Books: Spoken word

This week, thrillers ancient and modern. Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto (Naxos, 2hrs 30mins, pounds 8.99) is a shade melodramatic for modern tastes, but written as it was to be read aloud to horrified ladies on the ornate sofas of Strawberry Hill, it has a narrative drive which makes it remarkably gripping.

John Grisham needs no introduction to fans of the modern thriller genre, and I was glad to see that The Street Lawyer (Random House, pounds 12.99) is given four cassettes to spread itself on to: often bestsellers are massacred into two in the safe belief that name alone will sell them, regardless of the bad reputation this gives to other spoken word abridgements. This taut, tension-filled story of how a Washington lawyer is shocked into defending down-and-outs is guaranteed to keep the weariest of drivers bolt upright at the wheel.

Christina Hardyment

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