#thehouseofwolves #jamespatterson #mikelupica #ellenarcher #theboysfrombiloxi #johngrisham #michaelbeck #racingthelight #elviscole #joepike #robertcrais #lukedaniels #redemption #mikelawson #punbandu
We’re only a month into 2023 and it has already been an eventful year. For you, I hope one of those events involved taking all signs of Christmas out of your home and moving forward to the next holiday theme whether it be Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day or some other excuse to bring out the whimsical decor we use to mark the passage of time. As I sat mulling over January’s Best Listens and wondering if there is any common thread, I found myself remembering a quote I read this morning from the movie “The Godfather” and suddenly I realized that in each of the books, purely by coincidence, the “mob” is a factor. Although there is no one nearly so entertaining as Don Corleone in any of them, there is that common thread of influence peddling, ill-gotten gains, or outright illegality that defines organized crime. Two of my selections are highly anticipated bestsellers with established authors, one book features my newest favorite quirky detectives, and one book is by an author and a narrator who are new to me and will make you question what you believe about your government … if you already don’t.
By James Patterson and Mike Lupica
Narrated by Ellen Archer
Jenny Wolf is a woman in a man’s world. Not only is she her father’s only daughter, but he has just died under mysterious circumstances leaving her in charge of his empire – a professional football team and a newspaper – while leaving her three brothers shaking their heads. As if that isn’t enough drama, Jenny doesn’t want this inheritance because she already has a job she loves … as the coach of a high school football team. James Patterson and Mike Lupica have written a book that will appeal to lovers of football and lovers of mysteries and thrillers as well. We have two promising football teams; we have rich and powerful men who want to take over Joe Wolf’s dysfunctional family and his team; we have a good cop who wants to solve a possible murder and a bad former cop who has no scruples. I have to say I was so taken in by the storyline, I listened to half of the book in one day. Ellen Archer’s narration is just right to move the action along in this nail-biter from Team Patterson-Lupica.
By John Grisham
Narrated by Michael Beck
It’s been quite some time since I read or listened to a book by author John Grisham. Meanwhile, he has gone his merry way, writing best-sellers and achieving success without my input. There is a reason the man’s books are bestsellers and it is the same reason he is successful; he is an incomparable storyteller. From the opening paragraphs to the closing chapter, I was captivated by the Biloxi Gulf Coast and its characters. Even though it is a work of fiction, The Boys from Biloxi presents a clear picture of “once upon a time” on that lawless strip of land known for beautiful beaches and a way of life that “inlanders” would find as foreign as if it were another country. The storyline focuses on two families: the Malco family which thrives in the dark underworld and the Rudy family which is pledged to bring light to the darkness and expose those who feed off the weaknesses of others. Michael Beck is a credit to the author’s work and gives a winning performance along with unique voices to the diverse characters.
By Robert Crais
Narrated by Luke Daniels
Racing the Light is the latest in the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series in which author Robert Crais redeems himself with me for writing a previous storyline that let the love of Elvis Cole’s life Lucy Chenier get away. Now you may find it odd that in a series where so much drama is going on in every book, I would take offense to a romance gone awry. Nevertheless, I did take offense and so I thank Mr. Crais for making it right … sort of. But I digress – the real storyline involves an errant son who is a podcaster stumbling onto a nest of corruption right here on earth while his parents have been stargazing for a living. The author has a way of introducing the most interesting characters that always add humor into the chaos that invariably surrounds our heroes Elvis and Joe, and this book is no exception. Narrator Luke Daniels does “that thing” by taking a compelling storyline to the next level with his performance. Definitely a worthy addition to this quirky series!
By Mike Lawson
Narrated by Pun Bandhu
There aren’t any ghosts or goblins in Redemption by Mike Lawson, but there are some very scary characters. This is one of those storylines that makes you wonder what is true and not true about the covert activity that goes on right under our noses. Jamison Maddox is a disgraced financial whiz. Even though he could probably live off his wealthy family after almost going to jail, he takes a job in a small town as a lowly research assistant which places him squarely in the middle of some very mysterious activity. Being the weak character that he is, Jamison begins an affair with an upper level player and, before he can turn around, he is knee deep in something that could get him not just disgraced but killed. When he begins to understand exactly what his employers are up to, he knows that it’s not just his life that’s at stake but the safety of the whole country. This is my first experience with Pun Bandhu and he gives a chilling performance of this scary tale.