One editor suggested that mysteries appeal to your intellectual curiosity, while thrillers more to your emotional curiosity, which may often be true. But then there are so many great books that do both: there are mysterious thrillers, and thrilling mysteries. So in the end, after much discussion, we drew this firm narrative line in the sand: Mysteries are about the solving of a crime. Thrillers are about the prevention of a crime. This is the definition we used when poring over our favorite mystery listens.
Why we think it's Essential:Donna Leon turns up on our customer favorite lists over and over again. Her Commissario Guido Brunetti series, which leaves through the corrupt underworld of Venice,is undoubtedly one of the best in the genre.Leon is a master of nuanced characters and David Colacci, a narrator for over 15 years, is sensitive and concise in his portrayals of these subtleties.--Gina
Why we think it's Essential: James Lee Burke is a master storyteller who has used the city of New Orleans as a character in the past, but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina Burke delivered a fantastic mystery and a scathing look at the aftermath of this tragedy. Burke's writing comes alive with the masterful narration of Will Patton. The world of Robicheaux springs to life on the audio, making it a rich and textured experience, so that however you encounter the Dave Robicheaux series going forward, Patton will be the voice in your head. --Pam
Why we think it's Essential: Cagey, unconventional and inventive are all words that come to mind when Laura Lippman's name comes up. This highly addictive story is a fast-paced winding mystery involving the disappearance of two girls, a disputed identity and a lot of dead-end leads. Linda Emond's narration is complementary to the "page-turner" nature of the story, expertly guiding us through the cliff-hangers. --Gina
Why we think it's Essential: In the hands of a lesser talent, the ex-cop / recovering alcoholic / PI could easily lapse into cliché. But in the masterful hands of Lawrence Block, Matt Scudder ranks with the great characters of late 20th Century mystery fiction. You can't go wrong with any book in this series, but this one stands out as my absolute favorite because it seamlessly melds Scudder's past with his present. --Steve
Why we think it's Essential: Harlan Coben weaves together a twenty-year-old unsolved multiple homicide case, a high-profile rape trial, blackmail, and the hero's personal tragedy in this complex stand-alone legal mystery. Scott Brick elevates a somewhat traditional formula (history comes back to haunt the present) to a new level with his masterful performance chock-full of twists and turns. And the audio contains some clever elements that add to the suspense, making this a definite must-hear. --Taylor