Recent Arrivals: AudioGo: Donald Westlake and Richard Stark

Aural Noir: Recent Arrivals

AudioGo Hard Case CrimeAudioGo, formerly BBC Audiobooks America and formerly Chivers Audio, has a terrific MP3 download program up and running. It works similarly to Tantor Media, with similar pricing. You can get DRM free MP3 downloads via after a quick sign up. I just tried it out and found it works really well, almost without a hitch, and doesn’t even require a software download (though that is optional). The files come down as Zipped MP3s, numbered and ready for use. There’s even cover art embedded!

First up, it’s the subject for our next Donald E. Westlake readalong! And apparently the last novel of Westlake’s ever – I have a feeling that Hard Case Crime will dig around until they find a few more – at least I hope they do! That said, this is actually a novel that’s never been published before – and comes from the middle of his writing career. I’m very much looking forward to hearing…

The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake; Read by Peter Berkrot – Approx. 10 Hours 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The year is 1977, and America is finally getting over the nightmares of Watergate and Vietnam and the national hangover that was the 1960s. But not everyone is ready to let it go. Not aging comedian Koo Davis, friend to generals and presidents and veteran of countless USO tours to buck up American troops in the field. And not the five remaining members of the self-proclaimed People’s Revolutionary Army, who’ve decided that kidnapping Koo Davis would be the perfect way to bring their cause back to life…

AudioGo - The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

I read The Hook, and loved The Hook, years ago. It was first published in 1990 and may have been the first William Dufris narrated novel I’ve ever heard. It’s a wonderful audiobook and a great book about the publishing industry, writing and murder.

The Hook by Donald E. Westlake; Read by William Dufris – Approx. 7 Hours 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Bryce Proctorr has a multimillion-dollar contract for his next novel, a trophy wife raking him over the coals of a protracted divorce, a bad case of writer’s block, and an impending deadline. Wayne Prentice is a fading author in a world that no longer values his work. He’s gone through two pseudonyms, watched his book sales shrivel, and is contemplating leaving the writing life. Proctorr has a proposition: If Prentice will hand over his unsold manuscript to publish under Proctorr’s name, the two will split the book advance fifty-fifty. There’s just one small rider to the deal…

AudioGo - The Hook by Donald E. Westlake

Also by Westlake, but written under his Richard Stark pseudonym, The Seventh is the seventh book in a long running series of terrific crime novels about a heister named Parker. This new audiobook edition features a new narration by Westlake veteran Stephen R. Thorne! The old one, recorded for Books On Tape by Michael Kramer, is long out of print. The only thing lacking from this edition is the Luc Sante introduction (which is even advertized on the cover art below).

The Seventh by Richard Stark (aka Donald E. Westlake); Read by Stephen R. Thorne – Approx. 4 Hours 26 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The robbery was a piece of cake. The getaway was clean. And seven men were safely holed up in different places while Parker held all the cash. But somehow the sweet heist of a college football game turns sour, Parker’s woman is murdered, and the take is stolen. Now Parker’s looking for the lowlife who did him dirty, while the cops are looking for seven clever thieves-and Parker must outrun them all. When hunters and hunted meet, some win, some lose…

AudioGo - The Seventh by Richard Stark

Posted by Jesse Willis

Telling Atwood’s Tale

SFFaudio Commentary

Offered here, with small commentary, is a complete listing of the audio editions and adaptations of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. A note from the Wikipedia entry:

“The [paperbook version of the] novel concludes with a metafictional epilogue that explains that the events of the novel occurred shortly after the beginning of what is called ‘the Gilead Period.’ The epilogue itself is a ‘transcription of a Symposium on Gileadean Studies written some time in the distant future (2195),’ and according to the symposium’s ‘keynote speaker’ Professor Pieixoto, he and ‘a colleague’, Professor Knotly Wade, discovered Offred’s narrative recorded onto thirty cassette tapes. They created a ‘probable order’ for these tapes and transcribed them, calling them collectively ‘the handmaid’s tale’.” offers a critical analysis of Offred’s experiences in the Republic of Gilead; There, you’ll find an assertion that the novel’s title title – arguing that it’s – a “sexist pun on the word tale/tail” playing off the association with Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and the role that handmaids are forced to play in Gileadean society.

BBC Radio:

BBC RADIO COLLECTION - The Handmaid's Tale [RADIO DRAMA]The Handmaid’s Tale
3 Broadcasts (2 Cassettes) – Approx. 3 Hours [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: 2000
ISBN: 0563553561
Recorded on location in and around New York.

BBC World ServiceOff The Shelf – The Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Jocelyn Cunningham
fifiteen 15 Minute Episodes – Approx. 3 Hours 45 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC World Service / Off The Shelf
Broadcast: May-June 1993

BBC Radio 4Book At Bedtime? – The Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Buffy Davis
10x 30mins or 10x 15mins [ABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 / BBC Radio 7?
Broadcast: 1995 / December 2007?

BBC Radio 3English National Opera – The Handmaid’s Tale*
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood;
1 Broadcast – Approx. 2 Hours 45 Minutes [OPERA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 3
Broadcast: 2003
*Performed for the first time in Copenhagen in 2000.

CBC Radio:

BTC AUDIO - The Handmaids Tale - CBC RADIO DRAMAThe Handmaid’s Tale
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood; Adpated by Michael O’Brien; Performed by a full cast
2 Broadcasts, 2 CDs – Approx. 1 Hour 43 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio / Sunday Showcase
Broadcast: August 11 and 18, 2002
Publisher: BTC Audiobooks
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0864923414
Janey Amos … Cora
Greg Bryk … Guardian
Alex Bulmer … Ofglen #2, Woman being chased
Emma Campbell … Offred
Kim Campbell … Aunt Elizabeth
Richard Clarkin … Nick
John Cleland … Guardian, TV announcer
William B. Davis … The Commander
Shirley Douglas … Aunt Lydia
Michelle Fisk … Rita
Catherine Fitch … Oflgen #1
Donna Goodhand … Serena Joy
Juliana Hayden-Nygren … Daughter
William Johnston … Guide, Guardian, TV announcer
Kim Kuhteubl … Ofjohn, Woman
Richard Lee … Cashier, Tourist, Man who dies, Guardian
Hardee T. Lineham … Doctor
Juno Mills-Cockell … Ofwarren
Rahnuma Pathaky … Woman in gym, Woman, Woman in washroom
Andrew Tarbet … Luke, Guardian
Kristen Thomson … Moira
Diana Tso … Tourist, Woman, Woman greeting
Terry Tweed … Mother

Dramatized by Michael O’Brien
Directed and produced by Ann Jansen
Recording Engineer Joe Mahoney
sound Effects by Wayne Richards and Matthew Wilcott
Mastered by Lloyd Hanson
Introduction by Robbie O’Neill
Original music by Michael White


CHIVERS AUDIO - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Joanna David
8 Cassettes – Approx. 10 Hours 15 Minutes Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1985
ISBN: 0745168086
Near the end of the 20th century, birth control and the effects of nuclear fallout have caused fewer births, so the Biblical story of Rachel is invoked to handle the declining birth rate.

DURKIN HAYES - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaids Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Julie Christie
2 Cassettes – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listen For Pleasure / Durkin Hayes Audio / dhAudio
Published: 1987 / 1988
ISBN: 0886462142
“A dystopian novel of a world ruled by militaristic fundamentalism in which sexual pleasure is forbidden.”

RECORDED BOOKS - The Handmaids Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Betty Harris
8 Cassetes or 10 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 9781556902161 (cassette), 9781436179850 (cd)
ISBN: 2002
This novel has been described as “a women’s 1984.” As with Orwell’s futuristic thriller, The Handmaid’s Tale is well-written, politically astute, and contains enough reality mixed in with the fantastic to compel and horrify. Although the novel has a feminist perspective, it addresses the universal issues of individual autonomy and freedom.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals: Tequila Mockingbird by Paul Bishop

Aural Noir: Recent Arrivals

Out of print, (I found it on, and just arrived by Canada Post, is this 10 cassette audiobook written by Paul Bishop, of the Bish’s Beat blog!

CHIVERS - Tequila Mockingbird by Paul BishopTequila Mockingbird
By Paul Bishop; Read by William Roberts
10 Cassettes – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0792722426
The murder of Alex Waverly, a highly decorated detective in LAPD’s anti-terrorist division, appears to be an open-and-shut case of domestic violence turned deadly. But circumstances are not what they seem, as Fey Croaker discovers, when the Chief gives the case to her with instructions to wrap it up “quick and tidy. No muss, no fuss.” Caught in the middle of a power struggle, Fey and her crew search for the truth. But they quickly become moving targets in their effort to stop a south-of-the-border terrorist from striking at the very heart of Los Angeles.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir review of No Score by Lawrence Block

Aural Noir: Review

CHIVERS - No Score by Lawrence BlockSFFaudio EssentialNo Score (book #1 in the Chip Harrison series)
By Lawrence Block; Read by Gregory Gorton
6 Cassettes – Approx. 5 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1999
ISBN: 0792722620
Themes: / Crime / Sex / Quest / Pornography / Chicago /

It is a mystery why a street-smart young man like Chip Harrison has to resort to elaborate plans to attract a young woman like Francine. But someone turns Chip’s dream into a nightmare of danger. Chip has to act fast and furiously in a sizzling and suspenseful adventure that only Edgar Award-winning Lawrence Block could have written. Chip Harrison rightfully takes his place beside Block’s best known characters.

Seventeen year old Chip Harrison is a virgin. Francine, the narcissistic sexpot sitting on his bed, is two years older than Chip. All that stands between Chip and Francine is a tight yellow sweater and a green plaid skirt. Chip’s been preparing for this situation for a while now. He’s read all the right books, practiced all his moves on other girls, and now it’s all actually going to happen! And then, just as the deed is about to be done, a man with a gun walks in and shoots poor Chip! That’s chapter one. In chapter two Chip fills in some details about what happened before that – he’s an orphan, the son of a pair of con-parents. With no funds in the bank and not enough game on the basketball court. Poor Chip was kicked out of his prep school just a couple of months shy of graduation! Now, with little more than the clothes on his back, Chip Harrison has to meet and lay the girl of his dreams – the question is, will he get to do it? Or will he die trying?

Yep, that’s it! The whole novel is basically one kid’s quest to make it with a beautiful girl, almost any beautiful girl will do. As such, No Score probably the slimmest connection to mystery and crime of any book I’ve ever reviewed for SFFaudio. Later novels in the Chip Harrison series actually are genuine mysteries (they are all parody/homages to Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries in fact). Though later books in the series are more properly mystery novels, like No Score they all share Chip’s enthusiasm and all the juvenile charm he brings to the telling. Lawrence Block is probably my favourite writer of first person perspective fiction. His sentences are chock full of wry humor and quick wit. When you pair his terrific writing with a capable narrator the results are explosively good. This is just such a novel and just such a pairing. While there’s not more than one or two actual jokes in No Score the laughs are all out loud and come every few minutes. I sure wish narrator Gregory Gorton was still recording audiobooks. He is a terrific performer with a wide range. In No Score he performs as Chip, a chipper and horny young man, Gregor, a fortyish immigrant from an unnamed Balkan country, and several sexy women in a terrific falsetto.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Escape: The Killer Mine based on the novel by Hammond Innes

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Check out this striking image:

The Killer Mine by Hammond Innes

It’s part of one of the many covers from The Killer Mine by Hammond Innes. Intriguing isn’t it? Here are three more:

The Killer Mine by Hammond Innes

I’ve got a small stack of Hammond Innes paperbacks that I haven’t read. I inherited them from my grandmother and had been looking for an excuse to read one. Now I’ve found one!

In a post over on the Escape-Suspense blog proprietress Christine A. Miller wrote:

Escape’s “The Killer Mine” was adapted from the 1947 novel by English author Hammond Innes (1913-1998). For radio, the story was shortened considerably, and as a result, the high tension of the novel and some of the characters, are missing. If you like this episode, then do yourself a favor and read the book.

The Killer Mine The story is set in England, three years after the end of World War II. Jim Pryce, a miner by trade, but a deserter from the British army, has just returned to England from Italy. He has made his way to the Cornish coast in the hopes of securing a “no questions asked” mining job through his friend, Dave Tanner.

When Jim finds Dave, his friend is in trouble with the law for liquor-running. Nevertheless, Dave follows through on his promise and sends him over to talk to Captain Manack, the owner of a local mine. When he does, Jim discovers that Captain Manack doesn’t want to work the old tin mine for profit, he wants Jim to blow a hole through the top of an undersea shaft and flood it. That way, they can create an underwater entrance for illegal liquor to be unloaded into the mine. Will Jim take the job?

EscapeEscape – The Killer Mine
Based on the novel by Hammond Innes; Adapted by Antony Ellis; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: February 11, 1951
“Smuggled illegally into his native land after many years’ absence, army deserter Jim Pryce finds himself deposited on a Cornish beach. Little does he suspect, setting out along the road to Penzance, that he is about to walk straight into a mine disaster, and into a story involving his own history.” Starring: John Dehner, Eileen Erskine, Tony Barrett, Ray Lawrence, Wilms Herbert, Jay Novello, and Lou Krugman.

There is also, if you look hard enough, an out of print unabridged audiobook editon out there.

CHIVERS - The Killer Mine by Hammond InnesThe Killer Mine
By Hammond Innes; Read by Stephen Thorne
6 Cassettes – Approx. 8 Hours 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1992
ISBN: 0816132119
On the run, a deserter from the army, Jim Pryce returns to Cornwall. But the familiar places of his childhood are not the welcoming villages they once were. And when the ruthless modern-day smugglers who operate along the deserted coast need his mining expertise, Pryce has no choice but to aid them. The crumbling mine which is his workplace becomes a nightmare killing ground when his usefulness is over. For the smugglers are quite prepared to kill to keep their secrets. And death is the ultimate silence…


Posted by Jesse Willis

Forgotten Classics: The Moon-spinners by Mary Stewart

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Forgotten ClassicsOn her latest Forgotten Classics podcast my friend Julie Davis has an excerpt from a 1962 novel by Mary Stewart called The Moon-spinners.

Young, beautiful and adventurous, Nicola Ferris loves her life as a secretary at the British Embassy on the lush island of Crete. Then, on her day off, she links up with two hiking companions who have inadvertently stumbled upon a scene of blood vengeance. And suddenly the life Nicola adores is in danger of coming to an abrupt, brutal, and terrifying end…

Wikipedia says Stewart is one of the founders of the “romantic suspense subgenre” which blends romance with mystery. She also wrote a bunch of King Arthur/Merlin novels. Chivers Audio (now called BBC Audiobooks) recorded a bunch of unabridged Mary Stewart novels back in the 1980s and 1990s, they’re rather hard to find now and quite collectible.

Going back to the podcast – I always dig Julie’s picks as they’re typically something I’ve never read and at the same time well worth reading. The one drawback, her podcasts tend to make me hungry. Have a listen |MP3|.

Subscribe to the feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Jesse Willis