Mysterious Listens | Top Audiobooks for Whodunit Fans

Listeners on the case of crime and detection will find intriguing puzzles (and so much more) in these offerings.

Listeners on the case of crime and detection will find intriguing puzzles (and so much more) in these offerings.

Dicker, Joël. The Enigma of Room 622. HarperAudio. Sept. 2022. tr. from French by Robert Bononno. 16 hrs. ISBN 9780063098848. $38.99. M

Dicker’s award-winning international best-seller The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was translated from the French into over 30 languages and adapted as a 10-episode American TV miniseries. His latest thriller, the first he’s set in his hometown of Geneva, Switzerland, contains some autobiographical elements, including a touching tribute to French literary legend Bernard de Fallois, his late friend and publisher. In the novel, author Joël travels to the luxurious Hotel Verbier in the Swiss Alps, mourning Bernard’s passing. There he meets the charming Scarlett, who distracts him with a mystery—why does the Verbier have a Room 621a, but no Room 622? The two learn of an unsolved murder years earlier in 622, and chapters describing their investigation alternate with chapters describing the events surrounding the murder. The meticulously crafted plot flows smoothly but quickly, while the points of view and setting shift constantly, a challenge for any narrator. Chris Harper, however, masterfully guides listeners along while creating distinct personalities for the diverse characters and maintaining perfect consistency for author Joël’s interior voice. VERDICT With nods to classic mysteries as well as cutting-edge financial, legal, and police procedural elements, this brilliantly narrated metafictional thriller should please nearly all mystery fans.—Beth Farrell 

Kapoor, Deepti. Age of Vice. Books on Tape. Jan. 2023. 19:29 hrs. ISBN 9780593612026. $95. SUSPENSE

Vidish Athavale gives a master class in narration in Kapoor’s (A Bad Character) electrifying saga about the corruption of power. A car crash in New Delhi leaves five dead and a suspect, Ajay, loyal servant of the Wadia family, behind bars. Flashbacks from Ajay’s impoverished life introduce Sunny Wadia, a rich, hard-partying playboy who offers Ajay employment; and Neda, an unyielding journalist who catches Sunny’s eye. While Ajay moves up in rank to become Sunny’s personal assistant, Sunny envisions a plan to move himself out from his father’s shadow. Then the accident happens. Every character has a distinct intonation and accent. Athavale seems to relish vocalizing certain supporting characters, such as Vicky Wadia, Sunny’s uncle, who oozes with villainy with his deep, purring inflections. Athavale slightly changes the vocalizations of Ajay, Sunny, and Neda as time moves to the present. Ajay’s voice is the most altered, as he goes from quiet servant who barely talks, to jaded prisoner. VERDICT It helps that Kapoor’s novel, the first in a trilogy, is beyond outstanding with its tale of greed, violence, and discontent. Adding Athavale’s narration to this book is like hitting the jackpot. An essential purchase for all libraries.—Anjelica Rufus-Barnes 

Mackintosh, Clare. The Last Party. Highbridge Audio. (DC Morgan, Bk. 1). Nov. 2022. 13:17 hrs. ISBN 9781696610124. $24.99. THRILLER

Mackintosh’s (Hostage) new “DC Morgan” series blasts off with this whodunit set in the North Wales village of Cwm Coed, Detective Constable Ffion Morgan’s hometown. Morgan’s relationship with Leo Brody, the Cheshire Constabulary detective sent to help with the investigation, gets off to a hilariously awkward start when, examining the body of murder victim Rhys Lloyd, the two realize they just had a one-night stand, with both using fake names. Lloyd, local bad boy who made it big as an opera singer, was unpopular with the Welsh villagers after financing luxury vacation lodges on the English side of Mirror Lake. When his body washes up during the annual New Year’s Day polar plunge on the Welsh side of the lake, suspects abound—many with connections to Morgan. Narrator Chloe Angharad Davies has few audiobook credits to her name, but her virtuoso performance suggests that she is a narrator to watch. Davies masterfully alters her vocal range and pacing to depict the diverse cast of characters, and her Welsh accents are positively musical. VERDICT Mystery fans will adore Mackintosh’s wonderfully quirky characters in this white-knuckle thriller; expect many holds on the next series installment, with hopes it will be narrated by Davies.—Beth Farrell 

Penny, Louise. A World of Curiosities. Macmillan Audio. (Chief Inspector Gamache, Bk. 18). Nov. 2022. 13:15 hrs. ISBN 9781250887399. $32.99. M

Penny is in top form with her 18th novel featuring Inspector Armand Gamache (following The Madness of Crowds) and the unique characters who inhabit the quaint village of Three Pines. Memory, revenge, and forgiveness are just some of the themes that permeate this rich and intricate outing. Two seemingly unrelated cases from Gamache’s past set the events in motion. The first case, which prompted Gamache to become an investigator, involved the real-life 1989 mass murder of 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. The second case, the murder of Clotilde Arsenault, occasioned Gamache’s first meeting with future son-in-law and partner Jean-Guy Beauvoir. These cases are linked to the discovery of a bricked-up room in Three Pines that contains a copy of the famous “Paston Treasure” painting. New additions to the painting suggest a symbolic and dangerous warning pointing directly to Gamache. Narrator Robert Bathurst skillfully evokes the mood and suspense of the story. Although his voicing of women and children is sometimes awkward, his portrait of Gamache’s interiority is masterful. VERDICT Devotees of the series will enjoy this gripping entry, and the new Amazon Prime series, Three Pines, should attract even more readers to Penny’s already-large fan base.—Phillip Oliver 

Yamashita, Iris. City Under One Roof. Books on Tape. Jan. 2023. 8:09 hrs. ISBN 9780593625903. $76. M

In Yamashita’s outstanding debut, Anchorage police detective Cara Kennedy investigates a possible murder in the desolate town of Point Mettier, Alaska, reachable only by boat or tunnel. Populated with unusual characters, the entire town exists in one building where Cara must stay while she investigates and waits out the storm that has stranded her. Past meets present as Cara recognizes similarities between the crime in Point Mettier and one that haunts her own past. Told through the alternating viewpoints of Cara, and town residents Amy and Lonnie, the town’s secrets are gradually revealed through unpredictable twists and turns that will keep the listener guessing until the very end. Readers Shannon Tyo, Anna Caputo, and Aspen Vincent bring the characters’ quirks and personalities to life with their superb narration. Their performances convey strong emotion and stirring empathy, drawing listeners into the heart of the story. VERDICT Recommended to fans of Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, and Tana French, this audiobook should be purchased for public libraries with an avid mystery fan base.—Katy Duperry 

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