Author Editor Golden Age mystery fan
The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,679 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Biography of X

Tim Major Why did I love this book?

Biography of X is a fictitious biography of an artist/singer/producer/agitator, ostensibly written by her wife in pursuit of objective truth about X in spite of her lifetime of constructing different personas.

It’s raw and painfully human, while also being meticulous in its worldbuilding. The fact that it’s also one of the most plausible alternative history novels and one of the best meta-fictional novels I’ve ever read is the icing on the cake. 

I can’t convey how much I loved it.

By Catherine Lacey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Biography of X as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National Bestseller. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Finalist for the 2023 Brooklyn Library Prize. Named a best book of March by Apple Books and Amazon, and a most anticipated book by The New York Times, Esquire, The Guardian, Time, BuzzFeed, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, and Chicago Review of Books

“A major novel, and a notably audacious one.” ―Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“It feels fairly rare for a novel to be hugely intelligent and moving and fun in equal measure, but with Biography of X, Catherine Lacey somehow―magically―makes the nearly impossible look easy.” ―Lauren Groff

From…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Conquest

Tim Major Why did I love this book?

Nina Allan is one the UK’s greatest science fiction writers working today, and yet often, her work is barely speculative at all. Conquest concerns a missing conspiracy theorist who is obsessed with the possibility of an upcoming war against aliens. Yet, it’s structured far more like a detective story than a classic science fiction novel – though the complete SF novella buried with the book is another story.

Allan’s interspersing of academic texts further blurs the line between fact and fiction.

By Nina Allan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conquest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rachel's boyfriend Frank is different from other people. His strangeness is part of what she loves about him: his innocence, his intelligence, his passionate immersion in the music of JS Bach. As a coder, Frank sees patterns in everything, but as his theories slide further towards the irrational, Rachel becomes increasingly concerned for his wellbeing. There are people Frank knows online, people who share his view of the world and who insist he has a unique role to play. In spite of Rachel's fears for his safety, Frank is determined to meet them face to face.

When Frank disappears, Rachel…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Death and the Conjuror

Tim Major Why did I love this book?

Golden Age detective mysteries are my comfort reads, and locked-room mysteries even more so. Tom Mead’s revival of the classic form is note-perfect, but it’s more than a mere pastiche. Stage-magician-turned-detective Joseph Spector is a terrific addition to the ranks of inspired detectives.

I raced through this novel in a couple of sittings, followed by the sequel – and I’m assured there are more Spector mysteries to come.

By Tom Mead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death and the Conjuror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Best Mysteries of 2022 Selection

In this "sharply-drawn period piece" (New York Times), a magician-turned-sleuth in pre-war London solves three impossible crimes

In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who…


Plus, check out my book…

Sherlock Holmes and the Twelve Thefts of Christmas

By Tim Major,

Book cover of Sherlock Holmes and the Twelve Thefts of Christmas

What is my book about?

Sherlock Holmes's discovery of a mysterious musical score initiates a devious Christmas challenge set by Irene Adler, with clues that are all variations on the theme of 'theft without theft.'

In the snowy London lead-up to Christmas, Holmes's preoccupation with the "Adler Variations" risks him neglecting the case of his new client, Norwegian arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who has received a series of threats in the form of animal carcasses left on his doorstep.

Could they really be gifts from a strange spirit that has pursued Nansen since the completion of his expedition to cross Greenland? And might this case somehow be related to Irene Adler's great game?