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Audiobooks / In the Psychiatrist's Chair with Anthony Clare

In the Psychiatrist's Chair with Anthony Clare; Tiger in the Smoke read by Francis Matthews
The first audiotape release of In the Psychiatrist's Chair (BBC, 2hrs 30 mins, pounds 7.99), although Clare has now produced two books of transcripts, offers four bravura performances as the soft-voiced Irish armchair shrink tempts Wedgie Benn into an orgy of self-praise, pierces Claire Rayner's ebullient guard and reduces her to tears, listens respectfully to a chillingly composed Sir Peter Hall and tenderly nurses Spike Milligan's despair. Compulsive listening and there will doubtless be sequels.

Margery Allingham writes in such a powerfully visual, even sensual, way that to hear her acknowledged masterpiece read aloud is almost to be moving about in fog-filled London oneself. Tiger in the Smoke (Chivers, 8hrs, 15 mins, pounds 16.99, mail order 01225 335336) is not only an excellent thriller but an elegy for the simplicities of wartime patriotism and prescient warning of the advent of a new, somehow rudderless, society. Francis Matthews does full justice both to this and other unabridged Allingham titles issued by Chivers.

Christina Hardyment