cover image Virtue Falls

Virtue Falls

Christina Dodd, read by Rebecca Soler. Macmillan Audio, , unabridged, 13 CDs, 16.5 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-4272-4371-3

The first novel in Dodd’s new series focuses on Elizabeth Banner, a stunningly beautiful but emotionally blocked geologist who has returned to Virtue Falls, Wash., the oceanside town where, a couple of decades ago, at the age of four, she supposedly witnessed her brilliant scientist father murder her mother with a pair of scissors. Though the body was never found, Charles Banner was convicted and tossed into state prison. When a major earthquake followed by a tsunami hits, Elizabeth is elated to be the first geologist on the scene, but her mom’s corpse is disinterred by the quake. Then her FBI agent ex-husband, Garik, whom she still loves, arrives hunting for a serial murderer who uses scissors to kill mothers and their children. Reader Soler does well delivering dramatic dialogue, of which there is an abundance, what with the townspeople frantically reacting to the murders and the continuing aftershocks and their village being cut off from the rest of the world by the quake. She’s particularly effective in finding a lovable Irish brogue for Elizabeth’s tough but kindhearted mother-in-law. But her presumably natural girlish, almost chirpy voice is sometimes at odds with the material, particularly noticeable during sequences in which Dodd describes with graphic eloquence Elizabeth and Garik rolling about, rekindling their romantic passion. The production also includes a conversation between Dodd and romance-suspense writer Jayne Ann Krentz. A St. Martin’s hardcover. (Sept.)