At the far end of the Beaufort meteorological scale, beyond No 12, lies meteorological hell. The technical name of this state, a rare coincidence of a Hurricane, a cold front and a storm, gave Sebastian Junger the title for this chilling appraisal of it and its effects on the doomed sailors caught in its path. Even abridged, and so lacking complex technical detail and one or two ancillary storylines, The Perfect Storm (HarperCollins, c 3hrs, pounds 8.99), read by Kerry Shale, leaves the listener dumbfounded by the inexorable forces created.

More bearable because invented shivers are provided is a well-chosen collection of turn of the century Tales of the Paranormal (CSA, c 3hrs, pounds 8.99). Written by such masters of suspense as Poe, M R James and Dickens, and faultlessly read by Robin Bailey, one of the best tale- tellers in the trade.

Christina Hardyment