See also: recommended new physical audiobooks
Three BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisations starring John Shrapnel as Morse and Robert Glenister as Lewis, plus a bonus reading by Colin Dexter of one of his short stories.
“Imagine you meet a man, spend seven glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything.
“So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.
“Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence.
“What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other?
“Sarah Millican’s live comedy show, exploring the topics of her relationship, pets, and outcast experience as a child.”
“Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in 21st-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world – Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes – has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.
“Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life – eating, drinking and reproducing – the purpose of sleep remained elusive.
“Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores 20 years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.”
“Twenty years ago Helen Franklin did something she cannot forgive herself for, and she has spent every day since barricading herself against its memory. But her sheltered life is about to change.
“A strange manuscript has come into her possession. It is filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history, which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world. Condemned to walk the Earth forever, she tries to beguile the guilty and lure them away for a lifetime wandering alongside her.
“Everyone that Melmoth seeks out must make a choice: to live with what they’ve done, or be led into the darkness. Helen can’t stop reading, or shake the feeling that someone is watching her. As her past finally catches up with her, she too must choose which path to take.
“Exquisitely written, and gripping until the very end, this is a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption and how to make the best of our conflicted world.”
“After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, 15-year-old Sarah – blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish – finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead.
“Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe.
“With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined.”
“In 1940, 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.
“Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realise that there is no action without consequence.”
“Three years ago Toni’s five-year-old daughter, Evie, disappeared after leaving school. The police have never been able to find her. There were no witnesses, no CCTV, no trace.
“But Toni believes her daughter is alive. And as she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself - and a devastating truth.
“Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence. Her only chance to save herself is to manage the impossible: she must find a way to make herself heard. She must find her daughter.”
“This is Nadia. She is fiercely independent with an excellent sense of humour and a love of smoking alone on her balcony late at night.
“This is Saeed. He is sweet and shy and kind to strangers. He also has a balcony but he uses his for star-gazing.
“This is their story: a love story, but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow. Saeed and Nadia are falling in love, and their city is falling apart. Here is a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.
“Exit West is a heartfelt and radical act of hope - a novel to restore your faith in humanity and in the power of imagination.”
“As he steps out of his hotel in Atlanta with the love of his life, the last thing President Tucker expects is to be greeted by the flashing cameras of the media. Or for his affair to be revealed to the world.
“The President must act to stop the scandal from spiralling out of control, just weeks before the vote for a second term. But not before he figures out how to keep the First Lady on his side.
“Grace Tucker, however, has other plans.
“Betrayed and deeply hurt, she heads for a safe haven outside the capital. But when her security detail loses all trace of her, all hell breaks loose.
“The First Lady is missing. Did she run away? Or is she in more danger than they could have imagined…”
“Abandoned by their parents, Maya and her older brother Bailey are sent to live with their grandmother and uncle in the small Southern town of Stamps in Arkansas. Struggling with rejection, they endure the prejudice of their white neighbours and suffer several racist incidents.
“One day, their father unexpectedly returns and takes the children to live with their mother in St Louis, Missouri. Aged only eight, Maya is abused by her mother’s boyfriend, an experience that haunts her for a lifetime. Filled with guilt and shame, she refuses to speak to anyone except Bailey – until she meets Mrs Bertha Flowers, who encourages her love of books, helping her to find her voice and regain her own strong spirit.
“Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic, beloved worldwide, which recounts a youth filled with curiosity, wonder, disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and hard-won independence. This radio dramatisation, starring Adjoa Andoh, Indie Gjesdal and Pippa Bennett-Warner, plays out her extraordinary story with dramatic verve and poetic brilliance. “
“When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she’d never get over it.
“Seventeen years later, life has moved on – Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all.
“But then Kate meets Callum again.
“And they are faced with a choice: to walk away from each other … or to risk finding out what might have been.
“Second chances are a rare gift in life. But that doesn’t mean they should always be taken…”
“Who really killed Maisie Earnshaw?
“Within the walls of the high-security psychiatric facility, Crowmont Hospital, reside many violent offenders. To nurse Leah Smith, no matter what, all offenders are patients first and foremost. When Leah is appointed as nurse to Isabel Fielding, she is determined to remain professional despite the shocking crime Isabel allegedly committed in her past.
“Seven years ago, six-year-old Maisie Earnshaw was found face down in a duck pond, her body mutilated. Isabel – at age 14, found covered in Maisie’s blood – was convicted of murder.
“As Leah spends time with Isabel, she comes to know her as a young woman with a sweet, gentle nature, someone she could never see as a murderer. Leah begins to suspect members of the Fielding family of framing Isabel as a young girl, and she’s not the only one. True crime blogger James Gorden thinks Isabel is innocent too.
“But is Leah letting her own dark past taint her judgement as she grows closer to her patient? Or has a young woman been unjustly robbed of her childhood?”
“Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone.
“A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction – if they don’t kill each other first.”
“The whales of Bathsheba’s pod live for the hunt. Led by the formidable Captain Alexandra, they fight a never-ending war against men.
“So it has been, so it shall always be.
“Then the whales attack a man ship, and instead of easy prey they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself…
“With their relentless Captain leading the chase, they embark on the final hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of whales and men.”
“In this dark psychological thriller, Olivia Taylor believes she has suffered the worst life can throw at her after the breakup of her marriage. Full of hope, she starts a new life with her nine-year-old daughter, Ellie, only to find the worst is yet to come.
“Meeting Michael Crossman is the beginning of an unspeakable nightmare for Olivia, and her world slowly unravels. It is only through the retelling of her story that we piece together what has led her to become a mere shadow of the woman she once was.”
“Betrayed, terrified and alone, Elizabeth Cage has fled her home. With no plan and no friends, she arrives at the picturesque village of Greyston and finds herself involved in an ages-old ceremony that will end in death.
“And that might be the least of her problems – the Sorensen Institute would very much like to know her whereabouts. And Michael Jones is still out there, somewhere, she hopes. No matter how far and how fast she can run, trouble will always find Elizabeth Cage.”
“Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars. And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage.
“You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you. He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes.
“If he dies. You die.
“You have four hours to stay alive.
“What would you do?”
“Charlie Matthews’s love story begins in a pebble-dashed house in suburban Bolton, at a time when most little boys want to grow up to be Michael Jackson, and girls want to be Princess Di. Remembering the Green Cross Code and getting out of football are the most important things in his life, until Auntie Jan gives him a gift that will last a lifetime: a seven-inch single called Lucky Star…
“On his ninth birthday, Charlie discovers Madonna, and falls in love. His obsession sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school, fitting in at a posh university, a glamorous career in London, finding boyfriends, getting rid of boyfriends, and family heartbreak. Madonna’s music and videos inspire him, and her fierce determination to succeed gives him the confidence to do the same. Ultimately, though, he must learn to let go of his idol and find his own voice.”
“Love’s got everything to do with it.
“Tina Turner is the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a musical icon celebrating her 60th year in the industry. In this dramatic autobiography, she tells the story of a truly remarkable life in the spotlight.
“From her early years picking cotton in Nutbush, Tennessee to her rise to fame alongside Ike Turner, and finally to her phenomenal success in the 1980s and beyond, Tina candidly examines her personal history, from her darkest hours to her happiest moments and everything in between.
“Brimming with her trademark blend of strength, energy, heart and soul, My Love Story is a gripping, surprising memoir, as memorable and entertaining as any of her greatest hits.”
“Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house. There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.
“Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.
“As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…”
“When the love of your life says you’re not The One, who are you?
“Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since the first week of university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged. Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future.
“Lizzy is heartbroken - but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she’s been missing while playing Ian’s ideal ‘better half’. But how much has Ian changed her, and who should she be without him?
“Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before - and, in the meantime, have a little fun…”
“The police say she’s guilty. She insists she’s innocent. She’s your sister. You loved her. You trusted her. But they say she killed your child. Who do you believe?”
“How do you rescue someone who has already been found?
“Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonising days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed.
“The once-happy, loving family returns to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on. With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?”
“After years of waiting, New York’s newest subway line is finally ready, an express train that connects the city with the burgeoning communities across the Hudson River. The shining jewel of this state-of-the-art line is a breathtaking visitors’ pavilion beneath the river. Major dignitaries, including New York City’s Mayor and the President of the United States, are in attendance for the inaugural run, as the first train slowly pulls in.
“Under the station’s bright ceiling lights, the shiny silver cars gleam. But as the train comes closer into view, a far different scene becomes visible.
“All the train’s cars are empty.
“All the cars’ interiors are drenched in blood.
“As chaos descends, all those in the pavilion scramble to get out. But the horror is only beginning. High levels of deadly methane fill the tunnels. The structure begins to flood. For those who don’t drown, choke or spark an explosion, another terrifying danger awaits —t he thing that killed all those people on the train. It’s out there … and it’s coming.
“There’s something living beneath New York City, and it’s not happy we’ve woken it up.”
“In 1986, news that East-West nuclear-arms negotiations are taking place lead many to believe the Cold War may finally be thawing. For British intelligence officer Major Tom Fox, however, it is business as usual. Ordered to arrange the smooth repatriation of a defector, Fox is smuggled into East Berlin.
“But it soon becomes clear that there is more to this than an old man wishing to return home to die - a fact cruelly confirmed when Fox’s mission is fatally compromised. Trapped in East Berlin, hunted by an army of Stasi agents and wanted for murder by those on both sides of the Wall, Fox must somehow elude capture and get out alive. But to do so he must discover who sabotaged his mission and why…”
“Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave.
“They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike.
“Even though she’s marrying another man.
“Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising.
“This time, someone has to die…”
“An unconventional love story set in a dystopian future, Eve of Man is the tale of what happens when you turn sixteen and realise you’re the most important person in the world. Do you embrace your fate - or do you run from it?”
“Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s extraordinary debut combines compassion and bravura style to dazzling effect. Full of angular wit and profound truths, Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a startlingly original and haunting debut by a significant new talent.”
“Kate, Aubrey and Jenny are inseparable at college – friends who promised they’d always be there for each other. But twenty years later, their friendship is about to take a deadly turn. Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door, but when one of the friends dies in shocking circumstances, will everyone assume that it’s always the husband? Or could it be the best friend?”