See also: recommended new physical audiobooks
“Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free him from his wrongful conviction.
“Thousands of miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.
“But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all.
“But how do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?”
“When important information is leaked from inside the Venetian Questura, Commissario Guido Brunetti is entrusted with the task of uncovering which of his colleagues is responsible. But before Brunetti can begin his investigation, he is surprised by the appearance in his office of a friend of his wife’s, who is fearful that her son is using drugs. A few weeks later, Tullio Gasparini, the woman’s husband, is found unconscious with a serious head injury at the foot of a bridge, and Brunetti is drawn to pursue a possible connection to the boy’s behaviour. But the truth is not straightforward.
“Following various contradictory leads, Brunetti navigates his way through a world of mysterious informants, underground deals and secret longstanding scam networks, all the while growing ever more impressed by the intuition of his fellow Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, and by the endless resourcefulness of Signorina Elettra, Vice-Questore Patta’s secretary and gate-keeper.
“With Gasparini’s condition showing no signs of improvement, and his investigations leading nowhere, Brunetti is steadied by the embrace of his own family and by his passion for the classics. He turns to Sophocles’s Antigone in an attempt to understand the true purpose of justice, and, in its light, he is forced to consider the terrible consequences to which the actions of a tender heart can lead.”
“When the Cowley sisters employ a carer to look after the ailing Carmela, Morag appears to suit their needs perfectly. But after a spectacular jewel theft on the night of the Hunt Ball, it appears that the perfect carer might be implicated…”
“Eleanor Trewynn is a recently retired widow who has moved to the small village of Port Mabyn in Cornwall. Neither frail nor retiring, after a lifetime of traveling the world, she’s ready for an uneventful life with her dog and friends in this quiet town. Unfortunately, excitement seems to happen around her.
“Her friend and neighbor, artist Nick Gresham, returns from a trip only to find several of his paintings slashed, reportedly by rival local artist Geoffrey Clarke. When Nick goes to have it out with him, with Eleanor in tow, they find Clarke’s body in his studio, fatally stabbed in the back. Accused of the crime, Nick ends up in jail, while Detective Inspector Scumble and DS Megan Pencarrow, Eleanor’s niece, investigate. But in Eleanor isn’t leaving anything to chance: she starts doing a little investigating of her own, and soon learns that Nick is far from the only one with a compelling motive for murder.”
“Captain Kydd joins an expedition to take Dutch-held Cape Town, a strategic imperative to secure the rich trade-route to India. But even if the British can defeat the enemy and take possession of the capital, there is still more fighting to be done. Kydd and his men must defend the fragile colony from attacks by the enemy from all sides, while braving the wild beasts and hostile environment of Africa’s vast and savage hinterland.”
“The actor and writer reads the account of his third and most ambitious world adventure: an anti-clockwise circumnavigation of the world’s largest ocean, the Pacific. With tales of head-hunters in Borneo and eating maggots in Mexico, Palin brilliantly evokes the full colour and richness of the Pacific Rim.”
“Rachel Hore’s intriguing and suspenseful novel magnificently connects the very different worlds of two young women, who are linked by their individual quests for truth, love and happiness.
“When editor Emily Gordon commissions an account of the great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself caught between Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, and the charming biographer, Joel Richards. What is the secret buried in Morton’s past?
“One winter’s day in 1948, a chance meeting for Isabel Barber leads to a fascinating career in publishing. But when she meets charismatic young debut novelist Hugh Morton the professional becomes passionately personal…”
The Ravenmaster: my life with the ravens at the tower of London, written and read by Christopher Skaife
“For centuries, the Tower of London has been home to a group of famous avian residents: the ravens. Each year they are seen by millions of visitors, and they have become as integral a part of the Tower as its ancient stones themselves. But their role is even more important than that – legend has it that if the ravens should ever leave, the Tower will crumble into dust, and great harm will befall the kingdom.
“One man is personally responsible for ensuring that such a disaster never comes to pass – the Ravenmaster. The current holder of the position is Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife, and in this fascinating, entertaining and touching book he memorably describes the ravens’ formidable intelligence, their idiosyncrasies and their occasionally wicked sense of humour.
“Over the years in which he has cared for the physical and mental well-being of these remarkable birds, Christopher Skaife has come to know them like no one else. They are not the easiest of charges – as he reveals, they are much given to mischief, and their escapades have often led him into unlikely, and sometimes even undignified, situations.
“Now, in the first intimate behind-the-scenes account of life with the ravens of the Tower, the Ravenmaster himself shares the folklore, history and superstitions surrounding both the birds and their home. The result is a compelling, inspiring and irreverent story that will delight and surprise anyone with an interest in British history or animal behaviour.”
“Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatán beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely.
“In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him?
“Whatever the motive, one thing remains indisputable: nine years after achieving wild success with In Cold Blood, Capote committed an act of professional and social suicide with his most lethal of weapons: words.”
“Environmental thought and politics have become parts of mainstream cultural life in Britain. The wish to protect wildlife is now a central goal for our society, but where did these ‘green’ ideas come from? And who created the cherished institutions, such as the National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, that are now so embedded in public life with millions of members?
“From the flatlands of Norfolk to the tundra-like expanse of the Flow Country in northern Scotland, acclaimed writer on nature Mark Cocker sets out on a personal quest through the British countryside to find the answers to these questions.
“He explores in intimate detail six special places that embody the history of conservation or whose fortunes allow us to understand why our landscape looks as it does today. We meet key characters who shaped the story of the British countryside – Victorian visionaries like Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust, as well as brilliant naturalists such as Max Nicholson or Derek Ratcliffe, who helped build the very framework for all environmental effort.
“This is a book that looks to the future as well as exploring the past. It asks searching questions like: who owns the land and why? And who benefits from green policies? Above all it attempts to solve a puzzle: why do the British seem to love their countryside more than almost any other nation, yet they have come to live amid one of the most denatured landscapes on Earth?
“Radical, provocative and original, Our Place tackles some of the central issues of our time. Yet most important of all, it tries to map out how this overcrowded island of ours could be a place fit not just for human occupants but also for its billions of wild citizens.”
“Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
“When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.
“The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.
“Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?”
“Local police stations all over the Scottish Highlands are being threatened with closure and this presents the perfect opportunity for Detective Chief Inspector Blair, who would love nothing more than to get rid of Sergeant Hamish Macbeth. Blair suggests that Cyril Sessions, a keen young police officer, visit the town of Lochdubh to monitor exactly what Hamish does every day.
“On hearing of Blair’s plans Hamish is fully prepared to ensure young Cyril returns back to headquarters with a full report … but before he can do that, Cyril is found dead and Hamish very quickly becomes the prime suspect for his murder…”
“Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.
“But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…
“And someone is watching…”
“It is thirty years since FBI special agent Atlee Pine’s twin sister, Mercy, was taken from the room they shared as young children. Notorious serial killer Daniel James Tor was caught and convicted of other murders, and while there’s no proof, Atlee believes he knows what happened to Mercy. Tor still resides in a high-security prison in Colorado.
“Assigned to the remote wilds of the western United States, Atlee has never stopped the search for her sister, and, wracked with survivor’s guilt, she has spent her life hunting down those who hurt others. She will always ask herself, ‘Why her, and not me?’.
“Now, Atlee is called in to investigate a case in the Grand Canyon when a mule is found dead with strange carvings on its body, and its rider missing. She knows about killers and perhaps understands them better than any profiler in the FBI, but it soon becomes clear that she will need to put her skills to the ultimate test in this investigation.
“It seems that Atlee will now have to confront a new monster.
“And face one of her nightmares.”
“Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.
“Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.
“Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
“Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.
“Someone is hiding the truth about what really happened to Alice.”
“A leader has fallen, and the procession route from Capitol Hill to the White House is lined with hundreds of thousands of mourners. None feel the loss of a President more keenly than Alex Cross, who has devoted his life to the public good.
“A sniper’s bullet strikes a target in the heart of DC. Alex Cross’s wife, Bree Stone, newly elevated chief of DC detectives, faces an ultimatum: solve the case, or lose the position for which she’s worked her entire career. The Secret Service and the FBI deploy as well in the race to find the shooter. Alex is tasked by the new President to take a personal role with the FBI, leading an investigation unprecedented in scale and scope.
“Alex has a horrible premonition: is the sniper’s strike only the beginning of a larger attack on the nation? It isn’t long before his fears explode into life, and the nation plunges into a full-blown Constitutional crisis. His ingenuity, his training, and his capacity for battle are tested beyond limits in the most far-reaching and urgently consequential case of his life. As the rule of law is shattered by chaos, and Alex fights to isolate a suspect, Alex’s loyalty may be the biggest danger of all.”
“After the death of her father in a mining accident, Megan and her family had no choice but to move to the local workhouse. Separated from her mother and five siblings, young Megan must learn how to stand on her own two feet.
“But one day she meets a young boy who’s stealing apples from the local market and together, they set out on a path to find a better life for themselves…”
The Beginning and the End of Everything: from the Big Bang to the end of the universe, by Paul Parson, read by Dallas Campbell
“13.8 billion years ago, something incredible happened. Matter, energy, space and time all suddenly burst into existence in a cataclysmic event that’s come to be known as the Big Bang. It was the birth of our universe. What started life smaller than the tiniest subatomic particle is now unimaginably vast and plays home to trillions of galaxies. The formulation of the Big Bang theory is a story that combines some of the most far-reaching concepts in fundamental physics with equally profound observations of the cosmos.
“From our realisation that we are on a planet orbiting a star in one of many galaxies, to the discovery that our universe is expanding, to the groundbreaking theories of Einstein that laid the groundwork for the Big Bang cosmology of today – as each new discovery deepens our understanding of the origins of our universe, a clearer picture is forming of how it will all end.
“Will we ultimately burn out or fade away? Could the end simply signal a new beginning, as the universe rebounds into a fresh expanding phase? And was our Big Bang just one of many, making our cosmos only a small part of a sprawling multiverse of parallel universes?”
“Gary Barlow is one of the most successful British musicians and songwriters of all time, but fifteen years ago, as he himself admits, he hit rock bottom - he was out of shape, out of work, depressed.
“So how did he go from an obese, out-of-work and depressed pop icon, to a superstar of music and TV and an accomplished musical songwriter and producer who is full of vitality, fitter, happier and more successful than ever before. What happened?
“In his extraordinarily honest memoir A Better Me, Gary tells of his journey back to professional success and mental and physical health. From reforming Take That to critical and commercial acclaim and reigniting his own legendary songwriting career; to overcoming his weight problems and crippling obsession with food; to TV judging panel stardom on The X Factor and Let It Shine and at last finding balance in both his personal and professional life.”
“In a cramped synagogue in north-west London, the eminent elderly rabbi passes away. On the other side of the Atlantic, his estranged daughter, Ronit, hears of her father’s death and returns to London for the funeral. She has not returned home in 15 years.
“Ronit looks forward to a week or two of revisiting old friends, perhaps settling old scores. But she finds the community she grew up in a more confusing place than she’d anticipated. Particularly when she is unexpectedly reunited with Esti, her childhood sweetheart, who has taken a very different path in life …”
“Mafalda is a nine-year-old girl who knows one thing: some time in the next six months her sight will fail completely. Can Mafalda find a way through a seemingly dark future and still go to school, play football and look after her beloved cat? With the help of her family, and her friends, Mafalda needs to discover the things that will be important to her when her sight has failed.”
“As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue. When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.
“Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?
“Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.
“Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.
“Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?”
“Leningrad, Russia, 1968.
“Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a container ship bound for America, or Great Britain? Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin…
“In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander’s future. During an epic tale of fate and fortune, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow his triumphs and defeats as he struggles as an immigrant to conquer his new world. As this unique story unfolds, Alexander comes to realise where his destiny lies, and accepts that he must face the past he left behind in Russia.”
“So, this is me. Lily Allen. I am a woman. I am a mother. I was a wife. I drink. I have taken drugs. I have loved and been let down. I am a success and a failure. I am a songwriter. I am a singer. I am all these things and more.
“When women share their stories, loudly and clearly and honestly, things begin to change - for the better.
“This is my story.”
“Near the village of Helmthorpe, Swainsdale, the body of a well-liked local historian is found half-buried under a dry stone wall. Harry Steadman has been brutally murdered. But who would want to kill such a thoughtful, dedicated man?
“Chief Inspector Alan Banks is called in to investigate and soon discovers that disturbing secrets lie behind the apparently bucolic facade. It is clear that young Sally Lumb, locked in her lover’s arms on the night of the murder, knows more than she is letting on. And her knowledge could lead to danger…”
“It all started with the email. Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.
“But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.
“Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?”
“Josh Flynn is the king of the bare-knuckle gypsy fighters. His reputation is unblemished; his fist a deadly weapon.
“Claire Milo has always loved Josh, they were destined to be together from the day they met. Two gypsy lovers with their whole lives ahead of them. If only Josh would find a different way of earning a living instead of knocking the living daylights out of another man in the boxing ring. One day, she knew something really bad was going to happen. She could feel it…
“Shauna Everett always wanted what she couldn’t have, and nobody, especially Claire Milo was going to stand in her way. She’s had her eye on Josh Flynn for years and she knew just how to get him. If it meant playing dirty, then so be it. What had she got to lose?
“In a world ruled by violence, crime and backstreet brawls, only one woman will win, but how low is she prepared to go to achieve that goal?”
“When Emily meets Adam she knows he is the One. That together they can deal with anything that is thrown at them.
“But lurking in the shadows is another woman, Pammie.
“Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother.
“There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants…”
An original story for BBC Radio 4.
“Saughton Prison, Edinburgh, 1962.
“Prison guard Thomas Scott watches over a condemned man sentenced to hang for the murder of his wife.
“His prisoner is a guilty man, that’s for sure. William Telfer has done enough bad things in his life. And Scott has been in his job long enough to know that guilty men often proclaimed their innocence right up until the moment the noose was placed around their necks. But as they wait out the days until his execution, Scott begins to suspect that Telfer is innocent of this murder.
“An innocent man could be hanged by the neck until dead. And his jailer doesn’t know what to do about it….
“To find out the truth, Scott must explore Edinburgh’s darkest corners. And he is running out of time.”
“Running from heartbreak, Chloe Marston leaves her old life in London for a fresh start in New York. Working at a luxury concierge company, she makes other people’s lives run perfectly, even if her own has ground to a halt. But a terrible accident forces her to step into a new role, up close and personal with the company’s most esteemed and powerful clients. Charismatic Joe Lincoln is one of them and his every wish is her command, so when he asks her to find him a secluded holiday home in the Greek Islands, she sets about sourcing the perfect retreat.
“But when Tom, her ex, unexpectedly shows up in Manhattan and the stability of her new life is thrown off-balance again, she jumps at the chance to help Joe inspect the holiday house; escaping to Greece will give her the time and space to decide where her future truly lies. Tom is the man she has loved for so long but he has hurt her before – can she give him another chance? And as she draws closer to Joe, does she even want to? As magnetic as he is mysterious, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them that she can’t resist.
“But whatever her heart is telling her, she’s in over her head – another client’s wife has mysteriously disappeared and serious allegations about Joe threaten more than just her happiness. Who can she trust? And will Chloe uncover the truth in time?”