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Audio book reviews: Justin Cronin, Curtis Sittenfeld, Bill Bryson and more

"The City of Mirrors" by Justin Cronin completes the trilogy that began with "The Passage." Photo Credit: Random House Audio

THE MIRROR THIEF, by Martin Seay. You get Venice served three ways in this dizzying debut novel with a trio of linked stories and echoes of “Cloud Atlas,” “The Name of the Rose” and “The Goldfinch.” The mirror thief of the title is Crivano — a 16th century alchemist who has come to Venice to steal the closely guarded secret of mirror making. In the second story, Crivano’s tale is the subject of “The Mirror Thief” — a fictional book of poems that is the obsession of teenage Stanley Glass, a juvenile delinquent running boardwalk scams in Venice, California, in the 1950s. And in the novel’s framing story, set in 2003, a retired Marine named Curtis Stone searches Las Vegas — and its Venetian Hotel, of course — for Glass, now an old man involved in an elaborate casino heist. There’s a lot to keep track of — including criminal plots and metaphysical considerations of mirror images — but narrator Edoardo Ballerini, a master of accents, delivers it all with infectious brio. (Recorded Books, 22 hours 1 minute, digital download $27.95) — TOM BEER

 

ELIGIBLE, by Curtis Sittenfeld. You’ll look forward to summer traffic jams if you’ve got this delicious “Pride and Prejudice” update to listen to, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, one of the voices on the award-winning audio of “The Help.” Transporting the Bennett family and their supporting characters to Cincinnati, giving them a reality TV show and modern complications galore, Sittenfeld doesn’t sacrifice the heart-throbbing energy of the love story. Oh, Liz! Oh, Darcy! (Random House Audio, 13 hours 22 minutes, digital download $22.50. Listen to a sample.) — MARION WINIK

 

THE CITY OF MIRRORS, by Justin Cronin. Bereft. That’s me after finishing the final book in Cronin’s vampire (here known as “virals”) trilogy. I will sorely miss these intricate, intriguing characters, having had a six-year relationship with the complex work that started in 2010 with “The Passage.” With four years between the second book, “The Twelve,” and this last one, the story was at first tough to recall, which explains the biblical-like prologue recounting the tale thus far. Narrated by Scott Brick, the book — a love story, really — time-travels with no regard for chronological order, from Harvard in the present day to some thousand years after the virals were at last destroyed. Or were they? Cronin leaves just a hint of doubt, which translates to a lingering hope that maybe, just maybe, Cronin will return here someday. (Random House Audio, 29 hours 30 minutes, digital download $32.50. Listen to a sample.) — BARBARA SCHULER

 

THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING: Adventures of an American in Britain, by Bill Bryson. Some books are better listened to than read, and Bryson’s acerbic, slapdash “The Road to Little Dribbling,” narrated by Nathan Osgood, is one. It’s a book to enjoy while doing something else, as its scattershot approach requires little readerly concentration but is abundant in historical tidbits, curmudgeonly wit and inspired fulmination against the plagues of present-day Britain. Among these are litter; cellphone loudmouths; misspelled, ill-punctuated public notices; urban renewal; and cars. Osgood’s sandy-textured voice, at times affable but more often affronted, provides an entertaining, like-minded companion for the listener stuck in traffic. (Random House Audio, 14 hours, digital download $25. Listen to a sample.) — KATHERINE A. POWERS

 

LAROSE, by Louise Erdrich. Perhaps you have heard: This book begins when a man accidentally shoots the 5-year-old son of his neighbor on the border of a North Dakota reservation. That tragic premise unfolds into a rich, knowing, sometimes mystical, often funny story of family, friendship, morality and healing. There is no better way to make sure you don’t miss a nuance of dialogue or description than to hear it in Erdrich’s warm, understated, regionally inflected tones, her voice filled with tenderness for these blighted and beautiful characters. (HarperAudio, 14 hours 37 minutes, digital download $27.99. Listen to a sample.) — MARION WINIK

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