7 Chilling Summer Listens

If the air conditioner doesn’t give you goosebumps this summer, these thrillers will.

 

1. A Blood Thing by James Hankins, narrated by Timothy Andrés Pabon

A Blood Thing.

Governor Andrew Kane, is at a public meet-and-greet when a stranger slips him a phone and whispers, “Keep this… you’re going to need it after the arrest.” Hours later, Andrew’s brother is framed for murder, and discovers there is only one way to free him: answer the phone and agree to a blackmailer’s demands. He complies, but the stranger isn’t done. He has another little condition. Then another. And another…
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2. Unwelcome Guests by Anna Willett, narrated by Cat Gould

Unwelcome Guests

A weekend getaway in an isolated country house is just what Caitlin needs to fix her relationship with husband Eli. Her spirits are up as they enter the retreat and cool off in the nearby lake. But her husband is cold and dismissive so Caitlin decides to drown her sorrows, and heads into the wine cellar. What she finds there will change their lives forever.
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3. Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding, narrated by Kirby HeyborneCassandra CampbellRebekkah Ross

Her Pretty Face

Frances Metcalfe thought her troubled son getting accepted into an elite school would change their lives. But after an incident that ostracizes the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever. Until she meets Kate Randolph. Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. As they bond, a secret erupts. One of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunik. And she’s a murderer.
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4. The Cabin At The End Of The World by Paul Tremblay, narrated by Amy Landon

The Cabin At The End Of The World.

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet lake. As Wen catches bugs, a stranger appears. Leonard is the large, young, and friendly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and says, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault.” Three more strangers arrive, beginning a gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival.
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5. Half Moon Bay by Alice Laplante, narrated by Gabra Zackman

Half Moon Bay

Jane loses everything when her teenage daughter is killed in an accident. Devastated, she makes one tiny stab at a new life: she moves to the tiny seaside town of Half Moon Bay. She is able to cobble together some version of a job, friends, and peace. And then, children begin to disappear. As the disappearances continue, her neighbors wonder is if it is Jane herself who has unleashed the horror of loss.
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6. The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini and Graham Winton

The Fifth To Die

Detective Porter has been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath frozen waters, she is identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. 
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7. Last Girl by J. G. Hetherton, narrated by Laura Jennings

Last Girl Gone

Fired from the Boston Globe, Laura Chambers takes a job with the local paper. The work is boring – at least until a missing girl turns up dead. Years earlier, child after child disappeared, a reign of terror the town desperately wants to forget. Now that terror has returned to seize another girl. And another. And another. She dives deeper into a case, only to discover the truth may be far closer to home than she could have imagined.
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STAFF PICK: Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

Post by Laura Laidman

Title: Her Pretty Face
Author: Robyn Harding
Narrator: Kirby HeyborneCassandra CampbellRebekkah Ross

Frances Metcalfe has a secret; a secret that could tear apart her home, her family, and the one real friendship she has managed to forge. But in Robyn Harding’s Her Pretty Face, Frances isn’t the only one holding on to a dark secret that lies in waiting just below the surface of her life.

Between her distant husband, her difficult son, and the gossiping mothers at her son’s school, Frances finds solace in Kate Randolph. Kate is everything Frances is not – confident, beautiful, successful, and happy. It’s with her that Frances finds motivation to come out of her shell and move past the pain that haunts her. Unfortunately for Frances, Kate isn’t everything she seems. Darkness looms in Frances’s new friend, one that might be worse than anything Frances herself has to hide away from the world.

Told from three perspectives, Frances herself, Kate’s rebellious teenage daughter Daisy, and DJ, a young man with a haunting past of his own, Her Pretty Face is a perfect pick for fans of domestic dramas and thrillers alike.  Each perspective is read by its own narrator, with Kirby Heyborne (Gone Girl), Cassandra Campbell (Small Great Things), and Rebekkah Ross (All The Missing Girlsall giving amazing performances. They bring Frances, Daisy, and DJ to life with the passion and desperation that each character radiates.

Full of twists and turns, Her Pretty Face was an audiobook I just couldn’t press pause on. Each chapter brought the characters deeper down their own dizzying rabbit holes, which twisted together as the story progressed. Fans of true crime will love this one too, with its subtle influences from famous crimes that were interesting to pick up on. Her Pretty Face is the perfect listen for those long summer nights.

Her Pretty Face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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STAFF PICK: Spymaster by Brad Thor

Title: Spymaster
Author: Brad Thor
Narrator: Armand Schultz

It’s summertime, and to me, that means road trips, poolside lounging, twilight walks, and breezy, easy reads. Brad Thor’s new thriller, Spymaster, is just what I’ve been looking for.

It’s a classic political thriller romp through Scandinavia, Europe and the Baltics as special agent Scot Harvath leads a team of elite operatives on a mission: thwart the Russians’ plan to sabotage NATO, destabilize the Western world, and invade and conquer unsuspecting countries (Hitler-pre-WWII-style).

Told in short chapters that jump between Washington, Russia, and Harvath’s current location, Spymaster’s pacing is quick and never drags. Brad Thor sprinkles plenty of cliffhangers throughout, and the question of “what’s going to happen next?” reverberated around my head for the whole 10 hour listening experience.

The whirlwind settings and a cast of interesting characters make for a fun listen. We meet Jasinski, the Pole who may-or-may-not have a thing for Harvath; Oleg, the Russian terror orchestrator; Ryan, the gorgeous and well-connected Washington ex-CIA director; and we learn more about Scot Horvath, the Navy SEAL turned covert counterterrorism operative who has been around the block, to say the least.

With a long list of major characters – each with unique accents, veteran Brad Thor narrator Armand Schultz really has the opportunity to shine. He’s a familiar voice to fans of the Scot Harvath series, having narrated the past 10 or so titles. Spymaster is number 17. For a newbie like me, Spymaster was an easy entry point into Thor’s colorful world, and I never felt that I was missing out on any of the action because I didn’t have a background in the series.

Whether you’re a stalwart fan of the author or just looking for something new, Spymaster is a great accessory to summer – especially when paired with a cold beer and your feet in the sand.

Spymaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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STAFF PICK: The Woman In The Woods by John Connolly

Post by Miranda Winters-Sayle

Title: The Woman In The Woods
Author: John Connolly
Narrator: Jeff Harding

A young woman is found buried in the Maine woods, her body showing signs that she gave birth shortly before her death. Private detective Charlie Parker is hired to recover the missing child — but he isn’t the only one looking him. Someone else is interested in the whereabouts of the child, and they are leaving a trail of bodies in their wake.

The latest installment to John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series has something for lovers of various genres: mystery, paranormal thriller, and horror. What makes the audiobook even more exciting is that it isn’t a typical “whodunit” mystery — in fact, the reader is made aware of the whereabouts of the child within the first few chapters. The question is: Who will find him first?

I was a little hesitant to listen to this book as a first time Connolly reader. Launching headfirst into the 16th title in a series can be intimidating. However, the author does a fantastic job of giving enough information that I felt like I knew Charlie Parker without being overwhelmed with exposition of the events from previous titles in the series.

Listeners are able to follow both Charlie Parker and his adversary Quayle as they search for the missing child. This was hands-down my favorite part of the novel, as many authors do not allow the reader inside the head of the antagonist. Quayle is the perfect villain: clever, cruel, and absolutely creepy.

Fans of previous Charlie Parker audiobooks will be pleased to know that Jeff Harding continues narrating the series. His tone matches what you would expect from the protagonist in a gritty detective novel that doesn’t disappoint.

The Woman in the Woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dynamic Duos: 7 Literary Collaborations that You Didn’t Know About

The stars have aligned and it is Gemini’s time to shine! In honour of the sign’s representative twins, Castor and Pollux, here are some reads penned by authors who are actually duos writing collaboratively in disguise.

1. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren, narrated by Erin Mallon
Duo: Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, friends who met over fanfiction

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away. But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

 

2. The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel by Liv Constantine, narrated by Suzanne Elise FreemanMeghan Wolf
Duo: Sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine

Amber Patterson is tired of being a nobody. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. Amber’s envy could eat her alive…if she didn’t have a plan. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

 

3. Wildcat by Max Monroe, narrated by Jeremy YorkAva Erickson
Duo: Secretive friends Max and Monroe

Wildcat: a football formation in which the ball is snapped, not to the quarterback, but to another player lined up in the quarterback position.
Wild, Cat: a beautiful woman from the sky, who hooked me against the rails, and has me on the ropes. Sweet like honey, with a hint of sass burning behind her pretty brown eyes, she took over my heart without warning.
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4. Sunday Silence: A Novel by Nicci French, narrated by Beth Chalmers
Duo: Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, an English husband-and-wife team

After a body is discovered beneath the floorboards of Frieda’s house, Frieda finds herself a person of interest in a murder case. The corpse is only months old, but the chief suspect appears to have died more than seven years ago. Except as Frieda knows all too well, he’s alive and well and living in secret. And it seems he’s inspired a copycat…Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

 

5. A Casualty of War by Charles Todd, narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Duo: Mother-and-son writing team, Charles and Caroline Todd

Though the Great War is nearing its end, the fighting rages on. While waiting for transport back to her post, Bess Crawford meets Captain Alan Travis and later becomes entangled in the mysterious relationship between Alan and his cousin, Lieutenant James Travis. Bessie’s search for answers will lead her into unexpected danger and bring her face to face with the wounds of war that not even peace can heal. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

6. The Hand That Feeds You by A.J. Rich, narrated by Ann Marie Lee
Duo: Established authors Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment

The duo paired up for this book, which their dying friend Katherine Russell Rich didn’t have time to write. When Morgan Prager’s fiancée, Bennett, is mauled to death, Morgan attempts to locate Bennett’s parents. In the search, she finds that he has several fiancées, and fits the clinical definition of a sociopath. When these other women are murdered one by one, Morgan’s research into Bennett suddenly takes on the urgency of survival. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

7. A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley, narrated by Nyambi Nyambi
Duo: South African writing team, Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip

Faced with the violent death of his own father, Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? Kubu’s frustration grows as his boss bans him from being involved in the investigation. When Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Read more and sample the audio.

 

 

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STAFF PICK: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Post by Pam Campbell

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Narrator: Imogen Church

How am I so late to jumping on the Ruth Ware bandwagon? My lateness to discovering her work aside, I am so glad my introduction to Ruth Ware was with The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

We meet Hal Westaway – a struggling Brighton Pier tarot card reader – late one night at the end of a typical day. It’s clear she is struggling; struggling with paying her bills, struggling to keep the loan shark at bay, struggling to keep warm in her tiny flat and struggling with the recent death of her mother. But tonight won’t be a typical night for Hal. Because tonight she receives a letter notifying her of the death of a grandmother and that she’s been named a beneficiary in the will.

Hal immediately knows there’s been some mistake. She is not related to this woman. There’s no way she would be beneficiary of a large estate. Or is there? Can she use her skills of cold reading people to fool the family and lawyers into believing she is the correct descendent? Does she have any choice? She could really use the money.

Using the last few pounds in her bank account, she decides to board a train and travel to the funeral to make her claim on the inheritance. When she finally meets the family and the grand estate house, Hal finds herself questioning whether or not she can go through with her deception. But like all families and old grand houses, things are not as they seem.

With hints of gothic mystery, intrigues, secrets and distrust, The Death of Mrs. Westaway will have you hypnotised from the start. It is apparent with this book that Ruth Ware is a brilliant storyteller. She slowly and meticulously brings about the twists and turns that make this story so engrossing. Add to that, the brilliant narration of Imogen Church and the listener is left with a wonderfully eerie listening experience.

Since this was my first Ruth Ware book, I can’t compare it to her previous novels. But if you were a fan of The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield, you will thoroughly enjoy The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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