Audiobook Lessons for These Times, and Edgar Award Winners

Audiobook Lessons For These Times

Part 1: Listen and Hear

Let me start by saying that my original plan for this week’s blog post was to focus on the Edgar Award winners (which you will find below). But what is going on outside my apartment window is permeating all of my thoughts. I live on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. And as I write this, there is a march of a totally diverse group of hundreds carrying signs and chanting the name George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. Cars going up the roadway next to them are honking their horns to show support. It is all respectful and peaceful.

The Night FireAppropriate for this blog is the realization that most of what I know about being a police officer or a victim of violence comes from listening to police procedurals and crime-related audiobooks. I walk around with my earphones, safe in my little bubble, listening to the good, bad, and ugly of fictional police-related situations. There are some relevant lessons that do come through. I keep hearing Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch confirming his guiding principle of justice: Everyone matters or no one matters. This is a theme that comes through all the books in the series, including the latest: THE NIGHT FIRE, read by Titus Welliver and Christine Lakin.

Stating a similar message from a different perspective is THESE WOMEN by Ivy Pochoda, read by Bahni Turpin and Frankie Corzo. It’s a distressingly relevant story about women whose voices go unheard—because they “don’t count.” There is a very painful moment when the police officer looking into the brutal deaths of these women realizes that she has been as guilty as others in not listening to what the victims, the survivor, and those left behind have been saying.

We Rise We Resist We Raise Our VoicesAs I discussed in an earlier post, this time of staying close to home is a great opportunity to introduce children and young adults to audiobooks. So, although this is not a mystery, I wanted to recommend an audiobook for children that addresses racism and is read by some of the best narrators around: WE RISE, WE RESIST, WE RAISE OUR VOICES.

A wake-up call for all.

Part 2: The Edgar Awards in our COVID-19 world

With COVID-19, this has been a very different awards season. In fact, the Audie Awards Gala, which was held on March 2, 2020, was the last live event I was able to attend and was probably one of the last to be held.

On April 30, 2020, the Mystery Writers of America announced the Edgar Awards winners, which traditionally would have been awarded live at an invitation-only event. Instead, we all get to watch the winners accepting their awards on video via YouTube.

If you are looking for some new mystery listens, consider the nominees and winners. The nominees for Best Novel of 2020 are a broad group in terms of settings, themes, and characters:

The Stranger Diaries
The River
Good Girl Bad Girl

THE STRANGER DIARIES by Elly Griffiths, read by Andrew Wincott, Esther Wane, Sarah Feathers, Anjana Vasan. Elly Griffiths, best known for her Ruth Galloway series, has given us a stand-alone gothic mystery written from multiple points of view. Hence, the four narrators. This one is the Edgar Award winner for Best Novel of 2020!

THE RIVER by Peter Heller, read by Mark Deakins (Earphones Award winner). This audiobook takes listeners to the wilderness of Canada with two young outdoorsmen finding themselves in an unexpectedly life-threatening situation.

GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL by Michael Robotham, read by Joe Jamison. Cyrus Haven, a forensic psychologist, teams up with a very unusual character—a mysterious child found with no identity who possesses the unusual ability to tell when people are lying. Narrator Jamison meets the challenge of voicing the variety of accents, ages, and genders.

SMOKE AND ASHES by Abir Mukherjee, read by Simon Bubb. This is the third in the series set in post-WWI India, featuring Captain Sam Wyndham. The first two books in the series were narrated by Earphones Award-winner Malk Williams. So fans of the series might find the new voice for their familiar characters a bit jarring.

FAKE LIKE ME by Barbara Bourland. This audiobook, narrated by Xe Sands, is touted as a psychological portrait and a literary thriller.

I also want to call out the winner of the Best First Novel by an American Author: MIRACLE CREEK by Angie Kim and read by Jennifer Lim. This is a legal thriller, family drama, and story of Korean immigrants in rural Virginia.

For the full list of Edgar Award nominees and winners, visit the Mystery Writers of America website.

A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

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