A narrator who is anything less than neutral, if not outright good, absolutely kills audiobooks for me. Certainly, if I’m finding myself thinking more about the narrator, it’s a fail. So lately, I’m having no trouble finding audiobooks I’m interested in, but not so much luck with an acceptable narrator.

Here’s some examples of narrators I like:

  • Simon Vance. Absolute perfection for the Complete Sherlock Holmes series.
  • Michael C. Hall. Fantastic narrator for Pet Sematary. If there were any annoying bits, it was King’s fault (e.g., overuse of callbacks from within the same story and his signature hokey humor occasionally falling flat).
  • John Glover. Dialed it in nicely for The Hellbound Heart.
  • Oliver Wyman. Not exactly a standout, but perfect example of a neutral performance that gets the job done in Death Wish.

Examples that became deal breakers:

  • Kevin Clay. Came across him a few times now. Go ahead and look him up on Amazon and play some examples (Gilchrist: A Novel) and tell me he doesn’t sound like a second gen text-to-speech feature as provided by Microsoft Windows. I’m going to listen to that for hours? No.
  • David Stifel. Killed my attempt to listen to Bentley Little’s The House. Has this somewhat arrhythmic cadence that throws me off and the tone of his voice sounds like the kind of neighbor who can’t wait to give you some unsolicited advice.
  • Thom Bowers. Cut short my attempt at listening to the Berkley Street street series because he had a tendency to alternate his voice between acceptably neutral to pathetic overly effeminate dandy for too many characters.
  • Danny Campbell. Tried to start up The Fisherman by John Langan tonight, but it’s officially off the table as an audiobook thanks to Campbell. Based on the available photos I’ve found online, Campbell doesn’t appear to be older than 50-something, but in the audiobook he sounds like an elderly 80, and it kinda takes me out of the story when every character sounds like an old timer whose heart might seize at any moment.