Mystery in Audio | 52 Titles To Try

Crime stories to sound out.


Baldacci, David. Dream Town. Hachette Audio. (Archer, Bk. 3). Apr. 2022. 11 hrs. ISBN 9781549160615. $27.98. THRILLER

It’s New Year’s Eve, 1952. Private Detective Aloysius Archer and his friend and budding actress Liberty Callahan are attending a Hollywood party where she can see and be seen. They are greeted by Liberty’s friend Ellie Lamb. When Lamb learns Archer is a P.I., she immediately hires him to find out who is trying to kill her. The very next day Lamb goes missing and a dead man is found in her home. As Archer investigates, he uncovers problems much bigger than the missing Lamb: smuggling, heroin, human trafficking, and the Chinese mafia are only a few of the obstacles Archer must overcome, while narrowly escaping death several times. His relentless investigation brings down the house of cards and sets him on a new footing as a private investigator. Baldacci delights with accurate descriptive details about the politics, social mores, and technology of the 1950s. Audie-winner Edoardo Ballerini and Earphones Award–winner Brittany Pressley expertly offer a wide variety of voices that animate the large cast of male and female characters/suspects. VERDICT Readers of period crime stories and Baldacci fans will enjoy this third installment in the “Archer” series.—Joanna M. Burkhardt

Barron, Stephanie. Jane and the Year Without a Summer. RB Media. (Being a Jane Austen Mystery, Bk. 14). Feb. 2022. 9:36 hrs. ISBN 9781705062913. $19.99. M

The 14th in Barron’s “Being a Jane Austen Mystery” series (following Jane and the Waterloo Map) sees Jane and her sister Cassandra traveling to Cheltenham Spa to take the waters in hopes they will cure the bad health that Jane currently suffers. Her family also seems to be suffering many personal losses. Money troubles abound and her brother Charles has lost his ship and been called to accounts by the Admiralty. Once in Cheltenham, a trip which she is paying for from her book royalties, Jane finds not all is well there either, and she is once again entangled in a case. Audie-award winning narrator Kate Reading, who has read the series, shines with a voice that embodies Austen: highly observant, sharp, tonal, and descriptive. The voices of other characters are equally well done, and the pacing is spot on, giving Austen all the time needed to make her comments. VERDICT Devotees of the series will welcome this addition and thrill to the many Austenian references.—Neal Wyatt

Barr, Lisa. Woman on Fire. HarperAudio. Mar. 2022. 12:59 hrs. ISBN 9780063040908. $29.99. THRILLER

Barr’s (Fugitive Colors) thrilling audiobook has it all—family secrets, art scandal, and manipulative sex—leaving open the question of intent: is it a pursuit of justice or a hunt for revenge? The story opens with investigative reporter Jules Roth being abducted at an art gallery opening. Listeners jump back in time to learn more about Jules and her pursuit of a painting stolen by the Nazis, titled Woman on Fire. It is being sought by the dying son of the woman in the painting and by art dealer Margaux de Laurent. Thus, begins the cat-and-mouse game for Margaux, who enjoys playing the game more than winning the prize. Carlotta Bentan narrates with a breathy voice and intensity that makes for compelling listening. Characters have varied European accents to keep each distinctive, as they hail from England, France, and Germany. Jules is portrayed as naive yet quick to learn on her feet, while Margaux is sly and cunning, thinking she has all the answers. VERDICT Fans of Dan Brown’s “Robert Langdon” series will enjoy watching Margaux weave her web of deception to get her way in the art world.—Stephanie Bange

Baxter, Cole. Finding the Other Woman. Dreamscape Audio. Apr. 2022. 8:13 hrs. ISBN 9781666567021. $24.99. SUSPENSE

After surviving a car accident that killed her father, Amelia developed amnesia and lost four years of her life. Now that she has returned to herself, all she knows is that she and her husband, Carl, lived in the city the entire time. Carl won’t say more, as he is worried that recovering her memories may irreparably damage her fragile psyche. Amelia can’t let the past rest, however, and when Carl begins to call out another woman’s name in his sleep, she begins to seek out the mystery of what happened to her, and why. Who is the other woman? Could she be the key to Amelia’s lost past? Baxter’s (What She Forgot) latest psychological thriller takes listeners through Amelia’s nightmarish past, revealing deeply disturbing and graphically described child sexual abuse and trauma. The story’s twist is unsurprising, but listeners will be satisfied to see that the perpetrators are justly punished. Narrator Jennifer Jill Araya provides a quality performance, believably voicing Amelia’s growing panic and distress without resorting to theatrics. VERDICT Despite Araya’s solid narration, the unconvincing plot and predictable conclusion make this a strictly optional purchase.—Sarah Hashimoto

Brazier, Eliza Jane. Good Rich People. Penguin Random House Audio. Jan. 2022. 9:11 hrs. ISBN 9780593457450. $20. THRILLER

The rich people in this psychological thriller are fiends. Lyla and Graham invite self-made individuals to live in their guest house free of charge. The unsuspecting tenants do not know that they are part of a vicious game in which the goal is to destroy lives and make people feel worthless. There are no consequences for fabulously wealthy Lyla and Graham until a person without housing assumes the identity of their newest tenant, moves into the guesthouse, and plays a dangerous role in the game. Greed and avarice move the twisted plot along until the chilling conclusion. Karissa Vacker and Sophie Amoss do an excellent job narrating the book. Subtle changes in their tone and voice build tension and expose the emotions and inner thoughts of the characters. VERDICT Listeners who like ghoulish characters and plots will enjoy Brazier’s (If I Disappear) sophomore novel.—Ilka Gordon

Buccola, Allison. Catch Her When She Falls. Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 12:03 hrs. ISBN 9780593555958. $22.50. THRILLER

The premise of Buccola’s debut is certainly intriguing: 10 years earlier, Micah Wilkes’s best friend Emily died at a party in the woods, and Micah’s boyfriend was convicted of her murder. In the present, Micah is receiving mysterious threats, so she starts looking into whether Alex really did kill Emily. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. The pacing is extremely slow, and characters make extraordinarily odd choices to further the plot. Both the truth about how Emily died and the chain of events that led to Alex’s conviction are frankly ridiculous (like the witness who let an innocent person go to prison because no one ever questioned them directly), as is Micah’s response to figuring it all out. Attempts to create suspense or a sense of danger fall flat, and the author spends a lot of time building up clues that are either dropped completely or conveniently explained away without Micah having to do much. Frankie Corzo does a perfectly solid job of narrating. VERDICT Not recommended.—Stephanie Klose

Burke, Alafair. Find Me. HarperAudio. Jan. 2022. 8:57 hrs. ISBN 9780062985019. $26.99. THRILLER

This is Burke’s seventh stand-alone novel, but it features the sixth appearance of a character whom Burke fans know and love: NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher. In this new thriller, Hope Miller cannot remember her name, her identity, or any part of her previous life because of a car crash 15 years earlier. Lindsay Kelly, who found Hope in her overturned SUV, befriends her, becomes her protector, and tries to help her start a new life in Hopewell, NJ. When Hope moves to East Hampton to get a fresh start, she severs her ties with a devastated Lindsay, who’s certain that Hope will not be able to survive without her help. When Hope becomes the last person to have contact with a murdered businessman, police name her a person of interest and assign Ellie to the case. All the subplots come together in the startling conclusion. Narrator Kathleen Early captures the emotion and tension in this psychological thriller well. VERDICT Fans of Burke’s “Ellie Hatcher” series will enjoy this latest novel.—Ilka Gordon

Coben, Harlan. The Match. Penguin Random House Audio. (Wilde, Bk. 2). Mar. 2022. 10:04 hrs. ISBN 9781543661378. $18. THRILLER

This thriller is Coben’s second book in the “Wilde” series, but it easily stands on its own as an exciting mystery and page-turner. Wilde, a feral child who spent much of his childhood living alone in the woods, was first introduced in The Boy from the Woods. Wilde, now in his 40s, still has a few confusing, faint memories of a house with a red banister. His origins and why his parents abandoned him are still a haunting mystery for Wilde and for listeners. Through a DNA sample he submits to an ancestry database, Wilde matches with a second cousin, a reality show celebrity who has been vilified, but he has mysteriously disappeared or has committed suicide. The match brings Wilde closer to uncovering his history but also involves him in murder and treachery. Steven Weber once again does an excellent job narrating Coben’s novel. Weber captures each character’s unique personality and accent. Especially noteworthy is Weber’s depiction of Hester Crimstein’s heavy New York accent and audacity. VERDICT Readers of Coben’s first Wilde novel will enjoy listening to this installment, which will answer many of their questions.—Ilka Gordon

Darnielle, John. Devil House. Macmillan Audio. Jan. 2022. 11:17 hrs. ISBN 9781250818942. $26.99. M

Mountain Goats singer/songwriter Darnielle (Wolf in White Van; Universal Harvester) narrates his third audiobook with the same brisk lucidity that his prose has, differentiating characters only as much as necessary but hitting notes of wry observation with the tone his true-crime writer protagonist, Gage Chandler, might employ. When starting a new true crime book, Gage’s creative process requires direct access to the scene of the crime for full sensory detail, so naturally he buys and moves into a former porn store in suburban Milpitas, CA, site of a 1986 double homicide, though its most intriguing details have disappeared under new paint. Gage’s unreliability as a narrator—and as a writer—is overshadowed by his sensitivity toward his subjects and Darnielle’s engaging performance. Suspense builds, though, as perspectives shift and new context reflects on Gage’s writing career as a whole, puncturing the illusion of journalistic detachment in his lurid line of work. VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of unexpected, yet perfectly set up twists; with music by Darnielle and bandmate Matt Douglas.—Lauren Kage

Dawson, Delilah S. The Violence. Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 18:22 hrs. ISBN 9780593456040. $25. THRILLER

Dawson’s (Black Spire) latest is a more down-to-earth tale of pandemic horror. This story focuses on three generations of Florida women: homemaker Chelsea Martin, her judgmental mother Patricia, and Chelsea’s teenage daughter Ella. For years, Chelsea has been locked in an abusive marriage, until the emergence of a new disease called the Violence, which makes infected people explode into bursts of rage that can be lethal to anyone nearby. As the Violence spreads, it upends the social order and the lives of these three women. Dawson shows a penchant for describing brutality, especially the various physical and emotional violence inflicted by the men in these women’s lives. Narrator Hillary Huber gives all these characters, particularly the female characters, their own unique voices, from the haughty tones of Patricia to the high-pitched, halting words of Chelsea’s youngest daughter Brooklyn. The novel is not just about this deadly disease; the Violence is a catalyst that allows Chelsea and her family to embark on their own life-changing adventures. VERDICT The message of Dawson’s thriller is surprisingly hopeful, but the road to that message is bloody, dark, and difficult.—James Gardner

Delany, Vicki. Deadly Director’s Cut. Penguin Random House Audio. (A Catskill Summer Resort Mystery, Bk. 2). Mar. 2022. 9:23 hrs. ISBN 9780593558447. $17.50. M

Delany’s charming sequel to Deadly Summer Nights transports listeners back to the 1950s Borscht Belt, where Haggerman’s Catskills Resort manager Elizabeth Grady finds herself in the midst of another mystery. Haggerman’s has been selected as a filming location for the infamously difficult director Elias Theropodous’s next movie. The project brings welcome funding to Haggerman’s precarious finances, but it also introduces a host of problems, most notably, a gaggle of demanding Hollywood actors and their officious staff. With steely resolve, Elizabeth holds her own until Elias is poisoned during a banquet. Knowing that a suspicious death could spell the end of the resort, Elizabeth sets off to find the killer before they strike again. Narrator Jennifer Van Dyck ably gives voice to the many colorful characters that make their way through the resort—aging, but elegant movie stars, suave leading men, adoring women, and blustering businessmen. Van Dyck’s narration is perfectly in tune with the setting, adding a classic, vintage feel that sets this audio apart. VERDICT This engrossing, atmospheric cozy will appeal to existing fans of the series and newcomers alike. A great next listen for readers of Elizabeth J. Duncan, Rhys Bowen, and Frances Brody.—Sarah Hashimoto

Douglas, Claire. The Couple at Number 9. HarperAudio. Aug. 2022. 12:43 hrs. ISBN 9780063138193. $26.99. SUSPENSE

Douglas (Just Like the Other Girls) returns with a page-turner that flips between the past and present from multiple viewpoints that are all connected by a gruesome discovery. Saffron Cutler and her boyfriend Tom have just moved into the cottage once owned by her grandmother Rose. What was supposed to be the beginning of their lives together ends up being the beginning of an ordeal as two bodies are discovered in the garden. Rose, who has dementia, is unable to explain why they are there, leaving Saffron and her mother Lorna to piece together what happened. As the narrative takes its necessary twists and turns, Douglas leaves just enough bread crumbs for listeners to follow while keeping them hungry for more. VERDICT Narrator Nathalie Buscombe brings many of the book’s women to life while Kenton Thomas brings a distinct voice and personality to Theo, whose connection to the three women becomes part of the larger mystery. All this and a mindblowing plot twist that completely changes the whole complexion of the novel come together to create a mystery that gives listeners a punch in their collective gut and a tug on their heartstrings.—James Gardner

Downes, Anna. The Shadow House. Macmillan Audio. Apr. 2022. 10:05 hrs. ISBN 9781250837073. $26.99. SUSPENSE

Alex, a single mother on the run from an abusive ex, finds herself in a remote eco-village in a desperate attempt to protect her teenage son, Ollie, and infant daughter, Kara. As the stakes grow higher and she grows more desperate, Alex finds more than she bargains for in the seemingly idyllic community of Pine Ridge. Fact and fable mix together in this twisted tale of motherhood and suspense that shows the lengths to which Alex will go to protect those she loves. Downes’s (The Safe Place) well-done sophomore novel will leave listeners as desperate for answers as Alex and the rest of Pine Ridge. Narrated by the author and Natasha Beaumont, the desperation and resolve of each of the main characters is presented in such a way that it successfully sets the atmosphere for listeners. Of particular note, the author reads her acknowledgments, which detail the novel’s inspiration and her writing process early in the pandemic. VERDICT A great addition for any library looking to add to its thriller/ suspense collection.—Elyssa Everling

Elm, Joanna. Fool Her Once. CamCat. Mar. 2022. 10:27 hrs. ISBN 9780744304794. $19.95. THRILLER

After a 25-year hiatus, Elm (Delusion) returns with a captivating psychological thriller that delves into the twists and turns of journalist Jenna Sinclair’s past. As a rookie reporter, Jenna inadvertently revealed that Denny Dennison, then a culinary arts student and soon-to-be father, was the illegitimate son of the infamous serial rapist and murderer, Evil Ed. The brutal media coverage that followed destroyed Denny’s life and led a guilt-ridden Jenna to flee to the Hamptons to write travel articles and manage a bed-and-breakfast with her husband, Zack. With a clear and confident tone, narrator Rachel Fulginiti describes how Jenna’s picture-perfect life goes off the rails when her former lover is assaulted outside of her apartment building. Jenna believes that Denny could be behind the attack, and her search for answers reveals horrifying secrets that threaten Jenna’s entire family. Fulginiti’s precise narration complements the story’s building suspense, infusing it with the perfect amount of tension and momentum. Excellent characterizations and accent work further enhance the listening experience. VERDICT Share widely with listeners looking for well-crafted and compelling mysteries. This audio will be popular with fans of J. P. Delaney, Greer Hendricks, and Liv Constantine.—Sarah Hashimoto

Engberg, Katrine. The Harbor. S. & S. Audio. (Kørner and Werner, Bk. 4). Feb. 2022. tr. from Danish by Tara F. Chace. 9:38 hrs. ISBN 9781797136295. $19.99. CRIME

This is the fourth novel in Engberg’s “Kørner and Werner” series. Fifteen-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff is missing. His parents believe he has been kidnapped, although their only clue is a note with a cryptic quote from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. The police believe Oscar is a runaway, and detectives Anette Werner and Jeppe Kørner are assigned to the case. The numerous interesting characters and subplots can be confusing at first, but they are well worth a little extra concentration on the part of listeners. Each multifaceted and well-developed character deals with personal issues, such as love, family, loyalty, and aging. Narrator Graeme Malcolm’s Danish accent is pleasant. He ably provides each character with a distinctive voice. VERDICT Listeners unfamiliar with Danish might have difficulty grasping the names of streets and characters at first, but after a short time, they will become accustomed to the language, and it will not impede their enjoyment of this engaging and complex crime story.—Ilka Gordon

Finlay, Alex. The Night Shift. Macmillan Audio. Mar. 2022. 8:34 hrs. ISBN 9781250839695. $19.99. THRILLER

Ella is the only survivor of the notorious Blockbuster murders, when several teenagers were killed at a video store on New Year’s Eve 1999. When a similar mass killing happens at an ice cream shop in New Jersey, Ella, now a therapist, is asked by her former teacher to talk to the only survivor. Jesse is a tough, smart kid who needs someone on her side—her foster parents aren’t much help—but Ella can tell she’s hiding something. Additional point-of-view characters include Chris, a public defender whose brother was a suspect in the Blockbuster case, and Sarah Keller, a pregnant FBI agent. The killer’s identity will be clear early on to many thriller fans, but it’s still an entertaining ride to the end. Narration by Cady McClain, Brittany Pressley, Gary Tiedemann, and Devon Hales varies in quality, with Tiedemann being a standout. VERDICT For thriller fans and those who enjoyed Finlay’s debut, Every Last Fear. True crime aficionados may enjoy too, since the fictional murders were based on well-known real crimes.—Stephanie Klose

Foley, Lucy. The Paris Apartment. HarperAudio. Feb. 2022. 12:25 hrs. ISBN 9780063003088. $26.99. THRILLER

Featuring outstanding performances from six narrators—Clare Corbett, Daphne Kouma, Julia Winwood, Sope Dirisu, Sofia Zervudachi, and Charlie Anson—this twisty, atmospheric, locked-room mystery (whose film rights have already been picked up by Sony’s 3000 Pictures) is a pleasingly theatrical listening experience, despite rapid-fire temporal and points of view shifts. Jess Hadley experiences some unpleasantries with her boss and hightails it out of her job at the Copacabana bar in Brighton, England. She arrives at a swanky but somewhat sinister Paris apartment building, where she hopes to crash with her brother Ben, an aspiring investigative journalist. When she can’t get Ben on the phone, Jess finagles her way into the building and finds her brother’s wallet and keys in his apartment, but Ben is nowhere to be found. The suspense builds as the first-person point of view moves among the building’s other residents, with each narrator effectively portraying their character’s growing dread over Jess’s investigation into Ben’s disappearance. VERDICT While listeners must concentrate to keep track of the often dizzying point of view and time changes, Foley’s (The Guest List) many fans are accustomed to her style and will likely find this an engaging listening experience.—Beth Farrell

Gardner, Lisa. One Step Too Far. Brilliance Audio. (Frankie Elkin, Bk. 2). Jan. 2022. 11:48 hrs. ISBN 9781721387625. THRILLER

Hillary Huber returns as narrator of the second in Gardner’s “Frankie Elkin” series; this one is a survival story set in the wilds of Wyoming. When experienced outdoorsman Timothy O’Day goes missing in a national park and the authorities have given up hope of finding him, Frankie volunteers to help Timothy’s father Martin in the fifth annual search organized for his son. The search party finds they are threatened by something evil in the woods, until Frankie meets them in the final showdown of this spellbinding thriller. Huber’s smoky voice and cynical reading helps build suspense. Narrated in first person, Frankie’s thoughts and conversations are clearly differentiated. Other characters are well developed vocally, making each easy to identify. Excellent use of pace changes and pauses build the drama of the story, with energy and intensity. Fear and horror are palpable in Huber’s voice, making this an exciting and compelling listen. VERDICT Fans will wait with bated breath for more of Frankie’s cases.—Stephanie Bange

Garrett, Kellye. Like a Sister. Hachette Audio. Mar. 2022. 11:46 hrs. ISBN 9781549164637. $25.98. SUSPENSE

Desiree Scott, a Black reality star, is found dead on a Bronx playground just after her 25th birthday. Everyone, including the police, consider it an open-and-shut case, except for her sister Lena Scott. In an effort to find the truth behind her sister’s untimely death, Lena embarks on a twisty, red-herring-filled search to suss out her sister’s true cause of death, using her sister’s various social media accounts to recreate her final days and find the killer. Garrett’s (“Detective by Day” series) new novel is a suspense-filled psychological thriller. Garrett also uses the book to wrestle with racial and socioeconomic inequalities, deftly fleshing out the various factors at play in Desiree’s death. VERDICT The narration by Bahni Turpin showcases her talent as she brings Garrett’s characters to life, easily giving each their own personality that adds to the mystery and intrigue of the story.—Elyssa Everling

Gu Byeong-mo. The Old Woman with the Knife. Harlequin Audio. Mar. 2022. tr. from Korean by Chi-Young Kim. 6:29 hrs. ISBN 9781488213229. $20.99. THRILLER

This incredible, internationally best-selling South Korean thriller (Gu’s first to be translated to English), elicits nearly every human emotion throughout its six-and-a-half-hour run time. Hornclaw is a South Korean assassin who is not ready to retire, but she has noticed that at 65, her aging body is beginning to slow her down. Working for Disease Control, a murder-for-hire business, she finds that knowing nothing about her target works best—until the day she messes up. Bleeding profusely, she finds herself beholden to a doctor outside the organization. As Hornclaw’s past is slowly revealed, her human side is exposed. She’s a ruthless killer, but she also provides an escape route for Deadweight, her lovable rescue dog, should she fail to return from a mission. Poignant and humorous, the story explores aging, relationships, difficult decisions, and vendettas. VERDICT Narrator Nancy Wu’s lilt, emphasis, and pacing are impeccable, bringing life to Gu’s characters, making them easy to differentiate and identify as the engrossing story unfolds.—Laura Trombley

Hepworth, Sally. The Younger Wife. Macmillan Audio. Apr. 2022. 9:18 hrs. ISBN 9781250835666. $26.99. SUSPENSE

The Aston family is in serious need of therapy. Natalie is a kleptomaniac with high-anxiety issues. Her sister Rachael stress-eats, trying to cope with being raped as a teenager. Their mother, confined to a nursing home, suffers from dementia. Their father, Stephen, announces that he will soon marry, even though he is still married to their mother. When a hot water bottle stuffed with almost $100,000 turns up in their mother’s belongings, accompanied by the name of an unknown woman, Rachael begins to ask questions. As the wedding day nears, Rachael finds and meets the mystery woman, her father’s first wife. As events unfold, Stephen’s real character is revealed, with deadly consequences. Best-selling suspense novelist Hepworth (The Good Sister) creates a family of damaged people whose issues seem to be invisible to their closest friends and family. Her quirky characters are lifelike and yet somewhat unconvincing. That the story unwinds into a happy ending for most of the characters is remarkable. Four narrators, Barrie Kreinik, Caroline Lee, Jessica Douglas-Henry, and Zoe Carides, read the twisting tale with skill and empathy. VERDICT Readers of family dysfunction fiction and Hepworth’s many fans will enjoy. Expect high demand.—Joanna M. Burkhardt

Hood, Joshua. Robert Ludlum’s The Treadstone Transgression. Penguin Random House Audio. (Treadstone, Bk. 3). Apr. 2022. 9:26 hrs. ISBN 9780593554258. $20. THRILLER

Adam Hayes lives a retired life on a New Mexico ranch with his wife and four-year-old son. His job as a CIA black operative seems like a distant memory until his boss shows up. Hayes receives orders to rescue two CIA agents and their confidential informant trapped in Haiti. They have information that will expose an international conspiracy. It is supposed to be a quick 48-hour assignment—and his son’s birthday is soon—but a traitor inside the CIA coupled with a host of international thugs sent to kill Hayes throws a wrench or two into the works. The seemingly indestructible Hayes overcomes all those obstacles, but his family is abducted. This is a typical Ludlum story with plenty of high-tech weapons, explosions and bloodshed. Performed by Ron Butler, the narration creates intensity and suspense that builds to a final crescendo. VERDICT Readers of Robert Ludlum genre novels will especially enjoy Hood’s (The Treadstone Resurrection) thriller.— Joanna M. Burkhardt

Ide, Joe. The Goodbye Coast: A Philip Marlowe Novel. Hachette Audio. Feb. 2022. 12:01 hrs. ISBN 9781549101533. $25.98. M

Ide, author of the acclaimed “IQ” mysteries, gives crime fiction buffs a modern Philip Marlowe with all of the original’s determination, attitude, and charm, plus some 21st-century angst. Raymond Chandler’s iconic PI reimagined has a decade of investigative experience but still harbors anger toward his father. Emmett, once a legend in the LAPD, is a grieving alcoholic on permanent leave. Marlowe’s straightforward missing-persons case—diva mother, dead father, runaway teenager—turns messy when he rescues the girl from a shooter but has no safe house better than Emmett’s. Teen meets curmudgeon, and playfully performed bickering ensues. The narration shines here. Adam voices Marlowe with a touch of Hollywood deadpan, though never Bogarts it. This nostalgic glow cools as L.A.’s criminal underground surfaces leads, and threats. Armenian gangbangers, Russian gangsters, a British woman as Client B, and a chorus of diverse Angelenos speak with convincing, consistent accents reflecting many backgrounds, bringing the Golden Age up to now. As the pressure rises, Adam’s narration intensifies. VERDICT Recommended for all public libraries. Listeners will be gripped till the last loose end is tied up and eager to follow should Ide bring Marlowe back again.—Lauren Kage

Kanon, Joseph. The Berlin Exchange. S. & S. Audio. Feb. 2022. 10:32 hrs. ISBN 9781797129884. $24.99. THRILLER

Questions, questions, and more questions about motives, feelings, and so much more drive this espionage thriller by Kanon (Leaving Berlin). The novel, set in 1963, is far more reminiscent of the world of John le Carré than of James Bond, as morality and right and wrong are viewed in shades of gray—much to the joy of listeners. American physicist and ex-spy Martin Keller is released from a British prison and exchanged to East Germany in a spy swap where he is welcomed as an honored guest and hopes to reconnect with his ex-wife and son before he starts his life anew. But things are not always as they seem. His scientific knowledge is out of date, so who pulled the stings to get him released and for what purpose? Kanon expertly draws the clues, and while doing so he wonderfully focuses on the small descriptive features of life in 1963 Berlin. The drabness is almost palpable. The narration of Davis is masterful in ratcheting up the tension and his magnificent accents add an exciting element. VERDICT A well-executed production of another work by go-to author Kanon, performed by a narrator to note.—Scott DiMarco

Kellerman, Jonathan. City of the Dead. Penguin Random House Audio. (Alex Delaware, Bk. 37). Feb. 2022. 10:43 hrs. ISBN 9780593103425. $22.50. THRILLER

The pretty people of Los Angeles are still being murdered and psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD Lt. Detective Milo Sturgis are still hunting them down. Kellerman mixes humor into the latest addition (no. 37) of his well-received “Alex Delaware” series, but as usual, this atypical crime fighting duo is brave, insightful, and ingenious. When a morally ambiguous and self-promoting internet influencer and fraudulent psychologist, with whom Alex previously had an interaction, is butchered in a grisly double homicide, the event launches what is only the beginning of the chase. The comfort of many of the familiar characters and locations from the series, mixed with new a new set of twists and turns, including those of the victim’s secrets, makes this an especially fun, yet still cerebral, read. Narrator John Rubinstein shines in the subtlety of his cadence and his ability with accents, adding an additional element to the story. VERDICT Recommended; a fine addition to the audio collection for Kellerman’s many fans.—Scott DiMarco

Kent, Minka. Unmissing. Brilliance Audio. Feb. 2022. 7:36 hrs. ISBN 9781713614685. $25.99. THRILLER

Lydia Coletto’s young life as a newlywed takes a tragic turn when she is abducted and held for nine years in seclusion, where she suffers from isolation and physical and psychological abuse. Miraculously, she escapes and begins the process of reclaiming her life. Her husband, Luca, has remarried, so when Lydia shows up on his doorstep, and his pregnant wife answers the door, it appears there will be no going back to the life she once had. Lydia’s plans are not clear, and it seems she only wants to find her way back into the sort of life that she had before her abduction, while also exposing the monster who perpetrated crimes against her. Luca’s wife plays a key role in reintroducing Lydia to what could be a normal life, but she clearly sees Lydia’s existence as a threat to her life with Luca and their small, growing family. Jane Oppenheimer voices all characters well, except for Lydia, who has no inflection that reflects her anger at what she endured for nine years. VERDICT Recommended for fans of twisty thrillers.—Laura Brosie

Kepler, Lars. The Mirror Man. Penguin Random House Audio. (Killer Instinct, Bk. 8). Jan. 2022. 15:47 hrs. ISBN 9780593551325. $25. THRILLER

This twisty, pitch-dark story is the eighth book in the “Killer Instinct” series by Kepler, the pen name of husband and wife team Alexander and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. Detective Joona Linna is up against an elusive serial killer, who abducts young women and holds them imprisoned in a secluded place. Like every Kepler novel, this one begins with an explosive chapter that often entails graphic descriptions of horrendous violence and brutality, which is not for the faint of heart. The plot is dense with multiple POV narratives that quickens the pace. Yet, it is hard to distinguish and remember which character is speaking. The grisly depictions of torture were deadened by the narrator’s voice. VERDICT Read this one instead of listening to it.—Anna Clark

Kistler, Bonnie. The Cage. HarperAudio. Feb. 2022. 10:24 hrs. ISBN 9780063089198. $26.99. THRILLER

This gripping thriller begins with two women getting stuck in an office elevator together. When the elevator finally opens, one of them is dead. The story is told from two points of view: Shay, the surviving woman, and Barrett, her employer. Shay is determined to prove her innocence by providing evidence that suggests that the other woman committed suicide, while Barrett has tampered with evidence regarding his own agenda to prove that Shay has murdered her colleague. Although only fiction, this story dives headfirst into the corporate world of common white privilege and corruption that often surrounds lawyers and businesspeople. In addition, it sheds light on the sexism experienced by women and the racism experienced by people of color through the eyes of both white protagonists, regardless of their stance. VERDICT Although there is a lot of legal jargon to digest, the author and narrators execute this legal thriller effortlessly by creating a deep and compelling story full of plot twists and unreliable facts that will keep listeners questioning the truth until the very end.—Lacey Webster

Lawrence, Carole. Cleopatra’s Dagger. Brilliance Audio. Apr. 2022. 10:13 hrs. ISBN 9781713646761. $25.99. THRILLER

In New York City in the 1880s, Elizabeth van den Broek works as a reporter for the New York Herald. She writes the society column but longs for a more exciting assignment. On an evening walk she stumbles across a body wrapped like an Egyptian mummy. Elizabeth leverages the discovery as an exclusive scoop for the newspaper. As she investigates the first murder, others with similar Egyptian connections follow, and her research leads to information about the Egyptian god Osiris, Lord of the Dead. It becomes clear that a serial killer who thinks he is Osiris is on the loose. When the killer threatens Elizabeth’s sister, she finds she must take action rather than simply report. Lawrence (“Ian Hamilton” mysteries) skillfully weaves social issues of the time into her story, and her characters depict the wide range of people making up the melting pot of the city and the challenges faced during the era. Narrator Kate Rudd presents a no-nonsense Elizabeth, along with many varieties of people involved in the mystery. VERDICT Recommended; readers of crime fiction will enjoy this thriller.—Joanna M. Burkhardt

Lloyd, Ellery. The Club. HarperAudio. Mar. 2022. 9:22 hrs. ISBN 9780063216518. $26.99. THRILLER

An elite group of clubs all have “home” in their names. The newest and most lavish one—Island Home—is opening, and only those at the pinnacle of their career are invited for the weekend. Opening this resort has strained the Home Group, and its quirky and enigmatic CEO has reached the breaking point. The membership fee has just gone up, and not everyone is happy about it. Set on an exclusive island accessible only at low tide with a single road, it is the perfect setting for a murder with lots of twists and turns. Narrator Tamaryn Payne has a delightful British accent, but listeners may find this challenging to follow since the book moves from Vanity Fair coverage of the weekend, to lots of details and descriptions of Island Home and its furnishings, and lots of juicy details about the main characters. VERDICT Recommended for large public libraries and those where the Reese Book Club books are popular.—Gretchen Pruett

Macmillan, Gilly. The Long Weekend. HarperAudio. Mar. 2022. 8:50 hrs. ISBN 9780063074361. $26.99. THRILLER

Jayne, Ruth, and Emily all have reason to feel uneasy about the ladies’ night ahead during a getaway in Northumberland. They arrive to find a note claiming that, by the time they read it, one of their husbands will be dead. The women’s already-frayed nerves are fractured as they struggle to make contact with their loved ones, each minute in isolation forcing them to question long-held loyalties. Listeners will find nothing leisurely about narrator Olivia Poulet’s lilting London accent as she surges forward at a frenetic pace, echoing and amplifying the characters’ fraught emotions. Without chapter breaks to bring order to the narrative, listeners bounce from perspective to perspective in a way that is complex and sometimes chaotic. The combination of speed and intricacy results in a listening experience that demands one’s full attention. Listeners will be consumed by their need for answers, only to be thwarted with every twisting trap Macmillan (To Tell You the Truth) lays. VERDICT An edge-of-your-seat thriller where nothing is as it seems; recommended for fans of B.A. Paris, Peter Swanson, and A. J. Finn.—Lauren Hackert

Mayne, Andrew. Sea Storm. Brilliance Audio. (Underwater Investigation Unit, Bk. 3). Mar. 2022. 8:03 hrs. ISBN 9781713605300. $25.99. THRILLER

This is the third out of four books in Mayne’s “Underwater Investigation Unit” series (following Black Coral). Sloan McPherson is a Florida police officer and diver working in a small department known as the Underwater Investigative Unit (UIU). When a cruise ship must be evacuated because it is sinking off the coast, McPherson and her partner are called to assist. While rescuing passengers and crew, they discover damage caused by explosions, plus an empty compartment that is not accounted for on the ship’s blueprint. The fear that eco-terrorism is the cause of the attack brings in the FBI. McPherson becomes suspicious when key elements of the investigation are sidelined. Mayne provides a complex scenario that will leave listeners guessing what will happen next. The narration is well performed by Susannah Jones. VERDICT Fans of the “Underwater Investigation Unit” will enjoy this installment, and those who love thrillers will like this too.—Joanna M. Burkhardt

Mayquist, Kit. Tripping Arcadia: A Gothic Novel. Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 10:52 hrs. ISBN 9780593510162. $20. SUSPENSE

Lena’s family is approaching bankruptcy after her father suffered an injury and lost his job in close succession. Back in Boston after two years living with her botanist aunt in Italy, she needs to get a job to help them out. Though she dropped out of med school, Lena is offered a position as a physician’s assistant for the notorious Verdeau family, helping their family doctor with the care of unpleasant Jonathan Verdeau, whose illness baffles every medical professional who sees him. She also works at the family’s lavish parties in the evenings, which is where she meets Jonathan’s sister Audrey, who has a magnetic effect on Lena. But when Lena learns that the Verdeau family is responsible for her own family’s dire straits, she embarks on a dangerous quest for revenge, drawing on the knowledge of poisons she gained from her aunt to go after the corrupt patriarch, Martin Verdeau. Carlotta Brentan provides deliberate, well-paced narration. Mayquist’s entertaining debut features well-drawn characters and plenty of twists and turns. VERDICT For fans of gothic novels and tales of revenge.—Stephanie Klose

Mitchell, Caroline. The Village. Brilliance Audio. Jan. 2022. 8:39 hrs. ISBN 9781713624998. $25.99. THRILLER

Mitchell (“DI Amy Winter” series) is at it again with a stand-alone mystery that has eerie scenarios and disturbing characters thrown into the mix. Ten years ago, the Harper family disappeared without a trace from Ivy Cottage, a house nestled in the secluded, wooded village of Nighbrook. With the house now on the market, crime journalist Naomi jumps at the opportunity to buy it. She quickly moves her new family in while secretly trying to uncover the truth of the unsolved disappearances. Naomi has bitten off more than she can chew, encountering tight-lipped, unwelcoming villagers who will do whatever it takes to hide their deepest secrets. Mitchell delivers a well-thought-out plot with some surprising twists and constructs a complex story while flashing between the present and the era of the Harper family’s disappearance. Listeners are privy to some of the inner thoughts of characters, which is unsettling, and narrator Elizabeth Knowelden does a great job of portraying them in a chilling way. VERDICT Listeners drawn to the macabre, creepy, and twisty will find this is a peculiar yet intriguing thriller.—Lacey Webster

Morrow, Bethany C. Cherish Farrah. Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 11:08 hrs. ISBN 9780593509005. $20. THRILLER

Farrah Turner and Cherish Whitman are the only two Black girls in their very white community. They have been best friends since childhood, and though they are similar in many ways, Cherish was adopted by a white, wealthy family and is something Farrah calls WGS—White Girl Spoiled. When Farrah’s family is dealt a financial blow, she is determined to hold on to the lifestyle she is accustomed to and moves in with the Whitmans. All is not what it seems with the Whitman household, and things begin to unravel. Or do they? Told from the perspective of Farrah, this commentary on race and class is thrilling and addictive. Performed by Angel Pean, the narration starts a bit dry, but amps up toward the end. She performs the book slowly, which seems like a choice to build tension, but ends up wearing out the tautness a bit. VERDICT Morrow’s (MEM; A Song Below Water) social horror/psychological thriller is definitely worth a listen.—Anna Clark

Parks, Adele. Woman Last Seen. Harlequin Audio. Feb. 2022. 11:37 hrs. ISBN 9781488213342. $26.99. SUSPENSE

British author Parks (Just My Luck) doesn’t disappoint with her latest, which centers on two women from very different backgrounds who are reported missing by their husbands around the same time. Detective Clements takes on both cases and feels that they are somehow related. However, it’s hard to make a case when there aren’t any bodies to examine or evidence of a crime. Each woman could have simply walked away from her life, so it’s up to Clements to find out more. Unbeknown to her, there is also a woman who has been abducted and is being held against her will in an isolated, locked room. The characters, storyline, and family dynamics are all believable and ultimately lead to a climactic and realistic ending. VERDICT Although the novel has a slow-burn start, listeners get to hear the investigation unfold through multiple voices and perspectives as the story flashes back to the time before the women went missing, which adds to the suspense of this unique missing-person mystery.—Lacey Webster

Patterson, James & Dolly Parton. Run, Rose, Run. Hachette Audio. Mar. 2022. 10:19 hrs. ISBN 9781549164866. $27.98. THRILLER

This is not a typical Patterson thriller. The primary focus of the plot is a behind-the-scenes look at the country music business, which Texan AnnieLee Keyes wants to break into. A talented songwriter and singer, she aches to get noticed. When listeners first meet her, AnnieLee is standing on a hotel balcony deciding whether she should jump or not. Ruthanna, the queen of country music, who is now retired, becomes her mentor. AnnieLee’s life appears to be going in a new direction until she is brutally attacked by someone from her secret past. Dolly Parton and ten others narrate this book. VERDICT Fans of Parton will enjoy hearing her portray Ruthanna with a rich, Southern accent. The 10 other narrators also do an excellent job showcasing the raw emotion and romantic tension between the characters.—Ilka Gordon

Pek, Jane. The Verifiers. Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 11:46 hrs. ISBN 9780593554906. $22.50. M

Eunice Wong’s rollicking performance of Pek’s debut novel teleports listeners to the busy streets of New York City. That is where the charming protagonist, 20-something, Taiwanese American Claudia Lin, zips across the boroughs on her trusty bicycle and shadows people for Veracity, her employer. Veracity is a rather shady, referrals-only business that investigates the potential romantic partners its clients have met on dating sites to verify these “matches” have been truthful in their online dating profiles and real-life interactions. When her first big client ends up dead under suspicious circumstances, Claudia tries to channel her inner Inspector Yuan, the hero of her favorite mystery series set in Imperial China, which leads to often hilarious, sometimes dangerous, results. Pek’s clever and absorbing plot highlights the danger of the misuse of collected personal data, but it is Claudia and her dysfunctional immigrant family who steal the show. Wong absolutely nails her portrayals of the wonderfully idiosyncratic Claudia, her over-achieving brother Charles, fashionista sister Coraline, and their exasperating, constantly critical mother. VERDICT Most listeners will be left hoping that Pek (a Singapore-born, New York City–based lawyer at a global investment company) is already at work on a sequel.—Beth Farrell

Pleiter, Allie. Knit or Dye Trying. Penguin Random House Audio. (Riverbank Knitting Mystery, Bk. 2). Apr. 2022. 7:58 hrs. ISBN 9780593558461. $17.50. M

Collinstown, MD, yarn shop owner, Libby, is bringing vegan yarn artist Julie to her spring arts festival, which she’s hosting as an alternative to the town’s food festival. Known for being an outspoken animal rights activist, Julie draws the ire of area sheep farmers who protest her attendance at the festival. Julie’s sister, with whom she’s on rocky terms, is also attending the food festival as a celebrity chef. Things are tense, but fine until Julie ends up dead on the first night of the festival, and Libby must find the crafty killer. Pleiter’s (On Skein of Death) second installment in the “Riverbank Knitting Mystery” series is a delightful listen with narrator Brittany Presley bringing Libby and all of the other town inhabitants to life. VERDICT Following the simple recipe of most cozy mysteries, this plays into the tropes while also providing a story with enough murder, humor, and romance to keep listeners engaged.—Elyssa Everling

Preston, Douglas & Lincoln Child. Diablo Mesa. Hachette Audio. (Nora Kelly & Corrie Swanson, Bk. 3). Feb. 2022. 11:55 hrs. ISBN 9781549133428. $26.98. M

Preston and Child’s third “Nora Kelly & Corrie Swanson” mystery (following The Scorpion’s Tail). Handsome billionaire Lucas Tappan believes that the remains of an alien spacecraft that landed on Earth in 1947 are hidden in the sands of New Mexico. He approaches the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute to excavate the site, and Nora, an archaeologist, is tasked with it. When Nora, who remains skeptical that her team will uncover a UFO, begins the dig, she unearths two shriveled corpses whose faces and fingerprints have been obliterated by acid. Nora notifies FBI agent Corrie Swanson, who takes the case. As Corrie and her mentor proceed with their investigation, more murders take place. The U.S. government and a secret military organization have been hiding a secret for 75 years and will kill anyone who gets too close to discovering what happened so many years ago. Cynthia Farrell does an excellent job narrating the story. She believably voices the different genders and characters’ accents, especially the British and Hebrew ones. VERDICT Fans of the series will enjoy the tension, mystery, suspense, and romance the characters experience in this installment.—Ilka Gordon

St. James, Simone. The Book of Cold Cases. Penguin Random House Audio. Mar. 2022. 10:44 hrs. ISBN 9780593553695. $22.50. THRILLER

Shea Collins is certain she recognizes the woman in the waiting room at the medical office where Shea is a receptionist. Eventually she realizes—it’s rich, glamorous Beth Greer, who allegedly got away with murdering two men in cold blood in 1977. Shea follows Beth when she leaves and asks to interview her for her pet project, a true crime website called The Book of Cold Cases. Somewhat unexpectedly, Beth agrees and as Shea learns more about Beth’s history—and about the deaths of Beth’s parents—she is pulled into a complicated, terrifying situation. Assisted by the retired police officer who originally arrested Beth and the man who does the research for her site, Shea must overcome her own trauma and the very real threat of more violence to learn the truth. St. James (The Sun Down Motel) weaves an entertaining story, though listeners who like answers grounded in realism will be disappointed. Brittany Pressley, Kirsten Potter, and Robert Petkoff provide skillful narration. VERDICT Recommended for fans of the author and those who enjoy supernatural thrillers.—Stephanie Klose

Schaffhausen, Joanna. Last Seen Alive. Vibrance. (Ellery Hathaway, Bk. 5). Jan. 2022. 10:19 hrs. ISBN 9781624618383. $19.95. M

Ellery Hathaway is a Boston police officer, who at age 14, was abducted by serial killer Francis Coben and was rescued by rookie FBI agent Reed Markham. Twenty years later a popular reporter wants to interview both Hathaway and Coben for a new TV program, which brings the FBI and agent Markham into the picture. Coben coerces Ellery to agree to participate, and later, with help from outside the prison, orchestrates his transfer from death row to a hospital. He escapes and resumes his killing spree. Without enlisting the aid of the FBI, Ellery lures Coben to her, only to be re-abducted. He is surprised to find that Hathaway is no longer a frightened teen, but rather a trained police officer. The story seems somewhat formulaic but gets the blood pumping and it is well read in alternating chapters by narrators Seth Podowitz and Danielle Gensler. VERDICT This fifth “Ellery Hathaway” mystery continues the story of the complex main characters well known to series fans. Newcomers might feel the lack of background from previous series installments.—Joanna M. Burkhardt

Scottoline, Lisa. What Happened to the Bennetts. Penguin Random House Audio. Mar. 2022. 10:15 hrs. ISBN 9781984883025. $22.50. THRILLER

Jason Bennett is driving his family home from his daughter’s lacrosse game when two men in a truck attempt to hijack his car at gunpoint. In a flash, the scenario turns violent, changing their lives forever. That night, the family is visited by the FBI, who informs them that they are still in danger and need to enter the witness protection program. Grief-stricken and uprooted from their normal lives, the family starts to fall apart. Soon, law-abiding Jason questions the justice system and decides to do what it takes to claim their lives back. Narrator Edoardo Ballerini does a flawless job of bringing the different characters to life with various accents. Listeners can easily empathize with Jason’s pain because of the seamless and natural way Ballerini performs Jason’s flashbacks to past conversations with his children. VERDICT Scottoline’s familiarity with Philadelphia and the surrounding areas is evident throughout, and her writing is full of suspense and plot twists that’ll keep audiences guessing and rooting for Jason. The intensity of it all is sure to give listeners heart palpitations.—Lacey Webster

Shepherd, Peng. The Cartographers. HarperAudio. Mar. 2022. 14:15 hrs. ISBN 9780063096530. $29.99. THRILLER

A fast-paced thriller about the secrets that maps can hold. When Nell’s father is found dead in his New York Public Library office, there is no initial cause of alarm; it must have just been a heart attack. Nell goes through her father’s belongings and finds an odd gas station map, the very one that caused their estrangement. After a string of connected murders in the New York Public Library, Nell is convinced that someone is after the map, and her father may have been killed for it, but why? With the help of a mentor and old flame, Nell is led to a place she never knew she needed to discover. Narrated by a full cast, this wild adventure will keep listeners engaged and invested. VERDICT Peng’s (The Book of M) action-packed thriller is too unique to forget anytime soon.—Erin Cataldi

Slocumb, Brendan. The Violin Conspiracy. Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 12:04 hrs. ISBN 9780593554968. $20. THRILLER

From the riveting opening words, JD Jackson delivers a pitch-perfect performance of this sparkling debut novel by Slocumb, a classical musician and music educator. In this story, Ray’s beloved Grandma Nora helps him cope with the systemic, vicious racism he faces as a young Black boy interested in classical music by giving him PopPop’s fiddle, the violin given to her grandfather by the plantation owner who enslaved him. His family is unaware of its staggering value, even as Ray becomes a virtuoso violinist. Weeks before he is due to perform in the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, his instrument disappears. Jackson’s sonorous, well-modulated delivery smooths the narrative’s back-and-forth flow from the present-day search for the violin to Ray’s past. The measured pacing also builds incredible suspense. Lovely classical music and Slocumb’s narration of the author’s note add value to the audio production. VERDICT A highly recommended purchase; this twisty heist thriller is also a poignant coming-of-age story, making it an excellent choice for many young adults, especially those interested in music.—Beth Farrell

Staub, Wendy Corsi. The Other Family. HarperAudio. Feb. 2022. 9:07 hrs. ISBN 9780063084629. $26.99. THRILLER

Nora Howell, her Brad Pitt–lookalike husband, and their two daughters have moved from California to New York City for a year. Nicknamed “Barbie,” she seems like the perfect little housewife. One daughter takes after her, and the other is obsessed with true crime and looks nothing like the rest of the family. Stacey, the older, sullen daughter, finds out that the house in which her family lives was the scene of a brutal murder some 25 years ago. There are other sinister touches to the house such as a macabre family portrait. This book is all about secrets, and someone in the Howell family is keeping a real whopper. Hillary Huber’s narration is deft. She sets a brisk pace and has a different voice for each character. She also makes everyone sound suspicious, which lends to the thrill of listening to the story. VERDICT Creating unbearable tension, Staub (Don’t Scream) is brilliant at the slow build, and the recording is paced and voiced perfectly. A must-have for public libraries.—B. Allison Gray

Sutanto, Jesse Q. Four Aunties and a Wedding. Penguin Random House Audio. (Aunties, Bk. 2). Mar. 2022. 10:19 hrs. ISBN 9780593553756. $20. M

Everyone’s favorite aunties are back in this hilarious sequel to Dial A for Aunties. Meddy Chan is a pro when it comes to weddings and has helped run her fair share of them with her aunties. When it’s finally her turn to tie the knot to her college sweetheart, she wants everything to be perfect. That means having her Ma and aunts attend as guests instead of catering the event. Meddy’s aunts find a nice Chinese Indonesian, family-run wedding company to help plan her perfect day. But, in this case, “family-run” means Mafia. It will be up to Meddy and her aunties to stop the wedding from turning into a crime scene. Narrator Risa Mei excels at bringing the aunties alive with a myriad of accents. This is a romantic cozy mystery, light on bloodshed and heavy on hilarity. VERDICT Listeners will need to suspend their disbelief at times, but it’s worth it for the laughs. Will leave them eagerly awaiting Sutanto’s third “Aunties” installment.—Erin Cataldi

Swanson, Peter. Nine Lives. HarperAudio. Mar. 2022. 7:11 hrs. ISBN 9780062980106. $20.99. M

Nine names. Nine identical lists. One murderer. Nine seemingly unconnected people receive a list in the mail with their name alongside eight strangers. The mystery of the lists and why they were chosen draws each of them into a deadly game, and as the murders begin, chances are none of them are coming out alive. A smooth if slightly monotone narration doesn’t quite manage to save a stale mystery peopled with characters who don’t really have room to flesh themselves out. Additionally, each chapter of the book is headed with a time stamp and a recital of the list of nine names. In print, it would be easy to skip over this formatting choice, but on audio, it becomes repetitive. VERDICT A secondary purchase for audio collections; this title from best-selling Swanson (Eight Perfect Murders) may work better in print.—Chrystopher Lytal

Walsh, Rosie. The Love of My Life. Penguin Random House Audio. Mar. 2022. 11:28 hrs. ISBN 9780593554395. $20. THRILLER

Leo and Emma have been married for 10 years and have endured a lot, including Emma’s cancer treatment and subsequent remission early on in their marriage. Emma is relieved that her life with Leo and their young daughter is secure, but she wonders what would have been and reflects on how her life’s path was rerouted when she gave up her blossoming career before she met her husband. Meanwhile, Leo writes advance obituaries for notable pseudo-celebrities. As a former on-air marine biologist, Emma becomes the subject of his latest advance obit. When Leo researches Emma’s life for her obit, he discovers there is a lot about his wife he doesn’t know. Emma is haunted by her past decisions and concerned by Leo’s recent questions about her past and secrets she still fights to keep hidden. Alternating narrators—Imogen Church and Theo Solomon—keep this story line fresh and believable. VERDICT Walsh’s (Ghosted) latest is a great listen for fans of stories involving family secrets and issues of postnatal depression.—Laura Brosie

Woods, Stuart. A Safe House. Penguin Random House Audio. (Stone Barrington, Bk. 61). Mar. 2022. 6:18 hrs. ISBN 9780593554081. $20. THRILLER

If a fantasy action hero was a lawyer, he would most definitely want to be Stone Barrington! The 61st book in the series is at once both comforting to the faithful reader and able to be enjoyed by a first-timer to the long series run. Stone, asked by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to protect the beautiful ex-wife of a corrupt American senator, takes the job seriously. Eluding a skilled assassin on the hunt requires bravery, quick thinking, and smarts, qualities Stone has in abundance. The action races from the streets of New York City to the great estates of England to the pleasant waters off the Florida Keys. With his keen skill pacing a story, Woods ably takes listeners along for the ride, delivering what makes him a frequent guest on best-sellers lists: lots of fast-paced action and a decidedly fun reading experience. The narration of Tony Roberts ably keeps up and even cranks up the sense of adventure. VERDICT Another winning entry by Woods, and a good place to jump into the series for those who do not want to start with book one.—Scott DiMarco

Wuehle, Candice. Monarch. Penguin Random House Audio. Mar. 2022. 8:10 hrs. ISBN 9780593632390. $17.50. SUSPENSE

Former child beauty pageant contestant Jessica Clink lives in a surreal world of 1990s true crime zeitgeist and 1950s Stepford Wives sensibilities. Using the strange education from her professor father, the cutthroat competitive instinct instilled by her mother and her pageant coach, and the sense of rebellious ennui modeled by her riot grrrl babysitter, she slowly begins to piece together the existence of a bizarre and hungry underworld of which she is unwittingly a part. She sets out to discover the truth and to simultaneously remake herself and take apart the program that ate her and many other women alive. Prose that might snarl a reader’s progress is neatly combed into order by Rebecca Lowman’s smooth, low-key narration, although the vocal fry might bug some listeners. VERDICT Wuehle’s debut novel is a good fit for fans of Catherynne M. Valente and other literary-bent weird spec-fic.—Chrystopher Lytal

Young, Erin. The Fields. Macmillan Audio. (Riley Fisher, Bk. 1). Jan. 2022. 12:29 hrs. ISBN 9781250837738. $26.99. THRILLER

In her U.S. debut, Young (who UK readers know as historical fiction author Robyn Young, author of the “Brethren Trilogy”) takes on the thriller. Sergeant Riley Fisher is the lead investigator of a murder in her Iowa hometown. She is determined to solve the case, but her home life and personal connections to the victim cloud her focus. As she digs deeper, more victims are found. Young has created a great contemporary crime mystery that incorporates several mainstream topics such as the buying power and political influence of Big Agriculture and the stresses and ethical dilemmas of police officers and others in power. It’s complete with descriptive writing (some of the murder scenes are graphic) and surprising plot twists. AudioFile’s 2021 Golden Voice narrator Soneela Nankani does a great job, offering many dramatic, accented voices. VERDICT This dark and gritty series launch, with a TV adaptation in development, should have wide appeal.—Lacey Webster

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