‘The Five Wounds’
Kirstin Valdez Quade’s exceptionally fine first novel unfolds over the course of a year, taking in the perspectives of three main players: 33-year-old Amadeo Padilla; his mother, Yolanda; and Amadeo’s 16-year-old daughter, Angel. Amadeo is unemployed and living with Yolanda, drifting from beer to beer through life in a little New Mexico town. Chosen to play Jesus for the Holy Week re-creation of the crucifixion, Amadeo believes that the ordeal of being nailed to the cross — along with his recently purchased auto-glass-repair kit — will mark a new beginning. But, alas, he is still himself: a good man at heart who is dependent on Yolanda (who has her own secret problem) and inadequate when Angel shows up pregnant. Narrator Gary Tiedemann, a gifted bilingual voice actor, delivers the Spanish phrases with melodic grace and approaches the entire, psychologically astute tale with empathy. His voice is careful and compassionate as it describes Angel’s determination to be a good mother, Yolanda’s coming to terms with her fate, and Amadeo stumbling toward a form of resurrection and redemption. This is a gently funny, affecting novel, beautifully narrated. (Highbridge, Unabridged, 15¾ hours)
‘Psycho by the Sea’
Lynne Truss’s chronicle of the adventures of young Constable Twitten continues with this fourth installment; for those who want to begin here, the author has added an introductory note recapping all you need to know from the previous books. Set in September 1957, this charming crime novel centers on a lunatic named Geoffrey Chaucer who has murdered three policemen, boiled their heads and is now said to be heading for Brighton, where Twitten has served since June. Far-fetched? Decidedly, but that is the way of this series, with its wonderfully convoluted plots, British whimsy and endearing main character (who, for instance, continually annoys his colleagues with constant references to his reading — this time it’s Vance Packard’s “The Hidden Persuaders.”) Exciting, clever and very funny, the book’s greatness and charm lie in part with narrator Matt Green, an actor and comedian. He is a genius at dialogue among characters, the personality of each becoming incarnate in his extraordinarily versatile voice and manner. (W.F. Howes Ltd., Unabridged, 8 hours).
Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks every month for The Washington Post.
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