AudioFile editors are proud to celebrate another year of exceptional audiobooks and audio artists. Below you’ll find their favorites from this year’s mystery and suspense genre.

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Dark Sacred Night

by Michael Connelly

Read by Titus Welliver, Christine Lakin (Hachette Audio

Michael Connelly brings together young, fierce police detective Renée Ballard, whom he introduced in The Late Show, and Harry Bosch, the tough-minded, justice-seeking, semiretired detective he’s featured in many of his novels. Christine Lakin skillfully performs the chapters written from Ballard’s point of view, and Titus Welliver returns to confidently narrate Bosch’s chapters. Connelly has masterfully woven together a main storyline in which Ballard volunteers to assist Bosch on a cold case with other investigations Bosch and Ballard are dealing with separately. In a timely way, Connelly addresses the #MeToo movement from different angles. In the epilogue, Ballard and Bosch have an actual dialogue–a moment that suggests listeners will be hearing more from the pair as a team. 

 Day of the Dead

by Nicci French

Read by Beth Chalmers (HarperAudio)

The voice of Frieda Klein, the object of a serial murderer’s obsession, is crucial to this riveting audiobook. She must be fiercely disciplined, yet unfailingly gentle and empathetic with others in order for the listener to understand why so many people love her. Beth Chalmers is impeccable. Whether you’ve been with this series from the beginning or are tuning in here for the climax, you will understand Frieda through Chalmers’s marvelous rendition. Also, French makes it easy to infer what has gone before in Frieda’s story, and you’ll be on tenterhooks as you wait to learn if the mistakes of others will finally kill her. Chalmers can apparently do anything in the way of accents and characters, but her Frieda is a chef d’oeuvre

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Kingdom of the Blind

by Louise Penny

Read by Robert Bathurst (Macmillan Audio)

In the fourteenth Three Pines outing, narrator Robert Bathurst brings a world-weary quality to Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache while still capturing the character’s steady, compassionate nature. Gamache is dealing with serious repercussions from his actions in the previous book. Meanwhile, he and another Three Pines resident have been named executors of a stranger’s will, a situation that becomes more complicated when an heir is found dead. The secondary characters come from a wide range of backgrounds. Bathurst’s accents can be inconsistent but his distinct voices–a gravelly growl for Ruth Zardo, a genial drawl for a young carpenter–distinguish the most memorable characters, and he imbues all of them with Penny’s familiar warmth and humanity.

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Lethal White

By Robert Galbraith

Read by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio)

For those who revel in broad-canvas, socially conscious, plot-driven delicious reads recalling the pleasures of Dickens or Thackeray but with utterly contemporary themes, language, and sensibility, break out the banners. J.K. Rowling’s good friend Robert Galbraith has delivered a Cormoran Strike novel you hope goes on forever, except that you really, really want to know how it ends. As with Jim Dale’s almost incredibly inventive performance of the Harry Potter novels, Robert Glenister has peopled Strike’s world with a huge cast that is convincing, horrifying, and funny. Here, as Strike and his partner, Robin, sort out the murder of Britain’s awful culture minister, Jasper Chiswell (pronounced “chisel”), the many greedy, snobbish, cruel faces of evil are human, but the plot and performance are pure magic.

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway 

By Ruth Ware

Read by Imogen Church (Simon & Schuster Audio

Imogen Church is a lively and versatile narrator. Hal reads fortunes on Brighton Pier on the English south coast. Struggling to make ends meet, she receives a letter from a solicitor telling her she is a beneficiary in her late grandmother’s will. But Hal’s only known grandmother is long dead. Pursued by a ruthless loan shark, she is desperate enough to think she can employ her skills as a reader of people to pass herself off as the true beneficiary. Church’s narration is only slightly compromised by the gruff voices she gives to some of the characters. She captures the vulnerable but determined Hal beautifully. As soon as Hal sets foot in the brooding ancestral home in Norfolk, she is embroiled in family secrets and beset by a sinister housekeeper who makes Daphne du Maurier’s Mrs. Danvers seem like the employee of the month. 

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The Other Woman

by Daniel Silva

Read by George Guidall (HarperAudio)

Golden Voice George Guidall continues his narration of the Gabriel Allon series. Listeners will be swiftly carried along by Guidall’s confident voice and varied accents as he recounts Allon’s search for a mole in the highest levels of Western intelligence. Silva has skillfully adapted the true story of Kim Philby, a famous double agent who rose to the heights of Britain’s MI6 while spying for Russia, and layered on an engaging tale of a new generation of double spies. Once again, Allon, now head of Israel’s top intelligence agency, feels compelled to go into the field to protect the balance of world power. Listeners will be treated to masterful writing delivered by an expert storyteller.

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