cover image Zero Hour

Zero Hour

Clive Cussler and Graham Brown, read by Scott Brick. Penguin Audio, nine CDs, 10.75 hrs., unabridged, $39.95 ISBN 978-1-61176-168-9

This latest NUMA adventure from Cussler and Brown features the heroic members of the National Underwater and Marine Agency%E2%80%94Kurt Austin, Dirk Pitt, Joe Zavala, et al.%E2%80%94battling yet another madman who hopes to conquer the world. But crazed scientist Maxmillian Thero%E2%80%99s weapon is unique: it uses of zero-point energy to create machines capable of causing continent-shattering earthquakes. Narrator Scott Brick is skilled at creating accents%E2%80%94a much-needed talent considering that Thero has marked both Australia and Russia as his main targets. Brick treats the book%E2%80%99s Aussies, male and female, to a credible, near musical twang. His Russian accents are solid, especially the voice he uses for an oddly likeable Moscow assassin. When it comes to most of the NUMA world-savers, Austin and Pitt included, Brick uses an all-purpose, broadcast-quality stalwart tone, though the down-to-earth Zavala%E2%80%99s comments have an added touch of Brooklyn sarcasm. It%E2%80%99s the voice of Thero that presents the biggest challenge. The authors describe it as being the result of vocal chords damaged in an intense fire that nearly killed the man and drove him mad. Brick%E2%80%99s croak is so effectively garbled and strained one hopes he has his own award-winning voice properly insured against misuse. A Putnam hardcover. (May)