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Best Audiobooks: April 2019

This month we’re grooving to the sweet sounds of a fictional L.A. rock band, investigating a notorious kidnapping in 1970s Belfast, reliving an acclaimed actor’s early years in New York City, and prowling the streets of World War II-era Prague on the hunt for a serial killer. By David Adams

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, read by Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, and many others

This epic love story and glowing tribute to 1970s rock ‘n’ roll charts the rise and fall of a fictional L.A. band led by Daisy Jones, a gorgeous, free-spirited groupie turned singer, and Billy Dunne, a hard-partying guitarist desperately trying to save his marriage. Daisy and Billy’s explosive chemistry launches The Six into the stratosphere of rock ‘n’ roll superstardom, but behind every chart-topping hit is a dangerous undercurrent of illicit desire. Told almost entirely through interviews with members of the band, friends, family, and music industry insiders, the novel seeks to uncover why The Six broke up at the height of their success. A full cast of performers, including Jennifer Beals as Daisy, brings the audiobook to vivid life, and the official Spotify playlist will have you singing along to some of the best music from a golden era of rock ‘n’ roll.  

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, read by Bahni Turpin

Set during the height of the Cold War, this debut novel brilliantly blends the excitement of an espionage thriller with the emotional complexity of the best literary fiction. Marie Mitchell is one of the few black female agents in the FBI, but her career has stalled. When she’s offered a plum overseas assignment, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to her bosses. But Marie’s mission—to seduce and help to overthrow Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso—is deeply unsettling. Not only does she support much of what Sankara is doing for his country, she’s also irresistibly drawn to the man himself. Award-winning audiobook narrator Bahni Turpin beautifully captures Marie’s intelligence, passion, and self-reliance, making this one of the most gripping stories you’ll listen to all year.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

In December 1972, at the height of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, a widowed mother of 10 young children was dragged from her Belfast home by a gang of masked intruders. Thirty years later, her remains washed up on a beach. The mystery of who killed Jean McConville, and why, is the backbone of this taut, meticulously researched book, but Say Nothing is about more than one murder—it’s the chronicle of a society so gripped by fear and paranoia that any crime, no matter how shocking, could be justified, and what happens when the cycle of violence finally ends. Northern Ireland native Matthew Blaney expertly narrates an historical true crime saga that also offers valuable insights into our current political moment, from the rise of right-wing extremism to the disastrous state of Brexit.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, read by Shvorne Marks

In the opening scene of this brave and witty debut novel, 25-year-old Queenie Jenkins, a Jamaican British woman living in London, is in stirrups at her gynecologist’s office. The upsetting news delivered by her doctor, coupled with a bad breakup with her white boyfriend, sends Queenie into a tailspin. She drinks too much, sleeps with too many of the wrong guys, and jeopardizes her closest friendships. But Queenie is much more than a catalogue of cringe-worthy moments. Threaded throughout the narrative are poignant, perceptive reflections on interracial relationships, the Black Lives Matter movement, mental health, and the enduring legacy of family traumas. Narrator Shvorne Marks is a pleasure to listen to, even in Queenie’s darkest moments, and the novel’s cathartic final chapters are all the more powerful as a result of her performance.

Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood by Andrew Rannells, read by the author

Andrew Rannells may not be a household name, but thanks to his acclaimed roles in Broadway’s The Book of Mormon and the HBO sitcom Girls, the Omaha, Nebraska native has put his stamp on two of the buzziest comedies of the past decade. In this witty and inspiring memoir, Rannells chronicles his Midwestern youth and the decade he spent in New York City before catching his big break in the 2006 Broadway production of Hairspray. Whether he’s describing his first taste of August in Manhattan—“a steam room filled entirely by urine”—or recounting one of his “regularly scheduled anxiety attacks,” Rannells comes across like the hilarious, insightful friend you love to catch up with over drinks. Listening to his stories will leave you howling with laughter and looking for opportunities to make your own dreams come true.

The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell, narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt

Czechoslovakia, 1935. On the outskirts of Prague, a medieval castle has been turned into an asylum for the criminally insane. Its half-dozen inmates are Central Europe’s most notorious killers: The Devil’s Six. A brilliant young psychiatrist arrives at the hospital with a plan to unlock the secrets of these madmen (and one madwoman). Meanwhile, a serial killer haunts the streets of Prague, imitating the gruesome handiwork of Jack the Ripper. Following the trail of evidence, the lead detective pays a visit to the asylum, where the mystery only deepens and becomes even more terrifying. Acclaimed Scottish crime writer Craig Russell’s U.S. debut is one of the most inventive and genuinely shocking thrillers in years, and narrator Julian Rhind-Tutt—and his posh British accent—lend a fitting air of sophistication to the diabolical proceedings.

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