Following on from last week’s post about why I love audiobooks, I thought I’d give a few recommendations of audiobooks I’ve really enjoyed over the last year. As I mentioned in the last post, I tend to steer clear of any complex stuff when I’m choosing audiobooks – one slightly irksome thing about audiobooks is that it’s a bit of a faff to flick backwards and forward through the audio to check plot details, names etc if anything is at all complicated and you didn’t fully absorb/catch it the first time you heard it. Consequently I tend to leave the more highbrow stuff to buy in paper form and for audiobooks I tend to go for pretty easy-to-follow, page-turner crime thrillers that are going to be exciting, not taxing, additions to my car journey / washing up / whatever I’m doing while I’m listening to it. All of these five below are available via Audible (I have the £7.99, one-book-per-month subscription):
1. The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill, narrated by Jonathan Keeble
Having said that I tend to go for lightweight stuff when choosing audiobooks, I’d say this is a great book under any circumstances, and although it’s easy to follow, it certainly has complexity. It explores, through his interactions with his prison psychiatrist, the history of Wolf Hadda, a self-made entrepreneur from humble beginnings who, despite protesting his innocence, finds himself thrown into a high-security prison on charges of fraud and child pornography. It has solid, intriguing, complex characters, an engaging plot based on the ever-dramatic themes of betrayal and revenge and I really enjoyed the celebration of the beautiful Cumbrian landscape, a place close to my own heart. A great mystery worth buying in either audiobook or paper form.
Techically this isn’t one book, it’s three – but as they are part of a series I’ve lumped them in together. Written by ‘Robert Galbraith’ (aka JK Rowling’s crime fiction alter-ego), these follow the life and career of private detective Cormoran Strike. I really enjoyed these, and after reading (listening to) the first one (The Cuckoo’s Calling) I immediately bought the second one (The Silkworm), and again, immediately after finishing that, the third one (Career Of Evil), and I was really disappointed when they were all finished. They have wonderfully vivid, likeable characters (best of all, of course, the brilliant Cormoran Strike himself – who, despite being introduced as having ‘pube-like hair’, I found myself instantly attracted to), intriguing and unpredictable plotlines, and a fantastic narrator.
3. Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris, narrated by Georgia Maguire
An easy to follow, fast-paced, page-turner thriller about the ‘perfect’ marriage, with a horrible ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ type villain I loved to hate. I’d say it’s very much the type of book that gets rave reviews more from women’s mags than respected literary supplements, but if you’re after a straightforward, non-taxing ‘holiday’ type read then you could do much worse. As far as I’m concerned, a perfect audiobook to while away a long car journey. I enjoyed it.
4. Restless by William Boyd, narrated by Rosamund Pike
Like The Woodcutter, this is another book that is absolutely decent in its own right, whether in paper or audio form, easy to follow but not at all simplistic. It’s an espionage thriller, following the story of Eva, a young Russian woman recruited to work for the British Secret Service around the time of World War II, interlinked with the story of her daughter, a teacher and single mother in the 1970s. We’ve been loving watching a lot of spy-based TV series (Homeland, 24, The Americans – bloody LOVE The Americans – watch it if you haven’t already!) and I think I’ve become a bit obsessed with the whole ‘covert intelligence’ world – it absolutely fascinates me. I’m well aware I’d make the most horrendous spy (too old, too open, too emotional, very little common sense and have frequently been told I have the polar opposite of a ‘poker face’…) but perhaps it is because it’s a world so far from what I know that makes it so compelling to me. Restless is a fast-paced adventure that pulls you into the world of wartime intelligence and raises interesting questions about the manipulation and distribution of information/’facts’ and the impact of espionage on the personal relationships of those involved in it. A great read.
5. Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd, narrated by Matt Addis
This was a bit of a random find on the Audible website – it won Audible UK’s Book of the Year 2015. I’d not heard of Luke Smitherd before – but I thoroughly enjoyed this – a random man is told he has to kill someone of his own choosing within a strict timeframe to avoid other innocents being killed. It did a brilliant job of making me ask myself (and answer) awkward questions the whole way through… (Who would I kill? Would I kill anyone at all? Who deserves to die more? Are some lives worth more than others?) I really enjoyed that it was set in the Midlands (near where I grew up) and the narrator was ace. Luke Smitherd’s a really refreshing voice and I’m definitely going to take a look at his other stuff – I’ve already started listening to The Stone Man. The only drawback to Kill Someone is that it’s fairly short, which combined with being pretty ‘unputdownable’ means if you have a monthly subscription for 1 book like I do, you’ll probably find yourself finishing it way before your new credit’s due. Well worth checking out.
So there are my first 5 audiobook recommendations – do you guys have any others you’d recommend?