Privileged Lives by Edward Stewart narrated by Christian Rummel

An unusual and captivating account of a Manhattan social scene rapt by cocaine, bondage, dying gays and too much money. Vince Cardozo as the NYPD detective lieutenant who is pretty enough and straight enough to correct wrongs and fall in love at the same time…

The Ghost & Mrs. Fletcher

An old, sick and unhappy man tells Jessica to write down his last wishes: sell the house, give the proceeds to my grandson. She formalizes it, he dies, the real estate agent gets to work. Jessica arranges for the hundreds of old books in the house to be sold at a library charity sale. A possible female ghost brings in a woman who ‘smudges’ the house and films the ritual for her TV reality show… Of course, a murder is announced, but afterwards and without much ado. The old man did not die a ‘natural’ death, he was suffocated in his hospital room by something with green threads…

Jessica snoops and pries and busy-bodies her way into the house and its history. While searching for old Hobart pot-boilers in the basement with her antiquarian bookshop owner friend, she finds bones, a body, and another murder still.

Reliable and punchy.

No Questions Asked by Ross Thomas read by Malcolm Hillgartner

An old book, a tits and bits insurance agent, an ex-intelligence bully, a rich chick on Malibu beach, a bitter ex-girlfriend somebody called “Virgie”, a short tight crooked alcoholic cop, and a Go-Between man who gets an Eviction Notice and a letter from the Wall Street Journal saying he could get rich if only he subscribed for six months.

In six months and a week, Philip St. Ives has earned $75,000, received 2 invitations to live and play with a woman, one in NYC and one on Malibu Beach, failed but then found an old book, but not before somebody shot a bullet through it.

At the end, on his way back to New York, his trusty helper asks him if there’s anything he can study in University to help him become a Go-Between man. St. Ives thinks about it for a while and says “Ethics, you might study Ethics.”

The Night Detectives by Jon Talton read by Jim Meskimen (A David Mapstone Mystery)

Interesting detective novel about an ex-Mexican ex-sheriff and his deputy-historian. A little bloody but lots of clean writing, and a sharpening style.

Good lines.

Cartwright was spry and walked fast… he led me around a lush Palo Verdi tree.  It reminded me of the way trenches had been constructed on the Western Front in WW 1; They zigzagged so that an emery soldier couldn’t stand above the trench and take out an entire company with his rifle. We were on the verge of the 100 year mark of that cataclysm that changed the world, but few Americans paid any attention to the past…. The Sheriff’s a good man in a shitty situation.

It was a 48 star flag, the way it would have looked after Arizona was admitted to the Union in 1912. Beside it were highly detailed US  geologic survey maps of the area. The map fiend in me wanted to study them.

The place was surprisingly free of dust and noticeably cooler than the outside but I could feel myself only a few internal degrees from heat exhaustion. I tried to be convivial, in an end of the world way, complementing his bunker.

The Day the Rabbi Resigned by Harry Kemelman read by George Guidall

The last of the Rabbi Small series narrated with an annoying over-aggressive punkishness by Guidall — to intimate, perhaps, the intellectual aggression of Rabbi Small, the clever not-to-be socialized puzzle solver and prayer leader of the Conservative Jews of Barnard’s Crossing Massachusetts. The characters are at least as alive as the Jews next door and just as argumentative and recognizable and relevant. Best read from the book, but worth hearing too.

Oath of Office by Michael Palmer read by Robert Petkoff

Fury in the doctors office: odd thinking and odder emotions find their way into clinical space. The Emergency Room doctor as addict, as alcoholic, as James Dean, or James Bond.
Genetically modified foods unregulated by the Department of Agriculture served with grandmotherly love by a local eatery are at the basis of another entertaining tale of greed and corruption.

Beaded to Death by Janis Patterson read by Gayle Hendrix

A widowed ex-schoolteacher who makes beautiful beaded jewelry and travels from craft show to craft show returns home to find a dead man in her kitchen. The local detective assigned to the case is a dog: he botches up the initial investigation and Lillianne’s house is totally trashed, searched and vandalized…. Someone is looking for something but she has no idea who or what… Annie — her gorgeous lawyer-friend, saves Lilliane from the silly police detective but trouble follows Lilliane until she herself is forced to solve the murder ….

Blood in the Water by Jane Haddam read by David Collacci

A delightful, witty murder mystery about a small-town gated-community studded with the usual sociopathic suspects, albeit wealthy, and gorgeous social commentary. Waldorf Pines is an exclusive ex-1920’s ex-golf-course on which marbled kitchens and bathrooms have been built, bricked over with Tudorish frontage and populated by odd, classless, moneyed characters badly acting out their reality-tv-prototypes.

She’d once thought that all that mattered to them was money, but this wasn’t true. All that mattered to them was to be seen by other people to have money. They had not learned- if they were lucky they would never learn — that money is never enough if that is all you have.

And then there is Gregor Demarkian. A retired FBI officer hired by police departments to help them with their inquiries…..

Hanging by a Thread by Monica Ferris read by Susan Boyce

She sounds like your high school Home Economics teacher, or the Hall Mother in your college Dormitory, or your new semi-retired accountant: clear, crisp, well organized and about 23 pounds overweight. She sounds pretty and pinkish and lipsticked. She is in her mid fifties and owns a Needlework Shop in Minnesota, which is confusing and full of lakes and coldish people. She has also developed a refreshingly useful talent for finding the truth about a murder. She never takes money, admits her amateur status, and uses nothing but her friends and neighbors and her clear, crisp, organized accountant’s mind as sources of information. She makes you feel like your world is only temporarily messy, and can be good as new and cute as a button if you just found her kind of Mary Poppins — inside your head. Good luck.

Also Recommended: Crewel World (the first and best of the Needlecraft Mystery series), A Stitch in Time, Buttons and Bones, A Murderous Yarn

The Accident by Linwood Barclay read by Peter Berkrot

A bouquet of accidents pop up at the beginning of the story: a cab crash in Manhattan, a car crash in Darien, Connecticut, an overdose in Mitford…For the rest of this story, the notion of accident is under erasure.  What after all is an accident? Is the housing crisis an accident? Is the use of sub-paar Chinese building materials substituted for the good American stuff an accident?

Everywhere in the background is the restless problematic of wives and husbands struggling to maintain their position in a post-pastural not quite upper suburban middle class. .. An accidental class, in an accidental economy.

As in other Linwood Barclay tales the wife is either dead, missing or dissimulating: here the dead wife has been found inexplicably drunk behind the wheel of a crashed SUV. Husband and daughter are gobsmacked. Who was she if she was an alcoholic?

Who was his wife? Who were her friends? Their husbands? Their neighbors? Doubt turns all things ordinary into mysteries, even in Connecticut.