The best crime stories you can only listen to as audiobooks

Luke Jerod Kummer Author Of Takers Mad
By Luke Jerod Kummer

Who am I?

Crime is intrinsically interesting. From an early age, we’re taught behavioral norms. Hearing of transgressions, we ask, “How’d this happen?... Is it true?... What’s the deeper meaning?” Audiobooks also have a unique ability to engage us. With my reporting background plus a historical novel under my belt, I began researching the real-life case behind Takers Mad, aiming to bring it to life with the intimacy, suspense, and power of an audio drama. Then I was gobsmacked to find fresh evidence in this Gilded Age murder. Now, with Khristine Hvam’s ultra-talented narration, I hope our work entertains and also leads listeners to ponder vital questions—just like the best crime audiobooks.

I wrote...

Takers Mad

By Luke Jerod Kummer,

Book cover of Takers Mad

What is my book about?

A tantalizing drama available exclusively on Audible, Takers Mad guides listeners down a shadowy path to explore a true-crime pulled from New York’s gritty past. As newspapers reported in the 1890s, a woman dubbed "Shakespeare" was found dead in a seedy hotel along Manhattan’s waterfront. The chilling scene recalled for press and police alike Jack the Ripper’s victims in London. After panic quickly spread, the city only sighed relief when detectives abruptly arrested an Algerian immigrant for the crime. But the question lingered—did authorities catch the right man?

Based on the author’s fresh research findings in this infamous real-life case, Takers Mad is a ruminative, atmospheric, and sometimes morbidly funny work of historical and literary suspense.

The books I picked & why

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Evil Eye

By Madhuri Shekar,

Book cover of Evil Eye

Why this book?

Madhuri Shekar’s groundbreaking psychological thriller helped show new ways that audiobooks could plunge listeners into a story. I’m sure I wasn’t the only author who took note. Evil Eye follows a mother who immigrated to the U.S. from India as she prepares to accept her daughter’s partner into the family. But she is troubled by an old crime. The tale is told almost entirely through phone calls and voice messages. That meticulously constructed delivery heightens the suspense as we discover how trauma can span oceans and overlap generations.


By Greg Donahue,

Book cover of Hardy/Friedland

Why this book?

Greg Donahue uses a trove of archival audio to dive into how David Hardy, a Pulitzer-Prize-nominated reporter who was instrumental in integrating newsrooms, struck up an unlikely friendship with his most mysterious source, David Friedland—a lawyer, fraudster, and government witness whose pastimes include chess and hand-feeding sharks. After faking his own death in the Bahamas to avoid arrest, Friedland also became one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives. The dynamism of these two real-life characters kept drawing me in. As did the revealing, decades-old recordings and the author’s impressive framing of history.

Girls & Boys

By Dennis Kelly,

Book cover of Girls & Boys

Why this book?

Adapted from a one-woman performance at the Minetta Lane Theater by the talented stage actor Carey Mulligan, Girls & Boys is a gripping and sometimes painful examination of domestic violence. The writer Dennis Kelly, who is acclaimed for his work in British television and film, creates a strikingly realistic narrator and an unforgettable storyline to examine how relationships can go horribly wrong. It’s a sad story, well-written and with brilliant acting. Kelly and Mulligan left a lasting mark on me. 

We Are the Water People: A Short Story

By Troy Onyango,

Book cover of We Are the Water People: A Short Story

Why this book?

We Are the Water People is an eerie tale about how a community – human and supernatural – tries to process an unspeakable calamity on the shores of Lake Victoria. The telling is as deep and mysterious as the murky waters on which the story is set. I quickly became immersed in the poetry of the language and the moody atmosphere filling my headphones. 

Death by Unknown Event

By Danielle Elliot,

Book cover of Death by Unknown Event

Why this book?

Unspooled as an episodic series, Danielle Elliot traces the true story of one woman’s long-running nightmare in Vancouver. Police received hundreds of complaints about a stalker and then repeatedly arrived at shocking scenes. But authorities began to doubt the victim’s claims—until she was found dead. I’ve long admired the hard-boiled writing of Ross Macdonald and Margaret Millar, and I don’t think it is only the Canadian setting that makes Death by Unknown Event remind me of their work, but rather the psychological intrigue. Except the twisting plot of these 12 episodes is no work of fiction—sometimes life just can be that strange.

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