James Patterson is one of the most prolific contemporary American writers working today—from children's and YA books to thrillers, mysteries, and even romance, it's hard to keep up with such a massive number of best sellers. Figuring out where to start with his array of audiobooks can be a tough choice to make. Most fans will give you different answers if you ask what the best James Patterson listens are, or which series are his most popular, so we've decided to offer you a few different entry points into his impressive catalog.
We've rounded up some of James Patterson’s most popular and highly rated audiobooks for adults. Some of these are series that should be listened to in order, and some are standalone novels—but feel free to dive in anywhere! You can't go wrong with any of these excellent James Patterson listens.
1st to Die
The Women's Murder Club is one of James Patterson's longest-running series. Set in San Francisco, it stars four women—a homicide detective, a medical examiner, an assistant DA, and a crime reporter—who have their friendship and a dedication to crime investigations in common. Featuring numeric titles, the series kicks off with
and continues to the latest release, 1st to Die . The novels are consistent best sellers and inspired a TV drama of the same name, featuring Angie Harmon as the homicide detective. Each listen is its own standalone mystery, but if you care about the characters and want to follow their stories, start at the beginning. While narrators for the first 10 audiobooks vary, books 10-20 are narrated by Audie Award-winning narrator January LaVoy. The 20th Victim NYPD Red
Looking for a detective series set on the East Coast? James Patterson has you covered with the NYPD Red series, starring NYPD Detective Zach Jordan. Zach thought his job was rough when he was assigned a new partner—who turned out to be his ex-girlfriend, Kylie MacDonald. But things go from bad to worse when a Hollywood producer dies, jumpstarting a puzzling series of murders that rock NYC. There are five audiobooks in this fast-paced series—
, NYPD Red , NYPD Red 2 , NYPD Red 3 , and NYPD Red 4 —all narrated by Edoardo Ballerini and Jay Snyder. Red Alert Step on a Crack
If you enjoy high-stakes thrillers in the vein of the Jack Reacher series, then you'll definitely want to try the Michael Bennett series. Michael Bennett is an NYPD detective who is called in on the most complicated of cases. At the start of the series, he's just lost his wife and is contending with having to raise their 10 children alone when a crisis shakes the city: a criminal uses the funeral of the late First Lady as an opportunity to take 34 powerful people hostage. This is a 12-audiobook ongoing series, with a couple of in-between novellas from James Patterson's BookShots stories. Start with
. Step on a Crack Texas Ranger
In this tension-packed release, James Patterson takes his talent for mystery and thriller stories to the heart of Texas. Rory Yates is a Texas Ranger with a long career, but that's put into jeopardy when he comes home to a grisly scene: his ex-wife, murdered. Everyone's pointing the finger at him, so Rory is going to have to work fast to prove he isn't responsible. The audiobook is narrated excellently by Christopher Ryan Grant, and if you enjoy this listen, be sure to pick up the sequel,
. Texas Outlaw Invisible
In the standalone thriller
, narrated by January LaVoy and Kevin Collins, FBI Agent Emmy Dockery is certain there is a link between hundreds of unsolved cases—but no one will believe her. Forced to take a leave of absence, Emmy spends her time at home, trying to prove her theories...until the day she finds a missing link and takes this evidence to her boyfriend, an FBI field agent. With more murders being reported by the day, Emmy will have to move fast in order to prove that there's one person behind these crimes, and catch them before they can hurt anyone else. Emmy takes on another shocking case in a sequel, Invisible . Unsolved Sam's Letters to Jennifer
With his command of crime fiction, it’s easy to forget that James Patterson is also the author of love stories that will appeal to fans of authors like Nicholas Sparks. In
, a woman is summoned back to the hometown she left years earlier, and finds a series of letters addressed to her that completely rewrite everything she thought she knew about her past. This audiobook is narrated by Anne Heche and Jane Alexander and was a 2005 Audie Award Finalist. It's also on the shorter side—perfect if you want a quick listen that is romantic and uplifting, proving that a single letter can have the power to change your life. Sam's Letters to Jennifer The Murder House
Another outstanding standalone, this listen is about a gorgeous oceanfront property with dark and twisted secrets. Former NYPD detective Jenna has moved back to her hometown in the Hamptons in an attempt to distance herself from her past and get her career back on track. But when a famous Hollywood powerbroker and his mistress are found dead in the legendary murder house, Jenna finds the crime to be far more shocking and twisted than anything she ever encountered on the streets of New York City. To solve the crime, she must dive deep into the house’s secrets (and hometown gossip), putting her own life in jeopardy. Narrated by Therese Plummer and Jay Snyder,
is another great pick if you want a twisty murder mystery without the commitment of a long series. The Murder House Along Came a Spider
If you want a story that stars James Patterson's most iconic characters, then you need to check out an Alex Cross audiobook. With 27 audiobooks (and counting!) in the series, it can be a bit difficult to know where to start, but we recommend beginning with the very first audiobook,
—a high-stakes thriller introducing Alex Cross, an African American homicide detective in Washington, DC, with a PhD in psychology. The 25th-anniversary edition is masterfully narrated by actor Taye Diggs. Cross is also a devoted single father, but his relationship with the first female supervisor of the Secret Service is about to put him in terrible danger from a criminal mastermind who has outsmarted every law enforcement agency in the country. And if you like what you hear, rest easy knowing there are plenty more Alex Cross audiobooks for a marathon-listen, the most recent of which is Along Came a Spider . Criss Cross Instinct
In this listen, a serial killer has been terrorizing New York City and leaving behind playing cards at each murder scene. Detective Elizabeth Needham is in charge of this case, which is growing more and more sensationalized by the minute. In the hopes of stopping the killer, she turns to Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a brilliant professor of behavioral psychology who wrote the book on abnormal behavior…literally. When they discover that each playing card is a hint at the next victim, the race is on—but it may end up revealing a lot about Dylan's past.
was the basis of a television show of the same name. This gripping audiobook is brilliantly narrated by Patterson favorite Edoardo Ballerini, who also narrates the sequel, Instinct . Killer Instinct The Cornwalls Are Gone
Another standalone pick,
is a twisty, high-octane thriller with a strong woman lead character. Army Intelligence Officer Amy Cornwall has just returned to her home in Virginia to find it empty, her husband and 10-year-old daughter missing. Then the phone rings, and a voice informs her that she has 48 hours to commit a dangerous crime—free an anonymous war captive—or find her husband and daughter dead. Unable to turn to anyone for help, Amy will have to pull off the perfect crime and risk everything in order to save her family. Although The Cornwalls Are Gone The Cornwalls Are Gone is billed as the first in a series, there aren't any sequels out at the moment; so if you pick this one up, you may be ahead of the curve. Lauren Fortgang and Edoardo Ballerini team up to narrate, delivering a pause-resistant listen. The Coldest Case
Fan favorite Detective Billy Harney is back in the latest installment in the
Black Book series. As the son of the Chicago Chief of Police and with a sister who’s a detective, being a cop was written in the stars for Billy Harney. But when he's left for dead along with his partner and finds a little black book linked to his would-be murderer, everything changes. That little black book turns out to be something everyone in the city wants, and they'll do anything to get their hands on it. In this installement, Billy's investigating a dangerous Chicago drug ring, while his new partner, Kate, goes undercover. But when members of the drug ring end up dead and an informant goes missing along with the little black book, Billy and Kate are pulled deeper into a dark underworld of corruption, money, violence, and conspiracy. Award-winning actor Aaron Paul expertly narrates this heart-pounding Patterson thriller along with Krysten Ritter, Nathalie Emmanuel, and a full cast. Tirzah Price is a writer and contributing editor at Book Riot.