The best ‘can’t miss’ crime books to plunge you into new places away from the norm

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent over 30 years as a fire rescue officer, and my investigative experience in arsons and fires of all types had me working with police at times. Firefighters come in contact with a lot of crimes. Crime scene protection is important before cops and detectives arrive. I’m curious by nature, and I like cops. They have so many rules. Firefighters aren’t like that. When we arrive, there is little time to follow rules. I have a firefighter crime series published, but I chose Teeth of the Cocodrilo in the theme of exotic crime. I'm the only firefighter in Canada who has written firefighter crime novels.


I wrote...

Teeth of the Cocodrilo

By E.R. Yatscoff,

Book cover of Teeth of the Cocodrilo

What is my book about?

Intrigue, obsession, hot romance, international crime, and murder set along the beautiful Mayan Riviera. Fate plays its hand to bind ex-firefighter Aaron Landers and Mexican state police Commandant Luis Gutierrez, when Aaron saves the lives of Luis' sons in Cancun. The alluring Maria Vasquez, looking for a way out of her life, meets Aaron. He falls hard for her. He finds out too late she comes with a vengeful, estranged husband and a sordid past with Luis. Opportunity arrives in easy money scams for Aaron and the Commandant, but the small crimes escalate and explode into murder and revenge.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Cliff Diver

E.R. Yatscoff Why did I love this book?

As a reader I simply couldn’t have one book without the other. Detective Cruz is the first female detective in Acapulco and fights for every inch of respect in a police department rife with corruption and misogyny in a country where Mexicans don’t trust the police, feeling that no one cares. But Det. Cruz cares. The recurring theme of so many girls gone missing is her passion which occasionally rises up during other investigations throughout the series. As a writer I enjoyed suspense and danger. Carmen Amato makes you feel the heat and taste the food of Acapulco. Best ever female cop protagonist.

By Carmen Amato,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Acapulco’s first female police detective dives into an ocean of secrets, lies, and murder when she investigates her own lieutenant’s death.

In this explosive start to the award-winning Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco, Emilia beat the odds to become the resort city's first female police detective. But she lives in a pressure cooker where trust is in short supply.

Her fellow detectives are scheming to push her out. Her lieutenant is a shady character playing both sides of the law. The police department is riddled with corruption and drug cartel influence.

When her lieutenant is murdered, Emilia…


Book cover of Blood on the Tracks

E.R. Yatscoff Why did I love this book?

Yes, it’s another tough female detective as my fave. Who’d of thought a railroad detective could end up in so much trouble with so much crime and murder going on? It isn’t simply arresting hobos and vandals. The protagonist Sydney Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde make a great pair. Sydney’s time in Iraq serves her well as her toughness comes through, yet she still has her vulnerable side. The bad guys here are really bad and most of the other cops from other orgs are indifferent toward her, believing she’s a lightweight. The added bonus is Clyde, the dog, so if you’re a dog person, it’s a bonus. Read the four book series.

By Barbara Nickless,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Blood on the Tracks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim's fiance, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can't shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.

In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde-both haunted by their time in Iraq-descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and…


Book cover of The Small Boat of Great Sorrows

E.R. Yatscoff Why did I love this book?

Another crime book that takes you places you never thought you’d venture into. Fesperman creates a sympathetic protagonist Vlado Petric. Vlado, a former homicide detective in Sarajevo, lives in exile but is recruited to return to the place of horrors that have haunted his life. His assignment: help capture an aging Nazi collaborator who has become a war profiteer, surrounded by a sympathetic population who will protect him with their lives. The story is dark and filled with suspense and dread. The Balkans were and are a very dangerous place. As a writer Fesperman creates suspense and fear in a very different place with very different people.

By Dan Fesperman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Small Boat of Great Sorrows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vlado Petric, former detective in war-torn Sarajevo, has left his beloved homeland to join his wife and daughter in Germany, where he scratches a meagre living among the dust of former conflicts on the building sites of the new Berlin.
Returning home one evening, he finds an enigmatic American investigator waiting for him in the small apartment he now shares with his wife and daughter. The investigator, Calvin Pine, works for the International War Crimes Tribunal, and he tells Petric that they want him to go to The Hague. It doesn't take Petric long to accept, especially when Pine tells…


Book cover of Hard Revolution

E.R. Yatscoff Why did I love this book?

Pelecanos creates a helluva crime story set in Washington, DC. Not so different of a place, right? Ah, but there is the backdrop of the Martin Luther King riots in 1968 and the cops are overwhelmed. Derek Strange is a Black rookie cop and with a white detective Frank Vaughan goes on a manhunt for his brother’s killer. The combination of the two is a great dynamic. Derek’s pretty sure he knows who the drug dealer is who killed his brother and won’t be put off by the riots. Trying to find the killer in the chaos is gripping. A lot of grit in here and tension. This is one story you

By George Pelecanos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this epic showdown from "one of the best crime novelists alive" (Dennis Lehane), police officer Derek Strange hunts his brother's killer through a city erupting with rage.


Book cover of Pompeii

E.R. Yatscoff Why did I love this book?

I do enjoy a crime novel that spirits me away and this one goes waaay back to ancient Rome. Rich Romans enjoy water via aqueducts from the north. But when tremors from Pompeii reduce the water to a trickle they get really angry and demand to know why. Aquarians tend to all things water and Rome’s big cheese Aquarian is sent north to see if it’s a plumbing issue or something else. Time passes and nothing happens. The Aquarian’s apprentice is forced to go north and find out what is going on. He’s under enormous pressure as every rich family and official want answers and fast. When the young apprentice reaches Pompeii he discovers nothing has been done to resolve the water shortage. And his boss has been murdered! While the apprentice fumbles along, the tension is ratcheted up higher and higher along with the tremors and smoke from Pompeii. It’s the backdrop of the volcano that adds a lot to this one-of-a-kind tale.

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Pompeii as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A pulse-rate-speeding masterpiece' Sunday Times

'A stunning novel . . . the subtlety and power of its construction holds our attention to the end' The Times

During a sweltering week in late August, as Rome's richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world - the mighty Aqua Augusta - has suddenly ceased to flow . . .

Through the eyes of four characters - a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt…


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I Meant to Tell You

By Fran Hawthorne,

Book cover of I Meant to Tell You

Fran Hawthorne Author Of I Meant to Tell You

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Museum guide Foreign language student Runner Community activist Former health-care journalist

Fran's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When Miranda’s fiancé, Russ, is being vetted for his dream job in the U.S. attorney’s office, the couple joke that Miranda’s parents’ history as antiwar activists in the Sixties might jeopardize Russ’s security clearance. In fact, the real threat emerges when Russ’s future employer discovers that Miranda was arrested for felony kidnapping seven years earlier—an arrest she’d never bothered to tell Russ about.

Miranda tries to explain that she was only helping her best friend, in the midst of a nasty custody battle, take her daughter to visit her parents in Israel. As Miranda struggles to prove that she’s not a criminal, she stumbles into other secrets that will challenge what she thought she knew about her own family, her friend, Russ—and herself.

I Meant to Tell You

By Fran Hawthorne,

What is this book about?

When Miranda’s fiancé, Russ, is being vetted for his dream job in the U.S. attorney’s office, the couple joke that Miranda’s parents’ history as antiwar activists in the Sixties might jeopardize Russ’s security clearance. In fact, the real threat emerges when Russ’s future employer discovers that Miranda was arrested for felony kidnapping seven years earlier—an arrest she’d never bothered to tell Russ about.

Miranda tries to explain that she was only helping her best friend, in the midst of a nasty custody battle, take her daughter to visit her parents in Israel. As Miranda struggles to prove that she’s not…


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