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Dead Watch
by John Sandford

Putnam Adult
$26.95 Suggested Retail Price

The author of the excellent tales that have the word "Prey" in the titles moves into a different title. As is usual for him he is able to bring an adventure mystery to us that have all of the elements that the listener is looking for. There is murder, and passion mixed in with ambition. In a word it is a political thriller. After giving us some twenty novels of unending adventure Sandford has turned to a new cast and an even more compelling tale. The adventure begins with a woman whose husband is a former U.S. senaator. He is missing and she is on the run. Next we meet a man named Winter who is an Army Intelligence veteran. He is going to turn over rock and clean out the bottom side until he finds the truth. He is in a rush because all hell is about to break loose.

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The Glimmer Palace
by Beatrice Colin

Penguin Audio
Audio CD
$39.95 Suggested Retail Price

This historical novel tells the story of Lilly Nelly Aphrodite who was born just before 1900 in Berlin. Following the murder of her parents, she was raised in a Catholic orphanage where she becomes drawn to an equally damaged young nun. But another of the orphans shows her the world outside, where she learns how brutal and banal life can be in a big city. Lilly finds a place for herself in small "health" films, which are thinly veiled soft porn, and ultimately works her way up in the industry. Following the ravages of World War I, Lilly makes her way to Hollywood to try to find better roles and better pay. But a few years later, she is called back to Germany to work in Hitler's propaganda machine.

As we follow Lilly, we watch as Germany passes through two world wars and gain insights into their origins. But it is the emotional and physical challenges that Lilly faces during these years of social upheaval that keep our interest. Her transition from orphan to maid to secretary to film actress makes us think about courage, justice, and missed opportunities.

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Somebody Else's Daughter
by Elizabeth Brundage

Penguin Audio
Audio CD
$39.95 Suggested Retail Price

When Nate Golding and his girlfriend had a child some seventeen years ago, they were drifting around San Francisco, using drugs, and too poor to support their baby. So they were forced to give their daughter Willa up for adoption to a rich couple in The Berkshires of New England. Having mostly cleaned up and straightened himself out, Nate gets a job as a teacher at the same school that Willa attends. Willa's life with her adoptive parents was pleasant enough, but they have a secret that they haven't shared with her. Things turn a bit sordid when the fact that Willa's father is actually a major porn peddler, and her headmaster at school makes a pass at her.

It's a culture clash that looks at the world of the rich with a very jaded eye. "Somebody Else's Daughter" deals with many difficult subjects like AIDS, prostitution, and pornography, and challenges the listener to hang on to the end.

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Song Yet Sung
by James McBride

Penguin Audio
Audio CD
$39.95 Suggested Retail Price

Set in the years just before the Civil War, "Song Yet Sung" tells the story of Liz Spocott, a young runaway slave in Maryland who dreams of a future where slavery is a thing of the past, but where African Americans still face a world of woe. She is captured by a criminal gang led by a brutal woman named Patty Cannon. Liz helps her fellow captives escape, but in addition to Patty Cannon's gang, her "owner" is also after her. As Liz meets other runaways, she shares her troubled visions with them. It all creates a tapestry of hope and fear as the modern world is reflected in the sins of the past.

Read by the talented Leslie Uggams, "Song Yet Sung" takes us on a journey through American history that we'd rather not face. But there is hope in understanding, and author James McBride excels at basing his stories on historical figures in a way that accentuates the issues he presents. It's a mix of tragedy and triumph that shows the best in us as well as the worst.

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The Ghost War
by Alex Berenson

Penguin Audio
Audio CD
$39.95 Suggested Retail Price

This sequel to Alex Berenson's 2006 novel "The Faithful Spy" brings back CIA agent John Wells. Back in Washington and fully recovered, Wells follows a trail of evidence that takes him to Afghanistan where the Taliban are increasing their attacks and are apparently being financed by a foreign power. He discovers a complex web of intrigue that involves a mole in the CIA has been feeding information to the Chinese which led to the capture of a CIA team sent to extract an agent from North Korea. It's an interesting twist on the current international situation that keeps your heart pounding as the nuclear threat approaches a precipice.

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Santa Fe Dead
by Stuart Woods

Penguin Audio
Audio CD
$29.95 Suggested Retail Price

This third audiobook from Stuart Woods' thrillers featuring Ed Eagle, the attorney in New Mexico, begins with Ed and his girlfriend Susannah Wilde watching a trial on TV in San Diego in which Ed's ex-wife Barbara is charged with the murder of two people she mistook for Ed and Susannah. Just before the jury returns a Not Guilty verdict, Barabara escapes from custody. Barbara flees into the arms of a newly wealthy attorney whose only attraction for her is his bank account. He gets the escape charges dismissed and soon, incredibly soon, thereafter, they marry.

The hits just keep on coming when a movie producer hires Ed to find his wife and stepson who have been kidnapped. The two turn up murdered, but Ed is disturbed when the producer doesn't seem to feel the loss at all. All he cares about is the inheritance from his wife's estate. Hmm...

You can pick this book apart as much as you like. If you manage to truly suspend your disbelief, you'll enjoy listening to the story read by the talented Michael Kramer who gives life to these odd characters. This is not Stuart Woods' best effort by a long shot. But its just perfect for a summer car trip when you don't want to invest too much intellectual capital in anything more serious than your choice of sunblock.