Some of my favorite science fiction freebies have already been picked for the Five Free Favorites feature. Since SFFaudio has recently added Aural Noir reviews, I decided to choose favorites from that genre instead. So, I reached back into the archive of reviews at Free Listens for the best free stories and books from the noir/crime/mystery genres.
By Dorothy L. Sayers; Read by Kristin Hughes and Kara Shallenberg
Publisher: LibriVox | 13 Zipped MP3s, 6 hr, 31 min [UNABRIDGED]
Lord Peter Wimsey’s mother has telephoned him to get her son to help out her friend Mr. Thipp. Thipp is apparently in trouble with the police over a dead body wearing nothing but a pince-nez who was found in the bathtub of Thipp’s upper-floor apartment. Meanwhile, the family of Sir Reuben Levy has reported Sir Reuben to be missing. Are the two events connected? Is the body Sir Reuben’s? If not, whose body is it?
“Bullet in the Brain”
By Tobias Wolff; Read by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Publisher: New Yorker Fiction Podcast | 1 MP3, 19 min [UNABRIDGED]
The story, in the beginning, is a harsh portrait of a book critic who has lost the joy of literature and instead sees cliches in every novel he reviews. The man is such an ass, in fact, that he can’t help but smirk and heckle in the middle of a bank robbery, exactly when he should keep his mouth shut. In the second part of the story, the plot takes a major turn and we get to see the humanity of the critic. This contrast of putting a comic figure into a serious situation makes the story both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply profound.
“A Jury of Her Peers”
By Susan Glaspell; read by Cori Samuels
Publisher: LibriVox | 1 MP3, 53 min [UNABRIDGED]
Most mysteries focus on the “who” or sometimes the “how” of a crime. In this story both who and how seem to be apparent from the beginning. The real question is why Minnie Wright would strangle her husband. While the county attorney, the sheriff, and a neighbor search the house for clues, the wives of the sheriff and neighbor are left alone in the kitchen.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by John Telfer
Distributed by Project Gutenberg | 25 MP3’s (download page) 6 hr, 15 min [UNABRIDGED]
This collection includes some of the best Sherlock Holmes stories. A Scandal in Bohemia offers a tantalizing glimpse into what Holmes in love might look like. The Red-Headed League appears in many anthologies and is a great example of an archetypal Sherlock Holmes mystery. While the solution of The Adventure of the Speckled Band appears improbable, the suspenseful storytelling and spooky atmosphere make it easy to see why this was one of Doyle’s favorites.
“Jack Penny’s New Identity”
By Lee Child; Read by Dick Hill
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Distributed by AudiobookStand | 1 MP3, 37 min [UNABRIDGED]
This story, from the James Patterson-edited collection Thriller, follows factory worker James Penny as he is laid off from his job. Penny rather emphatically cuts off his ties to his old life, catching unfavorable attention from the local police in the process. The direct style of Child’s prose reminds me of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, No Country for Old Men, probably now better known from the movie adaptation. Like that novel, the protagonist is a basically good person who has done something illegal, though without malice.
Posted by Seth