Books: Spoken Word

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The Independent Culture
The Gormenghast Trilogy

Read by Michael Williams

Penguin, 16hrs total, pounds 11.99, pounds 11.99, pounds 8.99

MERVYN PEAKE'S exhilaratingly rich prose lends itself superbly to spoken word. Penguin's release of the third part of his Gormenghast trilogy is an appropriate moment to celebrate Michael William's outstanding achievement in recreating the legendary world of crumbling carvings and mysterious shadows. Williams shifts accent and delivery to present the endless parade of gothic caricatures of human types with remarkable versatility. In Titus Groan, the scene of the stagnant world of the mighty House of Groan is set. In Gormenghast, the catalysts who will subvert it - Titus, Fuchsia and Steerpike - come to the fore. Finally, in Titus Alone, our vulnerable but liberated hero sets out to try to survive without the ermine shroud of Groan.

Dead Souls

Read by Bill Paterson


3hrs 20 mins, pounds 8.99

ALMOST SHOCKINGLY modern in comparison, Ian Rankin's terse, vivid writing makes for equally compulsive listening, in a very different way. Dead Souls finds Detective Inspector Rebus on his usual Edinburgh patch, and now with quite a few pieces of emotional baggage clattering behind him. Most engrossing is the reappearance of his first flame, pleading for him to find her lost son and making him waver in his commitment to his over-busy doctor partner. Will she distract him from his real quarry, a sadistic psychopath? Bill Paterson is the perfect reader for this very Scottish, very modern thriller. All of Penguin's Rankin releases to date make for totally absorbing listening and will leave you happily resigned to the Easter traffic jams.