Audio Whodunits | Mystery Audio Stars

Modern takes on classic mysteries, plus a series finale that intrigues as it fills listeners with joy.

Christie, Agatha. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Alison Larkin Presents. (Hercule Poirot, Bk. 3). Feb. 2024. 7:30 hrs. ISBN 9798875102837. $34.95. M

Wealthy English widower Roger Ackroyd is found stabbed to death in his study mere days after the suicide of his presumed fiancée, Mrs. Ferrars. Can retired detective and recent village transplant Hercule Poirot solve the crime before the murderer strikes again? Memorably told from the perspective of local village doctor James Shepherd and featuring one of mystery’s most famous plot twists, this 1926 Christie classic is wonderfully served by the narration of legendary radio actor Simon Jones (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), who beautifully performs the timings and vocal intonations of the novel’s wide-ranging cast of characters, especially those of the famously French-speaking and eccentric Monsieur Poirot. Between Jones’s excellent narration and Christie’s exceptional plotting and characterization, this cozy yet suspenseful mystery is one that listeners will want to enjoy again and again. VERDICT A unique Christie classic is given its due thanks to the engaging talents of veteran radio actor Jones. Broadly recommended and a must-listen for fans of Christie, detective fiction, English manor house mysteries, and Jones’s earlier audio work.Robin Chin Roemer

O’Connor, Carlene. Murder at an Irish Chipper. Recorded Books. (Irish Village Mystery, Bk. 10). Feb. 2024. 9:37 hrs. ISBN 9798891784178. $19.99. M

Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan’s active brain gets in the way of enjoying a family vacation that opens with a suspicious death. Though it’s not in her jurisdiction, her keen observational skills soon have the local detective sergeant asking for her assistance. The fact that Siobhán is so far from home makes this latest “Irish Village Mystery” (after Murder at an Irish Bakery) a good entry point for newbies. The cast is trimmed down from prior novels, and this village is as unfamiliar to Siobhán as it is to listeners. Caroline Lennon gives Siobhán a distinctively good-natured voice, as her underappreciated sense of humor hides her strength at making connections. Further, her family members—three brothers, two sisters, and a husband—each have distinctive voices, as does the large suspect pool. Each character is recognizable by voice without resorting to outlandish accents. While the cozy aspect of the mystery allows for lightness and humor, there are moments of true tension, particularly the prologue and a later murder attempt, which Lennon imbues with real menace. VERDICT A deliciously slippery mystery that blends classic genre tropes with modern investigative tools.Matthew Galloway

Pook, Lizzie. Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge. S. & S. Audio. Jan. 2024. 9:31 hrs. ISBN 9781797176673. $19.99. SUSPENSE

In the late 1840s, Constance Horton went to sea. She’d always been the adventurous sister but met her end while garbed as a cabin boy on a vessel sent to the Arctic Passage in search of missing explorer Sir John Franklin’s crew. Her sister Maude, previously content to stay home in their grandfather’s drugstore, is inflamed with a desire for answers about Constance’s death—and, more important, for vengeance. Using her chemical knowledge, her sister’s journal, and Victorian society’s predisposition to underestimate women, Maude uncovers the facts of the murder and pursues a cold-blooded killer. Pook’s (Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter) sophomore novel is rich in period details about a 19th-century murder obsession. Sections told through the eyes of Maude’s target add intensity as listeners learn more of his character. Narrator Genevieve Gaunt skillfully distinguishes the narrative voices of Maude and Constance (through her diary) as well as the alleged researcher and businessman for whom murder is an easy path to riches. Gaunt also applies regional and class-based accents for a multitude of characters both aboard the arctic ship Makepeace and back in London, where Maude investigates many levels of society. VERDICT Highly recommended historical suspense featuring an irresistible heroine.Lauren Kage

Sutanto, Jesse Q. The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties. Books on Tape. (Aunties, Bk. 3). Mar. 2024. 9:24 hrs. ISBN 9780593825594. $95. M

Meddy’s family takes their delicious drama to Jakarta for Chinese New Year. What begins with a declaration of love from Second Aunt’s childhood boyfriend escalates to a hostage situation involving Meddy’s husband. Soon after, the family finds themselves at the center of a business rival triangle involving theft, shady property deals, kidnapping, and far too many secrets. When they’re finally pushed to their limit, Meddy’s family must pull out all their wedding planning skills to infiltrate a crime lord’s mansion. Narrator Risa Mei’s comedic timing elevates Sutanto’s (Four Weddings and a Wedding) already witty prose, providing ample opportunities to laugh aloud at the warm-hearted absurdity. She moves between American, Indonesian, and English accents with seeming ease, all while keeping the chaotic interruptions and squabbling of well-meaning aunties from overwhelming listeners. While the family can be incredibly silly, there are no limits to what they will do to keep each other safe—all while saving face. VERDICT Recommended for all libraries. Sutanto’s third and final installment in the “Aunties” series will surely fill listeners with joy whether they’re fans of the series or just getting started.Matthew Galloway

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