Marazan by Nevil Shute read by David Collins

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The Independent Culture

Nevil Shute's first novel is Dornford Yates aloft: a wonderfully pacy tale of a crash-landing which leads a devil-may-care young pilot into an extraordinary string of adventures. It now reads as a glorious period piece full of derring-do, dope-ridden "flossies" and outrageous races round central London arrested only by plucky policeman leaping onto running boards. For good measure, there are some dramatic scenes in Florence and Genoa, but the book's most engaging aspect is the way that, like many John Buchan novels, it is as much in love with specially English places (Salcombe, the Isles of Scilly, Salisbury plain) as with the taciturn but noble good chaps and fine gals that apparently once inhabited the place. At a time when many people are asking where on earth the thriller can go next, it points a suggestive finger at the not-so-distant past, when you could at least understand how the ingenious technical wheezes the hero and his chums dreamt up worked. Read by David Collins with a finely gauged ayccent you kin cut with a knaif.

Best of the rest:

LT's Theory of Pets, written and read by Stephen King. Guaranteed to keep you wide awake on that night drive. Hodder, 1 hr, £7.99

The Summer of a Dormouse, written and read by John Mortimer, Penguin. 3hrs. £8.99. Rambling and idiosyncratic but full of insight into ageing (almost) too true to be funny.

For children: My Mum's Going to Explode, by Jeremy Strong, read by Stephen Tomlinson, Puffin, 1hr, £6.99. Another crop of unforgettable characters, notably Gran's ageing Hell's Angel partner, Lancelot.

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