A New York Yankee in the Red Sox Court

3 Boston-based audiobook mysteries

Big Papi Bridge

Big Papi BridgeCan a New Yorker be a super appreciative fan of Boston-based audiobook mysteries? Well this one is. It’s October—baseball playoff season. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are heading to a showdown. And here I am a New York Yankees fan (don’t hate me) who is, for business reasons, in Red Sox Country—not just in Boston, but staying in the hotel of the Boston Red Sox with Fenway Park looming outside my hotel window.  Even a New Yorker can’t help but be impressed by the enthusiasm (dare I say fanaticism) of the fans—which, judging by the baseball caps, shirts, jackets, and umbrellas, is everyone.

SixkillSo, I am taking this opportunity to explore mysteries set in this fascinating city which has given birth to some brilliant series and outstanding authors in this genre. The first series that comes to mind is the Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. Walking down Boylston Street last night through the drizzling rain, I listened to Joe Mantegna bringing Spenser to life for me in SIXKILL, the final entry in the series written by the deceased Parker. The series takes the listener on a tour of the highlights and lowlights of Boston and its surroundings. Prolific actor Mantegna continues to read the Spenser series, now written by Ace Atkins. Mantegna manages to convey Spenser and the other characters without leaning too hard into the Boston accent, which we would all recognize but perhaps would not want to have in our ears for 7 or 8 hours. The series captures the toughness and intensity of pride in place that is so Boston. And there is always a mention of the Red Sox.

I Know A SecretThe same themes appear in the 12th book in the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen, I KNOW A SECRET, narrated by Earphone Awards winner Tanya Eby. Listeners will drive along with Detective Jane Rizzoli and coroner Dr. Maura Isles through Boston and surroundings investigating a gruesome murder of a young female horror film producer. The personal challenges of the two lead characters add to the tension of the story and their relationship. There is again a toughness of spirit in these two women that seems to come with the territory. Being a fan of the TV series on TNT based on the books and characters, it’s hard for this listener not to picture the actors who play these roles and be somewhat jolted by Eby’s voice portrayals. But getting beyond that, the series makes for chilling and engaging listening.

Since We FellFinally, we come to an author who has given us series and standalone books that draw a compelling and complex picture of Boston and its residents—Dennis Lehane. His most recent novel, SINCE WE FELL, is a standout from the general pool of mysteries by virtue of its literary brilliance. Lehane is an exceptional writer, and while he keeps the focus on the plot, he draws rich pictures with words that engage all of the listener’s senses. Narrator Julia Whalen (an actress and author in her own right) deftly voices main character Rachel Childs as she shares with the listener her search for both the father she never knew and her own identity. This book also is filled with a real sense of place in Boston and surroundings. In fact, one point in the mystery turns on the juxtaposition of buildings and reflecting windows in Copley Plaza. I’m going to go look for that spot when it stops raining.

Reporting from Red Sox Country, your Yankees fan,

Ellen

Ellen Quint
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).

True Crime: Stranger Than Fiction

And At Least As Engaging

The Old Man and the GunIn my last Solve blog, I explored how post-9/11 thrillers capitalize on the fears and reality of our new normal, thus incorporating real-life events into fiction. Now, inspired by the opportunity to review THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN by David Grann and read by Mark Deakins, I feel like I am taking a step further away from fiction and into true crime audiobooks. This audiobook collects three of New Yorker staff writer David Grann’s true-crime articles, each about very different crimes and the characters who perpetrate them. Narrator Deakins provides a straightforward narration that’s easy to listen to, which feels like the right approach for Grann’s journalistic style. Although Grann personally interviews the criminals and their victims, friends, and family, he himself always remains outside of the story. All three stories are great listens. Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

Post-9/11 Thrillers

Truth or Fiction?

Blue Lights

Blue LightsTuesday morning 9/11/2001: I had just come up from the subway next to the World Trade Center plaza. A small crowd had formed and were all looking up and pointing. I followed their gaze to up to flames and smoke and what looked like debris pouring out of the upper floors of the North Tower. The walk to my office in the World Financial Center would take me directly through that plaza. In a state of confusion, I decided I would skip the office and just go home. I turned to walk toward the Brooklyn Bridge when suddenly a huge explosion shook the ground. Everyone started screaming and running. The second plane had just hit the South Tower.

Getting back to the safety of my apartment, I watched from my tenth-floor window with utter disbelief as the South Tower disappeared into a cloud, followed shortly after by the North Tower. Lives, buildings, everything gone. Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

3 Mystery Listens for Kids, Tweens & Teens

Not Just for Grown-Ups

Dare You To Lie

As it’s the end of August and “Back to School” fever has taken over, I thought I would focus on Middle Grade and Young Adult offerings in the mystery/crime/horror category.

Greetings from Witness Protection!Strong female characters welcome! Jake Burt’s GREETINGS FROM WITNESS PROTECTION! features 13-year-old Nicki Demere—she’s feisty, smart, and self-reliant. She’s also a pickpocket (having been trained by her grandmother) and a kleptomaniac. Nicki is living in an orphanage and going in and out of foster care when she’s recruited by the U.S. Marshals Service to help protect a family going into Witness Protection. Narrator Tara Sands strikes the right balance with Nicki’s voice, tone, and attitude. She is joined by a group of narrators who complete the cast of villains and other adults. This was a fun and engaging listen, even for a geezer like me. Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

Stretching Out of My Listening Comfort Zone

Trying Something New and Different

Who Is Vera Kelly?

The FallenOne of the things I love about being a reviewer for AudioFile Magazine is the opportunity to listen to new books I would not have chosen on my own. Frankly, I frequently find myself going back again and again to the same authors, narrators, and types of mysteries. Yet the mystery category covers many genres, including Cozies, Noir, Police Procedurals, P.I., Sherlock Holmes, Hard-boiled, Soft-boiled, Historical. And then there are Thrillers, Suspense, Horror, and Paranormal. And then there are sub-genres within all of these categories. The point is, with so many flavors, why stick with just plain vanilla or chocolate? Go for it—try something new and different.

While slightly out of my comfort zone, I have listened to and enjoyed David Baldacci’s Amos Decker series, most recently THE FALLEN. I find the lead character Amos Decker intriguing and sympathetic. He is known as the “memory man” as he has the special ability to remember everything. The audiobook, read by Kyf Brewer and Orlagh Cassidy, solves the challenge of male narrators performing female characters and visa versa. Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

Riding in on the Fog: Exploring Mysterious San Francisco

3 Audiobooks to Transport You to the West Coast

Ellen in San FranciscoI’m in San Francisco this week—city of hills to climb, cable cars, earthquakes, fantastic food, and a sense of mystery and magic that rolls in with the fog, making it the perfect setting for mysteries from hard-boiled crime to thrillers to cozies. In fact, Golden Gate Mysteries, compiled by Randal Brandt of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkley, contains over 2,500 titles of mystery, detective, and crime fiction set at least in part in the San Francisco Bay area.

Dashiell Hammett, an originator of the hard-boiled genre of detective stories, lived and set his famous novel, THE MALTESE FALCON, in the San Francisco of the late 1920s. This 2008 recording is a dramatized, full-cast version, which brings to life the classic “noir” tale, with the slick-talking detective, the seductive and mysterious femme fatale, and the company of nefarious fellows. There have been so many take-offs of this classic that it is truly entertaining to listen to such a well-done version of the original. Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

Thrilled to be at Thrillerfest

An audiophile wants to know: Do authors listen to their own audiobooks?

Thrillerfest 2018

Thrillerfest 2018Thrillerfest (July 10-14, 2018), the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers, provides a unique opportunity to meet and mingle with some of the most popular thriller/mystery authors publishing today, including Lee Child, Walter Mosley, John Sandford, Lisa Gardner, and Megan Abbott.

So with pen and camera in hand, I set out to explore the relationship between authors and their audiobooks. Do they listen to their own books? (Are they like actors who shy away from seeing themselves on screen, or more like playwrights who are thrilled by seeing their works come alive on stage?) Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

Celebrating the Fourth of July for Mystery Audiophiles

White House Thrillers for Vacation Listening

The President Is Missing

The President Is MissingHappy Fourth of July—a holiday to celebrate the birthday of this amazing country, eat ice cream, ooh and ahh over fireworks, and for audiophiles, maybe even walk along the beach listening to a great thriller. And why not focus on thrillers involving the White House? With the recent publication of THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, a lot of attention has been paid to the relationship between U.S. presidents and mysteries. This new book is performed by a troupe of narrators, including Dennis Quaid, who voices the President. Craig Fehrman in his New York Times essay, The Mystery Buffs in the White House, tells of how presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton enjoyed mysteries of many genres.

As a setting for a mystery or a political thriller, what better place could there be than the White House, and the goings on there with the first family and the hundreds of folks in and out of the president’s entourage? Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

Singapore on My Mind

3 Mystery Audiobooks Set In Singapore

Singapore Sentosa monorail and merlion
Singapore Sentosa monorail and merlion
Singapore Sentosa monorail and merlion

For the last couple of weeks, all eyes in the U.S. have been focused on Singapore, where Trump and Kim held their meetings on Sentosa (with its colorful monorail and Merlion statue). Having recently visited Singapore and stayed on Sentosa right next door to the hotel where the meetings were held, I can relate to the descriptions and pictures that fill the news screens. Singapore is hot and humid; it is a clean, rules-based, well organized country. While English is the national language, the country is truly multi-lingual. Everyone speaks their mother tongue, which might be Chinese, Malay or Tamil, Indonesian, Japanese, Filipino, or Thai, and then maybe some version of English. Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).

Fan Girl Goes to the Audies

Behind the Scenes at the Audie Awards

Lorelei King and Me
Simon Vance
Simon Vance

Did I mention that in addition to writing this blog and reviewing mysteries for AudioFile, I also have the privilege of being a judge for the Audie Awards? In that capacity I was invited to the May 31st Audie Award ceremonies, which were held at the New-York Historical Society, hosted by one of my all-time favorite narrators, Simon Vance, who had to fill the shoes of prior years’ host, Paula Poundstone. That is an awful lot to ask of an audiobook narrator, even such an accomplished one as Simon Vance, who is accustomed to working off a script. Here he was asked to “riff.” Simon managed to charm the audience with sophisticated humor and even dance across the stage when the slides failed. Bravo, Simon Vance! Read more…

Ellen Quint
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).