Five Killer Audio Whodunnits Like Apple TV+’s The Afterparty

Between Dickinson, Mythic Questand, of course, ted lasso, Apple TV+ has proven itself more than capable of producing top-tier comedies. But with Christopher Miller’s wildly fun, genre-mixing murder mystery The Afterparty—which was just renewed for a second season streamer seems to be suggesting that they’re just getting started. And thank goodness!

That said, the first season of The Afterparty is now officially behind us. And while sure, we get to find out who killed Dave Franco Xavier, looking ahead to a Friday without his ride-and-literally-die Malibu crew is still an enormous bummer!

Happily, as an avowed audiobibliophile, I am always prepared for moments like these: Listening to a book, after all, is a much more intimate experience than reading it on the page—perfect, that is, for cushioning a comedown from a singular television experience. Pair that with the perfect handful of recommendations to fill whichever greatest hole it is The Afterparty is leaving behind for you, and man, don’t sleep—we can never RIP.

To that end, please enjoy the truly chaotic list I have compiled for you below. And I mean, while I can’t promise you a listening experience even half as sweet as Everly Carganilla’s Maggie turning the whole cursed night of Xavier’s murder into the most adorable spin on Drunk History ever, I can promise you’ll like what I’ve pulled together at least half as much. And that’s not nothing.

Happy listening!

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Narrator: David Suchet, Dan Stevens, Kenneth Branagh or as a full-cast Audible Original Drama—pick your poison!
Run time: More or less 6 hours
Audible (full cast) | Book.fm (Dan Stevens) | Book.fm (Kenneth Brannagh) | Overdrive Suchet)

Now before anyone goes complaining that Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Expressrecently adapted for the big screen by Sir Kenneth Brannagh and arguably one of the most famous and widely read detective novels in literary history, lies so far beyond classical that it’s hardly worth including on a list as short as this one, let me politely decline to humor even the premise of that observation. (Straw man, thy name is murder!) Because here’s the thing: The Afterpartyin all its genre-bending audaciousness, only exists because classics like Murder on the Orient Express have hit the level of beyond.

But because it is such a long-standing pillar of detective fiction, Murder on the Orient Express has been put to audio multiple times. You think hearing eight different versions of the same night in The Afterparty was a trip? Just wait until you hear how different the adventures of Christie’s beloved Poirot come off when translated not just by such luminaries of the British acting scene as Brannagh, Dan Stevens (downton abbey), and David Suchet (Poirot, 1989-2013), but also by a full cast in a recent Audible Original Drama. I mean, as The Afterparty proved, it’s not just the whodunnit of the mystery that matters—it’s the howdunnit of the story that’s told around it.


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Narrator: kate rudd
Run time: 10 hours 12 minutes
Audible | Book.fm | Overdrive

While it may be true that Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series, along with the standalone Stevie Bell novels that have started to make their way to bookshelves near you in the years since the original trilogy wrapped, are spiritually closer to the growing “true crime podcast” subgenre than they are to the classic whodunnit, the murder(s) at the heart of the first installment in the trilogy—the titular Truly Devious—are about as locked-room as you can get.

Add in the elite high school setting, the central murder of a hot young influencer, and the fact that the story’s teen protagonists are so precocious that they come into the story with jobs and public personas they’re already bitter about, and you’ve got a natural follow-up to the adult disappointments (and murder!) of The Afterparty. And with YA audio stalwart Kate Rudd on narration duty, you’d be a fool not to go the audio route if given the chance.

YA Locked-Room Extra Credit: One Of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, read by Kim Mai Guest, MacLeod Andrews, Shannon McManus, and Robbie Daymond.


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Narrator: Je Nie Fleming
Run time: 10-11 hours, on average
Audible | Book.fm | Overdrive

A student of Walter Moseley, Raymond Chandler and Michael Connelly, Los Angeles native Rachel Howzell Hall hit the crime fiction scene in 2014 with Land of Shadows, the first in her series featuring LAPD Homicide Detective Elouise Norton. The rare Black female detective in a department filled with corrupt and/or lazy white men, Elouise “Lou” Norton would have plenty to commiserate with Tiffany Haddish’s Detective Danner over.

A cross-platform crossover may seem unlikely, sure, but given that a second season of The Afterparty just got the green light from Apple, with Haddish’s Danner listed explicitly as the one character set to return, a girl can dream! In the meantime, I’m going to settle in with Je Nie Fleming’s fluid, composed narration and cross my fingers Hall keeps the magic flowing.


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Narrator: Danice Cabanela
Run time: 9 hours 20 minutes
Audible | Book.fm | Overdrive

While The Afterparty might sit too deep in the comedy space to be reasonably considered a “cozy” mystery, it has so much in common with Mia P. Mansanala’s Arsenic and Adobo—a food-centric ball of ube-tinted sunshine that most certainly is a “cozy”—that you’d be forgiven for questioning your own understanding of crime fiction categorization. The Afterparty has disappointed twentysomethings returning to their hometown to see friends from high school and feel even worse about themselves? Arsenic and Adobo have the same! The Afterparty kills off the hot white d-bag doing the most to make them all feel bad? Arsenic and Adobo does the same!

I mean, both stories even have a clutch of floral-pattern-loving matriarchal busybodies with cutesy matching names—“The Jennifers,” Jen #1 (Tiya Sircar) and Jen #2 (Ayden Mayeri), in The Afterpartyand the “Calendar Crew” aunties April, May and June in Arsenic and Adobo. Sure, The Afterparty ends up with a bit more singing and a bit less cooking than Mansanala’s does, but if you come out of the all-night interrogations as hungry as Danner does in the series’ finale, that’s a difference you’re unlikely to mind.

Best news yet? Mansanala’s book, like The Afterparty, is now officially set for a sequel. And with cheerfully superlative narrator Danice Cabanela on board for the foreseeable future, the audio route is once again all of our best bet.


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Narrator: Lauren Ezzo
Run time: 6 hours 2 minutes
Audible | Book.fm | Overdrive

While not technically a whodunnit, Rachel Cohn’s Kill All Happies, narrated with wry verve by Lauren Ezzo, is a full-tilt party of a listen that will keep you guessing until the very end. Set at a literal afterparty in the middle of the California-Nevada desert and featuring an abandoned cult-favorite amusement park, a rifle-packing ex-beauty queen turned evil Econ teacher, and a trio of best friends metaphorically* high off the fumes of their long-awaited Graduation Day, Kill All Happies is the perfect chaser to the St. Patrick’s Day party shenanigans at The Afterparty‘s heart. Might it inspire a murder at the teens’ eventual class reunion? Maybe! But for now, just enjoy the ride.

*mostly


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Hosts: Aaron Carnes (author of In Defense of Ska) and Adam Davis (Link 80, Omnigone)
Run time: Like 1-2 hours per episode
Patron | Substack | Overcast (Ep. 59, “The Life and Times of Skatalites trombonist Don Drummond”)

While Aaron Carnes’s full-throated pro-ska manifested, In Defense of Ska, came out in 2021, there is, alas, currently no audiobook version available. But as Carnes has since launched a podcast of the same name, which is supported through Patreon and co-hosted by ska artist Adam Davis, that doesn’t really matter! I can’t promise they’d think much of Yasper and Xavier’s youthful ska efforts, but given how The Afterparty wraps up, that’s probably for the best.

That said, if you are looking for a legit ska murder mystery to listen to, my research for this list uncovered Howard Paar’s Top Rankin’: A Punk/Ska Noir Novel, published in 2021 and narrated by Shaun Grindell. I have not listened to it so can’t weigh in on its merits either as an audiobook or as a chaser to The Afterpartybut who knows—maybe it’s great!



Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She
can be found @AlexisKG.

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