Ten-year-old Susan Kendall was kidnapped, then murdered, her body found on Christmas day. Rouge, her twin brother and best friend, never quite recovered. Now, 15 years later, Rouge, a Princeton drop-out, turned home-town cop, has to confront the past all over again. Two ten-year-old girls have disappeared, it's almost Christmas, and the outcome is all too predictable. But Carol O'Connell's mystery novels and her oddly brilliant crime solvers are not at all predictable, as Judas Child (15 hours), thoughtfully performed by Erika Leigh, well demonstrates. A departure from her stylish Mallory series, this one ensnares you in a web of suspense as you live out the three days before Christmas with the little girls and with Rouge and Ali Cray, a strangely scarred forensic psychologist who knew Susan Kendall when they were in school. O'Connell's characters stay with you, as does her questioning of how a child might survive horror, how the mind copes with the unbearable. Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.

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