Before I close the book, or should I say the audiobook, completely on 2023, I wanted to draw attention to several outstanding mysteries from last year that you shouldn’t miss. These captivating stories span various sub-genres and traverse the globe, and they're all entertaining listening experiences.
First up is Adrian McKinty’s THE DETECTIVE UP LATE, Sean Duffy, Book 7, narrated by Gerald Doyle. For those new to the series, Duffy is a Catholic detective serving in the mainly protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary through the worst times of The Troubles. It’s the 1980s, and Duffy is about to semi-retire and move with this family to Scotland when he throws himself into a missing persons case involving a Traveler teenager who no one else seems to care about. Golden Voice Gerald Doyle shows off his masterful talents at various accents from all over Ireland and Great Britain—sometimes in very quick back-and-forth dialogue. Listeners will be drawn into Duffy’s world as he works to support and train his successor, battles internal politics, and deals with all the complications of Northern Ireland trying to come out of the worst of times. Doyle is in perfect step with McKinty’s quick pace and sharp sense of humor. There is enough backstory for listeners to start here. Then they will be tempted to go back and listen to the entire series.
Back to the United States for Kevin Powers’s A LINE IN THE SAND, narrated by Christine Lakin. This Earphones Award-winning audiobook is a great vehicle for Christine Lakin to show off her skills in voicing men and women and differentiating characters. What begins as an investigation of a murder on a beach in Norfolk, Virginia, turns into the twists and turns of a political thriller/police procedural. Lakin performs each character with an appropriate, subtle accent and tone that conveys the individual’s personality and emotions. Listeners get a real feel for Detective Catherine Wheel, the primary investigator, and Arman Bajalan, a former interpreter for the U.S. army in Iraq, who is at the center of the mysteries.
Now moving across the pond again, we have Claudia Gray’s Earphones Award-winning THE LATE MRS. WILLOUGHBY, read by Billie Fulford-Brown, which transports us back in time. This is the second in the series following THE MURDER OF MR. WICKHAM, which also earned Fulford-Brown an Earphones Award. For listeners who are Jane Austen fans, this series is a total delight, immersing them into the world of Austen’s beloved characters. Fulford-Brown perfectly captures the Regency Period, portraying its pomp, class distinctions, and moralities and underlying immoralities.
And now for something completely different, you might enjoy Darynda Jones's funny, sassy A HARD DAY FOR A HANGOVER, narrated by Lorelei King. This audiobook is the conclusion to the Sunshine Vikram trilogy. This series is set in the small town of Del Sol, New Mexico, where Sunshine Vikram grew up and is now the sheriff. King, who I consider a master voice changer (she also narrates my favorite Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), makes this an engaging, easy-to-listen to audiobook as she differentiates and enhances the characters male and female, young and old, including Sunshine’s teenage daughter.
And coming in 2024, we can all look forward to HERO by Thomas Perry, narrated by Christina Delaine. Also, the 39th addition to the Alex Delaware series, THE GHOST ORCHID, performed by the voice of the series, John Rubinstein. For John Sandford fans, TOXIC PREY, narrated by Robert Petkoff, will be released in April. Fans will be pleased to have Lucas Davenport teaming up with his daughter, Letty Davenport (who now has her own series). Lots of great listening coming up.