Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new? Not so fast!

My husband, John, and I have a long-standing tradition of celebrating the Christmas holidays at home with our brood of five. Over the past few years the kids have married, procreated, and settled down all over the country. To get even one or two of them to land in one place at one time has become an impossible feat. When we discovered that three of our grown children would be congregating in the New Orleans area for part of the Christmas holidays we decided that this was a road trip we couldn’t miss.

Obviously, as a book critic and writer, I love to read. We are a family of readers and we love to travel. Road trips and audio books are made for each other. On our way out of town we stopped at our local bookstore and surveyed their inventory of audio books. A really good one, preferably a thriller, was an absolute necessity to temper the miles and miles of Interstate highway. Brad Meltzer’s first novel, The Tenth Justice, a book that we both read and enjoyed more than ten years ago was our mutual pick. Sorry Brad, but we have consumed more books than hamburgers during the past ten or twelve years and our memories of the characters and plot had become rather thin.

We were half way through David Sedaris’ latest release, Engulfed in Flames, and the remainder of that audio book accompanied us to Baton Rouge. While the first half of Engulfed in Flames was funny and clever, the second half of the book proved repetitious and laborious. I’m happy that Sedaris was able to kick the habit, but three hours of tired ramblings about his 90 day junket to Japan to go cold turkey off of cigarettes was annoying and downright boring. Nevertheless, we listened, hoping that the author would get off the subject. What a disappointment.

The Tenth Justice and its addictive plot captured our full attention on the nine hour trip home. Even though memories of the characters and story line began coming back we weren’t bored or disappointed. This thriller has all the right elements—Supreme Court intrigue, the fragility of long-standing friendships, a plot with more twists and turns than we encountered on the highway, and, of course, romance. Scott Brick, who has also read the unabridged versions of Meltzer’s The First Counsel, The Millionaires, The Zero Game, and The Book of Fate, held our attention with his engaging voice. The 13 CD’s, however, represented fourteen hours of playing time. We turned into our driveway at nightfall in the middle of a romantic interlude between protagonist Ben Addison and his co-worker Lisa, bailed out of the car, and raced inside to our home office/library. John pounced on the book and we spent the remainder of the night taking turns reading out loud until we finished the last page. Now that’s a good book!

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