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Recommended new eAudiobooks #5

Written by · Published Apr 25, 2019

Sail Away, The Department of Sensitive Crimes

See also: recommended new physical audiobooks

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Brutally Honest, by Melanie Brown, read by various

“As one-fifth of the iconic Spice Girls and judge on X Factor and America’s Got Talent, Melanie Brown, AKA Scary Spice, has been an international star since her twenties. Brutally Honest is an exposé of the struggles and acute pain that lay behind the glamour and success.

“With deep personal insight, remarkable frankness and trademark Yorkshire humour, the book removes the mask of fame and reveals the true story behind the Spice Girls, as well as the horror of her most recent marriage and her 10 year struggle to be free.”

The Department of Sensitive Crimes, by Alexander McCall Smith, read by Saul Reichlin

“Ulf Varg works in Malmo’s Department of Sensitive Crimes. Like all Scandinavian detectives he has his issues. In his case these include his unresolved feelings for his colleague, Anna; his impatience over the seeming incompetence of his irritating colleague Blomquist; and his concerns for the health of his hearing-impaired dog, Marten, the only dog in Sweden (and possibly all Scandinavia) who is able to lip-read (in Swedish).

“Along with his colleagues, Ulf is called upon to investigate a bizarre attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may or may not exist, and the affairs of a variety of young female students whose relationships with one another leave a great deal to be desired.

“Ulf and his team come to realise that the world is a puzzling place, lycanthropy (were-wolfism) exists and fish might have something to teach us. There is so much to learn if you are a Swedish detective, and in the first book in this new quasi-Scandinavian series, Ulf Varg embarks on these lessons with spirit and good humour.”

The Strange Case of the Moderate Extremist, by Alexander McCall Smith, read by Saul Reichlin

“Detective Ulf Varg from the Department of Sensitive Crimes is often called upon to investigate unusual matters. But rarely is he asked to conduct an inquiry on behalf of his own family. Is such a thing ethical?

“Adding to Ulf’s moral discomfort is the fact that he does not exactly see eye to eye with his younger brother Bjorn – a leading player in one of Sweden’s right-wing parties, the Moderate Extremists. Still, family is family, so Ulf finds himself working to uncover the mole leaking secrets to a rival party, the Extreme Moderates.

“All of this in addition to his responsibilities to the Department, which include investigating a case of cat-related sabotage. As always, it’s up to Ulf to close the case … even if he encounters unexpected resistance from the victims themselves.”

Everything Under, by Daisy Johnson, read by Charlie Sanderson

“Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn’t seen her mother since the age of 16, though – almost a lifetime ago – and those memories have faded. Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature.

“A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel’s isolation and throws up questions from long ago. She begins to remember the private vocabulary of her childhood. She remembers other things, too: the wild years spent on the river; the strange, lonely boy who came to stay on the boat one winter; and the creature in the water – a canal thief? – swimming upstream, getting ever closer. In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but go back.

He is Watching You, by Charlie Gallagher, read by Antonia Beamish

“A young woman’s body is left in a metal container in a remote location. The killer is careful to position her under a camera that links to his smartphone. He likes to look back at his work.

“He is watching her. But she isn’t dead. So he will return to finish the job. He can barely contain his excitement at the thought of getting to do it all over again. But he must be careful. He cannot rush. Rushing makes you careless…

“Detective Maddie Ives is new to the area. She is handed a missing person report: a young woman with a drink problem who’s been reported missing fifteen times. It looks like a waste of time. But DS Ives has a bad feeling about the woman’s disappearance.

“DI Harry Blaker is called to the hit and run of an elderly man left to die on a quiet country road. There is no motive and it looks like a tragic accident. But he’s been working Major Crime long enough to know that something isn’t quite right.

“The two officers find their investigations intertwine and they will need to work together. But they must work fast. Time is running out for the woman in the container. And the killer has already identified his next target.”

The Murder of Harriet Monckton, by Elizabeth Haynes, read by various

“On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, was found murdered in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she had regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. The community was appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the autopsy revealed that Harriet was six months pregnant.

“Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, the novel unfolds from the viewpoints of each of the main characters, each of whom have a reason to want her dead. Harriet Monckton had at least three lovers and several people were suspected of her murder, including her close companion and fellow teacher, Miss Frances Williams. The scandal ripped through the community, the murderer was never found and for years the inhabitants of Bromley slept less soundly.

“This rich, robust novel is full of suggestion and suspicion, with the innocent looking guilty and the guilty hiding behind their piety. It is also a novel that exposes the perilous position of unmarried women, the scandal of sex out of wedlock and the hypocrisy of upstanding, church-going folk.”

Only Killers and Thieves, by Paul Howarth, read by David Muscat

“It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, 14-year-old Tommy and 16-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy.

“Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them – their former Aboriginal stockman – the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father’s former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the ‘dispersal’ of indigenous Australians to ‘protect’ white settler rights.

“As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life – and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.”

Save Me, by Mandasue Heller, read by Colleen Prendergast

“When Ellie Fisher misses her train home one night, she has no idea that being in the right place at the wrong time will change her life forever.

“That night she comes across Gareth, a young man about to take his own life, because as far as he’s concerned there is nothing left to live for. Putting her own life in danger, Ellie convinces Gareth that there is always something left. Her own life is no bed of roses, she explains, but she always pushes on.

“However, good deeds aren’t always repaid the way we want. Has Ellie unwittingly put her life in danger, or is the real danger a lot closer to home?”

War Doctor: surgery on the front line, written and read by David Nott

“For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993, to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out life-saving operations and field surgery in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major London teaching hospital.

“The conflicts he has worked in form a chronology of twenty-first-century combat: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. But he has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal.

“Driven both by compassion and passion, the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. But as time went on, David Nott began to realise that flying into a catastrophe – whether war or natural disaster – was not enough. Doctors on the ground needed to learn how to treat the appalling injuries that war inflicts upon its victims. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets.

War Doctor is his extraordinary story.”

The House Next Door, by James Patterson et al, read by Christopher Ryan Grant, Lauren Fortgang & Peter Ganim

A collection of three short stories written with Susan DiLallo, Max DiLallo and Tim Arnold respectively.

The Near Witch, by V. E. Schwab, read by Heather Wilds

“f the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

“But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.

“As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.”

I Owe You One, by Sophie Kinsella, read by Fiona Hardingham

“Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend … she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

“So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

“That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

“Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

“Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?”

Kill [redacted], by Anthony Good, read by John Voce

“When a grieving man searches for culpability in the death of his wife, a passenger on trains blown up by terrorists, he settles on a politician.

“The bombers, to his mind, were only the end point in a long chain of proximate causes – to blame them would be like blaming the trigger mechanisms on the bombs.

“The ultimate cause, he believes, the person responsible for first setting events into motion, is the politician whose policies and practices have had profound and violent impact abroad. And so it is only right, surely, that that politician is punished.

“So he sets out – and sets about committing – his moral justification for murder…”

Queen of Air and Darkness, by Cassandra Clare, read by James Marsters

“What if damnation is the price of true love?

“Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks.

“Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, they must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.”

Sail Away, written and read by Celia Imrie

“The phone hasn’t rung for months. Suzy Marshall is discovering that work can be sluggish for an actress over 60 – even for the former star of a 1980s TV series. So when she’s offered the plum role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in Zurich, it seems like a godsend. Until, that is, the play is abruptly cancelled in suspicious circumstances, and Suzy is forced to take a job on a cruise ship to get home.

“Meanwhile Amanda Herbert finds herself homeless in rainy Clapham. Her flat purchase has fallen through, and her children are absorbed in their own dramas. Then she spots an advertisement for an Atlantic cruise, and realises a few weeks on-board would tide her over – and save her money – until the crisis is solved.

“As the two women set sail on a new adventure, neither can possibly predict the strange characters and dodgy dealings they will encounter – nor the unexpected rewards they will reap.”

Roseanna, by Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö & Lois Roth (trans.), read by Tom Weiner

“On a July afternoon, the body of a young woman is dredged from Sweden’s beautiful Lake Vättern….

“Three months later, all that Police Inspector Martin Beck knows is that her name is Roseanna, that she came from Lincoln, Nebraska, and that she could have been strangled by any one of 85 people.

“As the melancholic Beck narrows down the list of likely suspects, he is drawn increasingly to the enigma of the victim, a free-spirited traveller with a penchant for the casual sexual encounter, and to the psychopathology of a murderer with a distinctive - indeed, terrifying - sense of propriety.”

Churchill, by Andrew Roberts, read by Stephen Thorne

“There have been over a thousand previous biographies of Churchill. Andrew Roberts now draws on over forty new sources, including the private diaries of King George VI, used in no previous Churchill biography to depict him more intimately and persuasively than any of its predecessors.

“The book in no way conceals Churchill’s faults and it allows the reader to appreciate his virtues and character in full: his titanic capacity for work (and drink), his ability see the big picture, his willingness to take risks and insistence on being where the action was, his good humour even in the most desperate circumstances, the breadth and strength of his friendships and his extraordinary propensity to burst into tears at unexpected moments.

“Above all, it shows us the wellsprings of his personality - his lifelong desire to please his father (even long after his father’s death) but aristocratic disdain for the opinions of almost everyone else, his love of the British Empire, his sense of history and its connection to the present.”

Down to the Woods, by M. J. Arlidge, read by Sally Scott

“There is a sickness in the forest. First, it was the wild horses. Now it’s innocent men and women, hunted down and murdered by a faceless figure. Lost in the darkness, they try to flee, they try to hide. In desperation, they call out for help. But there is no-one to hear their cries here…

“DI Helen Grace must face down a new nightmare. The arrow-ridden victims hang from the New Forest’s ancient oaks, like pieces of strange fruit. Why are helpless holidaymakers being targeted in peak camping season? And what do their murders signify? Is a psychopath stalking the forest? Is there an occult element to the killings? Could the murders even be an offering to the Forest itself? Helen must walk into the darkness to discover the truth behind her most challenging, most macabre case yet.”

His Other Lover, by Lucy Dawson, read by Georgia Maguire

“Mia has her life in order. She is a grown up and enjoys a grown up’s relationship with Pete. Not passionate or spontaneous, but solid. She knows he is ‘the one’. But then she sees a text message on Pete’s phone that throws her world into a spin. It is more than friendly, signed off with a kiss, and Mia has never heard of the sender, Liz.

“With her carefully mapped out life sliding out of control Mia will discover a side to herself she never knew existed, as she formulates a plan to win her happy ending. Because all’s fair in love and war – isn’t it?”

Jack and Jill, by James Patterson, read by Ako Mitchell

“Detective Alex Cross is stretched to breaking point as two killers hit Washington, DC.

“A controversial US Senator is found murdered in his Georgetown bed. On the other side of town, a beautiful little girl is found dead, savagely beaten. Alex Cross can’t solve both cases, and is forced to make an impossible choice.

“No one in Washington is safe – but can Cross discover the truth before the killer sets their sights on the ultimate target?”

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All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, read by Julie Teal

“Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorise it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.

“Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.

“At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.”

Black Ship, by Carola Dunn, read by Lucy Rayner

“In September 1925, Scotland Yard DCI Alec Fletcher inherits a large house on the outskirts of London, from a recently deceased great-uncle. Fortunately so, as he and his wife, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, are the recent proud parents of twins and their house is practically bursting at the seams. Though in need of a bit of work, this new, larger house seems a godsend. Set in a small circle of houses, with a communal garden and Hampstead Heath nearby, the setting is idyllic.

“Idyllic, that is until a dead body shows up half-hidden under the bushes of the communal garden. Now rumours of bootleggers, American gangsters, and an international liquor smuggling operation via black ships have turned everything in their new neighbourhood upside down. Alec is assigned by Scotland Yard to ferret out the truth behind the dastardly dead - but it’s up to Daisy to find out who the dead man is, what his relationship to her new neighbours is, why he was murdered, and who did him in!”

The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell, read by various

“One summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands what sort of asylum the woman was seeking…

The Bone Clocks follows Holly’s life: not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality.”

Close to Home, by Cara Hunter, read by Emma Cunniffe & Lee Ingleby

“Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a summer party at her home. No one at the party noticed her leave. Even her parents aren’t sure of the last time they saw her.

“DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that in nine cases out of ten, it’s someone close to the victim. When a pair of bloody tights is discovered, Fawley’s worst suspicions are concerned. Someone knows where Daisy is. And her time is running out.”

Dead Line, by Stella Rimington, read by Maggie Mash

“MI5 Intelligence Officer Liz Carlyle is summoned to a meeting with her boss Charles Wetherby, head of the Service’s Counter-Espionage Branch. His counterpart over at MI6 has received alarming intelligence from a high-placed Syrian source. The future of the whole of the Middle East is at stake and the deadline for action is drawing ever closer…”

In Extremis: the life of war correspondent Marie Colvin, written and read by Lindsey Hilsum

“Marie Colvin was glamorous, hard-drinking, braver than the boys, with a troubled and rackety personal life. With fierce compassion and honesty, she reported from the most dangerous places in the world, fractured by conflict and genocide, going in further and staying longer than anyone else.

“In Sri Lanka in 2001, Marie was hit by a grenade and lost the sight in her left eye - resulting in her trademark eye patch - and in 2012 she was killed in Syria. Like her hero, the legendary reporter Martha Gellhorn, she sought to bear witness to the horrifying truths of war, to write ‘the first draft of history’ and crucially to shine a light on the suffering of ordinary people.

“Written by fellow foreign correspondent Lindsey Hilsum, this is the story of the most daring war reporter of her age. Drawing on unpublished diaries and notebooks, and interviews with Marie’s friends, family and colleagues, In Extremis is the story of our turbulent age, and the life of a woman who defied convention.”

Star of the North, by D. B. John, read by Linda Park

“North Korea and the USA are on the brink of war.

“A young American woman disappears without trace from a South Korean island. The CIA recruits her twin sister to uncover the truth. Now, she must go undercover in the world’s most deadly state.

“Only by infiltrating the dark heart of the terrifying regime will she be able to save her sister… and herself.”

Uncommon Type, written and read by Tom Hanks

“A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game - and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance and a bit of real life.

“These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heart-warming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have.”

We Need to Weaken the Mixture, by Guy Martin, read by Dean Williamson

“Since we last heard from him, Guy Martin has restored a 1983 Williams F1 car then raced Jenson Button in it; helped to build a WWI tank; ridden with Putin’s favourite biker gang the Night Wolves; competed on the classic endurance circuit; stood on top of one of Chernobyl’s nuclear reactors and taken part in his last ever Isle of Man TT.

“Then there’s the stuff he really can’t wait to get out of bed for: 12-hour shifts for a local haulage firm and taytie farming in his new John Deere tractor.

“Besides all this, he’s saved his local pub from closure and become a dad.

“But let him tell you his own stories, in his own words.”

You Were Gone, by Tim Weaver, read by Joe Coen, Rachel Bavidge & Tom Burke

“Three days after Christmas, a woman walks into a police station. She has no phone and no ID, just a piece of paper with the name of investigator David Raker on it. She tells officers that Raker is her husband.

“When he turns up at the station, Raker is stunned. The woman looks exactly like his wife. She knows all about their marriage, their history, even private conversations the two of them had. There’s just one problem: Raker’s wife has been dead for eight years.

“The woman tells the police that Raker had a breakdown. A respected doctor backs up her account. Items are missing that prove Raker’s side of the story - and, worst of all, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a disappearance.

“Could Raker have imagined their whole marriage? Is he delusional? Is this really the woman he loved and grieved for? Hunted by the police, Raker will have to find out the truth before it costs him everything - his memories, his sanity, his life…”

Sophie Green

Sophie Green

I work for the Suffolk Libraries stock team. I also write children’s fiction, short stories and comedy. Visit my website.