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Audio Book Review
Small-town ghosts, Hollywood moguls and a whole pack of spies

Jonathan Lowe
audio book reviewer

Pop quiz. Which word goes together with “Hollywood” better: “glamour,” “greed” or “jaded”? After hearing actor Eric Bogosian read “Hollywood Animal” by screenwriter Joe Eszterhas for Random House Audio, you’ll probably choose greed and jaded. It’s an autobiographical memoir by the sometimes-shocking writer of “Basic Instinct,” “Jagged Edge” and “Flashdance.” It’s about the cutthroat business of making movies. A self-styled rebel, Eszterhas talks about the behind-the-scenes deals he’s made with Tinsel Town’s often devilish power brokers, while also revealing his own past involving his likewise controversial father. What you seem to become while listening to this audio book is a fly on the wall, eavesdropping on a man who tried to avoid becoming a Hollywood animal himself, while battling for control of his material and fighting cancer. But is he self-deceived and egotistical like everyone in Hollywood? Good question. Bogosian was certainly a good pick to read this memoir, which sounds like a Hollywood script itself. ˜˜˜

Actor Christopher Lane reads “Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs” by Patrick O’Donnell for Blackstone Audio. It’s a well-researched history of the Office of Special Services, the CIA’s predecessor, during World War II, following actual missions against Germany, and including first-person accounts of the action by those involved in special operations. The improvised weapons used sound intriguing and sometimes amusing, like the fake mule dung used as explosives. This unabridged audio book is just over 10 hours in length, and I recommend you rent the unusual history because it’s an engrossing true story, which, until now, hasn’t been told in this depth. ˜˜˜

Dick Hill reads a new horror novel by John Saul titled “Black Creek Crossing” for Brilliance Audio. Normally, I don’t like Saul, who tends to be trite and predictable, so I was surprised to find his new book engrossing, although this is partly due to a bravura performance by Hill, who really pulls out all the stops with an expressive and involving interpretation. It’s about a shy teen-age girl struggling to cope with a new school in a small town where her parents have just bought the town’s haunted house on the cheap. She meets a boy who, like herself, is bullied by peers. Together, they try to figure out what is spooking them about the house. Naturally, this involves the town’s history, witchcraft and a certain very odd cat. ˜˜˜1/2

Finally, for fun, pick up “Tall Tales for the Road,” which I helped write. There’s a full cast and sound effects in this new release of some radio plays we did several years ago with a dozen actors. This first-time-on-CD production costs $9.95. Meet a couch potato forced at gunpoint to confront his obsession with television, a hen-pecked wimp who buys a Harley to spite his mother-in-law, and a tourist who robs a casino only to find getaway impossible. It’s from Timberwolf Press. Call toll free 1-888-808-0912. Be sure to ask them for a catalog of their new releases, especially if you enjoy radio dramas that sound like audio movies.

These books can be rented from Audio Adventures in truck stops, or by calling 1-800-551-6692. While you’re at it, be sure to rent “Awakening Storm” and the trucker CD “Oscar’s Hijack,” which AudioFile called “innovative and enjoyable, well chosen and well read.”