Solve: Dave Robicheaux

James Lee Burke brings listeners to the bayou

Last Car to Elysian Fields

One of the very first series I ever listened to on audiobook was James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series. And this is an interesting series because for many of the first thirteen audios, there are two different versions: one narrated by the late Mark Hammer and one narrated by Will Patton. Not only are they two different narrations, but also two significantly different interpretations of Burke’s long-running, signature character.

Last Car to Elysian FieldsHaving read several of the books in print before starting to listen to them, I found Mark Hammer’s depiction of Dave Robicheaux  to be much more in line with my own mental images, and I listened devoutly to his lyrical productions that verbally duked out the internal conflicts of the haunted detective, glided effortlessly between the plethora of accents and dialects peppered generously throughout the prose, and enveloped me in the atmosphere Burke’s become so famous for. Even his slower pacing aligned with the easy, southern, Louisiana bayou tempo of my imagination. 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 Series Week

Celebrating favorite mystery series on audio

Police at the Station and they Don't Look FriendlyDid you know that it’s Mystery Series Week? I stumbled on this little gem while doing some research and learned that Purple Moon Press, a small independent publishing company, created Mystery Series Week to celebrate those continuing characters who return time and again to solve the case. It’s celebrated annually during the first full week of October. After all these years, I’m still learning something new every day.

I warn people when they start asking me for recommendations that I can talk for a long time about books and audiobooks I love. This is especially true of series. I have my reliable go-tos, my new discoveries, my new-to-me discoveries, and some that I dip into every now and again when the mood strikes me.

I was glancing back over the series I’ve highlighted so far here at the AudioFile blog. There have been female sleuths (Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski), non-American crime fighters (Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy), damaged detectives (James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux), and a little of everything else in between. And I’m sure I’ll continue to highlight great crime series. But in honor of this little-known week, I want to mention some series I love that maybe don’t get quite as much notice as others do. 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 Families

Criminal masterminds keeping it all in the family

Alafair Burke: The ExLast week I wrote about Partners in Crime—people who co-write their books. Some of the partners on that list were related to each other: P.J. Parrish is a pair of sisters and Charles Todd is a mother-son writing team. The crime genre also boasts families that have more than one writer, but they aren’t necessarily writing together. Do you suppose it’s something in their DNA? Or are you a supporter of the nurture school of thought—they learn to love it from exposure? Regardless of how they get there, plenty of great writers are apples from the same tree . . . chips off the same block . . . birds of a feather. O.K., I’d better stop.

One of my favorite writing families is the Burke family. James Lee Burke and his daughter Alafair Burke write in significantly different styles but they both possess tremendous talent. The elder Burke’s sense of place in the Southern locales is vibrant and alive, as integral to his plots as his emotionally damaged characters. Meanwhile, Alafair’s sense of place is also central to her novels, but her strong female characters are found in more urban settings—Portland, Oregon, and New York City. Spanning the country, the Burke family has a little something for any mystery fan. 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: Crimes With Color

Colorful and criminally good audiobook mysteries

Long, Black VeilIt’s back-to-school time, and August is National Crayon Collection Month. I didn’t know about this until I started researching blog topics—don’t ask, my mind works in scary ways sometimes. Anyway, there’s this cool non-profit organization aptly named Crayon Collection that gathers gently used crayons and distributes them to schools in high-poverty areas. This does two things: keeps perfectly good crayons out of landfills and puts them in the hands of children to encourage their creativity. Who knows, they may be the masterminds writing our mysteries of tomorrow!

Based on titles in the genre, our past and current scribes were likely influenced by the wax art supplies of their childhoods. Although they don’t get quite as creative as the marketing gurus at Crayola—laser lemon?—crime writers (and their publishers) make use of color frequently in titles. John D. MacDonald started the themed series fad using color names for his Travis McGee titles (THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY, A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING, etc.). David Handler followed suit with his Berger and Mitry mysteries (THE COLD BLUE BLOOD, HOT PINK FARMHOUSE), while many other crime writers had single titles featuring a veritable rainbow of color names.

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: Friends in Crime Fiction

Celebrating National Friendship Day with famous friends on audio

Yesterday (August 6th ) was National Friendship Day, and Wednesday (August 9th) is National Book Lover’s Day. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to recognize great friendships in crime fiction audiobooks!

Of course classic mysteries offer friends working together to discover whodunit, such as Sherlock and Watson or Nero and Archie. These characters influenced other writers, who in turn influenced the next generations and on and on, and thus the tradition of crime-fighting pals exists almost everywhere.

James Lee Burke The Glass Rainbow

The lone wolf protagonist is certainly a common trope, but even some of crime fiction’s most dysfunctional characters manage to hang on to good friends. James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux struggles to keep the women in his life breathing, but Clete Purcell is as dedicated as they come in the friend category.

Sometimes the pairings are a bit unusual. Caleb Carr’s THE ALIENIST features a newspaper reporter and a psychologist taking on the role of investigators. And John D. MacDonald’s “salvage consultant” Travis McGee works with his best friend Meyer, a respected economist. Numbers can be a mystery to us all. 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!