David Ignatius, Bloodmoney, read by Firdous Bamji

At what point are you willing to pay for an audiobook?

  1. When you encounter a quote by Kipling that you have never heard before, and you want to memorize it …
  2. When the reader has such a faraway voice, with a thousand ligatures, selective, discretionary accents, which gives a d that extra bit of blow, can do Urdu as well as Pashto, in a tribal croak and a traitor’s castrato…
  3. When the author has such impressive inner knowledge based not on the ‘facts’ that he could have google-plagiarized in 2 minutes, but on what are not and will never be facts, on things people know that it is not necessary to say, on what would once have been called ‘common sense’ or ‘local knowledge’ … Not to mention that the author has an international, jocular sensibility  about governmental organizations, Yale, and truth.
  4. When you’ve already gobbled up another, later book, which was slicker, better or more brutally edited, and gobbling it down only made you hungrier for more…
  5. When you start to remember your fifth grade teacher pulling down the oil-skin map from its rolled up position over the green blackboard, before picking up her long wooden pointer and positioning it over some small bright orange blob on the bottom right third of the map… which was perhaps the last time you were curious about the geography of Pakistan ….

Jodi Thomas Welcome to Harmony Narrated by Julia Gibson

“Look, Preacher, I don’t need saving; I’m not interested in dating, and I’d just as soon not be your friend. So why don’t you go peddle ‘let’s be friends’ somewhere else,” she tells Noah when he tries talking to her at lunchtime at school.

 

We have the perfect subject of the unconscious: a 15 year old orphan, a little tough, a little charming, a little liar with a heavy need for home. “Regan Truman” walks into old Jeremiah’s life as though she belongs there, makes a deal, and stays. Harmony is a town that happens when she makes the town her home.

 

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.

Retirement Plan by Martha Miller read by Bernadette Dunne

Miss Sophie Long is a Catholic School teacher who can’t parallel park, until she meets Lois, Vietnam Vet, trained sniper, mechanic, and lesbian. They live in the same neighborhood as Morgan, a size 16-18 police detective with a demented mother. At some point, to make ends meet, Sophie and Lois decide to begin killing for hire… bad guys only. And so the story zigzags between 60 year old lesbian couples, sex offenders, wife beaters, fat female cops, drug addicted daughters…. with some brilliant laughs along the way. Beautiful reading as always by Bernadette Dunne.

Broken Harbor by Tana French read by Stephen Hogan

It takes you by the throat and starts squeezing from line 1. The Irish voice muscles out a story about post-bank crash Ireland: an out of work family living in an Unfinished family development when the money and the economy run out.

And why the economic woes of the Irish always seem so much more desperate than any other English speaking people? And why the Irish family is always already broken, always already crap?

And why the detective assigned to the case is always already bitter, depressed, hateful ….even as he searches for clues on google? Think: one dry, blood-encrusted leather glove pulled off the typing hand…

A gorgeous, wealthy language spread against the background of a greed gutted Ireland and the entire internet community of gun-nut castratos.

Read with: michael Lewis, Maeve Binchy.

Bait by Kenneth Abel read by Frank Muller

When and if you have to describe beauty don’t do it from the front. Do it against the public eye, and against the visual. This is a book not a movie, so listen:

He felt her looking at him, her eyes amused behind those little round glasses like the hippies used to wear, blond hair pulled back into a thick braid… He watched her walk back into the file stacks… her legs taut beneath the faded jeans.”

A description is born from an interested perception, inside a relationship, between people or between a person and a thing. Even a measurement is born of a relationship. The blond hair is pulled back, touched, handled by particular hands. Part of what makes this woman a woman Jack meets behind a counter. She is a counter girl, and eventually that counter is bedded down along with the girl, her thighs, her glasses.

No need to use the brand of the jeans — the jeans are not the characters in this book. The characters are cops and the girls they love or fuck, all kinds of cops, old cops, ex-cops, bent cops, divorced cops, cops behind desks and cops in cars, listening in on smart guys-turned-businessmen they are trying to put away…cops in the small towns of Massachusetts.

A description can also be a back road to the mind.

He watched her as she watched back into Electrical… across to Aisle Four … He’d seen women with shorter hair in Harvard Square, maybe Jamaica Plain, even bald, in recent years… When he was in uniform they’d give him hostile looks, waiting for him to make a comment… He’d just shrugged. No stranger than being a cop, walking the streets in a uniform all summer, 15 pounds of gunbelt dragging at your hip. Harder, maybe. All the stares. Her hair was like the crewcuts they used to give kids, but soft, so you want to run your hand over it…

Not visual, not really: a haircut. Not in a book.

Going to Bend by Diane Hammond read by Hilary Huber

Even if you buy all your clothes at Walmart’s, even if you never finished high-school and you still collect Happy Meal toys, even if your little girl never saw her father, who thinned out after a while, like smoke, you can still write a recipe book. Then someone with Aids, who drives an old Peugeot, can market you and the kitchen you cook them in. “When the people of Sawyer tucked into a meal or a snack, 72% selected a Pepsi product to go with it…” This was one of Schiff’s contributions to the universe, to Oregon, because Schiff, who grew up hungry and insulted by his mother, was a magician when it came to marketing. …

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…..