DEAD FAMOUS

Carol O'Connell, Author, Alyssa Bresnahan, Read by , read by Alyssa Bresnahan. Listen & Live Audio $32.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-59316-017-3

O'Connell's previous noirish novels featuring Kathleen Mallory (Crime School , etc.) wove together the NYPD detective's pursuits with glimpses of her past life, beginning with her semi-feral street urchin youth. This time, however, much of the book focuses on Riker, her crusty former partner, who's recuperating from a near-fatal shooting, and fascinating newcomer Dr. Johanna Apollo, the beautiful, deformed psychiatrist whom he loves. Apollo is the mysterious central player in a serpentine scheme that involves a vengeance-driven FBI agent, an obnoxious radio shock-jock, his unhinged assistant and The Reaper, a serial killer who's bumping off jurists who set a murderer free. The novel's convoluted, tricky plot is in need of audio clarification and that's what stage and television actress Bresnahan brings to the table. She wisely opts for a straightforward approach, presenting the book's lengthy descriptive passages in a clear, crisp manner and defining the cast of eccentric characters with subtle vocal shifts. (One notable and laudable exception is the supercilious, snarky tone she uses to nail the loathsome shock-jock.) The result is a compelling, smartly paced entertainment, as focused and coolly efficient as its affect-less heroine. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 4). (Sept.)