A Word In Your Ear: Fingersmith; A Perfect Obsession

Sarah Waters' Fingersmith (Clipper Audio, unabridged, 23.5hrs, £28.95, mail order 0116 2301144) is set fair to be my audio choice of the year. It's the tale of a devious plot hatched in greed in a situation where honesty would undoubtedly have been the best policy. What makes it specially suited to audio is that we hear the story unfold twice, alternating between what Susan Trinder, an orphan raised in a Dickensian den of thieves in London, thinks is happening and the viewpoint of Maud Lilly, a wealthy heiress brought up in a grand country house by a perverted uncle. The story offers illicit elopement, a madhouse, unexpected parentages, a murder, a hanging and true love, all described in convincing detail. It is narrated by Juanita McMahon, who shifts skilfully from Cockney Susan to ladylike Lilly, delicately lessening the vocal distance between them as their friendship grows more intimate.

I felt a little thwarted after "finishing" Caro Fraser's A Perfect Obsession (Penguin, c. 3 hrs, £9.99). Having set up a highly suitable case for murder in bisexual, carelessly charming QC Leo Davies, and much Inns of Court atmosphere and office politics, it simply ends with the words "To be continued" - presumably in Fraser's next book. There is no indication that this will be the case on the cover. I'd have preferred both instalments of the story to be packaged in one case.

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