The best audiobooks of August offer delectable reading

From a true-crime story to tales of truffles, from a soul-food mystery to a pastry chef’s romance, keep yourself entertained with our reviewer’s best four audiobooks of August.

Penguin Random House

This month, check out these easy-on-the-ears mysteries. Stories include culinary hijinks, nonfiction accounts with a surprisingly compelling account of truffles, and an in-depth look at Harper Lee’s struggle to finish her last book. 

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep

Read by Hillary Huber; Random House Audio; 11 hours and 30 minutes

Harper Lee published “To Kill a Mockingbird” in her early 30s. Its so-called sequel “Go Set a Watchman,” really the first draft of “Mockingbird,” was published just before her death in 2016. She produced little else. Casey Cep’s investigation into her life reveals a multiple murder case that she planned to turn into a true-crime novel along the lines of “In Cold Blood,” which she had helped research for her friend Truman Capote. The project never came to fruition. Here, Cep enables the background of the murders to flow into an account of Lee’s life and each part is riveting for both the writing and Hillary Huber’s pleasing and professional narration, enhanced with regional accents. Grade: A

Penguin Random House

The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World’s Most Expensive Fungus, by Ryan Jacobs

Read by Ari Fliakos; Random House Audio; seven hours and 50 minutes

Narrator Ari Fliakos has yet to disappoint, and his rendition of skullduggery in the overpriced world of fancy fungi is no exception. He keeps the pace quick and doesn’t overdo, which would have been overkill for this larger-than-life story that pushes past the glamour and expense of truffles into the tawdry world of crime in which lesser mushrooms are switched and sold as the good stuff. The truffle business is dotted with eccentric and often nefarious characters, many of whom bob to the surface in this deep dive into what the author describes as a mostly tainted industry. This is one morsel that is truly hard to resist.  Grade: A

Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce: A Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery by A.L. Herbert

Read by Janina Edwards; HighBridge Audio; seven hours and 45 minutes

The spirited, take-no-prisoners performance of narrator Janina Edwards elevates this already fun audiobook. A little more adult than some cozy mysteries, this is mostly clean, clever fun and remains a bit more complex than most in the genre. Though the third in the Mahalia Watkins series, one can jump into this without worry – it stands alone. A little too much time is spent on discussions about hair care, but the food sounds scrumptious and the ladies of a local café and a local hair salon are fun and flirty. This is not high art, but it is entertaining. Grade: B

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Read by Jorjeana Marie; Penguin Audio; 10 hours and 30 minutes

Louise Miller, a Boston-based pastry chef and writer, may not have penned a particularly memorable debut novel, but it proves to be a light and breezy romance that’s thoroughly entertaining. Olivia Rawlings, an award-winning pastry chef, leaves Boston and a doomed  love affair to reinvent herself as a baker at a charming Vermont inn. Predictability aside, the food sounds yummy and this fish-out-of-water story allows narrator Jorjeana Marie to conjure up a variety of voices, though her older women do tend to sound alike. Miller’s plot may be familiar, but she shows a deft hand when conjuring up brisk walks in the woods, the scent of nutmeg, and the warmth of a welcoming kitchen. Grade: B- 

 

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