The mystery genre is full of outstanding series. Devotees wait patiently, pre-order the next audiobook, and rush to grab new installments on their release dates. But the genre also includes a solid selection of great standalones. Some authors make pretty much their entire careers out of standalones, simply ready to bid the characters adieu at the end of a single book. The stories have been told, and it’s time to move on. Other authors sprinkle standalones throughout their oeuvres; this is a great way to discover those authors if you’re reluctant to jump into a series mid-way. Some authors, like Robert Crais, write standalones and become attached to the characters so they pull them into their regular series after the standalone. Of course, in the case of Carol Starkey (DEMOLITION ANGEL), she may have just demanded to join Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.
As someone with an extra-healthy appreciation for the genre, I have favorites in both realms. Alafair Burke’s THE EX, read by Xe Sands, and Michael Koryta’s THE RIDGE, read by Robert Petkoff, are two I often recommend when people ask. But for myself, I like to keep an eye on what our AudioFile reviewers are enjoying so I can increase my own list of titles to listen to. You can never have too many audiobooks, right? One that’s high on that list right now is John Grisham’s newest release, CAMINO ISLAND. Narrator January LaVoy earned an Earphones Award for her reading of this one. Since I’m a fan of both LaVoy and Grisham, it’s definitely on my list for summer listening. How about you? What good standalone mystery on your list are you looking forward to?
Hunting for more mystery audiobooks? Start here!
AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to talk with Christian Baskous about his narration of Richard Ford’s narrative memoir, BETWEEN THEM. Chris tells us about his unique preparations for recording the audiobook.
“Ford bears witness to his parents’ lives . . . their son is a master writer with formidable craft who has preserved their memory.”—Narrator Chris Baskous
BETWEEN THEM: Remembering My Parents
by Richard Ford
read by Christian Baskous
AudioFile Earphones Award
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford’s remembrance of growing up in the 1950s is insightful, enlightening, and emotionally evocative. The memoir offers some insight into the origins of Ford’s storytelling and of Frank Bascombe, protagonist of Ford’s celebrated THE SPORTSWRITER, INDEPENDENCE DAY, THE LAY OF THE LAND, and LET ME BE FRANK WITH YOU.
Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review of BETWEEN THEM here.
When I was a Girl Scout, we sang a song which told us to “Make new friends, but keep the old.” I must admit to being a mild creature of habit. I see an audiobook featuring a narrator I love, and my ears perk up—Pavlov style. It’s an equal joy to discover a new narrator who has just hit your radar.
For me, this group of romance audio perfectly epitomizes the intent of that catchy tune. The newest Black Dagger Brotherhood novel THE CHOSEN brought me and another audiophile safely down to Atlanta and back, spellbound the entire time—Jim Frangione’s fifteenth narration in the series! Kirsten Potter in IT HAPPENED IN SCOTLAND was unadulterated bliss. Robert Petkoff has been belting out Kresley Cole’s alpha males for years and he just keeps getting better with WICKED ABYSS. Justine Eyre continually proves she can narrate anything in IF THE DUKE DEMANDS. And thanks to our discerning review team, I’ve added new narrators to my “to-listen” list—Sarah Naughton in TILL DEATH, and Alastair Haynesbridge and Bunny Warren in MR. CEO. Whether it’s an old love or a new crush, these audiobooks are worth dating!
THE CHOSEN: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 15
by J.R. Ward, read by Jim Frangione
Random House Audio
Earphones Award Winner
Caitlin says, “Narrator Jim Frangione raises the stakes in this tense installment in Ward’s epic urban vampire series. He makes the multiple narratives equally important and keeps the characters vibrant.”
by Jennifer L. Armentrout, read by Sarah Naughton
Our reviewer Kate writes, “Narrator Sarah Naughton does a remarkable job bringing Sasha to life and vocalizing her fear, hope, and determination as she rebuilds relationships and takes charge of her life.”
by Lauren Landish, Willow Winters, read by Alastair Haynesbridge, Bunny Warren
Our reviewer Maya comments, “Narrators Alastair Haynesbridge and Bunny Warren create a high-voltage synergy in this sizzling contemporary romance.”
Find your next audiobook romance on our website!
I have to admit it. I used to be one of those people who claimed they couldn’t listen to audiobooks. I thought I couldn’t pay attention long enough to follow the plot. Had it not been for a job that included a 45-minute commute to and from the office each day, I might have always believed that silliness and never known the joy of listening to audiobooks.
When I started driving 45 minutes to work, I quickly became frustrated with the morning radio talk shows that were heavy with advertisements, and the evening commute home was no better. The marketing people know what times to riddle the airwaves with commercials in order to hit the largest audience. And I also felt like that hour and a half was such a waste of time. I would contemplate all the things I could be doing with those 90 or more minutes everyday.
Feeling like I had nothing to lose—heck, most days I ended up turning off my radio in disgust—I picked up some audiobooks from the library. It wasn’t an instantaneous conversion, but it didn’t take long either. I found books I was interested in with great narrators and discovered I actually focused on driving better while I listened to audiobooks. Since it’s been well over a decade now, I can’t even tell you what title I started with. But I can tell you that’s when I fell in love with Mark Hammer’s narrations of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series and Deborah Hazlett reading the beginning of Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series. I flew through the Myron Bolitar mysteries, read by Jonathan Marosz, and worked my way through Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series.
These days I work from home, so I don’t have that commute anymore. But as my love for audiobooks continued to grow while I was making the drive—and those 90 minutes turned into not enough time—I found more and more opportunities to fit audiobooks into my daily routines: dog walks, house work, yard work, crafting, etc. Now people will often hear me say, “If I’m not reading a book for myself, I want someone to be telling me a story.” It’s that same thrill and joy you have as a small child when adults read to you. And it all derived from my long commute.
How did you learn to love listening to audiobooks? What were your first memorable listens? If you’re looking for a new one, be sure to check out some of the great reviews on our site.
Explore AudioFile’s new Mystery reviews!
We’re celebrating AudioFile’s 25th anniversary this June (which also happens to be Audiobook Month!), and we’d love to have you join us! AudioFile started in 1992 as a source of audiobook reviews and recommendations. In our 25 years of reviewing over 40,000 titles, we have listened to many, many fabulous audiobooks.
To celebrate our 25 years of publishing and Audiobook Month, we are sponsoring the ICONIC 25 project. During the month of June, we’re posting “iconic” audiobooks daily on our Twitter account and asking followers to share their choices using #iconicaudio. Our list is 25 audiobooks long, and we know you’ll think of many more you’ll want to add!
What makes an audiobook iconic? When a friend says, “What audiobooks should I listen to?”, what do you say? We can define iconic different ways, but Merriam-Webster has a good start: iconic audiobooks are “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.”
Our #iconicaudio discussion will be happening all June on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, and we’d love to hear from you, too! We’ll be sharing a roundup of our – and your – iconic audiobooks here on the blog in July, but in the meantime, here’s what’s on our list so far!
The classic THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD was on top of our list – Ruby Dee’s narration is marvelous and stage-worthy as she switches between the roles, dialects, and voices of the cast of characters for a masterful one-woman performance. Immerse yourself in Zora Neale Hurston’s famous novel about South African-American culture in the 1930s.
There are many adaptations out there of the interstellar classic THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, but Stephen Fry has the spot on our list for his narration of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect’s capers throughout the universe – not to mention the slew of otherworldly weirdoes they encounter on their travels.
John Lee provides a masterful performance of the award-winning A FINE BALANCE. Four people are thrust together as they struggle to survive in their tumultuous coastal Indian city. The story has a Dickensian mix of compassion and narrative sweep, and Lee’s narration colors the characters beautifully.
THE THIRTEENTH TALE, a gothic mystery, is stunningly narrated by Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner. Jill, as the elderly and enigmatic Vida Winter, uses a hesitant and fragile voice in conversation which falls away to take on the power of a masterful storyteller as she recounts her life story to her biographer Margaret Lea. Bianca shows a respect for the power of the story and the written word as Margaret, who slowly unravels the facts of Ms. Winter’s life.
Neil Gaiman’s THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, as performed by the author himself, allowed him to communicate his understanding of his own story from beginning to end. Listeners are carried along, entranced and intrigued, into the magical story of the graveyard community raising young Bod. Neil gives each specter a distinct voice, which he goes so far as to change over time with journeys abroad – and uses to dramatic effect when he reveals the villain.