Inferno by Dan Brown (read by Paul Michael) Transworld (audiobook) Well, here it is. Dan Brown is back with a new mystical conspiracy thriller, replete with lectures on Dante Alighieri, the streets of Florence, yet another attractive genius female sidekick for Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, and more mixed metaphors than you would find at a literary cocktail hour: "a searing hot pain" cannot "tear into his right forearm". One advantage of the audiobook is you don't have to suffer Brown's prose face to face. How about the story? In certain respects, Paul Michael is the perfect Brown interpreter. His voice is cultured, smooth but utterly expressionless. Moreover, he reads so slowly that I half suspected he was sitting behind Brown as he typed his final draft. What Michael perfectly reflects is Brown's earnest, humourless and robotic attitude to storytelling. I personally didn't care if Langdon stopped the absurdly named Provost and his dead client. And even Laurence Olivier would struggle with lines like: "Dr Marconi finally gave his attractive young colleague a reluctant nod." NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (read by Kate Mulgrew) Orion (e-book) Joe Hill's new novel describes an odd, nightmare world. Our heroine is a young girl, Vic McQueen, who owns what amounts to a magic bicycle. This lets her pedal into a hidden universe populated by demons driving Rolls Royces. Vic's nemesis - and indeed the nemesis of all children - Charlie Manx's car has the titular number-plate "NOS4A2". Manx can also cross between worlds, ferrying the young and the innocent to "Christmasland" - imagine Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory crossed with hell. Hill is often compared to Stephen King (he is King's son), but NOS4A2 bears closer comparison to the fun, cartoonish, gothic fairytales of Neil Gaiman. Still the sinister landscapes, nasty Manx (imagine a bald, older Keith Richards with sharp brown teeth) and deliciously nasty plot twists gives Kate Mulgrew plenty of scope to narrate with bloody relish. She is especially good at sudden shocks, like Manx's awakening from a coma at his high-security prison "in a crimson gush" of blood. Like father, like son. Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris Orion (e-book) Unlucky for some, Dead Ever After is the 13th and final part of Charlaine Harris' extensive Southern Vampire Mysteries set in an atmospheric American South. Brilliantly realised by Alan Ball as True Blood , the novels have always struggled to keep up with their primetime alter egos. So, are we glad to see the back of Sookie Stackhouse, Eric Northman and Godric? Well, to be honest, yes. Thirteen is a lot of novels, even in vampire years, and there are only so many times Sookie can either be saved from rape, torture or murder, or save another from a fate worse than death. More to the point, there is the vexed question of whom Sookie will end up with, and will this involve fangs? One effect of this final countdown is the plot of Dead Ever After is all exposition and no drama. The prose is even limper: "The businessman was cool and collected on the outside, but maybe not so much on the inside." Not so much? He is off to see the devil - or a devil. I won't spoil the end, but either rent True Blood or read Proust. I leave that choice to you.