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Night Fall by Nelson DeMille (Warner, unabridged, 14.8 hours, nine tapes, $76.80; 13 CDs, $96). Like a ghost, controversy stalks the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996. The government says a fuel-tank explosion brought down the Paris-bound jumbo jet. More than 200 witnesses say a streak of light, possibly the trail of a missile, rose toward the aircraft before the blast that claimed 230 lives off the New York coast.

In "Night Fall," suspense writer Nelson DeMille sics his fictional ace detective John Corey on the real-life debate. The ex-NYPD cop is smarter than his smart-mouth remarks suggest, and he uncovers what could be the answer. But nemesis CIA agent Ted Nash doesn't want someone fooling with the government's version of events, and Corey and his star witness must hide.

Regular listeners to audio mysteries might guess before the last tape how a story will end. But DeMille's wrapup is so unexpected that it jolts the listener upright. Reader Scott Brick brings both Corey-the-wisecracker and Corey-the-thinker to vivid life.

Time's Magpie by Myla Goldberg, read by the author (Random House Audio, two compact discs, two hours, $19.95, abridged). Novelist Myla Goldberg, known for her best-seller, "Bee Season," loves the Czech capital city. These essays explain why.

She touches on Prague's familiar tourist spots, but it's the small details, the things that would only be noticed by a former resident, that make this collection shine. We consider the lure of sliding down the middle portion of endless subway escalators and wonder about the intricate mosaics in the sidewalk. We watch Czech families stroll through an amusement park, and we even get shaken down by the city police for jaywalking.

Familiar stuff to a former expatriate. Fascinating for the rest of us. Her affection for, and occasional frustration with, the city is infectious. A plus is the author's narration, which make the essays all the richer. Inflections and accents ring true, and we feel as if we're strolling through the streets with Goldberg as our guide.

- Knight Ridder Newspapers

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