Best mystery thriller audiobooks

With the best mystery audiobooks, driving seven to ten hours down a boring highway can almost feel like a treat rather than a chore. I drive home to see my family a lot, and although I hate driving, the main thing that gets me through the long drive is knowing that by the time I reach my destination, the mystery that I’m currently listening to on audiobook will finally be solved. Here are some tried and tested mystery audiobooks that have gotten me through the most hellish of drives. For ease of finding one that meets the needs of your trip, I’ve organized these by shortest drive to longest drive.

the last day of emily lindsey by nic joseph

For your shorter road trips, I give you this mystery audiobook: The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph. This is a mystery novel that’s sort of fallen under the radar, as far as I can tell, and I only found out about it because PageHabit sent it to me in my monthly subscription box. And yet, like many books, I still ended up purchasing it and listening to it on audiobook, because these types of books make great listens.

Detective Steven Paul has had the same nightmare for as long as he can remember, a strange symbol figuring prominently into his terror. He decided long ago that the recurring dreams are nothing more than an unfortunate side effect of his often traumatic profession. Until, that is, he’s assigned to the case of Emily Lindsey, the beautiful, elusive, and controversial blogger found alone, holding a hunting knife, and covered in someone else’s blood.

As Steven questions Emily, she repeatedly scratches out the same odd symbol he sees when he closes his eyes. A thrilling suspense ensues as Steven must get inside Emily’s head to solve a mystery without a crime—a mystery that is connected to him in ways he can’t even begin to fathom.

Run Time: 8 hrs 10 min

bluebird, bluebird by attica locke

At this point, I feel like everyone has heard of Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, but I’m including it here anyway because what you might not know is that the narrator for this audiobook JD Jackson is great, and this story makes for an amazing road trip listen.

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules—a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the Lone Star State, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders—a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman—have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes—and save himself in the process—before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

Run Time: 9 hrs 24 min

sharp objects by Gillian flynn

Yes, I also listened to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl on audiobook (and it was excellent), but I’m suggesting Sharp Objects because it’s more of a traditional mystery. Also, the HBO miniseries starring Amy Adams is about to come out, and it looks so, so good. So if you haven’t yet read Sharp Objects, listen to this audiobook and get excited about the show coming soon. You won’t regret it.

Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

Run Time: 9 hrs 34 min

the sweetness at the bottom of the pie by alan bradley

If you love a good British amateur detective and haven’t yet checked out Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books, start here with the first in the series.

The summer of 1950 hasn’t offered up anything out of the ordinary for eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce: bicycle explorations around the village, keeping tabs on her neighbours, relentless battles with her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and brewing up poisonous concoctions while plotting revenge in their home’s abandoned Victorian chemistry lab, which Flavia has claimed for her own.

But then a series of mysterious events gets Flavia’s attention: A dead bird is found on the doormat, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. A mysterious late-night visitor argues with her aloof father, Colonel de Luce, behind closed doors. And in the early morning Flavia finds a red-headed stranger lying in the cucumber patch and watches him take his dying breath. For Flavia, the summer begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw: “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Did the stranger die of poisoning? There was a piece missing from Mrs. Mullet’s custard pie, and none of the de Luces would have dared to eat the awful thing. Or could he have been killed by the family’s loyal handyman, Dogger…or by the Colonel himself! At that moment, Flavia commits herself to solving the crime—even if it means keeping information from the village police, in order to protect her family. But then her father confesses to the crime, for the same reason, and it’s up to Flavia to free him of suspicion. Only she has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victim’s identity, and a conspiracy that reaches back into the de Luces’s murky past.

Run Time: 9 hrs 53 min

everything i never told you by celeste ng

So Everything I Never Told You isn’t really a mystery in the most traditional sense of the word. And yet I had to include it on this list because I listened to it on audiobook for the first time this year (I know, I’m behind the times), and I was blown away. If you love mysteries and you love literary fiction, you will love this book.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet…

So begins the story in this exquisite debut novel about a Chinese American family living in a small town in 1970s Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family, Hannah, who observes far more than anyone realizes—and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

Run Time: 10 hrs 1 min

truly devious by maureen johnson

If you love mysteries and don’t mind an ending that’s sort of a “To Be Continued,” then give Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson a try. This is a young adult novel that mixes two of my favorite things to read about: murder mystery and boarding schools. I am definitely coming back for the promised second and third book.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early 20th century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place”, he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

Run Time: 10 hrs 12 min

one of us is lying by karen m. McManus

Another YA mystery on this list, and like the last one, this audiobook was a whole lot of fun. I love audiobooks with multiple readers, especially if you’re reading the audiobook all in one go (like on a super long road trip, which is how I read this book). The four different narrators on this audiobook add an added layer of interest to a story that’s already pretty engrossing.

Pay close attention, and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday he died. But on Tuesday he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Run Time: 10 hrs 43 min

two girls down by luisa luna

I missed out on Two Girls Down by Luisa Luna when it was a Book of the Month option, but then so many people were raving about this novel that I had to get the audiobook. I was not disappointed.

When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied.

Run Time: 12 hrs 3 min

the silkworm by robert galbraith

So I have listened to all of Robert Galbraith’s books on audiobook, but I actually started with The Silkworm, the second novel in the series, which I know is weird, but it worked out for me. It’s still probably my favorite of the Cormoran Strike series. If you haven’t read any of them yet, you could go the traditional route and start with The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was also good, or you could be a rebel like me and just read the best one first.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…

Run Time: 17 hrs 22 min

the outsider by stephen king

It shouldn’t be surprising that the award for longest audiobook on this list goes to Stephen King, the master of writing super long books. But actually, an 18 hour run time is pretty tame for King. Full disclosure: I haven’t actually listened to this one yet because I’m saving it for my beast of a road trip later this summer, but based on everything I’ve heard about it, I feel confident recommending it.

An 11-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

Run Time: 18 hrs 39 min

For more audiobook recommendations, check out this list of 50 thriller audiobooks, or this list of 10 short mystery audiobooks.

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Congratulations to the authors and narrators of the 2018 Best Audiobooks in the Mystery category. The competition is tough—AudioFile’s editors start with 2000 audiobooks in 9 categories that eventually get sorted down to 50 honorees (including the 6 in the Mystery category listed below).

What do all of these audiobooks have in common—what makes them rise to the top? They are all masterfully written by talented authors and read for us by narrators who manage to convincingly convey multiple characters while leaving room for our imaginations. Robin Whitten puts it so beautifully in the podcast about the Best Mystery Audiobooks, saying that the best narrators disappear into the story, becoming the voice that provides all the details while also inhabiting all of the characters.

by Michael Connelly, read by Titus Welliver and Christine Lakin, Hachette Audio

by Nicci French, read by Beth Chalmers, Harper Audio

by Louise Penny, read by Robert Bathurst, Macmillan Audio

by Robert Galbraith, read by Robert Glenister, Hachette Audio

by Ruth Ware, read by Imogen Church, Simon & Schuster Audio

by Daniel Silva, read by George Guidall, Harper Audio

I was so pleased to see Michael Connelly’s DARK SACRED NIGHT on the list, because the producers here pushed the envelope by having Titus Welliver, who has become the voice and the face of Harry Bosch, matched with Christine Lakin, playing his new “partner” Renée Ballard. It’s tricky to have two narrators voice the same characters, as Lakin had to play Bosch in her chapters, and Welliver had to do the same for Ballard in his chapters. Both have to be convincing enough not to pull the listener out of the story. Obviously, they make it work.

With Daniel Silva’s THE OTHER WOMAN, we have a perfect example of a masterful story writer paired with a masterful storyteller. George Guidall, who returns to narrate this latest edition in the Gabriel Allon series, meets the challenge of convincingly conveying multiple characters from different nationalities.

As for KINGDOM OF THE BLIND, author Louise Penny went to great lengths to select a successor to the late Ralph Cosham, the longtime narrator for the Three Pines mystery series. Listeners know how attached we become to a voice for a well-loved character. Well, it seems that she has found him in narrator Robert Bathurst—this is his fourth outing, and listeners have welcomed him into the fold (even if some of us have not quite forgiven him for dumping Edith Crawley at the altar in “Downton Abby”!).

I have listened to most of the audiobooks on the 2018 Best Mystery Audiobooks list, and I am very much looking forward to spending time with the rest. Just a thought: For mystery-loving audiophiles, the list can be a rich resource for holiday gifts. Enjoy!

Check out the full list of winners in all categories here.

A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

Fans of both crime/ thriller stories and audiobooks need to listen up, because your next read is right this way.

Audible has revealed its best-selling audiobooks in the crime and thriller genre so far in 2018, featuring five titles that have impressed (and very possibly terrified) Audible users.

From Their Lost Daughters, by Audible’s breakout crime author for 2018, to The President is Missing, co-written by former President Bill Clinton and narrated by the likes of Dennis Quad, these audiobooks are sure to keep you in suspense.

Here are Audible’s top five crime/ thriller audiobooks for the year so far…

Their Lost Daughters

Written by Joy Ellis, narrated by Richard Armitage.

Deep in the muddy fields of the Lincolnshire Fens, a teenage girl is found wandering, delirious, claiming to have been drugged at a party. Metres away, the drowned body of another girl is found on an isolated beach. And all this on a small stretch of land where, nearly 10 years ago, the shocking disappearance of a young girl remains an open case. For DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans, the pressure is on to bring the perpetrators of these shocking crimes to justice.

BUY NOW: Their Lost Daughters on Audible

The Outsider

Written by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton.

When an 11-year-old boy is found murdered, forensic evidence and reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach. But the jailed suspect, arrested in a public spectacle, has an alibi, and further research convinces Detective Ralph Anderson that the coach was indeed out of town. So how can he have been in two places at the same time?

BUY NOW: The Outsider on Audible


P.D. James BBC Radio Drama Collection

Written by P. D. James, narrated by Greta Scacchi, Hugh Grant, Judi Bowker, Philip Franks, Robin Ellis, Siân Phillips, Richard Derrington and others.

Seven BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisations of P. D. James’ acclaimed mysteries including The Private Patient and A Taste for Death, plus P. D. James in Her Own Words.

BUY NOW: P.D. James BBC Radio Drama Collection on Audible

The President is Missing

Written by President Bill Clinton and James Patterson, narrated by Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Peter Ganim, Jeremy Davidson, Mozhan Marnò, President Bill Clinton and others.

The President is missing. The world is in shock. But the reason he’s missing is much worse than anyone can imagine. With details only a President could know, and the kind of suspense only James Patterson can deliver.

BUY NOW: The President is Missing on Audible

I’ll Keep You Safe

Written by Peter May, narrated by Anna Murray and Peter Forbes.

Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft. Niamh begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh, desperate to identify anyone who may have held a grudge against him. The French police, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder – and sent Detective Sylvie Braque to shadow their prime suspect: Niamh.

BUY NOW: I’ll Keep You Safe on Audible

(Main image: Getty; book cover images: Audible/ Amazon)

10 Mystery and Thriller Audiobooks Listeners Are Raving About Now

Among the best mystery and thriller audiobooks listeners are raving about is the new novel by Ronald H. Balson titled The Trust. The newest audiobook from Ronald H. Balson, the international best-selling author of Once We Were Brothers, finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle’s funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural.

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral – a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know but refuse to name his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’ estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam further and further into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm.

Fans of police procedural thriller will love The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens. A homicide detective hunts down his wife’s killers while struggling between his thirst for revenge and a twinge of conscience forbidding him to take the law into his own hands.

Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife’s death, even when he believed that a reckless hit-and-run driver was to blame. Haunted by memories both beautiful and painful, he is plagued by feelings of unfinished business. When Max learns that, in fact, Jenni was murdered, he must come to terms with this new information—and determine what to do with it.

Struggling to balance his impulses as a vengeful husband with his obligations as a law enforcement officer, Max devotes himself to relentlessly hunting down those responsible. For most of his life, he has thought of himself as a decent man. But now he’s so consumed with anguish and thoughts of retribution that he finds himself on the edge, questioning who he is and what he stands for.

On a frozen lake at the US–Canadian border, he wrestles with decisions that could change his life forever, as his rage threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent his entire career bringing to justice.

If dark, suspenseful and creepy stories are your cup of tea, you will enjoy The Visitors by Catherine Burns.

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side.

White Silence is the brand new paranormal thriller from bestselling Jodi Taylor. The first installment in the new, gripping supernatural thriller series from international bestselling author, Jodi Taylor “I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I am.” Elizabeth Cage is a child when she discovers that there are things in this world that only she can see.

But she doesn’t want to see them and she definitely doesn’t want them to see her. White Silence is a twisty supernatural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. What is a curse to Elizabeth is a gift to others – a very valuable gift they want to control. When her husband dies, Elizabeth’s world descends into a nightmare. But as she tries to piece her life back together, she discovers that not everything is as it seems. Alone in a strange and frightening world, she’s a vulnerable target to forces beyond her control. And she knows that she can’t trust anyone.

Silent Child by Sarah A Denzil is another great suspense story. In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned. His body was never recovered. Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again… … until Aiden returns. Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime? It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable. This dark and disturbing psychological novel will appeal to fans of The Widow and The Butterfly Garden.

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll is a great mystery and holds readers captive from the start. When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own. Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

You like cinematic thrillers? Then check out American Assassin by Vince Flynn which has been already turned into a motion picture.

Mitch Rapp was a gifted college athlete without a care in the world…and then tragedy struck. Terrorists attacked innocent American citizens, and Rapp’s girlfriend was among the murdered. Two hundred and seventy souls perished on that cold December night, and thousands of family and friends were left searching for comfort. Mitch Rapp was one of them, but he was not interested in comfort. Now he wants retribution.

Two decades of cutthroat partisan politics have left the CIA and the country in an increasingly vulnerable position. Cold War veteran CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield knows he must prepare his people for the next war. America must confront Islamic terrorism with full force. Stansfield directs his protégée, Irene Kennedy, and his old Cold War colleague, Stan Hurley, to form a new group of clandestine operatives who will work outside the normal chain of command—men who do not exist.

What type of man is willing to kill for his country without putting on a uniform? Six months of intense training have prepared him to take the war to the enemy’s doorstep, and he does so with brutal efficiency. Rapp starts in Istanbul, where he assassinates the Turkish arms dealer who sold the explosives used in the terrorist attack. Rapp then moves on to Hamburg with his team and across Europe, leaving a trail of bodies. All roads lead to Beirut, though, and what Rapp doesn’t know is that the enemy is aware of his existence and has prepared a trap. The hunter is about to become the hunted, and Rapp will need every ounce of skill and cunning if he is to survive the war-ravaged city and its various terrorist factions.

Behind the steely gaze of the nation’s ultimate hero is a young man primed to become an American assassin.

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben has a great story and superb audio narration. With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne is just awesome. Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.

As a computational biologist, Theo is more familiar with digital code and microbes than the dark arts of forensic sleuthing. But a field trip to Montana suddenly lands him in the middle of an investigation into the bloody killing of one of his former students. As more details, and bodies, come to light, the local cops determine that the killer is either a grizzly gone rogue…or Theo himself. Racing to stay one step ahead of the police, Theo must use his scientific acumen to uncover the killer. Will he be able to become as cunning as the predator he hunts—before he becomes its prey?

Lastly, a classic from Jo Nesbo: The Snowman is still a popular title. Inspector Harry Hole tracks a Norwegian serial killer in this installment of Jo Nesbø’s New York Times bestselling series. Now a Major Motion Picture starring Michael Fassbender.

One night, after the first snowfall of the year, a boy named Jonas wakes up and discovers that his mother has disappeared. Only one trace of her remains: a pink scarf, his Christmas gift to her, now worn by the snowman that inexplicably appeared in their yard earlier that day. Inspector Harry Hole suspects a link between the missing woman and a suspicious letter he’s received. The case deepens when a pattern emerges: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished—all on the day of the first snow.

But this is a killer who makes his own rules . . . and he’ll break his pattern just to keep the game interesting, as he draws Harry ever closer into his twisted web. With brilliantly realized characters and hair-raising suspense, international bestselling author Jo Nesbø presents his most chilling case yet—one that will test Harry Hole to the very limits of his sanity.

Note: If you are interested in other top mystery and thriller audiobooks, check out our coverage of Top Mystery and Thriller Audiobooks in August 2017 and Tom Clancy And Other Best of the Week Mystery And Thriller Audiobooks.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Best Mystery & Suspense audiobooks! What I find most interesting about these audiobooks is the diversity of subgenres represented, from spy thriller to police procedural, private investigator, and domestic suspense. They unfold in very different locations—from bustling New York City to Berlin, London, the back country of Texas, and beyond. What they have in common is that they’re all powerful stories performed by super talented narrators. Audiobook mystery fans, this is your opportunity to expand your listening list.

Let’s start in my hometown, New York City. In RUN AWAY, author Harlan Coben delivers intense domestic suspense that takes us into New York’s seedier side with a father in search of his drug-addicted daughter. The book is narrated by actor Steven Weber, who is also the voice for Coben’s Myron Bolitar series and several of his other standalones.

HEAVEN, MY HOME, the second in Attica Locke’s Highway 59 series, takes listeners a world away from New York, to East Texas. JD Jackson returns to perform black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews and the folks, black and white, young and old, male and female who create the dramas in Mathews’s world. For more on Jackson, check out the interview on the Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine podcast, coming next Monday.

AMERICAN SPY, the first novel for author Lauren Wilkinson, is read by Bahni Turpin, a 2019 Golden Voice. The action grips listeners from the start with an unusual protagonist, a black single mother protecting herself and her young twin boys. Oh, and by the way, she’s also a spy. What an intriguing take on the spy novel. Turpin embodies the main character as well as the children, men, and women from several countries who people the story. I’m looking forward to more from this author.

In THE MARYLEBONE DROP by Mick Herron, narrator Gerald Doyle, who seems perfectly matched for this short audiobook (approximately 2 hours), gives us a spy story which is initiated with a “drop”—a traditional pass-off of information, allowing us a view into the backrooms of agent handling. Doyle is a male narrators who has mastered voicing female characters.

BIG SKY, the fifth installment in Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series, is narrated by Jason Isaacs. Earlier entries in the Brodie series have been adapted for a BBC series called “Case Histories” starring Isaacs, so he knows this character. The audiobook, which takes place in England and on the Continent, features Brodie, ex-police officer, now private detective and father to an appropriately obnoxious teenage son. Isaacs has a deep, gravely voice for Brodie and flexes for the female characters, as well as for Brodie’s teenage son.

One more Europe-centered book on the list, THE ACCOMPLICE by Joseph Karon, is narrated by Jonathan Davis. Listening to Davis perform the emotionally intense dialogue between Holocaust survivor Max and his young American nephew Aaron is a testament to why Davis earned an Earphones Award for this audiobook. Davis’s distinct voices for the characters of different ages from different countries makes this a serious and totally compelling listen.

After listening to these audiobook winners, I can say that I appreciate and am in awe of the choices made for 2019 Best Audiobooks. And for any mystery audiophiles on your gift list, you’ll surely find a perfect match among these winners.

A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).