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Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot

Reed Farrel Coleman, read by James Naughton. Random House Audio, unabridged, 7 CDs, 9 hrs., $35 ISBN 978-0-553-39823-6

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The Jesse Stone novels, about perhaps Robert B. Parker’s most complex character, are now being channeled by Reed Farrel Coleman. In this well-plotted tale, police chief Jesse Stone, a former minor league baseball player with big league possibilities before suffering a debilitating shoulder injury, reluctantly attends a reunion of his old Triple-A team, bringing back memories of his lost career and former love interest. Before he falls too deeply into the doldrums of what might have been, he’s called back to Paradise, Mass., to investigate the murder of a young girl and the disappearance of her boyfriend. As Jesse and his team find themselves trying to untangle a web of lies, extortion, coverups, kidnapping, and murder, it may be that they all tie back to the reunion and Jesse’s past. Reader Naughton hits the mark in his straightforward, no-frills narration. His characterizations are well delineated but subtle, with natural-sounding dialogue and just the right touch of regional accents. But Naughton shines with Jesse Stone, fully inhabiting the flawed but compelling character. Between Coleman and Naughton, Parker’s protagonist is in good hands. A Putnam hardcover. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 10/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Slickers: In Which a Western Lawmen Cracks Down on Crime... in Manhattan

L. Ron Hubbard, performed by a full cast. Galaxy, , unabridged, two CDs, 2 hrs., $9.95 ISBN 978-1-59212-271-4

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Those who enjoy breathless adventures from the golden age of pulp fiction or radio melodramas will no doubt be delighted by these three tales from Hubbard’s abundant short story collections, performed by a large cast led by Scottish actor Enn Reitel. In the title story, Tex Laramie, the growly voiced sheriff of Cactus County, Ariz., travels to New York City, where his wallet is stolen and he’s held up by thugs and framed for a murder. In “Murder Afloat,” Bob Clark of the Secret Service Narcotics Squad follows a “million and a half dollars’ worth of dope” aboard a pleasure cruise and havoc ensues. These performances are enhanced by sound effects—notably the snap, crackle, and pop of burning timber. Meanwhile, the sound of howling wind and sleet marks “Killer Ape,” in which newsman Bill Lacey, recently released from jail after punching a man for mistreating a orangutan named Joe, learns that the animal has been mysteriously released from its cage and is roaming the snowy countryside. The performances, including that of Orangutan Joe, are very much in the fever-paced, derring-do style of the stories themselves. A Galaxy paperback. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

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