cover image The Black Tower

The Black Tower

Louis Bayard, , read by Simon Vance. . Blackstone Audio, $32.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4332-4659-3

Occasionally, a brilliant audio can improve upon the print original. Simon Vance's skillful enactment of a cast the size of Balzac's The Human Comedy is a joy. The characters include the credibly naïve and incredibly good bourgeois narrator, Dr. Hector Carpentier; several members of the royal family; and, of course, the servants, soldiers and government hacks that form the majority of the populace. Most amazing is Vance's portrayal of Vidocq, a criminal turned police inspector. A master of masquerade, Vidocq takes on many disguises, complemented here by unique voices. When uncloaked, Vance returns Vidocq to his natural speech, a sort of East Ender drawl. Vance smartly avoids pasting French accents onto the characters. The pace is perfect, as Vance skillfully swirls the reader through a complex Restoration plot that is sure to please. A Morrow hardcover (Reviews, July 21). (Oct.)