cover image Beachcomber


Karen Robards. Simon & Schuster Audio, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7435-3376-8

When listeners pop the first tape of this absorbing audio adaptation into their cassette decks, they may get the sense that they've stepped into a movie at the midway point; a murder, a chase and a heated confrontation between hero and heroine all occur within the first 30 minutes. Not long after, protagonist Christy Petrino, who recently ended her relationship with her mob-connected lawyer fianc , is attacked by a hatchet-wielding killer. Unsure of whether the Mob ordered a hit on her or whether she's become a target of North Carolina's newest serial killer, dubbed the Beachcomber, Christy turns to her handsome new neighbor, Luke Rand, who always appears in the nick of time to save her. Narrator Forbes is at her best when portraying tough, fiery Christy, the Mob thugs who hound her and the scrappy tomcat that yowls and hisses at anyone who keeps it from dining on the local birds. She falters, however, when portraying Luke, whose oddly high-pitched voice evokes both the South and New Jersey. An absurd final twist and a clich d villain (who utters trite lines like ""Guess what, Christy? Your worst nightmare is here"") will turn off some listeners, but most will sit back and enjoy this taut, tightly packed romantic thriller. Simultaneous release with the Atria hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 18). (Aug.)