Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre
Read by a full cast including Judy Greer, Nathan Fillion, Mira Furlon, Jeff Daniels, Stephen Webber and Kate Mulgrew Random House Audio, 10.2 hours, unabridged, $24.50
Anyone familiar with Brooks’ popular World War Z, in which heroic citizens (including Brad Pitt in the cinema version) battled an ever-increasing international zombie army, should not be surprised by the author’s new thriller premise involving a cluster of eco-woke back-to-nature colonists, isolated by an eruption of Mt. Rainier, forced to combat a cadre of shrewd, savage, splenetic and starving sasquatch. For those who had no difficulty buying into Brooks’ vampires, his blood-thirsty bigfoots (bigfeet?) should pose no credibility concerns. The format of the story unfolds Citizen Kane-like, with Brooks gathering the “facts” surrounding the slaughter. For this audio version, he portrays himself, as do a couple of public radio favorites, Kai Ryssdal of NPR Marketplace fame, and, perhaps more surprising, Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, supplying expository interviews along with at least a whiff of verisimilitude. The NPR personalities’ participation is brief, while several familiar actors—Nathan Fillion, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mulgrew, et al—get a bit more involved. Most of the narration falls to Judy Greer, portraying Kate Holland, a young woman whose detailed entries in a journal suggested by her psychoanalyst capture the subtle descent of the pioneering effort. The other performers, including the author, do not stint, but Greer, with 145 entries on IMDb nearly all in support roles, steps into the protagonist spotlight ready to show her stuff. And show she does. from Kate’s hopeful and only minimally snarky attitude upon arrival to her panicked, horrific reactions to the flesh-slashing, head-crushing attacks of the sasquatch. It’s a reminder that things can always get worse, something that we, in the midst of a pandemic, may not need.
Three Hours in Paris
Read by Elizabeth Rodgers Recorded Books, 10 hours, 22 minutes, unabridged, $24.49 from Audible
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THE MANY FACES OF MORIARTY
By 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle was a worldwide literary sensation. But he was also a man dogged by an unlikely enemy, and that enemy’s name was Sherlock Holmes. Frankenstein-like, the fictional detective haunted his creator, tormenting him, and would not leave him alone. For it must be said that Conan Doyle was a man of high literary aspirations, with a yearning to write books of both “serious” literature and psychical research. But the demand for new Holmes stories prevented him from realising this ambition. Speaking of this period in his career, Conan Doyle observed in an interview for Tit-Bits in December 1900 that “My low work was obscuring my higher.”
From an isolated cabin in a boggy Swedish forest, Will Dean conjures a fascinating series and now an intense standalone full of claustrophobia and creepiness.
STEPHEN MACK JONES
If the meaning of life is a puzzle awaiting assembly, then writers are purveyors of its pieces.
Madness on Campus
Helen Eustis’ The Horizontal Man
What About Murder?
Reference Books Reviewed
Sometimes, an idea needs time to incubate until it’s ready to grow. That was the case with Sujata Massey’s series about Perveen Mistry, a woman attorney practicing in India during the 1920s.
TIME TRAVEL, CATS, AND AN OLD MANUSCRIPT
Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and change something in your past or visit the future and find out what it has in store for you? Have you questioned what would happen if time travel was available to everyone? Could 9/11 have been prevented? Could the spread of COVID-19 have been eradicated before it ended so many lives?
I said my first words in a bar—“orange sody.” I eventually outgrew my love of Whistle orange soda, but I have a lifelong interest in bars.
JOHN COLLIER Fact & Fancy
Every generation or so, John Collier (1901-1980) is rediscovered. A poet, screenwriter, and novelist, Collier is best remembered for his short stories. His collection Fancies and Goodnights won an Edgar Award in 1952 for Best Story (which in MWA’s early years was occasionally awarded to a volume of stories).
It’s more than a book title. It’s an uncomfortable truth that pop culture’s most flawed yet-fascinating (and highly literate) serial predators seem to understand about their appeal, whether Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter or Caroline Kepnes’ Joe Goldberg.