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The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories

P.D. James, read by Jenny Agutter and Daniel Weyman. Random House Audio, , unabridged, 3 CDs, 3 hrs., $25 ISBN 978-1-5247-0806-1

Two of this quartet of posthumously collected short stories feature James’s New Scotland Yard sleuth, Supt. Adam Dalgliesh, narrated crisply and with touches of wry humor by reader Weyman, the voice of the poet-detective in previous audiobooks. In “The Boxdale Inheritance,” Dalgliesh investigates an infamous 67-year-old murder case, while “The Twelve Clues of Christmas” presents a younger, newly minted Sergeant Dalgliesh who, on his way to his aunt’s Christmas Eve dinner, is interrupted by a frantic man who has just discovered his uncle’s apparent suicide. James brightens all four tales with metafictional touches—from unapologetic references to her use of mystery tropes to allusions to Agatha Christie’s works. Weyman’s narration dryly takes note of these, as does Agutter’s in the other two stories. Her reading of “A Very Commonplace Murder,” a study of a smarmy, porn-addicted clerk who could alter a murder trial but doesn’t, is hard-edged and at times venomous. Her tone softens for the title piece, matching its narrator, an elderly popular crime novelist who recalls a Christmas half a century before when she wound up involved in a vicious murder. Agutter also provides a rather aloof rendition of a brief but informative essay by James on short crime fiction. A Knopf hardcover. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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A Truck Full of Money: One Man's Quest to Recover from Great Success

Tracy Kidder, read by Paul Michael. Random House Audio, unabridged, 7 CDs, 8.5 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-7352-1034-9

Actor Michael brings a considerable range of talents to the latest offering from Pulitzer Prize– and National Book Award–winner Kidder. Kidder's book chronicles the adventures of tech-industry giant Paul English, best known as cofounder of the travel search engine Kayak, which was acquired in 2012 by Priceline for $2 billion. Michael's gifted elocution makes for an aesthetically pleasing listening experience, but his matter-of-fact style of delivery for the emotional portions of the book that deal with English's longtime struggle with mental illness may surprise some listeners. Yet this restraint reflects Kidder's understanding of English as a no-nonsense blue-collar kid from South Boston who stays in constant motion while working toward tangible goals both big and small. There are some sections where emotions seep out naturally from the anecdotes being related, such as the charming little passage portraying English's efforts to help his dying father cope with bad cable television service. A Random House hardcover. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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