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Thriller Essentials

We know there's an awful lot of seeming overlap between Mysteries and Thrillers, especially when browsing Audible or your local bookstore. So for these lists we've worked with a specific defining distinction: Mysteries are about the solving of a crime. Thrillers are about the prevention of a crime.

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  • A Prisoner of Birth

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Archer
    • Narrated By Roger Allam
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    One evening, Danny, an East End cockney who works as a garage mechanic, takes his girlfriend up to the West End to celebrate their engagement. He crosses the path of Spencer Craig, a West End barrister tipped to be the youngest Queen's Counsel of his generation. A few hours later Danny is arrested for murder and later is sentenced to 22 years in prison.

    K says: "boring"
    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
  • The Silence of the Lambs

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Thomas Harris
    • Narrated By Kathy Bates

    The Silence of the Lambs is an instant classic of chilling psychological suspense. From the tormenting words of homicidal maniac Hannibal Lecter and the flesh-rending depravity of an elusive killer to the sheer courage of a young FBI novice who risks her life to track him down and stop the bloodshed, this critically acclaimed audio production, narrated by Kathy Bates, has an unforgettable intensity.

    JJ says: "Lots of fun."
    Why we think it's Essential: Personally, I tend to choose unabridged books to listen to and we know that many of our listeners lean the same way. But this is an abridgement not to be missed. The story is tightened so that you are kept on the edge of your seat and Kathy Bates, after Misery arguably the female face of nail-biting suspense, delivers a chilling and pitch perfect performance. --Emily
  • Stone Cold

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By David Baldacci
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Oliver Stone and the Camel Club are back in their most dangerous adventure yet, a war on two fronts. Casino king Jerry Bagger from The Collectors is hunting Annabelle Conroy, who conned him out of millions. Stone and his colleagues Reuben, Milton, and Caleb marshal all their resources to protect Annabelle. Yet all their skills may not be enough when a deadly new opponent rips off the veneer of Stone's own mysterious past.

    Louise says: "Stone Cold fantastic"
    Why we think it's Essential: When I listened to this, Stone Cold sounded like the last in Baldacci's bestselling Camel Club series. But I'm so glad it's not-I can't get enough of the series lead, ex-CIA assassin Oliver Stone, and the motley yet perfect mix of his secret club's side characters. Ron McLarty brings the image of Stone wonderfully alive and absolutely nails the mob boss voice of the casino king villain introduced here. You won't have to have read the others to enjoy this riveting listen. --Sylvia
  • Twelve Sharp

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Janet Evanovich
    • Narrated By Lorelei King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    America's favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, is back in her twelfth best seller and sure to win more fans than ever before. Trenton, New Jersey's premier troublemaker is once again struggling with her tangled love life, her chaotic family, and her gift for destroying every car she drives. Not to mention her attempts to bring in the sometimes scary bail jumpers of Trenton and the sudden appearance of a mysterious female stalker, who turns out to have a close connection to Ranger.

    Ruth says: "Entertainment at its best!"
    Why we think it's Essential: When describing her heroine Janet Evanovitch once said, "If Mickey Spillane wrote Archie and Veronica, Stephanie would be Betty." The spunky bounty-hunter at the centre Stephanie Plum been a popular figure, loved by thriller fans ever since her debut in One For the Money, but she really cemented her "essential status" with book 12. Though we think all her books are excellent, this is the one that Malcolm Gladwell would call the tipping point - spreading Stephanie Plum obsession far and wide. Veteran Evanovich narrator Lorelei King returns with her forever cheerful and hilarious narration.--Emilyoral assumptions. --Diana M.
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