by Jeffery Deaver (read by Toby Stephens)
Hodder and Stoughton (audiobook)
British actor Toby Stephens has a lot to live up to by playing James Bond, even on audiobook. He is not only competing with the ghosts of cinematic 007s but with Rufus Sewell, who read most of Ian Fleming's originals with impressive steeliness, and Jeremy Northam, who lent Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care a certain swagger. Stephens ends up somewhere between the two, although his cut-glass drawl has more in common with Sewell. This iciness suits a plot, set in contemporary times, in which Bond must thwart an imminent terrorist attack. The action begins in familiar Flemingesque terrain: with a claustrophobic shoot-out on the Orient Express, followed by a car chase through Serbia. Pretty soon, Bond is back with M, Ms Moneypenny and Q, albeit transformed into an Indian techno-wizard named Sanu Hirani. Bond's nemesis is Severan Hydt, an eco-industrialist turned super villain. The locations are exotic (South Africa, Dubai), the violence rather tempered. Best of all, there is a plot and a satisfying twist in the tale.