Reviews - e-books and audiobooks: Terry Pratchett, Rosamund Lupton, William Brodrick
We pluck from our virtual bookshelves a death in Alaska, the hunt for a missing priest, and an investigation of alien invasion
In Terry Pratchett's four previous Long Earth books, we found infinite parallel planets that can be accessed by a Stepper, a device powered by a raw potato. As this suggests, the mood was typically Pratchettian: light, funny but also intelligent, with hints of impending doom. In The Long Utopia, the penultimate episode before Pratchett's death, these hints become stronger. "Insectile cyborg" creatures arrive on one of the alt-earths (the 1,217,756th to the right of our own to be exact) from an impossible angle and bore under the surface. This proof of alien life beggars belief and takes place in a plot that suggests that besides the aliens, terrorism and omens, the apocalypse is on the way. Series hero Joshua Valiente is called to investigate, but he realises all life may be on the line. Tim Sample reads the clear prose with enough gruff gravitas to bring out the serious undertones without losing the Pratchett-Baxter sparkle. "Why did it all have to be so strange?" Joshua says. I've no idea, but am glad it was.
The Long Utopia by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (read by Tim Sample) Random House Audiobooks
Rosamund Lupton has for some years been one of the most popular writers around. Her first two books, Sister and Afterwards, were psychological thrillers with gripping plots and superior prose. In her third novel, Yasmin and her deaf 10-year-old daughter, Ruby, travel from Britain to Alaska, where the third member of their family, Matt, is photographing wildlife. When they arrive, they are told that Matt has been killed. The plot follows the pair as they attempt to prove - or in Yasmin's case disprove - what happened. Ruby's intense narration includes vivid tweets describing the landscape, her mother's emotional state, her memories of her father and the feel of words themselves. Harriet Carmichael reads with relish and unfettered wonder. Yasmin, who tells the increasingly tense tale (conspiracies, paranoia, loneliness, family dysfunction), is read by Rachel Atkins, whose calm, clear voice belies the increasing tension. A fabulous audiobook.
The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton (read by Rachel Atkins & Harriet Carmichael) Orion (audiobook)
William Brodrick, winner of a Gold Dagger from the Crime Writers' Association, has invented an intriguing crime-fighting hero: Father William Anselm, who has starred in five previous adventures. While Brodrick left the monastic life for the law, Anselm did the opposite, yet retained a love of jazz and solving mysteries. In this new story, a mysterious visitor to Larkwood Priory asks him to track down a missing American priest, Father Edmund Littlemore, who has been accused of gross misconduct by Harry Brandwell, who as a child went to Littlemore for help. The visitor seeks Anselm's assistance, pointing out how strange it is that Brandwell, who it seems is both a victim and a liar, is the only accuser. But Brandwell holds the key to others who have chosen silence over justice. Anselm's task of finding these "silent ones" is sharpened by a shady but determined journalist who has followed Littlemore. This story has nuanced characters, a well-crafted plot and natural drama. Excellent.
The Silent Ones by William Brodrick Little Brown (e-book)