Solve: V.I. Warshawski

Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski audiobooks are ground-breaking in detective fiction. Do you have a favorite?

indemnity-onlyWhen Sara Paretsky first introduced V.I. Warshawski to the world in her 1982 book, INDEMNITY ONLY, she was a rather ground-breaking character. And many of the female writers who followed Paretsky into the hard-boiled crime genre credit her as an inspiration. Warshawski and her cronies made no bones about their feminism. If a client questioned her ability as a woman, she told them how it was. “If things get heavy, I’ll figure out a way to handle them—or go down trying.” Detective fiction was no longer just an old boys club, and it was never going to be the same again.

falloutThis month, Warshawski returns for her 18th novel—FALLOUT. Warshawski’s beloved Chicago evolves throughout the course of three and a half decades, and through the series, listeners can experience changes in social norms, politics, and, of course, sports. An element I find refreshing in Paretsky’s plots is Warshawski’s realistic aging. She may still be a tough old broad, but at this age, she simply can’t bounce back the way she used to. I love the Warshawski series for all of these reasons, and I’m grateful for the door she opened so that more women could follow after her.

hard-timeSusan Ericksen provides the voice of Warshawski for much of the series, but not all. Jean Smart took over the microphone in HARD TIME, and her recognizable voice may have smoothed the change from Ericksen. Then Sandra Burr took the reins in TOTAL RECALL. These three capable narrators have distinctly different sounds, and that can be jarring for a series devotee.

Ericksen returns for FALLOUT, but this time Paretsky is taking Warshawski outside of Chicago. I can’t wait for this new installment. How about you?

Check out our website for reviews of many of the books in the V.I. Warshawski series!

SOLVE: The mystery of the missing cozies

Looking for clues . . . for the next best cozy mystery!

Recently I’ve had a couple of different reasons to try to find recommendations for softer crime audiobooks, and I’ve discovered it rather challenging. Are you a cozy or traditional mystery fan who has a difficult time finding the books you want on audio? Is the audio publishing industry missing an untapped well here? I decided to do a little digging, this time making note of my findings.

A friend has an elderly mother she wants to ply with audiobooks. Her mother’s vision is too bad to read print books now. She told me her mother would like mysteries but they needed to be on the “nicer side.” In other words, no graphic violence or sex, easy on the language— basically your cozy subgenre.

119985My usual reaction is to recommend Louise Penny’s Three Pines series, Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak series, or Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series. These aren’t cozies; they’re traditional mysteries, but they are on the softer side. That bit me in the butt the last time I did it because while they are tamer when it comes to sex and violence, the language is still an issue. Recommendation: fail. Back to the drawing board.

74661A hot series now in the mystery community is Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver historicals, but I couldn’t find any sign of those on audiobook. David Handler’s Berger & Mitry series is one I’ve wanted to read for some time, but hoped to find the audios so I could listen instead. I can’t find any of that series on audio either. (You can, however, get his older Stewart Hoag series on audiobook.) Rochelle Staab? No. Gabriella Herkert? Not her either. No Rosemary Harris, Meredith Cole, Jeff Cohen, or Cathy Pickens. (Note, you can find Jeff Cohen writing as E.J. Copperman.)

99022I found some incomplete series like Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mysteries, Bill Crider’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries, and Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey mysteries. But it’s frustrating to get caught up in a series only to find books missing.

So what recommendations have I come up with so far? If you like a good P.I., how about checking out Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency? Lisette Lecat performs the entire series. Is western more your speed? Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range series, narrated by William Dufris, is great fun. I would like to see Hockensmith’s new Tarot Mystery series narrated, though. Looking for something more historical? How about Ann Parker’s Silver Rush series, read by Kristen Potter? In the more paranormal realm, maybe try Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mysteries or Haunted Home Renovation series. Both are performed by Xe Sands. 62365And I’m hoping you all can help us compile a good list of amateur sleuths in the comments, but one I personally enjoy is Judith Flanders’s Sam Clair.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite cozy mystery on audiobook? And what’s one you’d love to see become available on audio that currently isn’t – or maybe it’s only available on good old cassette tape. Have you run into any of those? Let us know!




Have you ever wondered about the secrets and skeletons that may be lurking behind the Conclave doors?

The Catholic Church’s election of a new pope epitomizes mystery for the vast majority of the world, and Robert Harris takes advantage of that fact in his new audiobook, CONCLAVE, narrated by Roy McMillan.

Harris weaves in power struggles, politics and puzzles to captivate the audience in this suspenseful pontiff selection. Narrator Roy McMillan takes full advantage of the opportunity to display his range. While not strictly miraculous, his transformation of Cardinal Lomeli, the protagonist, from dispirited to Spirit-filled is most certainly charismatic. And Earphone award-worthy.


Robert Harris, Read by Roy McMillan
Random House Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Read AudioFile’s full review and listen to a sound clip here, or browse more reviews of Robert Harris’s audiobooks.

Browse all of our newest mystery reviews to find your next great listen!