A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read by Ralph Cosham

Imagine a big black woman, Myrna from Montreal, who decides to drive South, but feels peckish after an hour and a half and so stops and bumps into a one-vache town, a fairy-tale town:

Three Pines had what she craved. It had croissants and cafe au lait. It had steak frites and the New York Times. It had a bakery, a bistro, a B & B, a general store, it had peace and stillness and laughter. It had great joy and great sadness ….

It had sweet gay couples and poor married artists and old unmarried women; it had village size problems and village size evil and village style murder. It had Christmas, and at Christmas, “homes full of people there and not there,” yakking away in English and French. Myrna never leaves. Inspector Gamache, on the other hand, comes and goes. Each time there is a murder.

The bistro was his secret weapon in tracking down murderers. Not only in Three Pines but in every town and village in Quebec. First he found a comfortable cafe or brasserie or bistro. Then he found the murderer. Because Armand Gamache knew something that others didn’t. At the root of each murder was an emotion. Warped no doubt, twisted and ugly, but an emotion. One so powerful it had driven a man to make a ghost. Gamash’s job was to collect the evidence. But also to collect the emotions. And the only way he knew to do that was to get to know the people. To watch and listen, to pay attention. And the best way to do that was in a deceptively casual manner, in a deceptively casual setting. Like the bistro.

Dead Street by Mickey Spillane read by Richard Ferrone

This was supposed to be about four retired couples, cops and wives, living in Florida and solving crimes (not cases). But Spillane turned it into a study of memory. Imagine a blinded amnesiacal lover secreted away inside a community of retired cops in New Jersey, and rediscovered by her old boyfriend after 25 years? What remains when memory disappears?

How does one lover make himself remembered to another?
If the boyfriend has the grainy voice of Richard Ferrone, and the nouns of a Mickey Spillane novel: doll, honey, kitten, what remains is instinct. And the girlfriend responds to being called a specific name by a specific voice. Hey, doll. All right, kitten.

The Tailor of Panama read by John Le Carre read by Le Carre

The relentless decomposition of the Oznard family has left Andrew in the position of so many young Englishmen, who had, for the first time in centuries, to feed themselves.

Young Andrew had thus determined from an early age that he was for England and more specifically, that England was for him… What he needed was a decaying English institution that would restore to him what other decaying institutions had taken away….

And what he chose was the Secret Service.

An exact and well cut commentary on the tradition of tailoring and its neo-colonial clientele.

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer read by Dick Hill

A short sharp meditation on how we know what we know and how we decide what we decide by the director of the Center of Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

When I became director of the Max Planck institute of Human Development, I wanted to create an interdisciplinary research group whose members actually talked worked and published together–a rare thing. Unless one actively creates an environment that supports this goal, collaboration tends to fall apart within a few years or may never get off the ground in the first place. The major obstacle is a mental one.

Researchers like most ordinary people tend to identify with their in group and ignore or even look down on neighboring disciplines. Yet most relevant topics we study today do not respect the historically grown disciplinary borders and to make progress, one must look beyond one’s own narrow point of view so I came up with a set of rules, not verbalized but acted upon that would create the kind of culture I desired.
Those rules included: EVERYONE ON THE SAME PLANE.

In my experience, employees who work on different floors interact 50% less than those who work on the same floor. And the loss is greater for those working in different buildings. People often behave as if they still lived in the savannah, where they look for others horizontally but not above or below ground. So when my growing group needed an additional 2000 square feet in which to operate, I vetoed the architect’s proposal that we construct a new building, and extended our existing offices horizontally so that everyone remained on the same plane…..

This pancake theory of organizational vitality is just one demonstration of the non-logical rules that govern human environments.

Intelligence is at work in what we call gut feelings, hunches and intuitions — despite the fact that we cannot account for them. Intelligence is also at work in the non-logical rules of thumb we use to navigate and predict the behavior of others.

Consider a woman waiting for a black suitcase at Kennedy Airport, and a cop who is looking only for a woman who is looking out for him. How does he zero in on the woman?

Consider a baseball player who wants to catch a ball: how does he calculate where the ball will be so he can catch it?

How does Harry decide on which of his two girlfriends he should marry?

Different heuristics and rules of thumb underlie intuitions, enabling fast action, utilizing ‘recognition memory’ and the ability to track moving objects… But these rules are not logical. Gerd Gigerenzer navigates the place that gut feelings hold within human knowing, inviting us to re-evaluate both knowing and feeling.

Kingdom of Lies by N. Lee Wood read by Ralph Cosham

Kingdom of Lies (Unabridged)
Length: 16 hours and 13 min.
Release Date: 05-03-2006

First: ignore the Audible summary. There is an office bureaucrat sitting in Bangalore who listens to audiobooks in between doing customer service calls for Verizon and emergency care calls for Viagra wives. Which explains summaries that sound as if they were based on hearing every third verb, badly. So, forget the summary.

This is a well arranged, nicely plotted detective novel, featuring a depressive Yorkshire cop of the John Harvey variety, divorced, dedicated, and dieting. He is comfortable in his own melancholy, his own territory, with his own defeat. His ex-wife’s robust ambition has moved her and their twins to a monied life in London. His neighbor’s wife irons his uniform shirts. His cat welcomes him home.

One day, a woman academic disappears while at a local conference; she turns up drowned and drunk and is identified by a pretty American colleague on vacation.

The Yorkshire seargent and the pretty American professor begin to investigate the dead woman’s death, and then her life, and then her taste for sad encounters.

The coupling is obvious, the end is not.

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement, performed by Julia Gibson

Another silly and lovable murder mystery written by an out of work real estate agent? Well, let’s see: Dixie Hemingway is a 32 year old ex-deputy living Sarasota, Florida, with her brother, the fireman, and his lover, Pablo, an undercover cop. She is a certified and insured and licensed Cat sitter. She is paid $20 to feed a cat and change the litter once a day; $60 for an over night visit. She also walks dogs and hugs them goodbye. She takes pets seriously and avoids humans. She is, like most Floridians, recovering from humans. Like fat, mad mothers of suicidal children, or overpampered party girls who have aged into overpampered divorcees. Dixie is different. More cat than human; both more curious and curiouser.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre read by FRANK MULLER. An Original.

How did Muller know that the text could sound like this? How could he make words talk like this? And yet he does. Muller turns them up and over and around so that each one cries out: Me, look! Listen to me! Hear me. And having been read in such a way, by such a voice, a word, a text, remains unspeakable by any other voice.
One listens half-crouched, head tilted, just a little, toward the machine, the voice, because it is inconceivable or almost inconceivable that this is English. For how can one even open one’s mouth when there is someone who makes English like this, makes English sound like this….

THE GAME OF THIRTY by WILLIAM KOTZWINKLE ::FRANK MULLER:

Imagine Frank Muller doing   CZ Sakall, the jowly, bespectacled, hysterical Hungarian who cannot stop wiping his spectacles, shaking his head and concocting scenarios of doom … “today… its going to happen today…” etc.

The stammering, anxious NYC diamond dealer calls Jimmy McShane, well heeled ex-cop and private dick, who bodyguards him,  makes sure disaster doesn’t happen today, and strolls home. Home: to the walk-up on Christopher Street, to the  old hag sitting on her heavy ovaries,   to the next ex-girlfriend re-aligning his Chakras in the flat redecorated by his  old ex-girlfriend,  to the Zelda-esque client who asks him to find her pedophilic father’s killer. Hi, ho. Absolutely funny, absolutely cool, absolutely wonderful.