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Frank Muller: Remembering a Great Audio Book Narrator

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For years, it has always been my particular joy to find an audio book that had been narrated by Frank Muller. I love the work of many narrators of books, but even after all this time, I still think, Frank Muller is my all-time favorite narrator.

I have been passionate about books and reading since I was old enough to read on my own, but truth be told, it really started earlier than that, while being read to before I could read books.

I have read quite a few books over my lifetime, and I still read quite a bit, but, honestly, my eyesight isn’t what it once was. For this reason, where I can, I have naturally gravitated toward audio books to give my eyes a much needed rest while still being able to continue my passion of reading.

Over the years, I have read, or rather listened to, various books narrated by Frank Muller by such writers as Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Tim LaHaye. Every single book was a joy to read, or in this case to listen to.

Frank Muller added depth and dimension to each book. He seemed to really understand the writers and what they wanted in the reading. Frank Muller took great pains with detail, the voices and style of the characters, even across sets of books, such as Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

His tragic motorcycle accident robbed him from continuing his career as one of the all-time best narrators of audio books, robbed his family of husband and father, and robbed us, too, as listeners of any new narrations by this great narrator.

I was surprised by all the books and the number of years that Frank Muller had been narrating books by so many authors — from the Classics to modern authors. I found so many while I was searching Amazon and Google to find his Audio CD versions of books he had narrated. If you still have a audio cassette player/compact cassette player, there are even more to choose from.

When listening to Frank Muller narrate a book, I am of two minds about the reading; I vacillate between hating for the book to end and at the same time wanting to know how it ends! Quite a paradox! Yes, a lot of that is the writer's work, but it is also in a large part, I believe to the love, dedication and talent put into the narration of the various books.

Frank Muller, originally from the Netherlands, was a classically trained actor. His family emigrated to the United States when he was five years old. He was the eldest of five children in the family.

In New York, Frank worked on the stage, where he became a company member of the Riverside Shakespeare Company. He played the title role in King Henry V, Edmund the Bastard in The History of King Lear, and the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as performing with the Roundabout Theater Company and the New York Shakespeare Festival among others according to Wikipedia. Quite impressive in itself, however, he was actually most famous for his narration of audio books.

Frank's beginnings in narrating books started back in 1979, when a man named Henry Trentman, founder of "Recorded Books," hired Frank Muller to narrate public domain books such as The Call of the Wild and A Tale of Two Cities and later moved on to copyrighted works.  Frank Muller soon became the narrator of choice for such authors as Stephen King, John le Carré, John Grisham, Elmore Leonard, and many others.

Frank Muller actually won the 2003 Audie Award for Best Male Narrator for his reading of Elmore Leonard's Tishomingo Blues. I am amazed it took that long to get it actually.

I am sure, like me, many others miss getting to hear Frank Muller narrate any of the new books written by our favored authors. However, I can happily report that I have found a lot of existing ones to savor. Some are reasonably priced while others are way out of line. There are various places to find them. And the places below are just a jumping point.

Some of Frank Muller’s narrated audio books can be found on CD and cassette at Amazon.com. Also, here is a list of various retail book outlets that have even more of them.

There is also a somewhat limited, but reasonably priced list of Frank Muller narrated audio books at BooksOnBoard.com. Some are even in MP3 format (if you have a good broadband connection) so you can download them directly, and not have to worry about DRM (Digital Rights Management). You can read them on your computers, on CD players, MP3 players, from different operating systems, and on other digital devices, or simply not be limited to the number of devices you own where you can make personal use of your audio treasures.

Rest in peace, Frank Muller. I know your family misses you, but we do too! At least we never have to forget the wonderful way you read to us.

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  • Patricia

    It was a great shock and sadness to read of Frank Muller’s death in this article. At the same time, a pleasure to read a great tribute to his monumental skills as an audio narrator, and the sheer enjoyment he generated to his worldwide followers.

    Like you, there are a top dozen narrators who I’d listen to whatever the book they were reading. Through listening to favourite readers, have discovered so many American authors I might never have come across. Frank Muller for me also, was among the top 3 male narrators (as is CJ Critt among females) in the USA and UK field.

    Here in Britain, American audio titles have more presence on public library shelves than in audio bookshops, so the authors don’t receive so much exposure here. Even in libraries, it’s still not enough, but of course we can get them online. Frank’s characterisation, voice, timbre, inflection and pacing, was used with such intelligence and creative skill, he was a master in his craft. Thank you Fran for such an interesting article; it filled out some more of Fran Muller’s career. He leaves a large hole in the audio world ~ but his body of work lives on for the aficionado’s and lies waiting for others to discover.

  • http://www.mypassionisbooks.com Fran

    Well, that was different. I had a comment all ready to go and Akismet complained and said it was rejected. “Nothing personal” sigh…Oh well. Never had Akismet do that before.

    Yes, I was very shocked when I heard of his death and even more shocked when I heard of the accident that took his career even before taking his life.

    CJ Critt, from Texas, I believe. Wasn’t/Isn’t she the reader of choice by Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series? I love Patricia Cornwell’s books but haven’t had the pleasure of hearing CJ Critt read them to me as yet.

    Thank you for your kind words and for taking time to comment on the article. It is great to get to chat with someone else who enjoyed Frank Muller’s readings as much as I did.

  • Patricia

    Hello Fran,

    What a world huh? The machines have taken over in giving humans knock-backs now!

    Your article, and the news, is still reverberating. Like you, I loved Frank Muller’s voice and the novels he enriched. It kind of pulls you short and makes you realise not to take good things for granted.

    Think CJ Critt does hail from Texas. Another nonpareil voice and narrator in the audio world. Am a fan too of Patricia Cornwall, and CJ Critt handles her dark and intense crime novels like a maestro as well as the sublimely hilarious J Evanovich Stephanie Plum series.

  • http://www.audiofilemagazine.com Katie

    Thanks for this article, Fran! Frank Muller was truly a treasure. It’s amazing what a great narrator can add to your own experience of a book!

    I’m an editor at AudioFile Magazine, which is devoted to audiobooks, and we recently posted a tribute to Frank on our website — it’s a recorded conversation of Muller’s friends and colleagues, talking about him and his legacy. Feel free to come by and take a listen.

  • http://www.mypassionisbooks.com Fran

    Patricia, Yes, it is funny about the machines. I work on them all the time and they still manages to somehow surprise me when they don’t do what they should. LOL!

    Thanks again for your kind words and for sharing your love of Frank Muller and letting me know your appreciation of CJ Critt. I got to hear CJ Critt on the page that Katie posted with the recorded conversation of Frank Muller’s friends and colleagues above.

    Katie, wow, what an awesome recorded conversation about Frank Muller! Thank you so much for posting it here so others can listen. I loved it! It’s a wonderful look into the incredible talent and the wonderful legacy of Frank Muller. He surely set the bar very high when he started out in the fledgling audio book world.

    I, as a listener, greatly appreciate what Frank Muller gave to us! Every time I hear him, it’s like the first! I never tire of listening to Frank Muller recordings.

    Thanks again Katie for taking the time to comment on the article and for sharing the recorded conversation about Frank Muller.

  • Patricia

    Thank you again Fran, for deepening and extending my appreciation of Frank Muller. Audio’s are v important. We have a place on Exmoor, Devon, which we try to get to as often as possible, and the 5 hr drive from London is prime-time for listening. This autumn/winter we’ve agreed, is going to be a Frank Muller fest.

    Katie,
    What a treasure trove the Audio File website is! Have just finished listening to your link celebrating Frank Muller and his work. An in-depth riveting listen. Such insights too from Claudia Howard and Recorded Books, (best audio Co on the planet). Learning too how Frank pioneered the multi-characterisation and the vibrancy of the medium. His voice does indeed have the power to move.

    Also, great to hear CJ Critt on Audio File. She, Frank and Barbara Rosenblatt could have read guides to the public from an IRS publication and attention would be fully engaged.

    PS. Katie, Have taken delivery today of the Naxos Co’s, ‘The Complete Sherlock Holmes’, audio production. A happy coincidence is that Audio File’s high recommendation of David Timson’s reading is featured on the box cover.

  • http://www.mypassionisbooks.com Fran

    I love Sherlock Holmes! Great choice Patricia!

  • http://www.audiofilemagazine.com Katie

    Fran,

    You’re very welcome! It’s always nice to connect with people about awesome narrators and books!

    Patricia,

    Glad you liked our features! The CJ Critt interview was just posted this week, and that interview was so much fun! She has such a warm personality and great sense of humor—such a good fit for the Evanovich titles.

    And what a coincidence about Sherlock Holmes. Our copy will be out for review shortly, but I think we’ve reviewed pretty much all of the pieces leading up to the complete collection. Great stuff!

  • Rachel

    My name is Rachel Bond. I’m Frank’s sister Tanny’s daughter and I can’t tell you how much it means to everyone in our family when we read such incredible things about Frank from fans of his.

    I was very young when he got into his accident and I don’t remember him as a person very well. All of my memories of him were from after his accident. But it’s always a great pleasure to read such amazing comments about him because, while my mother has great stories, it’s always interesting to hear how Frank made an impact on other people’s lives.

    I’m so happy you all found such entertainment and joy from my uncle. I know he would feel humbled and honored that you all think so highly of him.

    :)
    -Rachel!

  • http://www.mypassionisbooks.com Fran

    Hi Rachel, thank you so much for taking the time to comment here! It is a shame that you were too young to remember your uncle before the accident.

    Please pass my sincerest condolences on your loss to the family.

    I think that from reading my review, you will know that I for one will never forget Frank Muller and the wonderful way he read to us all.

    I really cherish the recorded audio/video of my own family as well because it endures beyond our time on this planet and helps keep our family members with us in some small way in our hearts.

  • Harry

    I must add just started listening to The Great Railway Bizzar and I can’t recommend the reading of this all is well until he try’s the various Asian accents for the most part they are garbled and spoken like he is speed talking a good book ruined