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December 31, 2009 Edition

The Anteater of Death, by Betty Webb, read by Hillary Huber

Who framed Lucy? The pregnant giant anteater under Teddy Bentley’s care is fingered for the murder of a zoo benefactor until it’s discovered that Grayson Harrill had been shot before being dumped in Lucy’s enclosure. When a second human turns up dead, zookeeper Teddy puts her detective hat on, both aided and hobbled by the cast of characters who are her friends and family. Huber voices Teddy with wit and sardonic charm, and gives each animal a somehow believable voice in this first of a new series set in sunny California.

Savage Season, by Joe R. Lansdale, read by Phil Gigante

Ex-con Hap Collins is doing fine – got a job, got a good friend, and today, he’s even got a day off. When he and his buddy Leonard Pine head off to do some shooting, they’re met by one of Hap’s ex-girlfriends, who has a proposal for them. Help her find a sunken boat in the Sabine river, and they can have $200,000 of the money that’s there. Against their better judgment, Hap and Leonard agree, only to find themselves double-crossed nearly into the grave. Gigante provides great voices for all the characters in this raunchy, funny thriller.

Another Country, by James Baldwin, read by Dion Graham

It’s been nearly 50 years since this classic was published, and yet this is its first appearance as an audiobook. Graham’s velvety voice brings Rufus Scott, a talented black, bisexual, jazz musician back to life in this novel of suicide and life on the fringes of society. Even all of Rufus’s musical ability can’t make up for the color of his skin as far as mainstream white 1950s society was concerned, and his bisexuality makes him an outsider in the black community as well. When he commits suicide, his Greenwich Village friends, all writers, musicians, and artists themselves, are compelled to revisit the effects that sexual, racial, and political tensions have had on their lives.

A Matter of Justice, by Charles Todd, read by Simon Prebble

When Harold Quarles, a successful businessman, is found murdered at his country estate, there are simply too many suspects: Quarles was a well-hated man. But as Inspector Ian Rutledge winnows out possibilities (Quarles’ wife, the village policeman, and others he’d like to think inviolable), he’s left with one trail, well-hidden, which leads to an unstoppable chain of retribution and cruelty stemming from Quarles’ role in the Boer War. Set in 1920s England, this is full of (but never belabored by) historical and human details that make for a satisfying puzzle with characters who will endear themselves to listeners. Voiced ably by award-winning narrator Prebble, you’ll be quickly drawn in and left wishing he’d narrated more of Inspector Rutledge’s mysteries.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith, read by Katherine Kellgren

Is there anything that can’t be made better with the addition of zombies? The one-two punch of Austen’s proper English countryside overrun by brain-seeking zombies with Kellgren’s oh-so-proper delivery is outstanding. In Grahame-Smith’s parody, the five Bennett sisters have been trained as warriors in the battle against the plague of zombies that has afflicted England for the past 50 years. Despite their skills in the deadly arts, Mrs. Bennett is anxious to have her daughters married off, and when the girls aren’t practicing in the dojo or dispatching zombies with finesse, much of the plot is concerned with these social machinations. While Grahame-Smith took a liberty or two with the original that might have been better left alone, overall, this is well worth a listen if you’re looking for a chuckle.

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