Monday, December 26, 2011

Audios Offer Suspense, Intrigue

Christmas has come and gone for another year. I hope everyone had a chance to relax with family and friends. I also hope Santa brought lots and lots of wonderful books to read.

I’ve been busy listening to audio books while preparing for the holidays. Today I’d like to share my take on several with you.

THE UNDERTAKER’S WIDOW by Phillip Margolin

By the end of THE UNDERTAKER’S WIDOW I was laughing and shaking my head. It wasn’t because it’s humorous murder mystery, but because author Phillip Margolin had me changing my pick of the real villain till I was almost dizzy.

This is a wonderful story that keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense and intrigue. There are more twists and turns in the story than in a maze. Just when you’re sure who’s responsible for everything, another shoe drops and you have a new suspect just as plausible.

Eric Dawe does a fantastic job narrating the story. His vocal tones and mannerisms bring the characters to life. The changes in his vocals for the numerous characters will have you believing they are truly individuals. His soothing voice draws you in and holds you spellbound for an action-packed adventure.

Ellen Crease is in a race for the U.S. Senate when an intruder breaks into her home and kills her husband, Lamar Hoyt Sr., a wealthy mortuary owner. Crease, a former cop, kills the intruder and becomes a widow, victim and hero in a matter of minutes.
Questions arise as to what the intruder was really doing at the house. Was he a burglar or a hired killer sent there to kill Crease, her husband, or both.

As the investigation continues Crease is charged in her husband’s death. The case goes before idealistic Judge Richard Quinn, new to the homicide rotation for judges. Quinn, honest to a fault, is facing problems of his own having witnessed a woman’s murder while at a conference.

The twists and turns of the case get more complicated and intriguing with each new development. Things are never quite really as they seem. 

There is murder, blackmail, political enemies, extra-marital mishaps, and family bickering. A legal thriller along the lines of Grisham and Turow.

Author Phillip Margolin’s website is

The Undertaker’s Widow by Phillip Margolin, Read by Eric Dawe, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1455809974, Unabridged, 7 Discs, Listening Time: 8 Hours 38 Minutes (book format @1998)

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS by Patti Callahan Henry

Death can turn your world upside down. But what happens when all you thought you knew may turn out not to be true at all?

Life for Annabelle Murphy changed 2 years earlier when her husband’s private plane crashed in a remote area of Colorado. Knox was bound for his annual hunting trip. 

She and their 2 children were slowly putting the pieces of their lives together in South Carolina when the sheriff dropped by with news about the crash. The wreckage had finally been found. However, Knox wasn’t alone on the plane. A woman’s body was also found in the crash.

Filled with questions and doubts, Annabelle sets out to find out the truth about her husband, the life they had together, and the woman on the plane. Her quest takes her to North Carolina where she meets a young woman who had lived in her town 10 years earlier. But now the young woman’s name is different, the people there believe she’s from Colorado and her mother died 2 years ago.

As Annabelle shifts through the information she finds more and more secrets. Meanwhile, Sofie Milstead (formerly Parker) is determined to keep all the secrets in place. Her mother warned her all her life not to reveal the secrets. Sofie knows why her mother was in the plane with Knox, but she can’t tell…no one must never know.

The journey to find the answers is intriguing, funny, and at times will tug on your heart strings. Author Patti Callahan Henry gives an insight into the fact we never really know everything about the ones we love. She also does a wonderful job showing things are never what they appear to be.

The story is told from the view point of Annabelle and Sofie. The narration by Janet Metzger and Shannon McManus brings the characters to life and gives them much depth. Their mannerisms will have you feeling the pain both women encounter. Their interruption of the supporting characters makes the listener feel they are among these fun-loving and supportive friends.

Don’t expect quick answers to all your questions and the answers you think you know may not be true. They story travels back to tell of Annabelle and Knox’s beginning, but in the end it all ties together nicely and is worth the extra time.

Author Patti Callahan Henry’s website is

The Art of Keeping Secrets by Patti Callahan Henry, Read by Janet Metzger and Shannon McManus, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1441862167, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time: 9 Hours 28 Minutes (book format @2008) 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
HOTEL VENDOME by Danielle Steel
Not having children may have put me at a disadvantage when listening to Danielle Steel’s HOTEL VENDOME.

I realize the love and bond between parent and child can be tremendously strong. However, this storyline seems to take it to the extremes and then some. It carried into the child’s late teens and early 20s making it appear even more unrealistic.

Had it not been for the wonderful narration by Fred Stella, I probably wouldn’t have finished the story. His interruption of the characters was intriguing. He provided emotions that gave more insight into the characters.

The plot for HOTEL VENDOME is interesting. It follows the life of Swiss-born Hugues Martin as he takes a rundown hotel in Manhattan and turns it into a five-star luxury accommodations. While he is transforming the hotel, his wife leaves him for a notorious bad-boy rock star who had been a guest at the hotel. She also leaves their 4-year-old daughter, Heloise, for Martin to raise. 

Heloise grows up in the hotel surrounded by adoring employees, following her father and deciding she wants to run the hotel with him some day. She rarely sees her  mother, who has 2 more children. Over the years Martin is discreet in the women he sees, never exposing Heloise to them or the fact that he is dating.

Heloise goes off to hotel school in Switzerland and her father is busy having several suites redecorated. During this time Martin falls in love with the decorator. From here the story covers a couple of weddings, several medical crisis and finally a bonding of family members.

What seemed unreal to me was the way Heloise was pampered and catered to when it came to her father’s love life. In addition, there was a large portion of the story that was repeated over and over again unnecessarily. This 9 and a half hour audio should have lasted no more than 5 hours. I’ve been a Danielle Steel fan for many years, but HOTEL VENDOME didn’t have her usual style and spark to hold the reader’s attention.

Author Danielle Steel’s website is

Hotel Vendome by Danielle Steel, Read by Fred Stella, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1423388326, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time: 9 Hours 28 Minutes 

**I shared negative thoughts on a book for the first time here. These are my thoughts only and it’s not my intent to keep you from giving this book a try.**

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. What new books did you find under your tree this Christmas?


  1. Mason - I'm glad you found some good audio books. I like Philip Margolin's work, so I'm glad you liked that one :-). And you know what? I'm glad you posted negative points, too, about some of what you listened to. Not all books are created alike....

  2. I haven't heard of any of those audio books but I sure do love listening to them. Thanks for the recommendations.

  3. I love listening to audio books. Most genres, as long as they are fiction. I'm currently listening to An Irish Country Doctor series and really enjoy them!

  4. THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS has a lovely cover, I like it.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.