Readers, I’m always on the lookout for my next great audiobook, but choosing how to spend my credits each month can feel a little daunting. I want to download a book I’ll love, one that makes me run an extra block or—dare I say—look forward to doing a load of laundry. I know I’m not alone, so I’m planning to to share more of my favorite listening experiences on the blog to help you find just the right audiobook for you.
Today I’m sharing ten mystery series that not only feature fabulous voice performances, but also provide hours upon hours of listening material. For me, police procedural mysteries work well on audio because they tend to be more HSP-friendly. Even when dealing with grisly crimes, the steady pattern of investigation is reassuring. No thriller-like scares to make me jump in my earbuds, please.
Compelling characters truly make these series worth listening to. Once you get to know the investigators, you simply must keep listening to find out what happens next. These addicting, well-written procedurals are worth using up a monthly audiobook credit or placing a hold in your library’s audiobook app.
In the second of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, detective Cassie Maddux is pulled off her current beat and sent to investigate a murder. When she arrives at the scene, she finds the victim looks just like her, and—even more creepy—she was using an alias that Cassie used in a previous case. The victim was a student, and her boss talks her into trying to crack the case by impersonating her, explaining to her friends that she survived the attempted murder. The victim lived with four other students in a strangely intimate, isolated setting, and as Cassie gets to know them, liking them almost in spite of herself, her boundaries—and loyalties—begin to blur. A taut psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the end.
The first installment in Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries, Still Life introduces Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he investigates a murder in the small town of Three Pines, Quebec. Three Pines is the kind of place where people don’t even lock their doors. Serene small town life is disrupted when a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but the police inspector senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. I love this series in any format, but the audiobooks are especially entertaining. More info →
Flavia de Luce is a precocious 11 year-old chemist and amateur sleuth. In the summer of 1950, she finds a dead bird on the doorstep of her family's crumbling manor house, a stamp affixed to its beak. Later that day, she comes across a dead man in the garden. For Flavia, these mysterious events are both frightening and exciting. She says, "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." Thus follows her investigation, a delightful coming-of-age mystery starring one of the most charming heroines ever written. A quintessentially British audiobook: this sassy series is such fun to listen to! More info →
It was supposed to be the perfect crime. But an avalanche stops the Orient Express in its tracks just before a passenger is found murdered in his berth, foiling the perpetrator's getaway, and trapping 13 potential suspects—each with an airtight alibi—in the train car with Inspector Hercule Poirot. These crime classics are excellent on audio, especially when narrated by Dan Stevens. This one is a great place to start, but I also recommend And Then There Were None and Death on the Nile. More info →
Meet Maisie Dobbs as she trades wartime nursing for her own private investigation practice at the end of WWI. Her first case appears to be run-of-the-mill infidelity, but something tells her to look deeper. When she finds disturbing secrets connected to the Great War, she is forced to confront her own trauma in order to solve the case. Maisie’s strong empathy and nurse’s training make her uniquely suited to detective work, and learning more about her is just as delightful as following the mystery. The narration on this series is stellar, and it’s so bingeable. Each book tackles a new aspect of WWI and includes a compelling character arc. More info →
In this murder mystery, British detective Cormoran Strike and his trusty sidekick Robin Ellacott investigate a supermodel's suspicious suicide. I found the plot compellingly twisty, the characters interesting, the rapport between the two investigators my favorite part. Great dialogue translates so well on audio! I was leery about this one at first because of the HSP factor, but aside from a few brief descriptions of the crime scene (and a whole lot of f-bombs) it was fine. The next books in the series are more grisly and descriptive, so sensitive readers take caution. (I did A LOT of skimming over the gory parts in books 2 and 3.) J. K. Rowling just announced that she turned in the fifth installment and I can't wait to read it. More info →
Stevie Bell is ready to attend her first year at Ellingham Academy, an exclusive school in Vermont that’s famous for educating the world’s best and brightest. The founder, Albert Ellingham added riddles and mazes throughout the school to create “a place where learning is a game.” Stevie, a self-proclaimed true crime expert, is more interested in solving the puzzle around Albert Ellingham’s family. After opening the school, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. No one has ever solved the famous crime, but Stevie is determined to crack the case. However, in between studying and making friends, Stevie has noticed strange things happening around the school. This layered mystery is perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society. More info →
Another character-driven, well-plotted mystery that makes for a propulsive listen. These Canadian procedurals center the investigative team of detective Esa Khattak and his assistant Rachel Getty, who are often called upon to investigate crimes in the Muslim community of Toronto, navigating cultural and political divides to do so. I beg you, do NOT read the spoiler-laden reviews of this book, or even the description! I'll just say that the pair is called in to investigate the seemingly accidental death of a wealthy local man, and it slowly becomes apparent that this crime's roots go deeper than the detectives could have dreamed. The series is now five books strong; I've read two so far and am looking forward to catching up with my Libro.fm credits. More info →
This series has been sitting on my TBR list for awhile. As a black Texas Ranger, Darren Matthews has an intricate understanding of racial tensions in East Texas. He’s proud of his roots and his family, but when his loyalty lands him in trouble, he agrees to get out of town and investigate a crime for a friend. He drives up Highway 59 to the town of Lark, where a recent murder has stirred up hatred and history. Described as atmospheric and timely, this series is highly recommended by booksellers on Libro.fm. I’ve heard it ends on a cliffhanger, so you might want to queue up the second book, Heaven, My Home, right away. More info →
I devoured The Janes even though I knew it was the second in the Alice Vega series, but each book stands just fine on its own. I can’t wait to go back and read Two Girls Down. A distraught mother hires bounty hunter Alice Vega to find her missing daughters. After being pushed aside by an underfunded police department, Alice persistently seeks help from Max Caplan, an ex-cop trying to escape his past. Working with few leads and little information, Alice and Max work together to uncover the truth—and find the girls before it’s too late. More info →