The Accident, flawlessly read by Mozhan Marno, is Chris Pavone’s second nail-biting foray into espionage-tinged thrillerdom (following his best-selling debut, The Expats). This time, the action takes place on one harrowing whirlwind of a day. As the bodies pile up on two continents with almost careless abandon, you’ll constantly revise your assumptions about motives, identities and what might be true. And it all hinges on a manuscript written on paper, the old-fashioned way. Isabel Reed, a well-known literary agent, has been up all night reading an unputdownable tell-all bio of a world-famous, super-powerful media mogul with a full dose of murder, cover-ups and CIA subterfuge that was mysteriously left at her office and mysteriously authored by Anonymous. She knows it’s the real deal and the biggest thing ever to come her way. By 7 a.m. she hands the manuscript over to the perfect editor, a longtime admirer of hers; by lunchtime her assistant is dead, and by the next dawn betrayals, discoveries and deceptions litter the blood-spattered landscape.

SEA, SAND AND SISTERHOOD
A good “beach audio” is one of summer’s most delightful guilty pleasures. If you’re ready to treat yourself, relax in your waterside chair, comfy hammock or porch swing and listen to The Girls of August, Anne Rivers Siddons’ 19th novel, wonderfully performed by Kate Reading, who always gets pitch, pace and personalities just right. The “girls of August” were best friends, the young wives of medical school residents when they started taking a week in August as a no-guys getaway. For 15 years Maddie, Rachel, Barbara and Melinda took a beach house together, but after their beloved Melinda died in a car crash, they drifted apart. Now, three years later, Melinda’s husband has a new, very young wife, aptly called Baby, with a fabulous beach house on isolated Tiger Island. “The girls” set off again with this flaky, gorgeous 22-year-old in tow to find themselves deep in reveries, revelations—sad and glad—and, once more, forging a formidable four-way friendship.

TOP PICK IN AUDIO
On a snowy evening, Barrett Meeks sees a swirling aqua light in the sky over Central Park and believes it sees him. It could be a sign, an apparition that will brighten his life and alter his catalog of regrets and failures. Barrett, a prodigy who never blossomed into his potential, has just been dumped by yet another boyfriend; he’s broke, a bit broken and living with his older brother, Tyler, and Tyler’s mortally ill girlfriend in their dingy Brooklyn apartment. Tyler, in his mid-40s, is still an aspiring musician, still leaning on lines of coke to get him through his constant metaphysical emergencies. The Snow Queen, Michael Cunningham’s beautifully written, hauntingly perceptive new novel, explores the inner geography of the brothers’ lives at midpoint, at a time when the right thing might still happen. Gracefully narrated by actor Claire Danes, this quiet story of yearning and connection becomes a surprisingly poignant audio.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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