Why we think it's Essential: Every so often a debut novel seems like a warning flare, sent up to let everyone know just how big a talent we have on our hands. I generally tend to think of this phenomenon happening with literary fiction, and maybe that's why Beat the Reaper was such a wonderful surprise. Josh Bazell's debut is one of those fresh new thrillers with a totally unique angle: A former mob hit man goes into the witness protection program and trains to be an ER doctor. When an old associate turns up as a patient, well - you can imagine - all hell breaks loose. Robert Petkoff captures the rugged toughness in the voice of the main character and he handles a variety of ethnic accents with sophisticated deftness. One of our office ..
Why we think it's Essential: Jeffery Deaver is clearly a true master of the thriller genre, and he's at his very best in The Broken Window. This eighth thriller to feature quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme finds Lincoln's estranged cousin arrested on murder charges. But the evidence seems too perfect, and Lincoln's team suspects identity theft and manipulation. Dennis Boutsikaris' cold, calculating take on the killer's voice is absolutely chilling. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: One of the most beloved heroes in the thriller genre, African-American psychologist Alex Cross (formerly of the D.C. Police and FBI) confronts his own personal demons when called to investigate a serial rapist who may have murdered his wife years ago. Peter J. Fernandez and Jay O. Sanders prove an excellent pair in drawing out Cross' internal turmoil and the tensions in plot. The use of music created a movie score feel here, adding up to another standout outing from bestseller James Patterson. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: The fact that The Da Vinci Code is Audible's best-selling book of all time, might be reason enough to include it on this list. But we can do better than that. This hugely popular novel continues the story of Robert Langdon who races to outwit a faceless killer with a bizarre religious motive that sent shockwaves out here in the real world as well. Narrator Paul Michael keeps the listener strung along with his varied pacing, which highlights the academic details of the story. I can't wait to dive into the sequel, The Lost Symbol. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: The unseen enemy is always the most terrifying, because extraordinary insight is required just to identify the invisible. Suarez's enemy is a rogue computer with a demonic bent that touches every computer in the world, and every human being is threatened. Narrator Jeff Gurner delivers a brilliant turn as a computer whiz. His performance is marvelously deliberate with subtle turns of phrase just to give the character the right depth. Hard to believe this excellent technothriller was penned by a first-time author, who's already drawing comparisons to Michael Crichton.--Corey
Why we think it's Essential: Where do we even begin? Not many books have earned the kind of fans that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two follow up novels, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, have. Obsessive and evangelistic in their zeal, people who love the Millennium Trilogy only have one complaint - that there aren’t any more novels coming since Stieg Larsson tragically passed away shortly after completing the manuscripts. Simon Vance, an Audible favorite, narrates this series that appeals to listeners of all types. Whether you like highbrow literature or lighter fare, mysteries, or straight fiction, there’s a good chance you’ll be sucked in. —Emily
Why we think it's Essential: Gillian Flynn's debut, Sharp Objects, came complete with an endorsement from Stephen King, and her follow-up thriller, Dark Places, got even more praise for its twisted, riveting plot and well-developed characters. Though a dark, tragic tale, the full cast of narrators made this a tremendously enjoyable performance. --Diana D.
Why we think it's Essential: You might know Bond from the movies, but Fleming's Bond is not exactly as flashy or superhuman as Sean Connery or Roger Moore (or George Lazenby, for that matter). These slim listens are more measured and subtle, but equally as entertaining. And fascinating to compare to what you see on screen with what happens in print. The price of admission, however, is Simon Vance, whose smooth, controlled performance is delightful set against the author's exotic locales. Fans are encouraged to contrast Fleming's Bond with John Le Carre's tortured spies. What a difference, and an ear-opening education into this powerful thriller genre!—Corey
Why we think it's Essential: The Faithful Spy is an Audible Essential, but we just couldn't leave it off our thriller list. Thanks to Robertson Dean's menacing narration, this gripping, thinking-person's thriller about a CIA operative deep undercover in al Qaeda is frighteningly real. Once you start listening, you'll find yourself sitting in the driveway with the engine still running. --Steve
Why we think it's Essential: First to Kill was one of those books that our audio editors were raving about-Dick Hill captures the smooth, cool voice of former Marine sniper and cover CIA operative Nathan McBride brilliantly. Full of thrills and unforgettable characters revolving around the disappearance of a deep-cover FBI agent - and one ton of powerful Semtex explosive - it's no wonder that this stellar debut shot up our bestseller lists, even nearly a year after its print publication. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: When we choose our Essentials, our team relies heavily upon our listeners' reviews, and since there are not any for this book we know it's an unusual pick. ButThe Hundredth Man is such a fascinating take on the police procedural that we just couldn't leave off our list. In this stellar debut, junior police detective Carson Ryder has landed on a special projects force where he must seek his brother's help to solve a baffling new murder. But his brother is criminally psychotic-think Hannibal Lecter-and Ryder must allow his brother to hurt him to receive help. Dick Hill's authentic Southern drawl brings the Mobile, Alabama setting here wonderfully alive. Tightly plotted, this one should win Kerley new
Why we think it's Essential: Some heroes take some development, but Jack Reacher proved immediately compelling to our listeners. The first in Lee Child's best-selling thriller series featuring the ex-military policeman, Killing Floor won the Barry and Anthony Awards for Best First Novel. Veteran mystery/thriller narrator Dick Hill keeps the action taut through a heightened pace during unfolding action. Paired with measured pauses to paint the scene or shed insight into character observations, this top-notch narration will have you at the end of your seat and eager for more Jack Reacher novels. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: Also tapped as an Audible Essential in 2008, The Lion's Game is DeMille at the peak of his writing powers. This one has it all: action, suspense, humor, romance, captivating characters, a seriously bad bad-guy, and an endearingly bad good-guy. Scott Brick's perfect narration raises the stakes to a higher level. A master of pacing, Brick's measured delivery makes the suspense behind the surpentine plot come alive. My stomach was tied in knots and I loved every minute of it. --Corey
Why we think it's Essential: A #1 national best seller with comparisons to John le Carré, The Messenger establishes Daniel Silva as a master of the international espionage genre. Israeli art restorer and spymaster Gabriel Allon is on the trail of a deadly al-Qaeda operative with sights set on the Vatican. Expertly navigating several languages and accents in English, Christopher Lane whisks the listener along Allon's chase across Europe to the Caribbean and back. Exhilarating-Silva's double and triple plot twists will keep you guessing. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: John le Carre spent a few formative years in British Intelligence, which clearly influenced his fiction. Though many think his best works of espionage feature George Smiley, we had to go with A Most Wanted Man as our Thriller Essential because of narrator Robert Rees' performance. Rees delivers all the drama of Le Carre's prose - with both German and British accents - flawlessly. It's no surprise AudioFile calls Le Carre and Rees a mesmerizing pair. We can't help but agree. --Diana D.
Why we think it's Essential: The Neighbor was my first suspense listen from bestseller Lisa Gardner, and what a listen it was-enthralling, electrifying, and full of shocking twists and turns. Three narrators compellingly capture the voice and emotion of the young wife gone missing, the sole four-year-old daughter witness, and the handsome husband with secrets to hide. You won't want to miss the explosive conclusion. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: Obviously not a traditional thriller, Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes is just as compelling with its shocking twists and turns. In her thoughtful performance, Carol Monda takes on the school shooter, the victims, and their parents, offering a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight that we don't get to hear often enough.--Diana D.
Why we think it's Essential: Paranoia packs in all the great ingredients of a winning thriller: corporate espionage, a "big brother is watching spookiness," and the ability to keep you up late at night listening. But it's the one element that Finder leaves to the side that may be what makes this a thriller essential. There's not much in the way of traditional weapons-blaring action; this is a thinking man's thriller for the technology age. The story of the rise and fall of a corporate drone turned industry spy highlights just how frightening, dangerous, and creepy our everyday lives could suddenly become, if given the Finder treatment. --Emily
Why we think it's Essential: Harry Bosch made an appearance on the Mystery Essentials list, but as one of the most celebrated thriller writers as well, we couldn't leave Michael Connelly off this list. "The Poet" was Connelly's first non-Bosch novel and won comparisons to Thomas Harris of Silence of the Lambs fame (see below). Buck Shirner gives distinct voice to Connelly's winning protagonist, crime beat reporter Jack McEvoy, and will keep even the most seasoned of thriller fans guessing as to the Poet behind McEvoy's brother's murder. --Diana M.
Why we think it's Essential: A Prisoner of Birth was the surprise Audible best seller of 2008 and took our listeners so completely in that we had to include it on this list. Jeffrey Archer has long been in the category of writers whose works are difficult to put down and the same is true for this novel. You could listen with rapt attention for hours and only then realize how much time has past. Knowing his way around the courtroom in fiction (and nonfiction, wink-wink), the author is dextrous at capturing the momentum shifts between defense and prosecution during trial. Veteran actor Roger Allam (V for Vendetta) adds immeasurably to the authenticity with his spot-on cockney accent. --Corey