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3 great audiobooks to listen to this month

For your playlist, terrific tales for a variety of listeners

(Harper Audio)

‘Act of Oblivion,’ by Robert Harris

This enthralling novel takes its title from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and Charles II’s proclamation designed to bring peace after the upheaval of the English Civil War and Interregnum. The edict pardoned anti-royalists with exceptions, most notably of the 59 men who had signed Charles I’s death warrant (a painful thought during the reign of another Charles). If seized, the men were to be hanged, drawn and quartered as traitors. Ned Whalley and his son-in-law William Goffe, both historical figures, are pursued from England to America, across the “archipelago of tiny settlements” of New England, by a fictional nemesis, Richard Nayler, a man obsessed with avenging the deaths of his wife and infant son. Veteran actor Tim McInnerny delivers a masterly narration of Harris’s novel. He truly inhabits the characters, his voice and manner finely tuned to the personality and convictions of each: Goffe, a fanatical, millenarian Puritan; Whalley, more practical and ultimately disillusioned; Nayler, smoothly menacing, but prey to depression. Aside from a tedious, unnecessary litany of characters at the beginning, this production is perfect. (HarperAudio, Unabridged, 15 ¾ hours)

3 new audiobooks to kick off your fall playlist

‘Retail Gangster: The Insane, Real-Life Story of Crazy Eddie,’ by Gary Weiss

Weiss’s irresistible account of the life of Eddie Antar, a small-time huckster and high school dropout who became a wealthy merchant, securities fraudster, fugitive and convict, is also a tale of the rise of consumer electronics in America and a fond portrait of the sleazy, disintegrating city that was New York in the 1970s. Narrator Richard Ferrone, whose gravelly, big-city voice is wonderfully suited to stories of criminal enterprise, does the book full justice. His delivery is so engaged with Eddie’s flimflam and high jinx, it is almost impossible to believe that he — or at least his voice — was not a player. Antar’s financial finagling was relentless: He pocketed sales tax, scammed insurance companies, shifted money to give the illusion of growth and profited handsomely through insider trading. Add to that forgery, swindling his ex-wife out of monetary support and operating under a false identity. But the real engine of his success was the in-your-face TV ads performed by the manic comedian Jerry Carroll. Everyone hated them, but they worked — and we may thank Ferrone for sparing us any attempt to reproduce them. (Hachette, Unabridged, 13 hours)

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‘The Bullet that Missed,’ by Richard Osman

This is the third installment of the adventures of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club, a small posse of residents of a retirement village in Kent. You could begin this thoroughly entertaining series here, but you would miss the backstory and satisfaction of reuniting with old friends: former MI6 operative Elizabeth (and Stephen, “who, for a number of reasons, is Elizabeth’s third husband”); retired nurse Joyce, seemingly ditsy but who notices everything; onetime labor organizer Ron, hothead and West Ham football fanatic; and psychiatrist Ibrahim, gentle, well-dressed and organized. The plot involves a murdered journalist, a former KGB goon, a Swedish money launderer, kidnapping, death by knitting needle, and Alan, an extremely personable dog. The narrator of the preceding books, the brilliant Lesley Manville, has here been replaced by Fiona Shaw, and unlike many substitutions, this is not a disaster. A talented comic actor, perhaps best known as Petunia Dursley from the Harry Potter films, she maintains the wry spirit of the series and captures the personalities of the characters with empathy and flair — though her “Swedish” accent is downright peculiar. (Penguin Audio, Unabridged, 11 ¼ hours)

Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks every month for The Washington Post.

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