I’m a relatively new adapter to audiobooks, but they’ve quickly become the soundtrack to all my mundane life tasks that I used to put off. The only downside? I tend to listen in short bursts, and if a story doesn’t hook me right away, it takes me forever to get through a book. My solution: short mystery audiobooks at under 10 hours. The structure and the suspense hook me, and the short length ensures that I get through them before they need to go back to the library! Here are some of my favorites!
Abby, a lawyer, investigates chemical contamination in her hometown, convinced that the crime is somehow tied to the disappearance of her one-time high school friend ten years earlier. I loved the environmental slant to this story, and how the mystery slowly builds from contamination to murder. Narrator Karissa Vacker even sounds like Krysten Ritter, so I spent the book imagining Abby as a cross between Jessica Jones and Ritter’s Veronica Mars character Gia Goodman. (8 hours, 52 minutes)
You have a few options if you haven’t listened to this Agatha Christie classic yet: a full cast production, one narrated by Dan Stevens, and one narrated by Kenneth Branagh as a tie-in with the new movie adaptation. I haven’t seen the new movie yet, but listening to Branagh was the perfect refresher to get me excited for the new movie! (6 hours, 12 minutes)
For a modern noir vibe, Pasadena is the perfect brief but powerful story. When Maggie Kim is found dead in her swimming pool, her best friend Jude is convinced it’s murder. But as she probes Maggie’s life, she slowly comes to realize that while Maggie may have been her best friend, Jude may not have been Maggie’s. This is a wonderfully atmospheric read, and Rebecca Soler’s reading does the tone justice. (5 hours, 37 minutes)
Federal agent Aaron Falk returns to the tiny farming town of Kiewarra when Luke, his childhood best friend, is found dead, apparently after murdering his own family. Luke and Aaron have a messy history; as teenagers they provided each other false alibis for the death of their friend Ellie. Under deep suspicion by the locals and in the midst of the worst drought in living memory, Falk is forced to confront his past. I read this one in print and can say with confidence that it’s an excellent mystery and a promising start to a series. I recently listened to a sample of the audiobook and narrator Stephan Shanahan’s Australian accent is making me consider jumping ship to audio for the rest of the books! (9 hours, 46 minutes)
For an outrageous, Veronica Mars-esque mystery, you can’t go wrong with Tromly’s Trouble series. Kathleen McInerey narrates the strange friendship of Zoe and Digby, two high school outcasts who inexplicably team up to solve the mystery of a local missing girl. Digby is uncharismatic, impatient, and he’s got a secret agenda. Zoe is reluctant and cranky. Somehow, they make the most perfect, hilarious duo. (8 hours, 49 minutes)
Flavia de Luce is a delightful heroine. With her passion for chemistry, tormenting her sisters, and solving crimes that unfold in her crumbling manor, she’s like an extra-sarcastic British Harriet the Spy. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie finds Flavia proving her absent-minded father innocent of murder and solving a decades-old mystery. Jayne Entwistle’s narration is lively and spirited, just like Flavia. (9 hours, 53 minutes)
This rules-defying mystery starts in London, and chapter-by-chapter traces the last year in the life of Jule. A girl who came from nothing, she went on to befriend the rich and charming Imogene, and now has to contend with the consequences of Imogene’s disappearance. Lockhart masterfully builds this backwards story so that you’re confused, but not too confused, and Rebecca Soler’s reading is polished with an edge. (6 hours, 42 minutes)
A hunting accident gone wrong is the premise of this YA mystery. A boy is killed, the evidence as to who killed him isn’t conclusive, and the DA is eager to sweep the case under the rug until Kate Marino, high school intern for the DA’s office, begins doing a little extra digging. Narrated by Amy Melissa Bentley and Eric Michael Summerer, this mystery with a legal slant builds to a quick and satisfying climax. (8 hours, 47 minutes)
For a rural noir mystery, you can’t go wrong with Locke’s newest novel about Darren Matthews, a black Texas ranger who must investigate a precarious case in a small town—the murders of a black man from out of state and a local white woman. JD Jackson narrates this powerful story about race, crime, and rural life that is highly relevant. (9 hours, 24 minutes)
Maggie Service narrates a story of Julie Beaufort-Stuart, a year before we meet her in Code Name Verity. She’s returned to her ancestral home a final time before it’s sold in the wake of her grandfather’s death and is drawn into the mystery of a missing man, and her family’s missing pearls. Not one to accept simple explanations, Julie is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and see that justice is served. (7 hours, 58 minutes)
What are some of your favorite short mystery audiobooks? Share in the comments!