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Best Mystery Audiobooks

Top 25 Mystery Audiobooks

In our hurried life, sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to sit still and focus to read a book. We’re either exercising or commuting or just doing things around the house. That’s one of the beauties of recorded books. They can travel with you and help you to read the latest adventures of your favorite characters while you’re on the go.

Audio books are a growing market. Consumers spent over $2.8 million on audio books just last year. There are several ways to get audio books: subscription services, borrowing from libraries or any of the services that assist people with vision problems.

The biggest audiobook marketplace is Amazon's Audible which offers a free 30 day trial which includes one free audiobook, sales and discounts, and a number of other perks.

While we feel audiobooks are the bee's knees (it's the author's favorite way to consume books these days), there's a lot more going on in an audiobook than a regular book. And it's much easier for audiobooks to disappoint than a non-audiobook if the audio elements are subpar.

There are a few drawbacks to having the book read to you. As readers, we add to a book by envisioning the character and hearing how they speak. That’s why it’s important for the book narrator to sound like we imagine them to be. A gruff voice for a friendly character or a childish voice for an adult can ruin the entire experience of enjoying the audio book.

That’s why we have included information in this Top 25 List about the audiobook’s production and the narrator’s skills. Each of these topics is just as important in the making of an audiobook.

If you do want to try out audiobooks, the best deal by far is to sign up for the Audible free trial to get your free audiobook credit (Audible has the biggest selection of audiobooks -- pretty much Amazon's entire book catalog since it's Amazon's own company).

While audiobooks are more expensive than regular books, there are some things you can do to SAVE a lot of money on audiobooks and pick them up for dirt cheap. Please read our sister site's article about How to Save a Lot of Money on Audible Buying Audiobooks.

And now, let's look at our top picks for the best mystery audiobooks ever written. This list is updated for 2017 and includes classics, cult hits, best sellers, indie fiction, and new releases!

The plots of a spy novel are always complex and this is no exception. A civil servant who goes by the alias of Paul joins an operation named Wildfire. The point of the operation is to take down a jihad leader who is supposedly tucked away in a hideaway. Two of the men in the operation insist on killing the man. However, Paul cannot be sure of the results of that operation. Three years later, the news of the operation gets to a retired man who wants to investigate further. He has to take on the entire espionage organization, including the groups within groups, to get to the truth of what happened. 

Why It Made the List  

le Carr is the master of the espionage novel. He worked in the field for years, and he knows exactly what hes talking about when he writes these books. No one writing today as the same insights and depth of the field that he does. 

Audio Book Qualities

The novel is complex and at times, it might help to have the paper book at your side to clear up some points. Given the twists and turns of the book, it may come in handy to reread sections after listening to them. Additionally, the British accent, the drawl of the upper class is very prevalent, in the reading of the book. While closed captioning is available for the movies, theres no such accommodation with the audio book, so close concentration is required.

Narration Qualities 

Its a rare instance when the author is the person narrating the story as well. In this case, le Carr knows best how to turn each phrase and put the right emphasis as he originally heard and wrote the story. The author is often the person most intimate with the book, but not all authors can read the book and bring the characters to life as the author does here. Given that the work is self-autobiographical, the reading is that much more intimate with the listener. 

'Read It If You Like'

espionage, British mysteries, international thrillers

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Christopher is a teenager who (though not specifically identified) is on the autism scale. The story is told from the first person point of view from Christophers perspective. The story opens with a neighbors dog being speared to death, and Christopher, as the outsider, is immediately suspected. When a policeman touches him, Christopher reacts by slugging him. Hes only given a warning, but he is strongly suspected of the crime. To clear his name, he decides to solve the crime. The pathway to the crime leads him to actually talk to the neighbors, something he has never done before, and as a result, he learns a number of things about his own life that have been kept from him. Why It Made the List

The book won a number of awards, including the Whitbread Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. It has since been made into a play, and it won five Tony awards for its Broadway run.

Audio Book Qualities

The book contains a number of elements that are in keeping with high-functioning autistic people. For example, the chapter numbers of the book are prime numbers, rather than the typical sequential numbers. The recorded book does similar things. In places in the story, the audio book uses noises and sounds that might be how an autistic young man experiences such things. In many cases, they are more sensitive to stimuli, and the book tries to make the point of how that would be experienced by Christopher. 

Narration Qualities 

Jeff Woodman gives a powerful performance with this book, trying his best to show how someone else might experience the world.  He provides the right tone and the nuances to make the reader more fully experience the life of someone else. The audio book won the Alex Award the year that it was published.

'Read It If You Like'

unique narrators, different perspectives, British mysteries

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Joe Coughlin grows up in Boston, where hes the son of a police captain. Instead of taking the family path into law and order, he begins to climb the ladder in organized crime. He starts with some robberies in Boston where he is caught and jailed. Once in prison, he meets and is later protected by another member of the mafia. The mafia then uses extortion to force Joes father to do their bidding to keep his son safe. The stress of the subterfuge is too much for the captain and he dies at a young age of a heart attack. Upon his release, he moves to Florida and continues his rise in the mob. He grows stronger there and eventually has his own empire. Why It Made the List

The book won the Edgar award from Mystery Writers of America for best novel of the year. Sprawling sagas that follow the same character or family over the decades are always popular and Lehanes works are a diverse lot. The book was picked up to become an Ben Affleck film which was recently released.

Audio Book Qualities

The overall performance is good. The speed of the story fits the pace of the book. The narrator of the book has read for over 100 novels, including other mystery series. The words and word choices of the author help to make the performance of the audio book some special.

Narration Qualities

The narrator does an incredible job. The book is a sprawling saga with many locations and even more characters. While the reader may have a hard time keeping everyone straight in such a large novel, the narrator does a great job with the accents which range from hard Boston to Florida and Cuban. Such range is difficult, but Jim Frangione manages to do them all without flinching.

'Read It If You Like'

mafia stories, Cuban mysteries, Florida thrillers

Books in Coughlin Series (3)

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In one of the later Nero Wolfe novels, Wolfe actually takes on the FBI in a case. When a wealthy socialite begins to promote a book that criticize the FBI, she gets noticed by none other than Hoover. She comes to Nero Wolfe for the express purpose of getting the FBI to stop following and harassing her. Wolfe takes the case, and in the process has to solve a few murders to find the right leverage to make Hoover stop his campaign. Alls well in the end, and Wolfe makes his exorbitant fee. 

Why It Made the List

Rex Stout was the king of adding politics and social issues into his books. He wrote of civil rights, unions, and Watergate, all with the cases of Wolfe. This book has one of the clearest statements about government and power in his series. This series ran for nearly 40 years and the characters are some of the most beloved in all of mystery. Theyre worth checking out. 

Audio Book Qualities

These audio books are well-done and the entire series of books appeared first in cassette form and later on CD. The reading of the book have worn well with time, and many of the series fans say that they prefer to listen to the recorded book over any other format. 

Narration Qualities

Michael Prichard narrates all the books in the Nero Wolfe series. It has been said that he has a large voice, which is perfect for the detective who weighs 1/7 of a ton.  The dialogue between Archie and Wolfe is some of the best of any novels mystery or otherwise, and Prichard manages to do the realistic, yet snappy dialogue well. Archie is the narrator and Prichard is able to do the dual voices with ease. Prichard has the right voice for the time period (1960s) as well as the various inflections needed to tell the characters apart. Hes gone on to a variety of other authors, but hes best known for his reading of this series.

'Read It If You Like'

FBI novels, adventure stories, great detectives, New York setting

Books in Nero Wolfe Series (47)

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Rankin brought Rebus out of retirement for this case. Due to a change in the retirement procedures, Rebus is able to return to the force, but with a demotion. So his one-time protg, Siobhan Clarke, is now his superior, and hes forced to work the streets again. Hes teamed with Clarke to look into a suspicious car crash, but at the same time, hes brought back into an old murder case from when he worked at Summerhill. The man accused of murdering another man was found not guilty because of evidence that disappeared. Now the solicitor general wants the case reopened, and Rebus is forced to look at the man he used to be a part of a group of officers who took the law into their own hands. 

Why It Made the List

This is the 20th book in the Rebus series, which had been adapted to television. The character, despite his shady ways and dark past, is a fan favorite and readers everywhere were thrilled to see Rebus come back to the police force after a hiatus.

Audio Book Qualities

Any time that the characters speak with an accent, the reader may have some difficulty in understanding the characters dialogue. Thats the case in any of the Rebus mysteries, where the dark and sometimes shady detective speaks with a thick Scottish brogue. However, the narrator does a good job with trying to convey the meaning of what is being said with the inflections and tone as well as the words. Youll be paying close attention to what is being said each time Rebus is in the scene.

Narration Qualities

James Macpherson does a fantastic job with the acerbic voice of DS Rebus, who has seen too much. The voice work keenly matches the character here. He also captures the slighter brogue of Clarke, and he does a phenomenal job with the other characters, which include a man who has suffered a stroke. The slurred words are treated with respect, and he never lets the performance become a parody. Beyond that, he does a wonderful job with the pacing and the inflections of all the characters.

'Read It If You Like'

police procedurals, cold cases, police corruption

Books in Inspector Rebus Series (21)

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At the end of Burkes last novel about Dave Robicheaux, the lawman was in mortal danger, having a gun fight and sorely outnumbered. This book begins with Robicheaux in the hospital recovering from his wounds during the gun fight. A local singer appears to him while hes under the influence of pain meds, and leaves an iPad with three tracks that no one else has. However, she has apparently disappeared, because Robicheaux cannot find any trace of her. Then her sister is found dead of a heroin overdose, which might have been considered an accident except for the fact that shes been frozen in a block of ice and set adrift in the river. Their clients to find out more about the missing singer all end up dead, leaving the body count at four, or possibly five if Robicheaux cannot find her soon. 

Why It Made the List

Burke has a way with words and he knows the area well. His novels are frequently bestsellers and the series is now into its 20th book. On top of all the action in the book, Burke sets the novel against the backdrop of the Gulf oil spill and its implications for the region.

Audio Book Qualities

This is probably the longest of the audio books in this list, so be sure to save a few days to listen to the entire thing. Burke does not write short books, and the unabridged version comes in at just over 18 hours.

Narration Qualities

Will Patton reads the book, and he is a master of voice technique. He handles the voices of Robicheaux and a cast of Cajun characters in this novel without trouble. He is a frequent reader of Stephen King, Faulkner, and Hemingway. He is the archetype for the strong male voice in fiction, and he has read most of the Burke books. Some readers even look for the Patton audio books of the Burke novels, saying that they are so well suited that the voice work adds to the poetic prose of the author.

'Read It If You Like'

New Orleans settings, missing persons cases, private eye novels

Books in Dave Robicheaux Series (20)

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Its hard to believe that anything written by the King of Noir would have never seen print until 2012, but thats just what happened. The publication of an unpublished Cain work appeared from Hard Case Crime appeared that year, marking the return of the well-respected writer of the middle years of the 20th century. In this novel, a young widow is forced to make her way in the world after her husbands death. She meets two men in this new phase of her life, a young buck who she wants desperately and an older man who could provide her for material comforts but not her romantic needs. She finds out that the police are starting to suspect her of killing her abusive first husband, and like so many of Cains novels the ending is deadly karma. 

Why It Made the List

James M. Cain is the master of noir fiction. His works, which are usually on the shorter side, show ordinary people tempted by money and lust.  These characters typically find that the path that they have taken will not leave them in a better place. His works including The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Double Indemnity.

Audio Book Qualities

Given that most of Cains works are best known in other media, its worth listening to the audio version of this book. Its a quick read, one of the shortest in the list at just over 8 hours. Cain was a master of the stark prose that was a hallmark of his style, so the book has a tense and quick pace to it. The narrator has the pacing down as the listener will try to determine if the waitress is a maligned woman who is coming into her own, or a scheming murderer who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Narration Qualities

Amy Rubinate is a master of the voice over work. She has recorded more than 250 books, including a number of romance and mystery novels. Her voice in this work is sad, nearly monotone as the character who is both free of her abusive husband and in the dual vice of the police looking into the accident that freed her and her own decision of whom to pick as her next husband. She captures the angst and desperation of the character well.

'Read It If You Like'

Noir, middle class protagonists, unhappy endings.

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Everyone should know the story. Christie took the notion to kill everyone in a story, which had never been done before. Ten people are trapped on an island with no means of escape. A voice from nowhere announces that each has committed the crime of murder and escaped punishment for that crime. And then the characters begin to die one by one. The tension mounts as the characters and the reader try to figure out who is behind this situation. Its hard to describe the book in too much detail without spoiling the entire plot, but its worth the read. 

Why It Made the List

This is by far the Christie book with the highest sales numbers. Shes sold millions of copies of this title alone. Its taught in school, and last year the BBC did a remake that was incredible. It showed the world how Christie was just as relevant today as she had been in 1939 when the book was released.

Audio Book Qualities

Youll need to be sure to get the unabridged version and not the BBC adaptation. The adaptation is a much shorter work (usually 1.5-2 hours) and cuts too much of the action. The unabridged version comes in  at just over six hours and contains all of the twists and turns that Christie intended.

Narration Qualities

Hugh Fraser, who played Captain Arthur Hastings on the TV series, usually narrates the audio books for the estate. However, this book is not like most of the other books in the Christie canon, and wisely they avoided the affable Fraser for another voice talent, Dan Stevens. Hes a wise choice since the book features 10 unlikable characters trapped together on an island.

'Read It If You Like'

Mysteries with no detectives, impossible crimes, isolated settings

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Nick and Nora Charles are possibly the most popular of Dashiell Hammetts characters, which is saying a lot considering that he also wrote of Sam Spade and the Continental Op. The lively, liquored up pair resembled Hammett and his paramour, Lillian Hellman at a superficial level. However, the Charles solved crimes and shot off bon mots to any and all who would listen. There was only one novel with the couple, but Hammett participated in writing two of the scripts for the movie series that resulted from the books. In all six of the films were made which cemented the pairs popularity. Why It Made the List  Dick Powell and Myrna Loy made this series so popular that all the mystery films in Hollywood in the 1930s sought to mimic them. None of those other series equaled the original, though many tried. A set of characters has to have something going for them if they can change the way that mystery movies are written and developed for a decade. Audio Book Qualities These are actually the screenplays for the movies. Theyre not the novellas which Hammett wrote about the characters. So each of these reads much like the audio for the Powell/Loy films. Thats not a problem since the series of films was immensely popular. However, if youre expecting the original works of fiction rather than the adapted screenplays, you may be disappointed. Narration Qualities Since theyre reading for screenplays, the audios use a variety of different voice actors for the various characters. So be sure that you enjoy readings with multiple narrators. The readers rave about the voice work on some of the minor characters so make sure that you listen well.

'Read It If You Like' screenplays, mysteries with lots of alcohol, humorous mysteries

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The plot for the book is rather convoluted. Mikael Blomkvist loses a libel suit at the magazine he publishes. As a result, hes broke and hes offered a job by a wealthy retired CEO. Blomkvist thinks its providence, but actually hes been checked out by a hacker/on-line guru, Lisbeth Salander. The CEO promises to erase the debts owed by Blomkvist (by producing new evidence about the libel case) if he will look into his granddaughters disappearance some years ago. Blomkvist agrees and is given Salander as a research assistant. They grow intimate as they uncover the work of a serial killer who appears to be a member of the CEOs family. 

Why It Made the List

The trilogy of books was wildly popular before ending with the death of the author. The first title in the series has been made into two movies. The author posthumously won a number of awards for his work, making this a must read book.

Audio Book Qualities

The graphic sexual violence in the book means that youll need to be careful where you listen to the book. Its probably not best to listen to it with others around. Because of the number of details and characters involved in the story, its imperative to listen carefully. There are a number of Swedish names and places. While the narrator does a good job with pronouncing them, the listener may struggle to remember them. 

Narration Qualities

Simon Vance is the preferred narrator. He seems to have a knack for keeping the listeners interest at the beginning of the book where the plot is slow at times while the situation is set-up for the action to follow. Vance has a way of conveying the unique individuals in the book by his tone and inflection.

'Read It If You Like'

literary mysteries, computer hacking, journalist protagonists

Books in Millennium Series (4)

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1893 World's Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago. The exposition, known as the white city, was built on what had once been a swamp in Jackson Park, a suburb of Chicago. A noted architect was brought in to work on the exposition, which wanted to show off the progress the city had made. The planner and builders of the white city only had 18 months to complete all the structures in time for the fair. 

At the same time, Dr. HH Holmes has started his reign of terror. The doctor is commonly known as the first modern serial killer. At the same time as the fair construction was getting under way, he was luring women to his home, where he had constructed a torture chamber, which he uses before killing the women. He kills dozens of women before burning their remains in a crematorium he had built for just that purpose. 

Why It Made the List

While the book is non-fiction, Larsons technique makes the story come alive and it reads like fiction. The book won the Edgar award in 2004, which is given for the best fact crime of the year.

Audio Book Qualities

Since this is a non-fiction text that reads as a thriller, be prepared to get more expository types of text read to the listener. Since Larson was not around in 1893, the text has very little in the way of dialogue or inner monologues. The story is told through the actions of the characters more than their thoughts. Even so, the book is exciting and different and will fly.

Narration Qualities

Scott Brick is the preferred narrator. He has years of experience in narrating mystery thrillers so hes ready for this book. Reviews have called this a pitch perfect performance for Brick. His performance in bringing the mass murderer to life is chilling in his tone and language.

'Read It If You Like'

Fact crime, narrative non-fiction, serial killers

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Cormoran Strike is having a bad time of it. He just broke up with his long-term girlfriend, and the split appears to be permanent. Hes living above his office in a space far too small for his massive frame. Hes a working detective, but he only has one client at the moment. However, all that changes when he accidentally hires Robin from a temp agency for a week. She not only cleans up the messes in his life, her presence brings John Bristow, who wants Strike to look into his supermodel sisters suicide. The case ups his profile tremendously, while he starts to dig into the motives of the people around Lula, who was also known as The Cuckoo.

Why It Made the List

Galbraiths career started out fine for a first-time mystery author, but months after the publication of the first book, it was discovered that Galbraith was none other than JK Rowling, of Harry Potter fame. After that, the series picked up steam with readers and became a best-seller. There are now three books in this series of the UK private eye.

Audio Book Qualities

As everyone knows from the Harry Potter series, Rowling doesnt write a short book. So the recoreded book for this title runs over 15 hours. Thats not terrible, as many works of literature are longer, but if youre wanting to listen to something quick, this is probably not it. Given the reputation of Rowling, all of the audio book attributes are professionally done with care for all details.

Narration Qualities

Robert Glenister is the narrator, and he does a great job with the voices, especially of Cormoran Strike, Strike is rough, but hurting with a ton of baggage from his years in the armed services in Afghanistan and just beyond. Glenister does a fantastic job of bringing the character to life as well as capturing the spirit of his new assistant Robin.

'Read It If You Like'

private eye novels, British settings

Books in Cormoran Strike Series (3)

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You know a mystery is at hand when a book opens with the niece of Vera Hillyard is being asked to recall the details of her aunt by a true crime writer. The action in the book takes place mainly during the years of World War II. Vera is the mother of a young boy, but instead of being interested in him, Vera focuses all of her attention on her younger sister, Eden. When Vera has a second child, she begins to dote on her younger son, much as she had on Eden before. However, Eden, now an adult, demands custody of that younger child, saying that Vera is an unfit mother. Given Veras great passions for her younger son and Eden, the story will not end well as the custody battle heightens and secrets are revealed. 

Why It Made the List

The book was given the Edgar and was made into a BBC film not too long after that. Vine is the pen name of Ruth Rendell who has won multiple awards under her own name as well.

Audio Book Qualities

The audio book was produced by Audible Studios. Audible is the website that sells audio books of many of the titles here. Readers admitted that having the book read to them allowed them to concentrate more on the characters and mystery in the story.

Narration Qualities

Harriett Walter, the narrator of the book, is well-known to mystery fans. She starred in a series of Dorothy L Sayers adaptations as Harriet Vane, the love interest for Lord Peter Wimsey. She has also appeared in a number of BBC productions over the years including the adaptation of Agatha Christies Cat among the Pigeons. Shes an ideal narrator of a family gone horribly wrong. Her rich voice allowed her to delineate the characters with ease. She easily shows the development of the main characters as they age.

'Read It If You Like'

British mysteries, psychological studies, domestic suspense

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Camille Preaker is a troubled woman. She has a long history of mental illness, and she frequently carves words into her flesh that she has imagined are already there. After her most recent stay in a psychiatric hospital, the newspaper that she works for assigns her to head back to her hometown to cover a series of brutal crimes. When the body of the second victim is discovered strangled with all of her teeth pulled out, the newspaper wants her to stay and cover the case. While in town, she reconnects with her mother and sister, with whom she has been estranged. She meets and falls for a homicide detective who is there to solve the case, and she begins to put together the solution to the murders. 

Why It Made the List

Gillian Flynn became a hot author a few years ago, when she published Gone Girl, which became the summer book of the year, began a series of girl books with questionable relationships and unreliable narrators, and a film of the same name. Reading her earlier efforts allows the reader to see the author that she would become. This book was also a nominee for the Edgar given by the Mystery Writers of America for best first novel.

Audio Book Qualities

While the book covers difficult characters, the book is engaging in the oral format to the point that many listeners have talked about listening to the story again high praise. Each of the characters were developed and easily distinguished from the others. The audio needs to be clear and easy to hear, because many of the scenes are difficult ones where the characters do dark deeds and behave in ugly ways.

Narration Qualities

Ann Marie Lee was a perfect fit of narrator to a difficult story. She manages to make each character unique, while bringing them to life. Additionally, her pace is well-done, which is difficult to do when dealing with such difficult topics. She was able to do the regional accents perfectly, especially bringing the Southern characters to life. To most, Lee sounds exactly the way youd expect Camille to talk.

'Read It If You Like'

psychological studies, domestic suspense, Southern settings

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Stephen Moran is a man whose life is going downhill. Hes been demoted from working on the major crimes to working cold cases. The daughter of another officer comes to him with a cold case that sounds promising. A boy had been killed at her school about a year ago. The case, despite a swarm of investigators and detectives, was never solved. The school has a large bulletin board and on the board, someone has now posted a photo of the murdered boy along with the statement that they know who killed him. Most of the book takes place in a single day as Moran and a senior officer question eight girls who were close to the dead boys. The case has some interruptions as the father of the girl who came to Moran steps in and muddies the water of the investigation. 

Why It Made the List

Tana French is well-known for her literary mysteries, books that have a strong crime element, but seek to do more through language and theme. In each of her Dublin Murder Squad books, a minor character in the previous novel becomes the main character in the next. This allows the series to have continuity without all of the issues that go with having a single character populate all the books by an author. 

Audio Book Qualities

French is known for her character studies and realistic characters, so the audio book has a chance to draw and shape these characters through their voices. The sheer number of characters can be daunting in a French novel, since so many are introduced early on, but with the use of voice actors, the characters inflections and tones can help the listened delineate those characters easily.

Narration Qualities

Not surprisingly the book has two narrators. The voice of Stephen Moran was read by Stephen Hogan, who catches the nuisances and inflections of the down and out detective. He was given both of the main police characters and did a great job with the female detectives voice without resorting to falsetto. Lara Hutchinson did the voices of the eight girls. Since the story is set in a distinct place and time, the girls use slang that is part text-speak and part abbreviations and acronyms. She does well with it, but the authors words are tough to read at times;

'Read It If You Like'

literary mysteries, cold crimes, police procedurals

Books in Dublin Murder Sq... Series (6)

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The most famous of all the Sherlock Holmes stories, this is only one of four novels written about Holmes by Conan Doyle. A family with a legacy of being mauled by a large hound is terrified after the last possessor of the title is murdered. The friends of the new peer are worried and one comes to see Holmes who makes a series of amazing deductions about the man from his walking stick. Watson comes down to the moors to report back to Holmes and the story only becomes more convoluted as he begins to acclimate himself to his surroundings. 

Why It Made the List

While you can never get enough of Sherlock Holmes, most of the stories in the Canon (56 to be precise) are short works. There are only four novels and this is the best of those novels. Secondly, this is the novel in which Holmes returned after his fall at Reichenbach. He had been sorely missed, and while this story is a prequel to Holmes battle with Moriarty, the tale quickly became a fan favorite.

Audio Book Qualities

Being one of the most famous of all mysteries, there are, of course, many audio book versions as well as many narrators. I would strongly suggest that you stick to the unabridged version of the book. Many radio plays and screenplays have been written as adaptations, but most of them delete major portions of the book. The unabridged version runs about six hours, so look for that when renting or buying.

Narration Qualities

They were the footprints of a gigantic hound is one of the most famous of all Sherlock Holmes quotes and perhaps one of the most recognized lines in all of mystery. The narrator nails the fear and shock in the story with this line. A personal favorite is the reading by Derek Jacobi, who not only is a well-known actor, but he has a history with the genre via the lead role in the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters.

'Read It If You Like'

British mysteries, scary family legends, Victorian era crimes

Books in Sherlock Holmes Series (9)

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When a local artist and schoolteacher is shot through the heart with an arrow, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surt du Qubec is called in to investigate. The local people assume that she was the victim of a wayward arrow during hunting season, but Gamache soon finds that there is more to the crime than meets the eye. Gamache is suspended after a boy confesses to shooting the arrow. He believes that the crime goes deeper than that. Soon after, a new will is discovered that leave the artists entire estate to a next-door neighbor instead of her niece. The womans art had just been accepted for an art show. Could something she painted be behind the crime?

Why It Made the List

Louise Penny is a perennial fan favorite. Her series about Gamache has won award after award, and she continues to please fans with each book in the series. Its best to start at the beginning and meet the cast of characters of Three Pines from the start. 

Audio Book Qualities

Given that Penny often has multiple balls in the air at any one time, the audio book captures this and also ensures that the reader must pay attention to the ensemble cast and the deductions of the sleuth. Her ability to do this well is why so many fans love her works, but it can be taxing on the listener to pay such close attention to the narrator at all times.

Narration Qualities

Ralph Cosman narrates all of the Louise Penny novels. Hes an accomplished actor with over 100 books to his credit, including a number of books by CS Lewis, Orwell, and Kipling. Hes credited for bringing all the characters in the book to life and depicting the small towns ambiance at the same time. Given that the book takes place in Quebec, Cosman has to read in both English and French, which he does well.

'Read It If You Like'

Canadian mysteries, small town mysteries, art mysteries, cozy mysteries

Books in Chief Inspector ... Series (12)

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This novel is Halls 20th novel about lawyer Stanley Hastings, and his 49th novel over all. In the book, Hastings has to represent his boss in a murder case. The boss mistress is found naked and attacked with a knife. The case has all the elements to be a sensational news story, and Hastings has to try to come up with a way to solve the mystery. All the clues and circumstances are against him. The victim worked for a well-known judge. Hastings boss DNA is found at the crime scene, and another trial is going on that is taking up the time of all the potential witnesses. Hall has proven that series characters do not have to grow weary with age. If anything, this is one of the best books in the series. 

Why It Made the List

Parnell Hall had actually begun the Stanley Hastings series hoping that the Erle Stanley Gardner estate would allow him to continue the Perry Mason series. The estate baulked and instead the world was introduced to Stanley Hastings.

Audio Book Qualities

Most of the Hall books are on the short side, and so this audio book is just over five hours, short in comparison to others. However, the story is humorous and enthralling, so the listener will not want the story to end.

Narration Qualities

Mystery Scene had this to say: When an audio book like this comes alongyou start wondering why there arent more of these perfect matches of readers to material. John Heller is a fantastic narrator, best known for works like MASH and Marley and Me. His voice is perfect for the bewildered, funny, and chaotic lawyer. He captures the voice inflections and the humor in the character.

'Read It If You Like'

legal mysteries, humorous mysteries, New York mysteries

Books in Stanley Hastings... Series (20)

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Rachel is recently divorced, an alcoholic and very imaginative. She sees the same couple on the back porch of their home every day, because its visible from her train. She gives them a perfect life together, unlike the one with her own ex-husband. Its part of what holds her together as she tries to stumble at getting back on her feet again. However, when the female half of the couple goes missing, Rachel isnt content to just let the police do their job. She has to get involved and then all the demons of her life begin to come back to haunt her.

Why It Made the List

This book has been the latest it book for the girl novels where the unreliable narrator gets sucked into a bad situation that only gets worse. This book was the hot summer read a couple of years back, and now its slated to be a huge blockbuster movie, so read it, and then see the movie.

Audio Book Qualities

It won the Audie Award for best Audiobook of the year for 2016. That should give you an idea of how good this was. While the characters were a bit thin in the book, the audio version allowed the narrators to give additional depth to the characters, thereby enhancing the story.

Narration Qualities

The three main characters (who are all women) were read by three different narrators. While Rachel narrates, the missing woman and Rachels husbands new wife are narrated by others. This allows the reader to hear their voices and personalities separately to keep them clear when listening. Their performances have been likened to The Help, another book with multiple strong female leads.

'Read It If You Like'

domestic suspense, British mysteries

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Part thriller, part love story and all psychological suspense, The Spire is the story of an athlete and scholar is asked to come back and lead a small college by his mentor. The school has had a gaping scandal of embezzlement, and the school needs a well-respected alum to lead it back from the brink. However, of course, the return to the school brings back memories of a murder that occurred when the new president was an undergraduate. A friend of his was convicted of the crime, but now as the new president is taking over the responsibilities of the job, he finds that the evidence that convicted his friend was flimsy at best. Of course, he decides to take a look into the past and find out what really happened.

Why It Made the List

Patterson is a well-known author of thrillers and suspense, and this is one of his later books. His writing style is often mentioned as a strength of his works, and this book is no exception. The book also hints at a potential sequel so we might be seeing these characters again.

Audio Book Qualities

The book has a non-linear sequence to its scenes at times, and the use of a skilled narrator actually helps the listener to follow along more closely. In a book that can challenge the reader in terms of the timeframe, its better to be able to concentrate full on the story with the narrator helping to set the time and place.

Narration Qualities

Holter Graham does a smashing job with this book. Hes narrated nearly 150 audiobooks, but hes best known for his voice work on the high profile works by Stephen King. He knows his way around suspense and tension, and he uses his experience to good advantage here.

'Read It If You Like'

college settings, thrillers, flashbacks to previous crimes

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Jay Porter is back from his appearance in Black Water Rising. After winning the stunning lawsuit in that first book, success has not come to Porter. Hes older and more tired, but not a dime richer. He decides to take one more big case in hopes of making enough to quit and focus on his family. As a result, he takes the Pleasantville case representing an African American neighborhood against a chemical fire. As that case drags on, Porter is hired to defend the nephew of a wealthy candidate for Houstons mayor. The man is accused of killing a volunteer for another candidate in the race. Since Porter has never worked on a murder case, the politics involved are an eye-opening experience for him. 

Why It Made the List

As her second job, Locke is a writer and the producer of Empire, which tells the story of an African American family involved in the music business. Her rich, vibrant characters are cut from the same imagination as those of her successful television show.

Audio Book Qualities

The authors style is economical, and at times, the reader needs to listen carefully to understand all of the machinations of the current political process. However, the narrators pacing and tone help the reader to understand the legal terms and the process of an election. The pacing is well-done by the author which translates to a taut work where the reader wont want to miss a word. Though narrated by a different reader, the ties to the first Locke novel might want to make you think about listening to Black Water Rising before this book.

Narration Qualities

JD Jackson captures the essence of Jay Porter in this audiobook. Jackson had performed for a variety of non-fiction works on African American politics and issues. As a result, his voice has a confidence in what hes reading in this book. The tone and loss of innocence are effectively portrayed by the narrator.

'Read It If You Like'

minority protagonists, legal thrillers, environmental issues

Books in Jay Porter Series (2)

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Who doesnt know about Kinsey Millhone, the female private eye created by Grafton, who has appeared in nearly 26 adventures by now? Millhone was introduced in the 1980s, and while everything else has aged, the series remains in those days before cellphones and the Internet. As a result, the cases are solved by paperwork and leather on the sidewalks.

In this book, Kinsey is hired by the daughter of Violet Sullivan, a woman who left a Fourth of July party in 1953 and was never heard from again. The daughter wants to find out the truth of what happened. Violet had dallied with most of the men in town, and while 30 years have passed, their emotions have not settled. The case seems as hot today as it did then.

Why It Made the List

Millhone, who has suffered through bad marriages and the reintroduction of an estranged family, has remained the same private eye from the beginning. The cast of friends and family has grown over the years, but still Kinsey is one of the most popular private eyes around.

Audio Book Qualities

While many of the books in the series are offered in abridged as well as unabridged version, try to go with the unabridged books. They typically run about 12 to 13 hours, but they provide more history of the characters, the updates on the many minor characters and the results of Kinseys love life.

Narration Qualities

Judy Kaye has been the narrator since the beginning of the series, letter A. She has brought Kinsey to life throughout that entire time, and now her voice is accepted as the voice of the character. Since Grafton has no desire to turn her character over to the movies or television, this is the only interpretation of character youll find, other than Graftons own words. In this book, she does double duty as Kinsey and the missing Violet via flashbacks.

'Read It If You Like'

female private eyes, cold cases, 1980s background

Books in Kinsey Millhone Series (25)

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The joy that is Flavia DeLuce. The first novel introduces the young girl from the 1950s who is stuck in the ancestral family home with two older sisters, a remote father, no money, and a cracking chemistry lab. Flavia is front and center when a mystery reveals itself. First she finds a dead bird on the doorstep with a rather famous stamp on its beak, and then she sees a man take his final breath in the cucumbers. Her father adds details to help her understand the long roots this case has. She uses her inquisitive mind and her endless supply of chemicals and her knowledge of their properties to solve the crimes.

Why It Made the List

Not only is the book good fun, its one of the strongest examples of authors voice around. Bradley does not miss a note when writing about her inability to understand the dynamics of adult relationships and her never-ending knowledge of the sciences. Flavia is a treat for all involved. Bradley was recognized with a Debut Dagger Award for the first book in this series.

Audio Book Qualities

The production qualities are such that the listener might think that he or she is listening to one of the old time radio programs on the BBC. The tone is all very British, and youll soon find yourself wanting tea as you listen.

Narration Qualities

Jayne Entwhistle is a treat as the narrator Flavia. She has just the right amount of innocence and twee to seem like a young girl. The other characters are done well, but its her performance as Flavia that makes this book (and this series) so memorable. A juvenile heroine could become cloying, but the narrators enthusiastic portrayal makes it well worth listening to again and again. While Entwhistle has narrated adult fiction, this is truly her forte.

'Read It If You Like'

historical fiction (because the 1950s now meets that definition), British mysteries, stamps and collecting

Books in Flavia de Luce Series (9)

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Mickey Haller is back in Connellys fifth novel about the Los Angeles lawyer who conducts business out of his Lincoln Towne car. In his last outing, Haller had been ready to give up on practicing as a defense attorney to become a district attorney; however, in this book, that dream is dead. He was turned off by the amount of politics involved in that position. Hes drawn back into a case where the victim is one of his success stories a woman who had walked away from prostitution. In the intervening years she had returned to LA and had resumed her life as a hooker. Mickey takes on her pimp as the client accused of killing the victim in this case.

Why It Made the List

This marks Connellys 26th novel and the 5th in the Haller series. Not only is Connelly one of the best writers about the police and their procedures, his second series puts him at the top of the heap of legal thriller authors as well. Its fun to see Connellys police character Bosch make a cameo in this book as Hallers half-brother.

Audio Book Qualities

Like many authors on this list, Connelly writes big books, which means that the recorded books come in both abridged and unabridged versions. Be sure to stick with the unabridged version of the book, as this title develops Haller more as a character in the light of his impending middle age and the assessment he undertakes of his own life. The deepening of the character is missed in the shorter version of the audio book. 

Narration Qualities

Giles is best known as a narrator and voice talent for his work with Michael Connelly books. Hes recorded twelve of the 29 books published by Connelly. Giles is able to manage the rapid-fire pace of the courtroom scenes in the book along with the more steady pace of the rest of the book. Given that Giles has narrated so many of the books in the series, hes able to add depth to the characters since he knows them so well.

'Read It If You Like'

Los Angeles as a setting, legal thrillers, cross-series characters

Books in Mickey Haller Series (7)

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DI Sean Duffy is Catholic, but works in the very protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland, an uneasy mix of religion and politics that often leaves Duffy in the lurch. Hes presented with what appears to be an open and shut case of a double homicide and a suicide. Michael Kelly appears to have shot both of his parents and then jumped off a cliff. He left a suicide note and the case looks as good as solved. However, theres more to the case than meets the eye. Kelly was also at the scene of yet another death, the heroin overdose of a cabinet members daughter while attending a rather debauched party. 

Why It Made the List

This is the fourth book in what was supposed to be a trilogy. McKinty said that the plot came to him in a dream, and readers were exceptionally glad to see Duffys return. The series takes place in the dark days of the battles between Ireland and Northern Ireland where death was a daily occurrence. The backdrop of the book only serves to make the pressures on the main character more severe as the political structure wants to keep the peace through any means possible.

Audio Book Qualities

This audio book was nominated for best book of the year for 2016, giving you an idea of the quality of the production. AudioFile called this book a stunning narration. A great narrator can make a book and when the narrator has a book by McKinty (which was nominated for Mystery Writers of Americas Edgar for best paperback) the team is unstoppable.

Narration Qualities

Gerard Doyle has narrated nearly 150 titles. He is the narrator of the series and he brings to it the subtle differences in the accent and cadence of the various people in the book. He knows the way that McKinty turns a phrase and hes familiar with the dark humor of living in Northern Ireland during that era. It takes a well-practiced narrator to do dark humor well. The writer and narrator work well together.

'Read It If You Like'

Irish mysteries, questionable suicides, police procedurals

Books in Detective Sean D... Series (6)

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