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'Everything She Ever Wanted,' by Ann Rule. (Simon & Schuster Audio, unabridged, 20 1/3 hours.)

This account of the life and crimes of Pat Allanson was published 30 years ago but only now appears as an unabridged audiobook — and it's a doozy. Born in 1937 and brought up as the center of the universe by her mother and stepfather, Pat dreamed of becoming a reincarnation of "Gone With the Wind's" Scarlett O'Hara, mistress of plantation estate and mansion and wife to Rhett Butler.

After one failed marriage, she seduced Tom Allanson, six years her junior, and the two, tricked out as Scarlett and Rhett, married in 1974, setting themselves up on a hugely mortgaged horse farm. Narrator Cassandra Campbell's sweet, intoxicating voice conveys Pat's seductive powers, her indignant feelings when thwarted and her lethal charisma.

Somehow, she managed the shooting deaths of Tom's parents, though it was Tom who paid with a long prison sentence. After that, the enterprising Pat tried arsenic to dispatch inconvenient people. Fast-paced and beautifully narrated in chilling detail, the book has a thriller's momentum and a novel's depth of character. Except it's true.

'The Blue Window,' by Suzanne Berne. (Simon & Schuster Audio, unabridged, 8 hours.)

Berne's fifth novel is an ever-deepening story of past deeds blighting the present, and it's a penetrating study of family relationships crippled by secrets. The story emerges from the perspectives of three main characters.

There is Lorna, a divorced, middle-aged therapist abandoned when she was 7 by her mother. That is Marika, a difficult, cagey woman who served in the Dutch resistance and bears her own hidden trauma. Finally we have Adam, a 19-year-old recently returned from college harboring a shameful secret. He has fallen into a deadening depression, his nerdy, despondent voice captured by Graham Halstead, who brightens it up as the boy begins to emerge from his torment.

Devon Sorvari gives us Lorna, characterized by Adam as pathetic but whose strong I-can-fix-this voice says otherwise. Jackie Sanders portrays the perfect manipulator and grouch that is Marika. Flecked with occasional and welcome sparks of humor, this would be a completely satisfying audio production of a fine novel, except that a (presumably) revelatory passage toward the end of the book is in Dutch with, most distressingly, no translation given.

'G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century,' by Beverly Gage. (Penguin Audio, unabridged, 36 2/3 hours.)

Gage's reassessment of J. Edgar Hoover, overlord of the FBI and one of the most powerful civil servants in American history, draws on material not accessible to earlier biographers. It merits its great length — which should get you through a good chunk of the winter — by seating the man firmly in historical circumstances, many of which he played some part in creating.

She depicts the private Hoover as a gay frequenter of nightclubs and fast society, who nonetheless "sought to enforce [a] vision of white Christian masculinity" in what became the FBI. By the end of World War II, Hoover was a lauded part of the New Deal and was revered for protecting civil rights. At the same time, he (and Franklin D. Roosevelt) hugely expanded the powers and scope of the FBI, especially in surveillance and intelligence operations.

This culminated in the 1956 inception of the notorious COINTELPRO and its numberless black-bag operations. Gabra Zackman narrates the book in an unhurried, strong, straightforward manner — law-abiding, too, as she clearly distinguishes between quoted passages and the general narrative.

A Minnesota native, Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks every month for the Washington Post.