“If it bleeds it leads” is a well-known newspaper aphorism that may explain the strong correlation between crime novels and current events. Many a crime plot has had its beginnings in a captivating story or headline. There are no shortages of stories about Jack the Ripper, large corporations contaminating water supplies, terrorist attacks, or high-profile unsolved murders. Often, the more outrageous the real-life scenario, the better. The true-life events trigger a “what if” question in the minds of great suspense writers, and then they run with it.
One of—if not THE—best crime novel of our time, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, was influenced by the news stories of the Scottsboro Boys that Harper Lee would have read as a child. And chillingly enough, a much more modern nonfiction story from Lee’s own Monroe County, Alabama, is told in Bryan Stevenson’s JUST MERCY.
One murderer who intrigued a writer enough to put pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—is Peter Manual, the man who terrorized Glasgow in the 1950s. Denise Mina crafts a fictionalized version of his story in THE LONG DROP.
AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to hear from Thérèse Plummer on her narration of PERFECT LITTLE WORLD by Kevin Wilson, an AudioFile Earphones Award winner. We’re introduced to this offbeat audiobook about a pregnant high school graduate invited to join a collective child-rearing social experiment called The Infinite Family Project.
“Izzy Poole, 18 years old, a child raising a child in a social experiment just blew my mind.”—Narrator Thérèse Plummer
PERFECT LITTLE WORLD
by Kevin Wilson,
read by Thérèse Plummer
AudioFile Earphones Award
Listeners get a chance to consider what it means to be a family through a large cast of characters. Thérèse allows us to dive into this strange, experimental world and witness as the cracks in the collective family begin to form and threaten the “perfect little world.” Thérèse’s intimate narration invites listeners to reflect on the poignant imperfections inherent in families of all kinds.
In the week when I had eyes on the G-20 meeting of world leaders, I should have listened to BEHAVE, Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky’s audiobook on the science of human behavior—the good and bad. Narrator Michael Goldstrom gets top marks for getting listeners through this dense and fascinating topic. (And you have to love Sapolsky’s author photo from a 2007 Stanford News article.)
Talk about bad behavior—Bonnie Parker of Bonnie & Clyde gets a splendid backstory from Jenni Walsh in BECOMING BONNIE. Susan Bennett gets Earphones for her performance. And Henry VIII ranks right up there in bad behavior . . . something to think about while listening to ANNE BOLEYN: A KING’S OBSESSION by historian Alison Weir. Narrator Rosalyn Landor delivers both pitch-perfect characters and Tudor atmosphere.
An interesting audiobook of debut fiction that caught my eye was Alexandra Fuller’s QUIET UNTIL THE THAW. Fuller, known for her memoirs of pre-apartheid Africa (DON’T LET’S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT), tells an intense story of two Lakota Oglala Sioux cousins. Listen to Fuller’s recent interview on NPR for more insights into the research and story behind this novel.
Look for more highlights in next week’s Robin’s RoundUp!
Summer travel season is here, and I’d love to hare off to an unfamiliar clime. In previous years, I’ve watched zebras on the Masai Mara and scraped my knees on a shortish Swiss Alp. But I don’t always have the ready cash for such trips, and in truth, I’m not always up for the dissonance and discomfort of travel. That’s where audiobooks come in. Not travel books, but novels set in foreign lands. I call them far-flung travel for the adventure-hesitant. They encourage me to appreciate other lands and other peoples, all while sleeping in my own bed.
My two trips to the Caribbean left me sunburnt, broke, and tired of the other tourists. Then I fell in love with Barbados in THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL, a coming-of-age story by Naomi Jackson, evocatively performed by Robin Miles. This wasn’t the manicured resort island, but a real place rich with people I’d never have met lounging by a pool, including two Brooklyn-born Barbadian girls who took me along on their voyage of self-discovery. Read more…
Don’t you love a hero who knows her own mind? Strong-willed characters romp through these stellar audiobooks.
SINFUL SCOTTISH LAIRD: Highland Grooms, Book 2
by Julia London, read by Derek Perkins
Harlequin Audio/Blackstone Audio
Daisy stands up to the imposing Laird of Arrandale despite her desperate need to wed.
WAKE A SLEEPING TIGER: Breeds, Book 31
by Lora Leigh | Read by Brianna Bronte
Bengal-human cross Cullen Maverick left his humanity behind long ago. But his protective instincts are on high alert when Chelsea Martinez risks her life to save a child from the Coyote soldiers.
BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE: Season for Scandal, Book 3
by Kelly Bowen, read by Ashford McNab
Angelique plays the odds at Lavoie’s gambling house, but has she won or lost when the dashing owner catches her counting cards?