Solve: The Best Mysteries of 2017 and a trip Behind the Mic

Plus a special video of narrator JD Jackson on the award-winner BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD

Bluebird BluebirdOur fine editors at AudioFile Magazine have hemmed and hawed and pulled some hair (mostly their own) to come to a consensus on the Best Audiobooks of 2017! If you haven’t had a chance to check out the complete lists—they’re broken down into genre categories—you can do so here.

The mystery choices are good ones, including some of my personal favorites: Louise Penny’s GLASS HOUSES, Jo Nesbø’s THE THIRST, and Craig Johnson’s THE WESTERN STAR. You can see the whole list here.

I’m especially excited to see Attica Locke’s BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD on the list. I mentioned Locke’s newest, narrated by JD Jackson, in my celebration of crime fighters post back in October, and I’m excited to share this fun Behind the Mic video from JD Jackson. He says BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD read like a “brown liquor blues song.” Maybe he should be reviewing for us!

“This is an amazing mystery and suspense novel, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about regret, it’s about honor, it’s about redemption, and it’s about racial tension that has festered in this small town.”—Narrator JD Jackson

Please enjoy the video and be sure to check out AudioFile Magazine’s Best Audiobooks of 2017. There’s so much good listening in these lists. You can start stockpiling for the cold winter months coming our way. Happy Listening!

Best Audiobooks 2017

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: Going Back in Time

Escape the present with crime fighters of the past

I was always a little smitten with history. I’m not exactly sure what originally ignited my fascination with the past—watching “Little House on the Prairie” as a small girl, reading GONE WITH THE WIND for the first time, having great teachers in school . . . probably a combination of all that—but it’s as strong today as ever. And I’m not even obsessed with a certain time period. The Roaring ’20s period in the U.S. is as intriguing to me as Ancient Rome. So it should come as no surprise that historical mysteries also captivate me.

Even though I’m not particular about time period, some folks are. But mystery can cover virtually any era on any point of the globe. And sometimes you might be surprised. You might think you don’t care for that period but then the mystery is so riveting, you find yourself looking up details to see what is fact and what is a little creative license on the part of the author.

David Taylor - Night Work

David C. Taylor’s detective protagonist, Michael Cassidy, works in New York City in the mid-Twentieth Century. Don’t worry if that feels unfamiliar to you. By the time you finish hearing Keith Szarabajka’s killer narrations, you’ll feel like you lived it personally. Dark and gritty, historical police procedural at its finest. 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!

Thankful for Great Narrators

Giving thanks for amazing storytellers

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in the U.S. And as we have been thinking about all that we’re thankful for, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for great stories, creative story writers, and amazing storytellers. When the craziness of the world just feels overwhelming, it’s a gift to be able to escape into the realms of these books that their creators and performers so generously share with us.

George Guidall by Joanna Perrin
Photo by Jo Anna Perrin

As audiobook fans know well, the narrator can make all the difference in a book. A so-so tale can become amazing, while a good one can fall flat, leaving the listener disappointed. Interpretation, nuance, and delivery are as important in an audiobook as a strong plot. For that reason, I wanted to pay homage today to narrators who have reminded me how I first learned to love stories and who make me love listening to them every day.

Anyone who follows my posts here should not be surprised to see George Guidall’s name on my list. He is, of course, the voice of Walt Longmire. Guidall is no stranger to mystery and crime novels. Some of his recordings in the genre include Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee series, Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp novels, and Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who books. His credits are far too lengthy to list here, but some other highlights of my personal listening history include his reading of Caleb Carr’s THE ALIENIST and Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS. 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: Series: IQ

A phenomenal series from Joe Ide and Sullivan Jones

A couple weeks ago I wrote about contemporary crime and mystery writers who have been influenced by Sherlock Holmes. Another author to add to that list is relative newcomer Joe Ide.

Joe Ide: IQIde worked for many years in the screenwriting world. While he was selling his work, nothing was actually being made, and eventually he burned out. That’s when he turned to novel writing. His personal background, coupled with his intense love of Sherlock Holmes, drove Ide’s decision on the subject matter of his debut—he would write “Sherlock in the Hood.”

“Sherlock in the Hood” turned out to be IQ. Isaiah Quintabe, a young genius living in East Long Beach, is Ide’s Sherlockian character. The death of Isaiah’s older brother, his only living relative, while he’s still in school turns IQ’s world upside down, ultimately resulting in him solving mysteries and crimes for people in his neighborhood. But those in the ‘hood don’t have much money. They pay with things like casseroles or even live chickens. To offset this, IQ takes on jobs that pay well, but these jobs are the ones that lead him into a lot of trouble. 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: Series: Walt Longmire

Jen’s love for Craig Johnson’s Wyoming sheriff goes way back

This past weekend was Veterans’ Day, so it seems rather appropriate to recognize one of crime fiction’s great veterans—Walt Longmire. If you’re following my posts here at the AudioFile blog, I’m sure you aren’t surprised at all that I’m a mega-Walt Longmire fan. His popularity has grown considerably in the last five and a half years as people have discovered the Wyoming sheriff and his Absaroka crew through the popular television series aptly named Longmire.

A Serpent's Tooth

But I’m an old-school Walt fan. I fell hard and fast for the literature-loving Vietnam veteran presiding over the least populated county in the least populated state in the country when I first read THE COLD DISH. Then I fell all over again when I listened to George Guidall read the mystery to me. Oh lordy, what a treat that was. Since then, I’ve had a slew of memorable experiences with this beloved series.

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: Under the Influence of Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved Holmes has influenced many greats in the world of mystery

This past weekend was lauded as Sherlock Holmes weekend. It’s a regular celebration for the folks in Cape May, NJ, and Cambridge, OH. In the crime fiction world there is plenty of reason to celebrate. The beloved sleuth and his revered creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have shaped literature—especially the mystery genre—for ages and continue to do so even today.

Steve Hockensmith - The World's Greatest Sleuth

For those who somehow managed to get through high school English courses without some exposure to the great Holmes, there are plenty of recordings of the novels and stories, like those Aurelia mentioned in her October post about her love of Sherlock. But for those who have read, reread, listened, watched, and maybe even enacted Doyle’s detective, here are some modern works he inspired to feed your hunger for the brilliant, deducing investigator.

Steve Hockensmith takes a fun twist with his Holmes on the Range series. Including novels and short stories, he parallels his Amlingmeyer brothers in the American West with Holmes and Watson across the pond. The series currently includes five novels, all narrated by William Dufris, and a collection of the shorts called DEAR MR. HOLMES, narrated by Barry Campbell. Hockensmith also reports that a new Holmes on the Range mystery is in the works! 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: Crime in Small Bites

Investigate these 10 short story crime audiobooks and get hooked on listening

When I tell people how much I enjoy listening to audiobooks, I often receive the response, “I can’t listen to audiobooks. I can’t pay attention.” I thought the very same thing at one time. Now I constantly want someone to be telling me a story.

Craig Johnson - Wait for Signs

Listening to audiobooks is a skill, just like reading print books. Even though we eagerly listened to adults telling us stories as small children, somewhere along the way, we lost the knack for listening—personally, I blame it on television, but that’s a different blog post. Never fear, though. Listening skills can be dusted off and honed back into shape. One of the ways I recommend people work on their listening skills is with short audios, and lucky for us, there are great short works of crime fiction available.

About once a year now, I listen to Craig Johnson’s WAIT FOR SIGNS. This collection of Walt Longmire shorts is described by Johnson as the stories between the novels. He develops his well-loved characters in funny, heart-warming, and engaging short stories. It’s probably my favorite collection to recommend to someone just starting to listen to audiobooks. I often recommend it as the introduction to the Longmire series as well. When you’re confident listening to these short stories, you can move on to his novellas—THE HIGHWAYMAN and SPIRIT OF STEAMBOAT. Same great style, in a slightly longer format. By the time you finish these two, you’ll be ready to listen to the novels. All of Johnson’s work is narrated by George Guidall. There hasn’t been one time I’ve attended a book event for Craig Johnson when at least one member of the audience hasn’t gushed about how much they love the series on audio. There’s a good reason for that. 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: Mystery Awards Galore

Congratulations to the winners at this year’s world mystery convention!

Louise Penny: A Great ReckoningOnce a year, the mystery community gathers for Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. This year, writers and readers of the popular genre met up October 12-15 in Toronto to celebrate everything mystery. There were panel discussions, auctions, signings, parties, and more. Several different awards are presented throughout the Bouchercon weekend each year, including the fan-voted Anthony Awards, Mystery Readers International’s Macavity Awards, and Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine’s Barry Awards.

This year, Louise Penny’s A GREAT RECKONING, the twelfth Three Pines mystery, made a grand sweep in the best novel category, taking home all three awards. Penny was also the convention’s guest of honor. The audiobook world loved A GREAT RECKONING as well. It earned an Earphones Award and was an Audie Award nominee in the mystery category. If you missed this one, time to get it loaded up on your iPod. Robert Bathurst had big shoes to fill with the loss of Ralph Cosham, and he succeeded. 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: Scandinavian and Nordic Crime

Dark and deadly tales from cold climates

I have a bit of an obsession with the Scandinavian and Nordic countries. I’ve been reading about them and studying different aspects of their culture, and I’m fascinated. Part of that intrigue may come from my affinity for their amazing crime fiction, which is actually a bit on the ironic side given their crime rates—Finland touts the highest murder rate among them at about half that of the United States but double Denmark, the nearest fellow Nordic country—but let’s not quibble.

Jo Nesbø - The Thirst

While many may credit Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson with putting Scandinavian crime on the map, he isn’t the first of this region’s great writers. But he did garner global attention, and now crime fiction enthusiasts around the world have no trouble finding old and new titles alike from the many talented Scandinavian and Nordic writers creating dark and deadly tales.

I have to credit Norway’s Jo Nesbø with first hooking me on a geographical area far colder than any I’d opt to live in. I had barely started THE REDBREAST, narrated by Robin Sachs, before I knew I was a goner. Whether it’s a Harry Hole series audio or one of Nesbø’s standalones, I devour them all. I’m especially fond of John Lee’s consistently stellar narrations in the Harry Hole series. And you know I’m a devout fan of a writer when I can’t pass up a title, even if it is THE COCKROACHES. (At fewer than 7 murders per million people in Norway, I’m pretty sure Nesbø’s already exhausted them all as inspiration for his books.) 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: Celebrating Crime Fighters

Recognizing literary crime fighting heroes for National Crime Prevention Month

Thomas Mullen: DarktownOctober is National Crime Prevention Month. That’s an appropriate recognition for mystery books and their heroes. We can find protagonists from every tier of the justice world, and many of the themes of these stories mirror the social issues reflected in our culture.

Police detectives, sheriffs, and other agents of the state are out pounding the pavement when crime erupts.  Karin Slaughter celebrates determined women fighting crime in Atlanta law enforcement during the 1970s with COP TOWN, while Thomas Muller’s DARKTOWN illustrates the struggles black men encountered when they integrated the Atlanta Police Force and tried to do their jobs several decades earlier. 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!