are mysteriously being killed while trying to harvest it from beneath the North Atlantic. A body is found frozen in the Alps, scientists in a Greek lab are disappearing and it’s up to Austin to figure out the link before it’s too late. Narrator Scott Brick is once again at the helm with a tempered, believable performance — which is exactly what you need when you’re pushing the envelope for the sake of entertainment. (Penguin Audio/13 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜½

These audio books may be rented from Audio Adventures in truck stops or by calling 1-800-551-6692. Be sure to ask for Jonathan Lowe’s new release, “Fame Island,” a blockbuster adventure some have described as “The Apprentice” meets “Lethal Weapon.”