Solve: Why listen to mystery audiobooks?

5 excellent reasons to delve into the world of audiobook mysteries—and 5 titles to get you started!

I’m often confronted with the question of what draws me to the mystery/crime genre. The first time I heard the question, I was taken aback. I didn’t have words to answer the query; I just knew I enjoyed the stories. So I started to think about it, to analyze what drew me to these plots full of murder and mayhem. But what about the narrations of these books? What makes them worth listening to? Audios in this genre possess some qualities that make them especially great options to listen to. Here are my top five reasons why I listen to mystery and suspense audiobooks plus some to titles to get you started:

Swift Pacing
It’s not a given, but suspense plots often demand quick pacing to keep the audience engaged in the mystery. And thrillers by their very nature are a race against something: the villain, time, danger. This fast pace helps to keep the mind from wandering to other things. And for those who listen to audios while walking or running, it keeps you moving briskly as well, like an up-tempo song.

Need a title to exercise with? Try Siobhán MacDonald’s TWISTED RIVER, with a cast of exemplary narrators. The changing perspective helps the pacing on this one, too.

109422
Clues
Listening to mysteries requires one to pay attention so as not to miss clues. When I have that strong motivation to figure out the puzzle, I’ve found I don’t get distracted so easily. Of course this means the author has to have written a mystery I want to solve, so the burden is intensified for them in audiobooks. Weak plots are blatantly obvious in mystery audiobooks.

Ready for your next puzzle? Try something from John Verdon, like his brilliant THINK OF A NUMBER, narrated by George Newbern.

57367Intensity
When life and death are at the core of the story, the stakes are high. Emotions run high and action is fierce, and a good narration means you hear every bit of that intensity. But on the printed page, if you’re tired or distracted or just in a bad mood, you’re more likely to simply see flat words on a piece of paper.

If you’re ready to ramp up the intensity, give January LaVoy’s reading of THE COMPETITION by Marcia Clark a try.

93226Social Issues
In many ways, the crime novel has become the social novel. But what difference does that make for listening to those stories? Emotional investment. When the author is passionate about what they’re writing, they transfer that passion to their audience, making the act of listening much more instinctive.

The range of issues is enormous, but a recent favorite of mine is Thomas Mullen’s DARKTOWN, narrated by André Holland.

118527

Nuance
OK, this isn’t necessarily limited to the mystery/crime genre, but when you combine it with my other reasons for listening to these stories, it makes the whole experience exceptional. As with intensity, a print reader might miss nuance on the page. Subtle or dry humor can be overlooked completely, and the smallest of adjustments in tone can change meaning in monumental ways. Happily, there are many masters of nuance narrating books in the crime genre, and it’s spine-tinglingly wonderful.

One of the most brilliant examples of this is MacLeod Andrews’s narration of THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton. Nuance is vital because Hamilton’s protagonist doesn’t talk. And Andrews’s performance is so spot-on, this audiobook remains one of my all-time favorites.

51933

There are all kinds of reasons to love listening to mystery/suspense on audio. I picked these five reasons because after we learn to read for ourselves, many of us forget how amazing listening to stories is. Unlike with television or movies, listening to audiobooks still engages our imaginations, allowing us to build the setting and envision the characters. We’re still active participants in the storytelling process. I often hear people say that they don’t listen to audiobooks because they aren’t able to pay attention, but for all the reasons I highlight above, mysteries are naturals at keeping your attention. Especially with a phenomenal narration.

These are just a few of my reasons for loving this genre—feel free to share yours in the comments!

Behind the Mic: The Risen

Two young lives are irrevocably altered. Richard Ferrone takes listeners through Ron Rash’s dark tale.

AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to talk with Richard Ferrone. We knew that Richard’s gravelly voice and keen sense for haunting suspense would be perfect for Ron Rash’s THE RISEN.

“An author who can combine the lyricism of a poet with the ominousness of an Edgar Allan Poe.”—Narrator Richard Ferrone

the-risen

THE RISEN
by Ron Rash, read by Richard Ferrone
Harper Audio/ Blackstone Audio
Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Richard’s performance of Ron Rash’s lyrical storytelling is a treat for listeners.The tightly written mystery, set in a North Carolina backwoods, looks back forty years when the lives of two brothers were changed by a free-spirited girl. Hear a sound clip and read AudioFile’s complete review here.

Explore more audiobooks by Richard Ferrone!
richard-ferrone-360x360
Richard Ferrone
Don’t miss out on all the New Mystery reviews from AudioFile

mysterious-832x315

Behind the Mic: Expiration Day

It’s rare to find an audiobook that expands one’s mind and breaks one’s heart at the same time.

AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to talk with Gabrielle de Cuirand we hear how this powerful audiobook has the potential to strike chords within us all. William Campbell Powell’s debut novel, EXPIRATION DAY, is not just for teens, and Gabrielle tells us why.

“The book deals with the issue of what it means to be human, and I don’t think there’s anything quite as powerful as that.” —Narrator Gabrielle de Cuir

109086

EXPIRATION DAY
by William Campbell Powell, read by Gabrielle de Cuir
Blackstone Audio/ Skyboat Media
Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listeners follow Tania Deeley from age 11 to age 18 through her diary entries. She lives in a future world where most children are androids—teknoids—and exist only until their eighteenth birthday. Gabrielle’s narration makes this eerie future come alive and feel real. Hear a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

More audiobooks from Gabrielle!

gabrielle-decuir-300x450
Gabrielle de Cuir
Don’t miss the newest young adult audiobook reviewsyoung-adults-336x280