Audiobooks have taken on new significance for listeners over the last few months. Many of us are isolated from family, friends, or colleagues—or all of the above. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed home and work environments and the basic routines of life.
Audiobooks have provided a balm, a diversion, and an escape for countless listeners. Some families have found new value and entertainment with shared audiobook listening—smart home devices like Alexa or Google Home make that easy! For some of our essential workers, the solace of storytelling has brought relief after long, stress-filled hours. One listener told us that audiobooks give her “an escape without going out.”
The use of audiobooks for listeners has surged in the last few months and shows no sign of slowing down.
The real world has been very present, and while we welcome some escape, it’s valuable that audiobooks continue to illuminate many of today’s important topics and cultural conversations. This year’s mystery audiobooks cover a huge range of psychological suspense, police procedurals, amateur sleuths, spy fiction, and more.
To select AudioFile’s 2020 Best Mystery and Suspense audiobooks, we combed through more than 300 mystery titles reviewed this year. It seems to be the year of the series, with five of our six choices featuring recurring characters. Each of these listening experiences brings out the best in storytelling from both the authors and narrators. As a reader, you might know a series in print, and we encourage you to explore the audiobook dimension as well.
Best MYSTERY and SUSPENSE Audiobooks for 2020
Looking for an audiobook that will keep you glued to your earbuds? AudioFile’s 2020 Best Mystery and Suspense audiobooks are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Whether it’s an audiobook that has you trapped in an isolated house with an unidentified killer, rocketing through a legal roller-coaster ride, or revisiting a favorite investigator, we guarantee you’ll find yourself drawn into incredible storytelling that just might keep you up all night.
by Joe Ide | Read by Zeno Robinson
Zeno Robinson narrates the fourth audiobook in the series featuring private investigator Isaiah Quintabe (IQ). IQ’s latest case involves especially high stakes. For one, the powerful arms dealer Angus Byrne is forcing him to solve a shooting death and threatening to break the hands of IQ’s girlfriend, a violinist, if he fails. Also, the main witness/suspect is Byrne’s daughter, who has five distinct personalities, each with a different version of the events leading to the shooting in question. It’s a messy story with many subplots, but it’s still completely entertaining, thanks to the sharp writing and Robinson’s stellar performance.
by Michael Connelly | Read by Peter Giles
Peter Giles, who has become the voice of Mickey Haller in Connelly’s popular Lincoln Lawyer series, returns to take listeners on a legal roller-coaster ride. What could be more dramatic than Haller having to defend himself against a murder charge and prepare for his trial in prison? Giles masterfully conveys the fear and frustration that Haller experiences facing the prospect of conviction while his team works on finding the real murderer. Happily, the team includes PI Harry Bosch—from Connelly’s other bestselling series.
by Olen Steinhauer | Read by David Pittu
David Pittu’s narration sounds so conversational—even conspiratorial—that it feels as though he’s speaking directly to listeners. He also helps listeners follow the twisting plot of this thriller. Milo Weaver, a one-time CIA agent, is approached about a group of agents he once brought together and thought he had disbanded. Now it appears they are still out there. If so, who is leading them? How pervasive is their network, and how far does it extend into our digital lives?
by Louise Penny | Read by Robert Bathurst
Robert Bathurst is just about perfect delivering the 16th Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novel. The Gamaches have left Three Pines, Québec, for Paris for the birth of their newest grandchild. Gamache spends time with his godfather, billionaire Stephen Horowitz, and with his estranged son, Daniel, a Paris banker. When Horowitz is nearly killed in a deliberate hit-and-run, Gamache and son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir uncover a conspiracy reaching into the highest international corporate echelons.
by Tana French | Read by Roger Clark
Roger Clark’s American-Irish-British background makes him uniquely qualified to narrate Tana French’s tense story of a Chicago cop who is trying to solve a mystery far outside his jurisdiction. Divorced and weary with police work, Cal wants nothing more than a quiet retirement in the Irish countryside, fishing and renovating an old cottage. But against his will, he’s drawn into the disappearance of a local youth and soon discovers that his quiet retreat holds many secrets and hidden dangers.
by Ruth Ware | Read by Imogen Church
Imogen Church’s extraordinary narration of Ruth Ware’s newest suspense novel will keep listeners glued to their earbuds, unable to do anything else but listen wide-eyed and rapt. In an homage to Agatha Christie (AND THEN THERE WERE NONE), Ware has taken the premise of people trapped in an isolated house with an unidentified killer; cleverly adapted the who, where, and what to the 21st century; and pumped up the dread with parallel first-person narratives.