The best detective novels that read like domestic suspense

Why am I passionate about this?

At heart, I just love a juicy story. For about three years of my life, I read nothing but non-fiction and textbooks on psychology, psychotherapy, and analyses of the human condition—everything from case studies to scientific papers. Cross that with an NYPD detective for a husband, and my obsession with the criminal mind, the detective mind, and everything in between was born. I am especially drawn to stories that show how working with the underbelly of society affects a police officer’s psyche. Nobody is unscathed. It is this vision of humanity on the razor’s edge between law and crime that I find most compelling to write and read.


I wrote...

Hide in Place

By Emilya Naymark,

Book cover of Hide in Place

What is my book about?

She left the NYPD in the firestorm of a high-profile case gone horribly wrong. Three years later, the ghosts of her past roar back to terrifying life. When NYPD undercover cop Laney Bird's cover is blown in a racketeering case against the Russian mob, she flees the city with her troubled son, Alfie. Now, three years later, she's found the perfect haven in Sylvan, a charming town in upstate New York. But then the unthinkable happens: her boy vanishes. Hide in Place is a Silver Falchion Award Finalist.

“An original, satisfying roller-coaster ride for domestic suspense fans.” Publishers Weekly

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

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Long Bright River

Emilya Naymark Why did I love this book?

I was immediately gripped by this gritty novel, not least because of Liz Moore’s talent in painting a specific place and community. Set in a working-class Philadelphia neighborhood devastated by the opioid crisis, this is a story of two sisters at the opposite ends of the law. Mickey always tried to leave, to become something other than what she saw around her. But she never did. She is now a cop, her beat the same streets in which she’d grown up, and the people she helps, or arrests, the same ones she’s known her entire life. I became utterly engrossed in the dynamics between the sisters, but mostly, the internal struggles Mickey faces as she tries to do the best she can for her family, her neighborhood, and her friends. 

By Liz Moore,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Long Bright River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY NPR, PARADE, REAL SIMPLE, and BUZZFEED

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK

"[Moore’s] careful balance of the hard-bitten with the heartfelt is what elevates Long Bright River from entertaining page-turner to a book that makes you want to call someone you love.” – The New York Times Book Review
 
"This is police procedural and a thriller par excellence, one in which the city of Philadelphia itself is a character (think Boston and Mystic River). But it’s…


Book cover of In the Woods

Emilya Naymark Why did I love this book?

I inhaled this book. Yes, it’s a police procedural, and yes, there’s a murder. Maybe there are several, though the beauty of the novel is that this is not crystal clear. The absolute best part of this novel, and what I still remember years after reading it, is how real the characters are. Their emotions, their connections, and relationships are so vividly portrayed, that I wanted to alternately hug and scream at them. The narrator, a detective named Rob Ryan, is a walking, talking wound who somehow managed to become an adult after a devastating childhood event, and then become a police officer. This book is psychological suspense at its best. 

By Tana French,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked In the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling debut, with over a million copies sold, that launched Tana French, author of the forthcoming novel The Searcher and "the most important crime novelist to emerge in the past 10 years" (The Washington Post).

"Required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting." -The New York Times

Now airing as a Starz series.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only…


Book cover of Case Histories

Emilya Naymark Why did I love this book?

Kate Atkinson has a serious talent for making a reader care about anyone she describes. She weaves deeply moving stories whether she’s telling us about grown sisters still caught in a tragedy from their childhood, a young mother driven to desperation by poverty and loneliness (and, yes, by being a young mother), or the detective who tries to find closure for them.

I couldn’t get enough of these characters and gladly followed them to the next books in the series.

By Kate Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Case Histories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge ...


Book cover of The Black Dahlia

Emilya Naymark Why did I love this book?

I was, and still am, obsessed by the story of the Black Dahlia. Is it any wonder that I fell completely under the spell of this novel? Ellroy writes a tight, violent vision of what a horrific case can do, psychologically, to detectives. Cops are no less human than the rest of society, and the constant exposure to the worst, darkest, most terrible aspects of humanity erodes them. The Black Dahlia demonstrates this erosion brilliantly. 

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Black Dahlia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The highly acclaimed novel based on America's most infamous unsolved murder case. Dive into 1940s Los Angeles as two cops spiral out of control in their hunt for The Black Dahlia's killer in this powerful thriller that is "brutal and at the same time believable" (New York Times).
On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia -- and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops,…


Book cover of A Matter of Blood

Emilya Naymark Why did I love this book?

Being a New Yorker, I’m a sucker for any true New York books, and this one is as authentic as they come. I also really appreciated how believable Chiara Corelli is. She has all the right mix of ethical and tough, but she is also a fully realized person with both external and internal goals and needs. Really good police procedural with a healthy dose of humanity. 

By Catherine Maiorisi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Just back from her second tour in Afghanistan, NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli goes undercover to expose a ring of dirty cops. But when she’s ordered to kill to prove her loyalty, she aborts the operation without having identified the leaders. Now, Corelli is the one exposed. With her brothers and sisters in blue ostracizing her, can she trust Detective P.J. Parker to watch her back?

Parker is the daughter of a vehement critic of the NYPD. But that doesn’t stop her from wanting to work in the homicide division. And wanting to learn from the best. Unfortunately, Chiara Corelli is…


You might also like...

Saving Raine

By Marian L Thomas,

Book cover of Saving Raine

Marian L Thomas

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Saving Raine is a captivating tale of resilience, redemption, and the enduring power of love, penned by the acclaimed author Marian L. Thomas.

This contemporary fiction novel chronicles the compelling journey of Raine Reynolds as she confronts heartache, betrayal, and loss. Against the vibrant backdrops of Atlanta and Paris, Raine's story unfolds as she grapples with the aftermath of her husband's infidelity and tragic passing.

Through poignant prose and compelling characters, "Saving Raine" delves into themes of forgiveness, healing, and the strength discovered in confronting life's greatest challenges. Readers will be captivated by Raine's emotional odyssey as she unearths hope, redemption, and the courage to embrace a brighter future.

Saving Raine

By Marian L Thomas,

What is this book about?

Raine Reynolds stands at the crossroads of despair and opportunity.
 
When the life you've built crumbles and the past refuses to release its grip, sometimes you need a fresh start-a new beginning that promises hope and redemption.
 
Once a celebrated author, Raine's life unraveled, sending her fleeing to the picturesque streets of Paris to escape the tormenting heartache that threatened to consume her. Yet, no matter how far she traveled, the pain remained her unwelcome companion.
 
Returning to bustling Atlanta as a senior VP for an ad agency, Raine is forced to confront a city steeped in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murder, murder mystery, and Philadelphia?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murder, murder mystery, and Philadelphia.

Murder Explore 940 books about murder
Murder Mystery Explore 495 books about murder mystery
Philadelphia Explore 80 books about Philadelphia