Let the Most Soothing Voice in Podcasting Read You a Good Mystery

Phoebe Judge reads 'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' and I picture detective Hercule Poirot as David Suchet played him.

“Hi, it’s Phoebe,” the new podcast begins.

Why would these three words send a shiver of delight down my spine? If you’re asking that question, chances are you’re not on a first-name basis with Phoebe Judge. Let me explain.

Judge is the co-creator and host of Criminal, a podcast devoted to stories of people who’ve brushed up against the law: wrongdoers, the wronged and those caught between. In the ever-growing world of media delivering salacious true-crime stories (I see you, Tiger King), Criminal is quiet, respectful and incredibly human. And it’s Judge who provides the soothing, equanimous voice that imbues it with those rare qualities.

As we all find ways to fill our homebound time and take comfort where we can, Judge has created a new podcast to help you through these anxiety-filled weeks (months?) of sheltering in place. “One thing that’s been making me feel a little more at ease has been reading fiction,” she explains in the first episode of Phoebe Reads a Mystery. “I started reading Agatha Christie’s first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and I thought, maybe I could read it to you. A chapter a day until we get to the end. No ads, just a good mystery.”

Christie wrote The Mysterious Affair at Styles during World War I (another moment of global trauma) and it was published in 1920. It introduces my favorite detective, Hercule Poirot, the short-statured and mustachioed Belgian inspector indelibly captured by David Suchet in the long-running television show Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

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The Mysterious Affair at Styles has all the classic mystery tropes: a country manor, the sudden death of a wealthy matron, an eccentric cast of characters (all hiding something), plot twists and red herrings galore. Experiencing it as an audiobook is a true delight. We can only hope when this 13-chapter story reaches its all-is-revealed-in-the-library conclusion that Judge picks up another mystery and keeps reading to us.