Corona Craziness surrounds us. I can’t minimize the anxiety it’s raising for our health, our economy, our wonderful way of life. But if you are in need of, or open to, a bit of distraction as you are social distancing or self-isolating, you might consider some of these fine audiobooks. In celebration of March as Women’s History Month (as opposed to when our worlds turned upside down month), I offer you several audiobooks that are the latest additions to wonderful historical crime series featuring strong women protagonists.
In THE KING’S JUSTICE by Susan Elia MacNeal, Susan Duerden returns to narrate this 9th in the Maggie Hope series. What I enjoy about this series is the enlightening detail that the author provides to draw us into London working to survive through World War II. She finds themes that history has forgotten—like the plight of the British Italians (Britalians) who were interred (like the Japanese in the U.S.) in camps in Scotland during the war. Duerden successfully portrays the American-raised feisty Maggie Hope as well as characters from across Europe. The audiobooks in the series flow from one to the next but newcomers can pick up enough back story to get engaged and jump in anywhere in the series.
Moving across the pond and to the 1930s, in THE MITFORD SCANDAL, Book 3 in the Mitford Murder series, author Jessica Fellowes invites listeners to go along on the adventures of Louisa Cannon, who is now the lady’s maid to Diana Guinness, neé Mitford. Narrator Rachel Atkins is the voice for this series from Book 1. Again, the interest in the series stems from its weaving of real-life happenings and people with the imagination of the author.
When it comes to historical crime fiction with strong female protagonists, I feel it’s also important to call out Rhys Bowen and her Royal Spyness series for its pure entertainment value—something we can all use right now. My recommendation here would be to start with Book 11, ON HER MAJESTY’S FRIGHTFULLY SECRET SERVICE, narrated by the late Golden Voice Katherine Kellgren. Those who have been enjoying the Netflix series The Crown will find many of the same famous characters from the House of Windsor popping up here.
The above recommendations will also allow you to meet AudioFile’s 2020 Listening Challenge prompt #2: Listen to historical fiction that takes place outside the United States.
Back in the U.S. again and actually in my own neighborhood, I suggest NEAR PROSPECT PARK (Mary Handley, Book 4). Lawrence Levy, a writer of TV shows, brings us to Brooklyn in the 1890s, where Mary Handley, a private detective, has to use her investigative skills to solve the murder of her husband. Narrator Cassandra Campbell brings her many talents to this series.
These historical crime audiobooks will take us out of our current situation, at least for a little while, and perhaps provide some much-needed perspective.
Wishing you and your loved ones the strength and resilience to move through these stressful times safely and get through to the other side.