Mysteries and thrillers is one of our favorite genres when we need an instant escape, but like other genre fiction (sci-fi and romance, most notably) representation still has a long way to go. Diversity in all genres of literature is important, allowing for different perspectives to flourish and inspiring future generations of writers.
Below we highlight 10 great mystery and thriller audiobooks (and we’ve thrown in some horror for good measure) by notable and debut Black authors, with plot descriptions provided by the publishers.
Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall
For fans of procedurals (especially TV detective shows) that focus first on the case and mystery but also give you enough private life scenes to really know the character, meet LA Homicide Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton. She has a cheating husband, a new partner at work, a sister who went missing in childhood, and case after case of criminals that need to be brought to justice. Smart and snarky, she's a character you’ll root for throughout the series, which has four entries so far: Land of Shadows, Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes, and City of Saviors.
Silenced by Nicole Givens Kurtz
In the ruins of the collapsed United States, private inspector Cybil Lewis and her inspector-in-training, Jane, fill a need. When Jane insists they look into her cousin's disappearance, Cybil agrees and is catapulted into a world of lies and deceit.
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the Black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan....
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
"You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before." This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga’s clinic, where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their nose narrowed—if you can afford it....
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. When she’s given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, she says yes....
And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall
Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game, Rachel Howzell Hall's And Now She’s Gone explores the nature of secrets—and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive.
A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette
It's not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she'll catch an ice-cold killer before she has a meltdown....
A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney
From debut author L. L. McKinney comes an action-packed twist on an old classic, full of romance and otherworldly intrigue. A Blade So Black delivers an irresistible urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but it's not the Wonderland you remember.
Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
Environmental devastation and economic chaos have turned America into a land of horrifying depravity....
A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
Samuel L. Jackson gives a swaggering, darkly humored performance of Chester Himes' classic first novel.
Audible editor Nicole Ransome spotlights 10 great mystery & thriller audiobooks by notable and debut Black authors.