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Mystery Essential
When you go into a bookstore or come to Audible to choose your next book, you'll find that mysteries and thrillers share the same shelf space, both physically and virtually. But when our team of editors sat down to debate, and ultimately select our Mystery Essentials we thought it was important to draw a distinction between the two.

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.

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  • Through a Glass, Darkly

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Donna Leon
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    On a spring day in Venice, Commissario Brunetti and his assistant, Vianello, play hooky to help Vianello's friend Marco Ripetti, arrested during an environmental protest. They secure his release, only to be faced with the fury of the man's father-in-law, Giovanni De Cal, who has made violent threats against Ripetti. Brunetti's curiousity is peaked, and he finds himself drawn to investigate. Is De Cal the type of man to carry out his threats?

    Dyer says: "Another terrific book by Donna Leon."
    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
  • The Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Dave Robicheaux returns in another Bayou adventure, this one more gruesome and gut-wrenching than any that have come before. Hurricane Katrina has ravaged New Orleans, leaving the streets and buildings flooded and the city awash with opportunists, looters, and vicious criminals. There is no order, no law. Police are shooting randomly at innocent people, prison guards have abandoned their posts, and bodies float through the streets and hang from trees.

    Deborah says: "How Does One Manage?"
    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
  • What the Dead Know

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Laura Lippman
    • Narrated By Linda Emond

    Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found, and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who or what could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness? Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters.

    AmazonShoppingQueen says: "Worth it indeed!"
    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
  • When the Sacred Ginmill Closes: A Matt Scudder Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Lawrence Block
    • Narrated By Mark Hammer

    When ex-cop Matt Scudder thought back on the summer of '75, two faces emerged from behind the smoky haze of a half dozen boozy saloons that made up his beat - Skip Devoe and Tommy Tillary - two bar flies he wouldn't have given a second thought to in the bright light of day. Yet they and their troubles were the reason that moved him a little farther out of the bleary-eyed mess that had become his life.

    mindusq says: "Great narration, great prose"
    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
  • The Woods

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Harlan Coben
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again.

    Barry says: "Coben's worst I've read"
    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
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