03 December 2021

AudioFile Magazine's Best Audiobooks 2021: Mystery & Suspense

AudioFile Magazine's 2021 Best Audiobooks bannerWhen people ask me if I listen to audiobooks, I like to reply, “I’ve been a fan of books on tape since they really were recorded on tape.” Yes, I’ve been a listener all the way from cassettes to CDs to today’s digital downloads. As an avid listener, I’m always happy to spread the word about the joys of listening to stories and am always ready to suggest a good audiobook to suit almost everyone.

For several years now, I’ve partnered with AudioFile Magazine to announce the winners of one of their “best-of” categories. Today, I’m presenting the winners of AudioFile’s 2021 Best in Mystery & Suspense. I love a good mystery or thriller, and I know many of you do too. I’m sure you’ll be adding an audiobook or two to your listening queue.

To see all the winners in all the categories for AudioFile’s 2021 Best Audiobooks, be sure to click through to their website to find all their best audiobook lists.

What follows is a quick overview of the what each of the winning mysteries and thrillers is all about plus a quote from the magazine’s review about the narrator. When choosing the best audiobooks in each category, AudioFile’s editors considered not only the quality of the author’s storytelling but also the excellence of the narrator’s performance. To see the full audiobook review, click through the link, which will lead you to AudioFile’s website.

Audiobook cover of Blood Grove by Walter MosleyBlood Grove by Walter Mosley, read by Michael Boatman: It’s 1969 and L.A. detective Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins is faced with an unusual case after a Vietnam War veteran suffering from PTSD comes to him for help. The ex-soldier can’t remember what happened after he got into a fight: he may or may not have stabbed a man to death and wants to know the truth. Easy’s investigation takes him to the dark side of the city. According to our reviewer, “Boatman’s performance of beautifully written moments of observation is captivating.”

Audiobook cover of Ocean Prey by John SandfordOcean Prey by John Sandford, read by Richard Ferrone: In the latest installment in the this long and popular series, police detective Lucas Davenport answers the FBI’s call to investigate a busted drug deal in which three Coast Guard officials are killed. Davenport and his fellow officer Virgil Flowers are tasked to find the bad guys and the lost drugs--and try to not get killed themselves. According to our reviewer, Ferrone “keeps listeners on edge while providing insights into the characters.”

Audiobook cover of The Maidens by Alex MichaelidesThe Maidens by Alex Michaelides, read by Louise Brealey and Kobna Holdbrick-Smith: This thriller, set in Cambridge, has Gothic elements. Mariana, a London therapist travels to the university town after her college student niece tells her about a female student’s murder. Mariana thinks she can ID the killer, but at what cost? Our reviewer noted that “narrators Louise Brealey and Kobna Holdbrick-Smith cast a spell that will have listeners glued to this suspenseful novel every chance they get.”

Book cover of Murder on the Links by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Links by Agatha Christie, adapted by Kate McAll, read by a full cast: This L.A. Theatre Works production gives the second Hercule Pirot mystery the feel of an old-time radio show, complete with sound effects. For this case, Pirot and Hastings are summoned to France to solve the murder of a wealthy South American. Our reviewer wrote, “Evocative music and portentous sound effects greatly enhance the fun, and the cast is superb.”

Audiobook cover of The Night Gate by Peter MayThe Night Gate by Peter May, read by Peter Forbes: In the final novel in the Enzo Macleod series, the forensic biologist is tasked with solving two murders in a French village, which occurred decades apart. The first man was shot during the Nazi Occupation of World War II; second in contemporary times, just as France is about to undergo its second COVID lockdown. Our reviewer noted that Forbes guides listeners smoothly as the story moves between time periods.

Audiobook cover of Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-GarciaVelvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, read by Cisela Chípe: This noir thriller is set in Mexico City during the 1970s. When her neighbor Leonora goes missing, Maite can’t help but search for the young activist art student. Unfortunately, bad men are also looking for Leonora, forcing Maite to question whom to trust and how far she’ll go to find out what happened. Our reviewer noted that Chípe “successfully juggles the many characters and subplots.”

To learn even more about the don’t-miss audiobooks of the year, be sure to follow AudioFile Magazine on Twitter and like them on Facebook. To listen to exclusive interviews with the narrators from this year’s best audiobook winners, subscribe to the podcast Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 12/3/21, 11:28 AM  

I enjoyed The Maidens on audio and have been meaning to try Velvet is the Night as well.

thecuecard 12/7/21, 8:54 AM  

Thanks for this list. I love audiobooks too, and the perfect reader can really transform a narrative. Of these, I'm especially interested in listening to Velvet Was the Night. It looks good.

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