AudioFile Spotlight: Best Mystery & Suspense Audiobooks for 2021

AudioFile Magazine’s 2021 Best Mystery & Suspense Audiobooks make for thrilling, heart-stopping listening thanks to the masterful narrations and plot lines that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Investigate our picks for the year’s best below.

For the full list of 2021 Best Audiobooks, visit AudioFile’s website.

 

BLOOD GROVE

by Walter Mosley | Read by Michael Boatman

AudioFile Earphones Award

Hachette Audio | 9.5 hrs.

Michael Boatman masterfully voices numerous characters from various races and backgrounds, male and female, young and old. Easy Rawlins reluctantly takes on the case of a disturbed white Vietnam veteran who is convinced he stabbed a Black man. Rawlins’s persistence to uncover the truth leads him to dangerous places. Boatman’s performance of beautifully written moments of observation is captivating.

REVIEW

 

OCEAN PREY

by John Sandford | Read by Richard Ferrone

AudioFile Earphones Award

Penguin Audio | 12.5 hrs.

Narrator Richard Ferrone’s gritty voice is a great match for US Marshal Lucas Davenport in this 31st book in the Prey series. Davenport is sent to Florida to help with an FBI investigation of murderous heroin traffickers. Sandford’s action-packed scenes, as delivered by Ferrone, keep listeners on edge while providing insights into the characters. Ferrone is masterful at performing the witty dialogue, which includes a timely discussion about police-instigated violence.

REVIEW

 

THE MAIDENS

by Alex Michaelides | Read by Louise Brealey, Kobna Holdbrick-Smith

AudioFile Earphones Award

Macmillan Audio | 9.25 hrs.

Between the three of them, author Alex Michaelides and narrators Louise Brealey and Kobna Holdbrick-Smith cast a spell that will have listeners glued to this suspenseful novel every chance they get. Group therapist Mariana returns to Cambridge University to comfort her niece after the girl’s friend is murdered. Letters from an unnamed writer describe his growing desire to kill again. Will Mariana understand in time?

REVIEW

 

THE MURDER ON THE LINKS

by Agatha Christie, Kate McAll [Adapt.] | Read by Alfred Molina, Simon Helberg, and a Full Cast

AudioFile Earphones Award

L.A. Theatre Works | 1.5 hrs.

This adaptation of a classic Christie whodunit to vintage radio drama format is absolutely delicious. Evocative music and portentous sound effects greatly enhance the fun, and the cast is superb. Many great actors have taken on the fussy little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, but none better than Alfred Molina here. His Poirot is still punctilious and obsessive, but also warm and funny as he sorts out a blindingly baroque murder plot and keeps insisting it is totally obvious.

REVIEW

 

THE NIGHT GATE

by Peter May | Read by Peter Forbes

AudioFile Earphones Award

Quercus Editions Limited | 13 hrs.

This audiobook is a great example of the magic that happens when a masterful author and a talented narrator come together to deliver a captivating story. When forensics scientist Enzo Macleod is drawn out of retirement to advise on the body of a WWII soldier that was exposed by an uprooted tree, he happens into a current murder investigation. With Forbes as the guide, listeners smoothly move back and forth from war-torn Europe to pandemic-constrained current times.

REVIEW

 

VELVET WAS THE NIGHT

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Read by Gisela Chípe

AudioFile Earphones Award

Random House Audio | 10 hrs.

Narrator Gisela Chípe successfully juggles the many characters and subplots in this exciting, odd—but in a good way—mystery set in 1970s Mexico. The government underwrites a group of thugs to do whatever’s necessary to keep down student protests and civil unrest. Maite agrees to cat-sit for a neighbor, but the neighbor, Leonora, never returns. Then Maite’s life takes a thrilling turn as not-so-nice men show up searching for Leonora. An artful narration by Chípe and an ingeniously plotted thriller by Moreno-Garcia make this prime listening.

REVIEW

 

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