cover image By Blood

By Blood

Ellen Ullman, read by Malcolm Hillgartner. Blackstone Audio, unabridged, 12 CDs, 14 hrs., $32.95 ISBN 978-1-4551-2721-4

From the opening line, “I did not cause her any harm. This was a great victory for me,” Malcolm Hillgartner uses quiet, deliberate narration to insinuate himself into the reader’s imagination. His thoughtful delivery makes even an innocuous sentence—“I followed the manager into the elevator and rode with him up to the eighth floor”—sound menacing, which is the perfect approach for Ullman’s psychological thriller set in 1970s San Francisco. The plot centers on an academic whose fall from grace leads him to an office in a seedy part of town. Although the professor plans to prepare a series of lectures, he soon finds himself obsessively eavesdropping on a psychotherapist and his patient in an adjacent office. This audio edition is anchored by Hillgartner’s steady narration, which carefully utilizes a limited range of inflections to maintain listener interest throughout. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux hardcover. (Feb.)