Capers and Crimes for the Ears | Top Audiobooks for Mystery Lovers

Edge-of-the-seat listens for crime solvers and armchair sleuths.

Crawford, J.A. King Me. CamCat. Nov. 2023. 7:20 hrs. ISBN 9780744306514. $20.95. M

Listeners are thrown immediately into the action with the third book in Crawford’s (Heroes Ever Die) “Ken Allen Super Sleuth” mystery series. When Ken agrees to investigate several attempts on the life of famed television show creator R.R. Reynard, he doesn’t foresee Reynard being murdered before the ink is dry on the contract. Stuck in a labyrinthine hotel with several hundred fanatical devotees of Reynard’s sprawling fantasy epic known for its surprise twists and grisly deaths, Ken will have to rely on his wits to avoid becoming the next target. Tim Campbell plays the hard-boiled detective role to the hilt with a controlled bass rumble that conjures the image of a fedora and trench coat even when Ken is dressed as a faux knight. Campbell controls the pace of the narrative expertly, keeping listeners on the edge of their seats through complicated plot revelations and impressively choreographed fight sequences. His voices and accent work for the secondary cast range from subtle to sublimely ridiculous in accordance with the character beats, with rarely a misplaced cue. VERDICT Highly recommended for listeners who want a madcap mixture of Stephanie Plum, Magnum, P.I., and Veronica Mars.—Natalie Marshall

Haven, Josh. The Siberia Job. Highbridge Audio. Aug. 2023. 6:57 hrs. ISBN 9781696611732. $19.99. THRILLER

Haven (Fake Money, Blue Smoke) explores the Wild West that was Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union in this masterly financial thriller. In the style of Michael Lewis, Havens introduces listeners to a pair (a Texan and a Czech) of Western investors traveling to the ends of Russia to buy vouchers from Russian citizens that they can use to purchase shares in newly privatized Russian industries. The scheme, which costs them a few American dollars, could make big money—perhaps even tens of billions of dollars in profit. Businessman John Mills and Czech entrepreneur Petr Kovac face widespread and daily corruption, the Russian mafia, oligarchs, payoffs, rip-offs, kidnappings, and not a few pointed guns in this unputdownable book. Award-winning narrator Justin Price does a magnificent job with his many voices and solid use of Eastern European accents in this fictional story based on real people and events. VERDICT This outlandish, smart caper illuminates a little-known and intriguing chapter in post–Soviet Russian history. Recommended for readers of Matthew Klein’s Con Ed or Eli Yance’s Consequence.—Scott DiMarco

Kim, Angie. Happiness Falls. Books on Tape. Aug. 2023. 13:05 hrs. ISBN 9780593790434. $95. M

Kim’s (Miracle Creek) richly layered novel brings together philosophy, family drama, love, and hope. Korean American college student Mia Parkson usually has an answer for everything. But this overly analytical 20-year-old is not concerned when her father disappears—at least not at first. When her brother, Eugene, who has a dual diagnosis of autism and Angelman syndrome, runs home alone from a walk in the park, concern grows in the family, especially since Eugene can’t articulate what happened. As the clock ticks on the investigation, the family, confined by the beginning days of COVID lockdowns and quarantines, must face their secrets if they wish to uncover the truth of their father’s whereabouts. An ensemble featuring Shannon Tyo, Sean Patrick Hopkins, and Thomas Pruyn narrates this complex yet hopeful look at the intricacies of a family facing a personal tragedy and an international crisis. Kim provides a sincere and moving note at the end.VERDICT Although this book is marketed as a mystery, this lushly atmospheric listen will have broad appeal. Share with fans of Celeste Ng and those who appreciate layered family drama that explores race, language, and neurodiversity.—Elyssa Everling

King, Stephen. Holly. S. & S. Audio. Sept. 2023. 15:23 hrs. ISBN 9781797161419. $29.99. THRILLER

King (Billy Summers) is a household name, and fan-favorite character Holly Gibney is not far behind, having evolved across several works into an intrepid private investigator. Drawing on Bill Hodges’s training and an infinite supply of “Holly hope,” she takes on the case of a missing woman, one leading to a pair of unassuming octogenarians who are hiding a grotesque secret. Narrator Justine Lupe, who portrayed Holly on-screen in Mr. Mercedes, expertly captures the insecurities and intelligence of the lovable leading lady and compelling cast of supporting characters. Fast-paced flashbacks over a decade of disturbing and deviant crimes create an intricate and unnerving atmosphere. Set during the height of the pandemic, the book is overtly political, a fact reinforced by the endnote read by the author. Though possible to read as a stand-alone, references to Holly’s past will be better understood if listeners are familiar with other works in which she features. VERDICT This audio will appeal to listeners seeking a tense and twisted suspense with a chilling blend of heartwarming heroine and disconcerting depravity. Recommended for fans of Lisa Gardner and James Wade.—Lauren Hackert

Malice, Lisa. Lest She Forget. CamCat. Dec. 2023. 11:06 hrs. ISBN 9780744307573. $20.95. THRILLER

In her twisty debut, Malice weaves a web of deception, intrigue, and fast-paced adventure into a thriller that captivates until the last second. The story focuses on an unidentified car crash victim who awakens from a coma with amnesia. No one knows how or why she got in the accident, but something is undeniably wrong. Unable to trust others—and especially not herself—the woman, known to the hospital as Kay Smith (though this name is unfamiliar to her), must get to the bottom of the mystery. As she investigates, more and more questions arise. Why did she drive into that dangerous blizzard? And why is she now being pursued by two men with different agendas? Through alternating points of view, listeners are treated to the vocal talents of Kimberly M. Wetherall and Nelson Hobbs. Both narrators are emotive performers, believably taking on the personas of their characters and bringing them to life. Listeners will be held rapt by the anger, frustration, and panic that Hobbs brings to his narration and will be moved by Wetherall’s empathetic portrait of Kay. VERDICT A fresh and surprising psychological thriller from a promising new author. Share with fans of Paula Hawkins and Clare Mackintosh.—Katy Duperry 

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