Books on Tape

Article excerpt

"INCA GOLD" A novel by Clive Cussler (4 1/2 hours, abridged, Simon & Schuster, $23)

In this action-adventure, Clive Cussler cuts to the chase almost from the beginning. His superhero, Dirk Pitt, comes to the rescue of an archaeological team in Peru and then finds himself in deep trouble when he is left to drown by a group of lethal artifact smugglers.

The felonious entrepreneurs are hot on the trail of the last Inca king's treasure when they come across Pitt. To keep him from interfering, they leave Pitt treading water in a sacrificial pool with no way out.

For anyone familiar with treasure hunting, the author will stretch incredulity time and again. Dirk's ability to reduce years of research to hours, and to pinpoint and scoop up a treasure that disappeared in a rain forest centuries earlier, is beyond ludicrous. It's like asking someone to believe he has won lotto jackpots back to back.

In spite of the Grand Canyon-sized flaws in the plot's probability, the good guys and the bad guys are clear cut, making the story highly entertaining in the same way that a James Bond movie is enjoyable. More than that, it's refreshing to have crime in South America that doesn't involve drugs.

The adventure is performed with skill by Howard McGillin.

Simon & Schuster Audios may be found in bookstores.

***** "FUNNY PEOPLE" An audio essay by Steve Allen (1 1/2 hours, unabridged, Dove, $10.95)

Two elements I've always appreciated about Steve Allen are his ability to provide humor without meanness, and affection without the gag-laden syrup that Hollywood is so fond of. …