3 great new audiobooks for your commute, your walk or just chilling out (no web) | arts and culture

‘When You Are Mine’

Michael Robotham maintains an air of excruciating suspense in this plot-driven tale of an idealist young policewoman from London’s Met. Philomena “Phil” McCarthy runs afoul of the entire police force when she arrests Darren Goodall-a married, decorated senior officer-for beating up his girlfriend. Phil, who has wanted to join the Met since she was a girl, now finds that, far from being an organization of committed peacekeepers, it is awash in corruption and coverups. Although demoted to desk duty, she can’t leave it alone and befriends the victim, Tempe Brown, who we begin to see is the friend from hell: needy, manipulative, and up to something mysterious and most likely unsavory. The book is wonderfully served by Katy Sobey, who narrates it at an easy pace, capturing Phil’s naivete in a sweet, young voice, adding some gruffness to the men, and delivering Tempe, who has come from Northern Ireland, with an admirably convincing accent. . (Simon & Schuster, Unabridged, 11 hours 45 minutes)

‘The Family Chao’

Lan Samantha Chang’s novel is a brilliant psychological exploration of the emotions and sense of identity of children of immigrants. William, Ming and James are the American-born sons of their Chinese-born father, Leo, a driven, tyrannical restaurant owner in Wisconsin. Working his family mercilessly, he causes his Chinese-born wife to retreat to a Buddhist nunnery. Coming home for Christmas, James tries unsuccessfully to resuscitate a stranger who has collapsed in the airport. The following confusion leaves him with the dead man’s bag and escalating repercussions. Meanwhile, William has dumped his longtime girlfriend to take him up with another-a messy situation. Ming, although a financial success in New York, shares his brothers’ uneasiness about their identity. Chang’s plot is a miracle of complexity, each development spawning revealing side stories. Narrator Brian Nishii carries the book beautifully in a clear, usually calm voice that becomes heated in moments of conflict, absorbing and conveying the feelings that become ever more intense as the story unfolds. (Recorded Books, Unabridged, 11 hours)


Karen Joy Fowler’s novel takes up the family of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. Fowler’s intent, explained in an author’s note, is to avoid giving Booth more of the attention he craved – although enough of it to unpack the mystery of how he, a man from an anti-slavery household, could emerge as a pro-slavery secessionist , and a killer for that cause. The novel gives an engrossing portrait of life in Maryland – including of the lives of enslaved and free Black people – in the last years before the Civil War through to the assassination and its aftermath. The narrative could well have bogged down, but for January LaVoy’s superb narration. Ella’s mesmerizing voice adds emotional momentum, and she brings out the personalities of the characters with seamless alterations of pitch and tone. (Penguin Audio, Unabridged, 13 hours, 45 minutes)

Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks every month for The Washington Post.


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