The best audiobooks of July provide an escape

Let your summer getaway include a new Sherlock Holmes adventure, a memoir about reinvention, and two novels that offer insights on racial identity.   

Courtesy of Audible Studios, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and HighBridge Audio

The best audiobooks of July include a new adventure for a beloved detective, a memoir about learning to surf, and two novels that explore assumptions about race using the lens of humor. 

“Sherlock Holmes: The Voice of Treason” by George Mann and Cavan Scott
Full cast recording; Audible Studios; eight hours

At the heart of this entertaining romp is a plot to kidnap Queen Victoria and eventually undermine the entire British Empire. In a fine ensemble of voice actors, Nicholas Boulton is a standout as Holmes, boasting an authoritative manner and sense of the dramatic. This story is reminiscent of an old-time radio drama, complete with sound effects, lots of voices, and music. Expect twists and plenty of intrigue in a tale that is very close to Arthur Conan Doyle’s original mysteries. Grade: A-

“Rockaway: Surfing Headlong Into a New Life” by Diane Cardwell
Read by the author; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; eight hours and 10 minutes

Diane Cardwell has a comfortable, inviting style that makes it easy for listeners to slide into this story of loss and renewal. Her narration does not do her words justice, as she is more than a little unpolished, but her journey is a delight. In midlife, after a divorce, Cardwell moved to Rockaway, a community in the Queens area of New York. She learned to surf, bought a bungalow, survived Hurricane Sandy, and found an authentic circle of friends among the bohemians and surf enthusiasts living by the beach. Grade: B+

“Members Only” by Sameer Pandya
Read by Sunil Malhotra; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 10 hours and 30 minutes

Sameer Pandya uses humor to examine and deconstruct American racism in this fictional narrative. Bombay-born Raj is a U.S. citizen juggling marriage, parenthood, and a difficult work environment – all while trying to devote time to his tennis club, where he and his family are the only people of color. His life implodes when he inadvertently makes a racist joke while interviewing an African American couple for prospective membership at the club; eventually, the white members blow everything out of proportion and turn on him. Narrator Sunil Malhotra perfectly captures the warmhearted, fumbling, frustrated protagonist at the heart of this insightful debut novel. Grade: B+

“Black Card” by Chris L. Terry
Read by Leon Nixon; HighBridge Audio; six hours and 20 minutes

Author Chris L. Terry deserves credit for skillfully juggling pathos, humor, and anger in a novel that captures the pigeonholing experienced by biracial people trying to fit into a society that looks for either/or categorization. Terry’s nameless narrator, born to a Black father and a white mother, has ginger hair and green eyes and can “pass” for white. While playing in a punk band, he tries to find his footing as a Black man in a country that would have him camouflage into white culture; listeners will note certain similarities between Terry’s life and the journey of his fictional narrator. The story is powerful and entertaining, and Leon Nixon smoothly delivers Terry’s sly humor, perfectly capturing the roiling emotions of a young man searching for his truest self. Grade: B+

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