Lovely to hear you again, my friends

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It’s been a great deal of fun this fall, getting back in touch with old friends via newly released audiobooks.

First, Robert Glenister narrated the immense fifth installment of Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling’s wonderful mystery series about Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott, who is pretty much my favorite fictional heroine these days. They are soulmates but too scared to admit it, which provides an interesting undercurrent to all of their investigations. Troubled Blood clocks in at more than 31 hours, but the characters hold your attention the whole way.

Next, George Guidall read me the 16th (20th including novellas and short stories) book in the Walt Longmire series, following the exploits of the genial and literate sheriff of a fictional Wyoming county. His Undersheriff Victoria Moretti vies with Robin Ellacott for my heart, his best friend Henry Standing Bear is a hero deserving of his own series, and Next to Last Stand is one of Craig Johnson’s most intriguing in a nifty series of intriguing mysteries. And Guidall, who has narrated them all, is so perfect that I regularly seek out other books and series with his voice attached (fortunately, there are hundreds). (P.S. The “real” Vic and Henry are quite different from Katee Sackbush and Lou Diamond Phillips, whose characters are memorable in their own right.)

Next up was Murder On Cold Street, the fifth of the “Charlotte Holmes” mysteries by Sherry Thomas and narrated by Kate Reading. In this series building on Arthur Conan Doyle’s legend, Charlotte has invented a reclusive invalid brother named Sherlock and — in the sexist Victorian era where women are not supposed to be brilliant detectives — serves as her invisible brother’s eyes and ears, arms and legs. With a bevy of wonderful supporting characters (including a Mrs. Watson) and a usually unseen but powerful adversary named (what else?) Moriarty, Thomas has created a credible alternate universe that has become an annual treat to visit. Most incredible to me about this series is that for Thomas, with her mastery of imagery and character and turn of phrase, English is a second language, having immigrated from China at age 13.

And this month, Peter Giles performed Michael Connelly’s The Law of Innocence, the sixth book in the series of legal dramas featuring The Lincoln Lawyer himself, Mickey Haller, with his team of ex-wives and friends, including a prime role for his half-brother, the inimitable Harry Bosch. The Amazon TV series featuring world-weary detective introduced me to Connelly’s universe, and I savor every opportunity to dive into it.

What ties these four series together — other than my apparent enjoyment of mystery stories — is not only have I “read” almost all of these several dozen books by listening to the audiobook, but the characters have retained the same voice all the way through. To me, Glenister and Strike, Guidall and Longmire, Reading and Charlotte Holmes, Giles and Haller, are inseparable.

I know it’s possible to change actors in midstream — we all love to debate who’s the best Bond or Batman, and even Giles was usurped on the recent Bosch books by some guy named Titus Welliver, without doing great harm — but as revisiting old characters in new books is comforting, it’s just as comfy to have the same voice telling the story.

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, Dejah and Summer, and Blackberry, an insistent cat. Author of Full, Refuse to be Afraid, Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, A Bridge at Crossroads, The Imaginary Bomb, A Scream of Consciousness, and The Imaginary Revolution.

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