Solve: Crime for Kids

Crime written for kids by authors such as John Grisham, Kathy Reichs, Ridley Pearson, and James Patterson is reaching listeners of all ages. What have you heard lately?

Lock and KeyThere seems to be a proliferation of adult mystery and suspense writers dipping their toes–or taking the full plunge–into writing for younger readers. John Grisham has kid lawyers, Ridley Pearson brings a young James Moriarty to life, Kathy Reichs and her son created a “pack” of young crime fighters–one of whom is the grandniece of Reich’s Temperance Brennan–and James Patterson has an entire imprint for children with books spanning the age range.

These mysteries aren’t limited to American writers either. The Scandinavian rage that’s captured the adult side of the genre is present on the YA shelves as well. Salla Simukka’s AS RED AS BLOOD, the beginning of The Snow White Trilogy, is a prime example.

But children’s or YA mysteries aren’t anything new. Many of us learned to love the genre from series such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Encyclopedia Brown or books like THE WESTING GAME.

And while the classic stories as well as the newer generation of mysteries continue to hook youth on reading and listening, the same stories are captivating adults as well. What is it about these audiobooks that make them so magical to audiences of all ages? Read more…

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: The Environmental Mystery

In honor of Earth Day, I’m looking at some popular environmentally-focused mysteries, like Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series. What are some of your favorites in this realm?

Boar IslandSaturday is Earth Day, and since I’m a bit of an environmental enthusiast, I thought it fitting to celebrate with some of my favorite mysteries featuring crime solvers who are passionate about the planet. They’re park rangers and game wardens and wildlife specialists encountering murder and mayhem amid the beauties of nature. And they sure do find plenty of mischief to keep them busy.

One of the ground-breakers in this sub-genre of mystery is, of course, Nevada Barr. She introduced her spitfire protagonist, National Parks Ranger Anna Pigeon, back in 1993 with TRACK OF THE CAT. Since then, Anna has traversed the American landscape in National Parks across the country. 2016 brought the 19th Anna Pigeon novel, BOAR ISLAND, alongside the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. Seasoned veterans Barbara Rosenblat and Joyce Bean have narrated the majority of the series in audiobook, giving
series devotees a consistent voice for Anna Pigeon and bringing the beauty of Barr’s settings to life. Have you checked out this series? Do you have a favorite?

Sanibel Flats

Randy Wayne White takes us off dry land with his marine biologist protagonist Doc Ford. White had his own experiences with sea life while working as a fishing guide on Sanibel Island, so fittingly, Doc Ford’s first appearance was titled SANIBEL FLATS in 1990. Last month, his 24th adventure launched—MANGROVE LIGHTNING. I have a special affinity for this series partly because one of my favorite narrators has performed the majority of the series: George Guidall. There have also been recordings from two other seasoned greats in the mystery genre, Dick Hill and Ron McLarty.

Vicious CircleOf course I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention C.J. Box’s Wyoming game warden, Joe Pickett. Box introduced Pickett in 2001 with his debut, OPEN SEASON. Last month Pickett returned in the seventeenth installment for the series, VICIOUS CIRCLE. David Chandler has been along to supply Pickett’s voice since the very beginning. And the amazing landscape of his Wyoming home gives Box plenty of nature in which to wreak havoc.

Sick PuppyThis is just a small snapshot of the mysteries that embed themselves in the jobs connected to nature and wildlife or environmental issues. Thrillers make use of issues like toxic poisonings (John Grisham’s THE APPEAL) and even the more humorous mysteries can have an ecological theme (Carl Hiaasen’s SICK PUPPY).  What are some of your favorites in this realm of mysteries and suspense? Any you wish were on audio but aren’t? I’d love to see Robert Greer’s ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE or Kirk Russell’s John Marquez series recorded for audio.

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: V.I. Warshawski

Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski audiobooks are ground-breaking in detective fiction. Do you have a favorite?

Indemnity OnlyWhen Sara Paretsky first introduced V.I. Warshawski to the world in her 1982 book, INDEMNITY ONLY, she was a rather ground-breaking character. And many of the female writers who followed Paretsky into the hard-boiled crime genre credit her as an inspiration. Warshawski and her cronies made no bones about their feminism. If a client questioned her ability as a woman, she told them how it was. “If things get heavy, I’ll figure out a way to handle them—or go down trying.” Detective fiction was no longer just an old boys club, and it was never going to be the same again.

FalloutThis month, Warshawski returns for her 19th novel—FALLOUT. Warshawski’s beloved Chicago evolves throughout the course of three and a half decades, and through the series, listeners can experience changes in social norms, politics, and, of course, sports. An element I find refreshing in Paretsky’s plots is Warshawski’s realistic aging. She may still be a tough old broad, but at this age, she simply can’t bounce back the way she used to. I love the Warshawski series for all of these reasons, and I’m grateful for the door she opened so that more women could follow after her.

hard-timeSusan Ericksen provides the voice of Warshawski for much of the series, but not all. Jean Smart took over the microphone in HARD TIME, and her recognizable voice may have smoothed the change from Ericksen. Then Sandra Burr took the reins in TOTAL RECALL. These three capable narrators have distinctly different sounds, and that can be jarring for a series devotee.

Ericksen returns for FALLOUT, but this time Paretsky is taking Warshawski outside of Chicago. I can’t wait for this new installment. How about you?

Check out our website for reviews of many of the books in the V.I. Warshawski series!

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: The mystery of the missing cozies

Looking for clues . . . for the next best cozy mystery!

Precious and GraceRecently I’ve had a couple of different reasons to try to find recommendations for softer crime audiobooks, and I’ve discovered it rather challenging. Are you a cozy or traditional mystery fan who has a difficult time finding the books you want on audio? Is the audio publishing industry missing an untapped well here? I decided to do a little digging, this time making note of my findings.

A friend has an elderly mother she wants to ply with audiobooks. Her mother’s vision is too bad to read print books now. She told me her mother would like mysteries but they needed to be on the “nicer side.” In other words, no graphic violence or sex, easy on the language— basically your cozy subgenre.

Silver Lies

My usual reaction is to recommend Louise Penny’s Three Pines series, Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak series, or Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series. These aren’t cozies; they’re traditional mysteries, but they are on the softer side. That bit me in the butt the last time I did it because while they are tamer when it comes to sex and violence, the language is still an issue. Recommendation: fail. Back to the drawing board.

A hot series now in the mystery community is Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver historicals, but I couldn’t find any sign of those on audiobook. David Handler’s Berger & Mitry series is one I’ve wanted to read for some time, but hoped to find the audios so I could listen instead. I can’t find any of that series on audio either. (You can, however, get his older Stewart Hoag series on audiobook.) Rochelle Staab? No. Gabriella Herkert? Not her either. No Rosemary Harris, Meredith Cole, Jeff Cohen, or Cathy Pickens. (Note, you can find Jeff Cohen writing as E.J. Copperman.)

A Murder of MagpiesI found some incomplete series like Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mysteries, Bill Crider’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries, and Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey mysteries. But it’s frustrating to get caught up in a series only to find books missing.

So what recommendations have I come up with so far? If you like a good P.I., how about checking out Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency? Lisette Lecat performs the entire series. Is western more your speed? Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range series, narrated by William Dufris, is great fun. I would like to see Hockensmith’s new Tarot Mystery series narrated, though. Looking for something more historical? How about Ann Parker’s Silver Rush series, read by Kristen Potter? In the more paranormal realm, maybe try Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mysteries or Haunted Home Renovation series. Both are performed by Xe Sands.
And I’m hoping you all can help us compile a good list of amateur sleuths in the comments, but one I personally enjoy is Judith Flanders’s Sam Clair.

World's Greatest Sleuth

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite cozy mystery on audiobook? And what’s one you’d love to see become available on audio that currently isn’t – or maybe it’s only available on good old cassette tape. Have you run into any of those? Let us know!

 

 

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: The Sean Duffy Series

I’m addicted to Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series on audiobook. It’s a must listen for me. What series is a must listen for you?

The Cold Cold GroundSeries are a big part of crime fiction, and devotees wait with baited breath for a new installment to come out each year or so, allowing them to visit with old friends as the series characters encounter new exploits and adventures. For me, one of those series is Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series. And because of Gerard Doyle’s long-running and exemplary job narrating, audio is the only way to experience this series for me.

I Hear the Sirens in the Street

McKinty has created a dynamic, complex character in Duffy–a man with a huge capacity for compassion and loyalty, caught up in a world of dark crimes and mercilessness. Duffy’s outer shell is hard and opaque, but those close to him recognize his positive attributes. Doyle understands all this and manages to perform Duffy so that his audience can appreciate the protective characteristics but still see beyond them as well.

In the Morning I'll Be Gone

Doyle also grasps Duffy’s wry humor, the gallows banter that makes his life bearable. McKinty has created this characteristic wit authentically in Duffy, and Doyle delivers it with the perfect dry tone of a copper who’s seen too much death and destruction in his years. That laugh-out-loud humor gets Duffy through his days, and it provides levity for the listener as well. But it isn’t exclusively limited to Duffy’s wit. McKinty can make the presence of a goat in the crime scene bring tears to the eyes of the audience.

Gun Street GirlSean Duffy is the hero of McKinty’s series, but Doyle treats the supporting cast as royally as the series’ namesake. Duffy’s young protege, Lawson, is ambitious, smart, and still a bit naïve, while his partner, McCrabban a.k.a. “Crabby,” elicits a more sage persona that comes with years on the job.

If, like me, you’re a series devotee, be sure to pick up the sixth and newest installment in the Sean Duffy series, POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON’T LOOK FRIENDLY. But if you’re a crime fan who hasn’t discovered this series on audio, you can pick up any of the titles. They function together as a series, but they can easily be followed as individual listens if you have trouble getting them in order. Sean Duffy is an addiction worth having.

Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly

The series in publication order includes:

  1. The Cold Cold Ground
  2. I Hear the Sirens in the Street
  3. In the Morning I’ll Be Gone
  4. Gun Street Girl
  5. Rain Dogs
  6. Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly

Do you have a series you’re addicted to on audio?

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: Conclave

Have you ever wondered about the secrets and skeletons that may be lurking behind the Conclave doors?

The Catholic Church’s election of a new pope epitomizes mystery for the vast majority of the world, and Robert Harris takes advantage of that fact in his new audiobook, CONCLAVE, narrated by Roy McMillan.

Harris weaves in power struggles, politics and puzzles to captivate the audience in this suspenseful pontiff selection. Narrator Roy McMillan takes full advantage of the opportunity to display his range. While not strictly miraculous, his transformation of Cardinal Lomeli, the protagonist, from dispirited to Spirit-filled is most certainly charismatic. And Earphone award-worthy.

Conclave

CONCLAVE
by Robert Harris,
read by Roy McMillan
Random House Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

Read AudioFile’s full review and listen to a sound clip here, or browse more reviews of Robert Harris’s audiobooks.

Browse all of our newest mystery reviews to find your next great listen!

 

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: The 2017 Thriller/Suspense Audie Award Nominees

And the nominees for 2017 Thriller/Suspense Audie are… Who would you like to see take home this year’s award?

Special agents, spies, and GIs, oh my! The nominees for the 2017 Thriller/Suspense Audie Awards keep listeners on the edge of their seats. James Patterson’s 23rd installment in the long-running Alex Cross series vies with Matthew FitzSimmons’s debut of Marine Gibson Vaughn. This category is chock-full of adrenaline-producing audiobooks. The full list of nominees includes:

Cross Justice

Cross Justice
by James Patterson, read by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jefferson Mays
Hachette Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

The Fall of Moscow Station

The Fall of Moscow Station
by Mark Henshaw, read by Eric G. Dove
Dreamscape Media

Hidden Bodies

Hidden Bodies
by Caroline Kepnes, read by Santino Fontana
Simon & Schuster Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

Home

Home
by Harlan Coben, read by Steven Weber
Brilliance Audio

The Short Drop

The Short Drop
by Matthew FitzSimmons, read by James Patrick Cronin
Brilliance Audio

2017 Audies Finalists
The winner in this and the 25 other Audie Awards categories will be announced June 1st. In the meantime, let us know who you’re rooting for in this category. Which of these audiobooks really got your blood pumping?
A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: The 2017 Mystery Audies Finalists!

And the nominees for the 2017 Mystery Audie Award are… Who would YOU like to see take home this year’s award?

2017 marks the 22nd year of the Audio Publishers Association’s recognition of the best in audiobook productions — The Audies. This year’s mystery category hosts some tough competition; from much beloved series to a debut, the field is varied and reflective of the genre’s wide range. The nominees include:

Crimson Shore

Crimson Shore
by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, read by Rene Auberjonois
Hachette Audio

The Crossing

The Crossing
by Michael Connelly, read by Titus Welliver
Hachette Audio

A Great Reckoning

A Great Reckoning
by Louise Penny, read by Robert Bathurst
Macmillan Audio
Earphones Award Winner

The Heavens May Fall

The Heavens May Fall
By Allen Eskens, read by R.C. Bray, David Colacci, Amy McFadden
Tantor Audio

IQ

IQ
by Joe Ide, read by Sulllivan Jones
Hachette Audio
Earphones Award Winner

 

2017-audies-finalist
The winner in this and the other 25 categories won’t be announced until June 1st. Do you have a favorite horse in this race? Who would you like to see take home the 2017 Audie Award for Best Mystery Audiobook?

Browse all the 2017 Audie Award Finalists

 

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: Rather Be the Devil

Ian Rankin and James MacPherson are back with the 21st Inspector Rebus novel

When a narrator and an audiobook series fit perfectly together, the union can be a true work of art. It melds the author, performer and audience in a marriage of entertainment; not just a one-night stand, so to speak. They’re in for the long haul. That’s exactly the case with James MacPherson and Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series.

Rather Be The Devil

RATHER BE THE DEVIL
Ian Rankin, read by James MacPherson
Hachette Audio/ Blackstone Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

MacPherson has been with the series since the very beginning. He knows Rebus’s tics and peculiarities as well as his distinctive humor and mannerisms. So when you’ve got a good thing going, why change it? MacPherson is back to read RATHER BE THE DEVIL, the 21st John Rebus novel from Rankin, and it’s a winner—an Earphones winner.

 

Those unfamiliar with the series can jump in easily at this book, but the excellent pairing will certainly have you checking out the backlist as well. Series fans are sure to enjoy their newest visit with an old friend. Still not sure? Check out this fun interview (above) with the two men responsible for this award-winning audiobook series.

Read AudioFile’s full review and listen to a sound clip here. or browse more reviews of Ian Rankin’s audiobooks.

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: Audiobook Round-up for Black History Month

In recognition of Black History Month, 5 audiobooks featuring African-American themes, protagonists and/or authors

February is Black History Month in the United States. A time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans. In recognition of the men and women who have played a central role in U.S. history—as well as the country’s future—I’ve put together a round-up of mystery and thriller audiobooks that have African-American themes, protagonists, and/or authors.

Recent research indicates that when we read fiction, we’re able to identify with the characters, regardless of our similarities or differences, and ultimately improve our capacity for empathy. So take a look at today’s list and find a dynamic character to slip into with your next audiobook.

Underground Airlines
UNDERGROUND AIRLINES

by Ben H. Winters, read by William DeMerritt
Hachette Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

Ben H. Winters’s alternate history about a United States that never experienced Abraham Lincoln as its president, never had a Civil War, and never completely abolished slavery is brilliantly narrated by William DeMeritt. DeMeritt’s efforts on this audiobook are being recognized with a 2017 Audie nomination for best male narrator.

Darktown

DARKTOWN
by Thomas Mullen, read by André Holland
Simon & Schuster Audio

While Winters looked at a hypothetical world if history had been different, Thomas Mullen fictionalizes actual American history with the first black officers to serve on the Atlanta, Georgia, police force. André Holland also turns in an Audie-nomination-worthy performance for this powerful audiobook.

IQ

IQ
by Joe Ide, read by Sulllivan Jones
Hachette Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

Joe Ide delves into the world of a young, genius black man who takes on a Sherlock Holmes-type role in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood. Sullivan Jones gives voice to the myriad facets of this fascinating new character in crime fiction. Another 2017 Audie nominee, IQ is an all-around winner.

Charcoal Joe

CHARCOAL JOE
by Walter Mosley, read by Michael Boatman
Random House Audio/Books on Tape
AudioFile Earphones Award

A list recognizing African-American crime fiction would never be complete without Walter Mosely and his beloved investigator, Easy Rawlins. Longtime series narrator Michael Boatman brings this newest installment to life as Easy works to clear a black man accused of murdering a white man in 1960s Los Angeles. His efforts earned him a place on AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2016 list.

pleasantville

PLEASANTVILLE
by Attica Locke, read by JD Jackson
Harper Audio/ Blackstone Audio

JD Jackson narrates Attica Locke’s second audiobook featuring her Houston lawyer protagonist, Jay Porter. PLEASANTVILLE delves into the issues confronting race in politics as Porter takes on a high-profile murder case. Locke was awarded the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for PLEASANTVILLE.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in African-American crime fiction. Help us continue this list by sharing some of your favorites in the comments.

Browse more audiobook titles by authors WALTER MOSLEY, THOMAS MULLEN, BEN WINTERS, and ATTICA LOCKE

 

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!