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On the Road Again: The 7 Best Mystery Books for Long Car Rides

You'll forget all about asking "are we there yet?" 

best audiobooks for long car rides fetured photo

There’s nothing like getting in the car, packed up, and ready for adventure. You have the road ahead of you, where adventure awaits. And there’s nothing better than listening to a fantastic audiobook to entertain you along the way. While some genres are better than others for driving, I find a good mystery is the perfect road trip companion. They aren’t trying to terrify you into avoiding gas stations and road stops. Instead, they offer a compelling puzzle to help keep you awake and engaged while the hours disappear in your rearview mirror. 

So if you would like some books for long car rides, here are seven amazing mystery books so engrossing you'll actually wish your road trip was longer.

Listen to a sample of Still Life

still life louise penny

Still Life

By Louise Penny

9 hours, 34 minutes; narrated by Ralph Cosham

The last place Chief Inspector Armand Garmache and his colleagues want to be Thanksgiving weekend is a small village in the Eastern Townships. They’d rather be in Surete du Quebec with their families. But there’s a dead body in the woods, and the village is so peaceful, they don’t even have a police force. There’s no clear motive why someone would kill the beloved artist, but Ganache knows there is one. Evil is lurking beyond the white picket fences and perfectly friendly neighbors. And Ganache knows exactly how to find it.

Ralph Cosham narrates this story, bringing a calm, steady voice that perfectly captures the small-town setting. It’s a quiet mystery that pulls the listener in and doesn’t let go. If you love classic whodunits with a competent, detective, this listen is perfect for your next road trip.

Listen to a sample of Remarkably Bright Creatures

remarkably bright creatures shelby von pelt

Remarkably Bright Creatures

By Shelby Von Pelt

11 hours, 16 minutes; narrated by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie

Staying busy has always helped Tova Sullivan cope with hardships. It’s what got her through the last thirty years, when her eighteen-year-old son vanished in the Puget Sound. When her husband dies, she gets a job at Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and doing general cleaning at night. That’s where she meets Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living in one of the tanks. Marcellus is used to being underestimated by humans. That’s why he ignores most of them. But somehow Tova is different. After they develop a friendship, Marcellus figures out what happened to her son. And now he has to find a way to tell her.

Narrated by Marin Ireland as Tova and Michael Urie as Marcellus, this duo highlights the warmth and charm of both characters, drawing the listener into their developing friendship with a mystery woven into the heart of the story.

Listen to a sample of Trouble is a Friend of Mine

trouble is a friend of mine stephanie tromly

Trouble is a Friend of Mine

By Stephanie Tromly

8 hours, 49 minutes; narrated by Kathleen McInerney

Zoe Webster really doesn’t like Philip Digby. He’s a rude know-it-all. But somehow, he manages to drag Zoe into various questionable plots—each linked to a local teenage girl who's been kidnapped. Digby’s little sister disappeared eight years ago, and he’s convinced this case is tied to hers. Is Digby onto something? Or is this all a desperate attempt to heal his family and ease his own compulsive thoughts? And does Zoe care either way?

If you love Sherlock Holmes and Veronica Mars, you’ll love this ridiculous romp with two unforgettable characters. While it is a bit on the shorter side, with three books in the series, all narrated by Kathleen McInerney, this audiobook is the perfect way to distract fussy teens while entertaining the entire family.

Listen to a sample of The Woman in Cabin 10

the woman in cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10

By Ruth Ware

11 hours, 16 minutes; narrated by Imogen Church

Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist who just got the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise ship. At first, the cruise is perfect. The pinnacle of lavish pampering and relaxation. But as bad weather descends, Lo swears she sees a woman thrown overboard. The problem is all the passengers are present and accounted for. The ship sails on despite Lo’s insistence that something is very wrong.

An intriguing mystery with delicious twists and turns, set in the posh setting of a lavish cruise ship is an easy world to get wrapped up in while also setting a foreboding tone. The masterful Imogen Church adds a multitude of layers with deft accents and complete control of the narrative pace. It’s a book you won’t want to pause—even after you reach your destination.

Listen to a sample of The Black Echo

the black echo

The Black Echo

By Michael Connelly

13 hours, 49 minutes; narrated by Dick Hill

The dead body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than an anonymous crime for LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch. It’s his “tunnel rat” partner from Bosch’s Vietnam days. That means this is personal. The investigation brings back the full horror of the war as Bosch pushes his survival instincts to their breaking point. He’s surrounded by enemies, including in his own department, forcing him to choose between justice and vengeance. But he plunges forward, hunting for a killer whose identity will shock everyone.

Award-winning narrator Dick Hill delivers the perfect voice to bring this addicting mystery to life. He controls the pacing and sets the tone, making it not only impossible to pause, but will have you cueing up the sequel the moment it’s over.

Listen to a sample of Sherlock Holmes

sherlock holmes stephen fry

Sherlock Holmes

By Arthur Conan Doyle

62 hours, 52 minutes; narrated by Stephen Fry 

This collection contains A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of Baskervilles, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. With six books to entertain you, this audiobook will keep you entertained across the United States, from coast to coast, with seventeen hours of listening to spare. It’s the perfect way to introduce new listeners to these beloved characters, or simply revisit your favorite books in the series all over again. And with the incredibly talented Stephen Fry as narrator, each mystery's nuanced humor and delightful suspense are brought to vivid life.

Listen to a sample of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

the sweetness at the bottom of the pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

By Alan Bradley

9 hours, 53 minutes

Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is an aspiring chemist with a penchant for poison. She lives in the crumbling Buckshaw mansion in the summer of 1950. Ever the scientist, her curiosity is piqued when a dead bird with a postage stamp pinned to its beak is found on their doorstep. That’s interesting enough, but then hours later, she finds a man in their cucumber patch and watches him take his last breath. But when her father is accused of murder, Flavia is determined to do everything she can to prove his innocence.

It can be tricky to bring a precocious eleven-year-old girl to life. But Odyssey Award winning narrator Jayne Entwistle does a magnificent job capturing the curiosity and innocent nature of a younger character without making it overly saccharine or childish. It’s a surprising story with a unique protagonist that will keep your ears glued all the way to the end.