by Sukey HowardSeptember 2011
The power of four
When Ann Brashares’ beloved, best-selling Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series ended, Tibby, Lena, Bee and Carmen were 19 years old. Now, 10 years later, they’re back in Sisterhood Everlasting, read with the right inflection and timbre by Angela Goethals. The fab four— out of college, out of the YA genre, into adulthood with all its angst and ambiguities—still have their magnetic appeal. And Brashares still captures the enduring strength of female friendship whether you’re five, 25 or 75. On the brink of 30, the “sisters” have moved on with differing degrees of success, but have stayed in touch, except for Tibby, who’s been almost incommunicado since her move to Australia with her boyfriend. Suddenly, to everyone’s joy, Tibby invites them all to meet in Santorini—but she isn’t there when they arrive. Why she disappeared and what she left behind prompts Bee, Carmen and Lena to consider themselves carefully, who they’ve become and how they’ll find fulfillment. Whether you watched these girls grow up or have just met them, this is a KKC (Keep the Kleenex Close) audio for sure.
JIMM JUREE, CRIME REPORTER
If you’re an aficionado of murder-mystery-lite in exotic surroundings, laden with lots of local color (yes, think Precious Ramotswe), then you’re in for an audio treat. Killed at the Whim of a Hat, the first in a new series by Colin Cotterill, stars Jimm Juree, a 30-ish crime reporter with a droll take on the world and a wonderfully weird family. After Jimm’s mother, whose marbles are beginning to get lost, moves Jimm, her brother (a gentle buffed-up hunk) and her semi-silent grandfather to a tiny fishing village in southern Thailand (her transgendered, computer-hacking sibling stays in Chiang Mai), Jimm bemoans the end of her blossoming career. But when two skeletons in tattered hippie clothes are found in an old VW camper and a visiting Buddhist monk is brutally stabbed to death, Jimm is back in business and listeners get both a lively crime caper and a perceptive look into Thai culture, all charmingly narrated by Jeany Park.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
The James Bond I loved was the Ian Fleming version, and try as I might, I’ve never fallen for the many Bonds in the many books (more than 25) written after Fleming died. But that was before Jeffery Deaver took over. Deaver’s Bond in Carte Blanche, his first foray into Fleming-dom, is a perfect mix of old and new. This 21st-century Bond, armed with an ingenious iPhone and bleeding-edge spyware, saw heroic action in Afghanistan before taking on licensed-to-kill 007 status. Like the Bond of before, our knight-errant thinks like a master chess player, sizing up dangerous situations in a nanosecond, planning evasive action many moves ahead of his adversaries, while he charms every beautiful woman into his arms and quaffs shaken-not-stirred martinis. When British intelligence picks up an encrypted whisper about an attack that will kill thousands, Bond is on the case, racing from London to Dubai to Cape Town to reveal the twisted villain and stop him . . . or her. Performed by Toby Stephens, whose array of spot-on accents comes with a Bondian ability to deftly switch from derring-do to debonair, it’s fabulous, exciting, cinematic fun.