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Gained in Translation: Six Translated Mysteries from Around the World

By Ellen Quint, AudioFile

From Barcelona to Singapore to Rio, we can be privileged to see wonderful sights and to hear many voices from around the world. To experience another culture, through words, foods, and relationships, opens one’s eyes and one’s heart. Recent visits to Europe and Asia have proved the extent to which English has become the common vehicle for communicating. English is not an easy language to learn and we’re also fortunate that there is a long list of mystery audiobooks from around the world that have been translated into English.

And in case you were not aware, August was Women in Translation Month: #WITMonth.

Below is a mini-sample of the smorgasbord of offerings in world mysteries.

In honor of WiT Month, let’s start with an audiobook by a female author that crosses the genre border of fiction/thriller, THE MEMORY POLICE by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder. The audiobook is read masterfully by Traci Kato-Kiriyama, who captures the pacing of the poetic writing in this dystopian story of an island where objects and memories are mysteriously disappearing.

For additional translations of women’s crime writing, we look at Scandi Noir, which has given us Camilla Läckberg, Sara Blaedel, and several others. Läckberg has set her crime novel series in her hometown of Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden. The audiobooks feature Detective Patrik Hedström and his wife, writer Erica Falck. Check out THE LOST BOY, narrated by Golden Voice Simon Vance.

Keigo Higashino is one of the bestselling authors in Japan. His latest—Book 5 in the Detective Kaga Series—is NEWCOMER, an Edgar Award finalist narrated by Earphones Award winner P. J. Ochlan. Listeners accompany Detective Kyochiro Kaga as he attempts to establish himself in a new district of Tokyo. The series provides a view into life in Tokyo and Japanese culture.

Antonio Hill’s THE SUMMER OF DEAD TOYS is set in the intriguing city of Barcelona. The book was first published in Spanish to much acclaim and has since been translated into 17 languages. The author is himself a translator of English books into Spanish and appears responsible for the English version. Note that in Barcelona the native language is not Spanish, but Catalan. The audiobook is narrated by Earphones Award winner Mark Bramhall.

Let’s continue further south to Italy to commemorate Andrea Camilleri, who passed away this summer at age 93, leaving a legacy of the Inspector Montalbano series. For Book 23, THE OVERNIGHT KIDNAPPER, Golden Voice Grover Gardner returns to voice Inspector Montalbano and the host of quirky characters that make up the inspector’s crew and inhabit the fictional Sicilian town of Vigata.

Now on to one more sunny European setting—Portugal. While it is a bit dated, it may be new to our readers: José Rodrigues Dos Santos’s CODEX 632, narrated by Golden Voice George Guidall. Guidall has a great ability to convey a character’s country of origin through his use of accents. In this book, Guidall follows a historian from Lisbon to New York to Rio to uncover the true story of Christopher Columbus.

Take a trip around our wonderful and sometimes mysterious world with the help of your earphones.

Thrilling Listens for October from AudioFile Magazine

In order to help you select the perfect costume for your Halloween party, AudioFile Magazine has selected five scary audiobooks that combine blow-you-away narrations with standout writing.  Grab your earbuds and start listening.



By Megan Goldin, read by Ramon De Ocampo, January LaVoy

January LaVoy and Ramon De Ocampo join forces to scare the wits out of you while listening to four bankers take part in a “team-building” exercise in a dark, locked elevator.




By Michael Koryta, read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

The psychopathic killer has a creepily nice voice in Robert Petkoff’s excellent narration, and that isn’t all that’ll unnerve you as he hunts our two resourceful heroines.




By Paul Tremblay, read by Cassandra Campbell, Sean Crisden, Graham Halstead, Sarah Naughton, Michael Crouch, Caitlin Kelly

Harper Audio

Sofa cushions, shadows, and plants are just a few of the ordinary things that are not at all what they seem in this terrific collection that you should not listen to in the dark.




By Riley Sager, read by Dylan Moore

Penguin Audio

What happens when you get a dream apartment-sitting gig in a famous old New York City building?  Oh, so many scary things. Let Dylan Moore’s ace performance guide you through the terror.




By Ruth Ware, read by Imogen Church

Simon & Schuster Audio, AudioFile Earphones Award

In a shivery update of Henry James’s TURN OF THE SCREW, a nanny finds herself and her two young charges in a house with a malevolent smart system.