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).

Like Music to My Ears

Solve: Capturing the vibe with the right accent

I'll Keep You Safe

There I was in the visitors’ gallery of the Old Bailey (London’s famed criminal courthouse made famous by Rumpole of the Bailey). The male and female barristers were indeed dressed in black robes with white collars and wigs of various shades of off-white, with tight rolls of curls and little ponytails down the back. The prosecuting barrister, with his elegant British accent, was reading the testimony of a young gang member accused of murder, with every third word being “like” (just as young folks do in the U.S.) and saying the “F” word with emphasis every other sentence.

I'll Keep You SafeThe situation made me realize how a charming, easy on the ears accent can really enhance the listening experience by capturing and projecting the right vibe for the characters and the story. But the intriguing thing is that it doesn’t necessarily mean the narrator’s accent has to match the location.

For example, I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE, the most recent in Peter May’s Lewis series, takes place on a Scottish island and is narrated by Peter Forbes with a strong but very easy to listen to and understand Scottish accent. Forbes ALSO narrates the recent re-recording of May’s THE FIREMAKER, the Chinese Thriller series which takes place in Beijing. In an Audible Sessions interview with May and Forbes, author May comments that he has come to view Forbes as his voice. May says that it doesn’t matter if the narrator is Scottish, Chinese, American, or English, it is the way the narrator is able to make the subtle changes in character that does the book justice. For the listener, this allows for a wonderfully engaging listening experience. 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).

Following Sherlock Holmes to Las Vegas

Vegas and London have more in common than you think

Sherlock in Vegas

Void MoonWhile this isn’t a travel blog, the treks I am doing this spring have been intriguingly enlightened by mystery audiobooks, which can deepen one’s perspective on a location. I started the month of April with a trip to London and ended it with a jaunt to Las Vegas. On the surface, the cities have little in common: one city steeped in history, the other where it is still not clear whether civilization has a foothold; one cold and rainy, the other parched from unrelenting desert sunshine. But scratch the surface, and mystery writers have found endless sources of inspiration in both. Since I covered London in my previous blog, I will focus this post on Las Vegas audiobooks.

A good starting point is an older (2000) stand-alone, Michael Connelly’s VOID MOON, read by L.J. Ganser, which like many Connelly books shuttles the listener between L.A. and Las Vegas. A switch-up for Connelly, the main characters in this tale are criminals, one sympathetic (Cassidy Black) and the other despicable (Jack Karch). Ganser performs a totally engaging tale that takes the listener into the back office and the overhead air-conditioning ducts of the Las Vegas high roller resorts. 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).

Greetings from an audiobook lover’s London

Solve: Exploring London in real life and on audio

Sherlock and me

London, with its long history, winding streets, grey skies, and multinational population, has been and continues to be a brewing pot for mysteries, spy thrillers, and psychological dramas. Walk across Tower Bridge, down a twisted street, into a pub, and you will recognize a scene from one of your favorite audiobooks.

House of SpiesWhile Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series takes the listener all over the world, his latest, THE HOUSE OF SPIES, starts at Charing Cross Road, which is why I found myself right there looking cautiously for white vans with terrorists jumping out. With narrator George Guidall’s voice in my ears, I mainly worked at not getting run over by cars and busses speeding by from the wrong directions at intersections. Guidall’s rendition of Allon also followed me into the National Gallery of Art, where I imagined finding the multi-talented spy master and art restorer standing, with his head slightly tilted, contemplating Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus. Although Silva is very clear that his characters are fictional, I still found myself looking for Julian Isherwood and his art gallery around St. James. This is the power of the characters that Silva has created and that Guidall now voices. 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).

Before you fly, don’t forget to download these audiobooks

Solve: Getting Ready for Take-Off

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock HolmesIn a couple of days, I am off to the United Kingdom. I am packing clothes, lots of good walking shoes, an umbrella, and several audiobooks, some new and some already well-listened-to, to accompany me on the long flight across the pond.  I find that on overnight journeys, when my eyes tire from the screen (watching a movie or reading a book), audiobooks entertain, relax, and make the time fly by.

I need look no further than this year’s Audie Award finalists to find audiobooks to set the mood for my trip. For a mystery buff going to London, the first choice has to be Sherlock Holmes.  In the best male narrator category is Stephen Fry reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s SHERLOCK HOLMES. I’m looking forward to listening on my long plane trip, and then paying a visit to Baker Street and the Old Bailey.  I’ll be taking pictures for my upcoming blog post. 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).