A Word In Your Ear: No Second Chance, Elizabethan London

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The Independent Culture

The combination of Harlan Coben's suspenseful thrillers and Tim Machlin's panicky, urgent reading is now my favourite escapist listening. Worse, it actually prevents me from doing the work I should be doing because I want to know what happens now now now! No Second Chance (Orion, 7 hrs, £12.99) is not quite so brilliantly opaque as Gone For Good not least because this time I was positively looking for the twist - but it comes close to it. Dr Marc Seidman potters downstairs for breakfast, then wakes up in a hospital ward. His wife has been shot dead and their baby daughter abducted. After eight months of silence a ransom note arrives and an old flame makes contact. As in Gone for Good, we see everybody's point of view, even that of the arch-villains, who become almost endearing because of their love for each other.

Liza Picard has won acclaim for her everyday histories of life in London. She moved on from Restoration London to Dr Johnson's London; now she steps back in time to Elizabethan London (Orion, c. 7 hrs, £12.99), the first book of hers to be released on audio. It makes excellent listening. A momentary lapse of concentration is not a problem; the next nugget of history will be just as interesting as the last. I found Picard's perfect elocution distracting at first, but eventually it became soothing, like the Mouse in Alice telling a Very Long Tale.