Archive for the ‘Audio Review’ category

Scarpetta – Audio CD / Book Review

July 7, 2009

By:  Patricia Cornwell
Reviewed by:  Paul McMahon
15 hours, 12 CDs

I like Patricia Cornwell’s mysteries.  She is willing to build her characters and evolve them over the several books that they play roles in.  She also explains a lot of the technology of the Medical Examiner as well as that used in law enforcement.
First, don’t listen to this with kids in the car.  There are several very graphic descriptions of murders that will give them nightmares for months.  And you will have to get up and comfort them.
Cornwell, as well as other authors like Patterson, keep raising the level of cruelty in these cases.  Makes it refreshing to read an old mystery after some of the modern stuff.
Now to the story.
Scarpetta has moved to South Carolina and then to Massachusetts and New York City.  She gets called in to examine Oscar Banes who is involved (a person of interest) in the murder of his girl friend.  He tells a bizarre story of being tracked by some entity which watches everything he does and everywhere he goes.  Because he is not charged, Scarpetta is under a doctor/patient relationship with Oscar and cannot disclose what Oscar has told her (and us) even as she interacts with her husband and other players such as her husband, Marino, Lucy her niece, Berger the DA, and other players.
The story gets off to what seems to be a slow and confused start, but that is the beauty of Cornwell’s writing.  You are just as confused as real investigators are in a real case.  Just when you are ready to give up, Cornwell switches point of view and you have new insight.  Pretty soon you are sitting in your parked car listening to a new piece of evidence.
Kate Reading is the reader.  She does an excellent job of giving each character an unique verbal identity which she applies throughout the book.  Marino’s Jersey accent was never better.


Gods in Alabama – Audio CD Review

June 3, 2009

Gods in Alabama
By: Joshilyn Jackson
Read by: Catherine Taber
Reviewed by: Paul McMahon

There was something about this book jacket that attracted me. It had an air of mystery.

I listened to it and have to say that the jacket text hardly touched the book and its story.

The book follows a girl from high school in Alabama to teaching college literature in Chicago. Arlene does something so terrible that she leaves her loving family and exiles herself for 10 years. She (white) then brings her future husband Burr (black) to a family get together with a damn the torpedoes approach.

The book has great character development. It tells Arlene’s story warts and all.

It opens your mind to new ideas about the South, race and love.

Enjoy it!


Break No Bones – Audio CD Review

May 15, 2009

Break No Bones

By:  Kathy Reichs
Read  By:  Dorothee Berryman
Reviewed by Paul McMahon

The book features forensic anthropologist Temperance (Tempe) Brennan.

This and other books by Kathy Reichs are the inspiration for the Bones series on Fox series “Bones”.

The book is set in Charleston, South Carolina.  I have been in Charleston three times and the  author does a fantastic job of building the Charleston atmosphere.

The story starts with Tempe leading a end of semester dig on land suspected of containing Native American relics.  It does.  Then a student notices a bone that does not have the 1,000 year touch.  In fact it has the 5 year look.  Tempe and the students begin to dig carefully and realize that there is a  body buried in the Indian burial mound.

The sheriff is called and law enforcement takes over.  Reichs takes us through the typical law enforcement structure found outside of Connecticut where there is a sheriff and deputies covering the county, city cops, cops for areas that want their own law enforcement, etc.

We gradually begin to see that there is something going on as the body count begins to climb and Tempe, her ex husband and current lover work to figure out what is going on.

I would not play this if there are kids in the car.  However, older teens might enjoy the complexity of the story.  There is a little violence.  There is discussion of how the victims were killed. Some of the descriptions of the bodies might put them off supper.  There is a little sex between unmarried adults which may take explaining.  There is also discussion of Tempe’s feelings when living in the same house with her ex and her lover.

Read it.  You will enjoy it.  It keeps moving and maintains a constant pressure and threat as the body count builds.

High Noon – Audio CD Review

May 7, 2009

Hign Noon

By Nora Roberts
Book on CD
Read by:  Susan Erickson
Reviewed by: Paul McMahon

Roberts does a terrific job in character development.  You may love or hate the character or muddle along wondering what is happening,  but suddenly and forcefully you understand.

You cry for a gang banger’s mother at his wake and are amazed in what she does.

Roberts builds a very credible character in the person of Phoebe MacNamara who is the top hostage negotiator in Savannah.  You find out why she is a negotiator and who made it happen.  You see love come into her life.  You feel her frustration as a stupid cop tells a hostage taker to kill himself and give everybody a break — which he does just after Phoebe takes over.

The book is long — 16 hours,  14 CDs, but worth it.

The reader is very good.

Don’t listen with kids in the car.  There is a lot of rough language, violence and violent situations and enough sex situations to keep you explaining for the next year.

Down River – Audio CD Review

April 22, 2009

Down River

by John Hart

Read very well by: Scott Sowers

Reviewed by Paul McMahon

It took me a couple of CDs to get into this story, but it was worth it.  The ending is not what you expect.  The author does not try to mislead you.  However the ending is perfectly logical, but just not apparent to you.

The story is set in Rowan county, North Carolina.  The focus is on the mostly rural part of the county and not Salisbury, the county seat.

The characters are well constructed and you will be attracted to them, but with reservations.  You are always trying to figure out if they are true to the image they project or are they lying.  The answer is sometimes they lie and sometimes they don’t.

There are some murders,  a little violence,  cops,  bookies,  drug dealers,  drug customers — all the things that can happen anywhere.

Scott Sowers does a great job reading, cuing you to the character by shifts in accent.

The books begins with a lot of accredited (if that is what it is when everyline of dialog inludes accreditation like — Mary said…) dialog,  but the author gradually drops the training wheels and you are on your own.

A well written and well spoken book.  A mystery you will enjoy.

I would not lilsten with young kids in the car, but teens might enjoy it and give you a chance to discuss cops, drugs and a little sex.

Blowout – Audio CD Review

April 22, 2009


by:  Catherine Coulter

Reviewed by Paul McMahon

Coulter weaves two stories together.  One is the brutal murder of a Supreme Court Justice.  The other is the murder of a mother 30 years ago.  There is liitle connection between the stories, but both are interesting.

Back to the Supreme Court Justice.

He is murdered on a Friday night when he is alone in the library.  There are no clues.  The murderer appears to be a professional.

The next night one of his law clerks is murdered.

A day later another of his clerks is murdered.

As you read, panic builds.  What will happen to the third law clerk.  The FBI and the Metro DC Police move the clerk to the FBI training center at Quantico and set up an elaborate trap for the killer.  The result is that one of the FBI agents is killed and the decoy is shot.

A second ruse is set up and apparently the killer sees through this one too.  A third trap is set up.

Read the book for the result.

Very entertaining.  Not too bloody, but I would not recommend playing it with kids in the car.

Hot, Flat and Crowded – Audio CD Review

April 22, 2009

Hot, Flat and Crowded

By:  Thomas L. Friedman

Read by:  Oliver Wyman who is not a great reader.

Reviewed by:  Paul McMahon

Freidman wrote The World is Flat which is an effective analysis of the world we are living in.

In this book, Friedman comes back to take another bite and it makes a lot of sense.

Think Green Collar.

Friedman thinks we have the talent to solve the energy crisis, the global warming crisis and the population crisis and by doing this we also solve the peace crisis.  The problem is that a lot of the entrenched organizations will have to take on massive change.  However, in that change is huge opportunity.

The world is hot – too much carbon dioxide is causing heating by the greenhouse effect.

The world is flat – everything is interconnected so pain like the financial crisis in the US is felt by everybody.

The world is getting crowed – healthier people survive longer, peace means fewer people are killed in wars, there is less disease.

Friedman calls for a leader to take us into the change that has to take place.  Who would you pick – the incompetents who are destroying General Motors or the looters who are stripping IBM or the bonus babies who destroyed our financial system or the various government officials who stood by and let it all happen.

Friedman sees going greenest at a huge opportunity.  Businesses who seriously go green save significant amounts of money.  People who go green in their homes also profit by paying less for energy and materials.  He cites many examples.

Look at one of the examples that Friedman highlights.  Our schools have dumped a huge population of teens who do not have the education to compete for the jobs that have not been outsourced resulting in drugs, drive-bys and crime.  Investors who put their money in business that remediate homes and buildings making them more energy efficient and less costly to operate can make significant profits.  The kids are offered jobs and training to do the work.  While at first these are low level jobs, as the business grows they become team leaders.  These are jobs that cannot be outsourced.  You can’t ship a house to China to be insulated and then ship it back.  The result is green collar jobs that stay here and participate in the green revolution.

If you are an investor, a contractor, a business owner listen to what Friedman has to say.  You may find a million dollars.