The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 24, 2008

Book review: Narration enhances Elvis Cole thriller

‘Chasing Darkness’

By Robert Crais (compact disc audiobook)

The body of Lionel Byrd is discovered during an evacuation for wildfires in the canyons above Los Angeles. Byrd, an apparent suicide victim, is the man Elvis Cole helped prove innocent of murder charges a few years ago.

A photo album that contains graphic pictures of seven murdered women is found at Byrd’s feet. Cole is drawn into the case because he helped exonerate Byrd in the death of Yvonne Bennett, a prostitute and one of the victims whose picture is in the “murder book.” Two of the murder victims were killed after Cole helped free Byrd. Cole is tormented by the fact that he may have helped set a serial killer free to kill again. The L.A. police accept the new evidence without question — convinced that Byrd committed all the murders.

However, Cole is not as certain. With some help from his sidekick, Joe Pike, he conducts his own investigation, determined to discover the truth — whatever it may be.

This latest mystery thriller by Robert Crais is a dramatic, suspenseful read that is enhanced by the excellent narration of James Daniels. Elvis Cole’s fans should not miss “Chasing Darkness.” The regular and large print editions are also available at the Joplin Public Library.

‘Dead Time’

By Stephen White (MP3 compact disc audiobook)s

Alan Gregory’s ex-wife, Merideth, approaches Alan to locate Lisa, the surrogate mother of Meredith and Eric’s unborn child. Alan’s wife and daughter leave for the Netherlands and his adopted son, Jonas, goes to New York to spend time with relatives.

Although Alan is at loose ends, he reluctantly agrees to help Merideth locate the surrogate with the help of his good friend, Sam Purdy. Their investigation takes them to New York, Los Angeles and the Grand Canyon. A number of years ago, Eric, Meredith’s fiancé, was part of a group hiking in the Grand Canyon where a girl mysteriously disappeared. The young lady was never found, and Eric and his friends never talk about that night long ago. Alan and Sam must discover the dark secrets that each member of the group is hiding.

This psychological novel is 16th in the Alan Gregory series. I recommend reading a couple of White other novels to get some background on the characters and their history before reading “Dead Time. Dick Hill’s excellent narration kept me listening, but I probably wouldn’t have finished it if I had been reading rather than listening, since I felt like the novel had some “dead time.” The Joplin Public Library owns the regular print version and also the multi-disc format of “Dead Time.”

‘No Time for Goodbye’

By Linwood Barclay (MP3 compact disc audiobook)

Imagine waking up one morning to discover that your whole family has vanished without a trace. That is what happened to fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge.

The night before they disappeared she had snuck out of the house with her 17-year-old boyfriend, Vince. Cynthia was humiliated when her father discovered them drunk in the mall parking lot and dragged her home. Later, she and her parents had had a terrible fight. The next morning Cynthia woke up to a hangover and eerily quiet house. Her parents and her brother Todd had vanished.

Twenty-five years later Cynthia is married to high-school English teacher Terry Archer and the couple have a young daughter. Cynthia’s questions about her family remain unanswered. Were they murdered? Are they still alive, and if so, why did they abandon her in such a cruel way? Cynthia agrees to take part in a TV documentary in hopes that someone will come forward that knows something about their disappearance. Instead, strange things start happening. A car occasionally follows her and her daughter; she receives a strange phone call; and her father’s fedora hat appears on her kitchen table. Cynthia’s husband, Terry, begins to wonder is Cynthia is losing her grip on reality.

This is a fast-paced thriller with an intricately woven plot full of surprises and a shocking conclusion. Christopher Lane lends his excellent narration to this first-rate novel. “No Time for Goodbye” is also available in the print and the multi-disc editions at the Joplin Public Library.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.