As fall approaches, we know that even for those of us who aren’t going back to school, there is something about the season that has us pining for campus mysteries. You may want to re-visit The Secret History again, but if you’re looking for something new to give you that academic mystery feeling, here are six more excellent options for listening. Some are set on a campus, while others take a broader look at the impact schools—and their many secrets—can have on the community.
by Alex Michaelides| Read by Louise Brealey, Kobna Holdbrick-Smith
AudioFile Earphones Award
[Macmillan Audio | 9.25 hrs.]
Author Alex Michaelides and narrators Louise Brealey and Kobna Holdbrick-Smith cast a spell that will have listeners glued to this suspenseful novel every chance they get. Group therapist Mariana returns to Cambridge University to comfort her niece after the girl’s friend is murdered. Brealey’s clear, soothing, strong voice transforms with ease, and her pacing manages both to comfort and emphasize Mariana’s peril. That the peril lies in letters alluringly read by Holdbrick-Smith is clear. The rich, gravelly voice entices and menaces as its unnamed writer describes his growing desire to kill again. Will Mariana understand in time?
by Jean Hanff Korelitz| Read by Kirby Heyborne
[Macmillan Audio | 10.75 hrs.]
Narrator Kirby Heyborne maintains the brisk pace and firm tension of this suspense novel. When failing novelist and teacher Jake Bonner hears that one of his MFA students has died, he steals the plot from the student’s novel in progress and enjoys momentous success. A few years later, he finds himself threatened with exposure—or something worse. Jake’s purloined storyline features a much-heralded twist, and author Jean Hanff Korelitz has a few cunning twists up her own sleeve that will keep you hooked.
by Femi Kayode| Read by Cary Hite
[Hachette Audio | 11.5 hrs.]
Narrator Cary Hite draws listeners in with his nuanced delivery and cadence in this mystery inspired by a true story. After three university students are murdered by a mob in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, psychologist Dr. Philip Taiwo is brought in to investigate. As Dr. Taiwo dives deeper into the case with the help of his personal driver, Chika, listeners also learn about the socioeconomic realities of Nigeria and its multiple political and social undertones. Fast-paced and enlightening, this is a powerful story, and Hite does a remarkable job of bringing it to life.
by Sara Shepard| Read by Lisa Flanagan, Allyson Ryan, Phoebe Strole, Brittany Pressley, Karissa Vacker
[Penguin Audio | 13 hrs.]
Five incredible narrators take turns sharing perspectives in this shocking thriller. Aldrich University’s email system is hacked, spilling secrets of students, faculty, and administrators alike. When Kit’s husband is found murdered, those hacked emails reveal many motives. Lisa Flanagan brings a sophisticated tone as dependable Kit through an even pace that contrasts with her gasps and shrill shouts when the unexpected happens. Allyson Ryan is confident and sharp toned as Kit’s sister Willa, while Phoebe Strole energetically portrays young wild card Reyna. Brittany Pressley speaks softly as the fearful and desperate Laura, and Karissa Vacker’s voice oozes sex appeal as Lynn, Kit’s sultry and manipulative co-worker.
THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS
by Carol Goodman| Read by Natalie Naudus
[Harper Audio | 8 hrs.]
Set in coastal Maine at an elite boarding school, this novel weaves setting, history, and a mythical connection to unsolved disappearances into a compelling audiobook. Narrator Natalie Naudus is perfectly suited to voice Tess Henshaw, who has rewritten her past and now teaches at the school where she was once a student. When her teen son’s girlfriend is found dead on the cliffside, the investigation that follows hits close to home. Naudus’s cadence, pacing, and passion keep listeners engaged as the story twists and turns its way to uncovering the truth.
THEY NEVER LEARN
by Layne Fargo| Read by Lameece Issaq, Eileen Stevens
[Simon & Schuster Audio | 10 hrs.]
Narrator Lameece Issaq brings English Professor—and calculating serial killer—Scarlett Clark to life in this surprising revenge thriller. Scarlett uses her power and the fact that she is mostly overlooked to plan and carry out the brutal murders of sexual predators on campus. Eileen Stevens portrays shy student Carly Schiller. When her roommate is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly seeks revenge. Issaq and Stevens wholly embody their roles. Issaq pulls off playing a sociopath with intense focus. Stevens captures the innocence and fury of a young woman who is desperate for justice.
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