The best books featuring epic crime dramas and fantasy with strong female characters

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through what I call a “serial killer’s childhood,” with one personal family tragedy after another. After reading about the backgrounds of notorious serial killers, I asked myself what made me any different. Well, for starters, books. I escaped crippling shyness and anxiety through books. I became fascinated by the supernatural, which was probably why I ended up writing a trilogy about the Jinn, the beings of an unseen dimension as believed by every Muslim on the planet. Moving to the Middle East and living here for more than three decades has also influenced my taste in books and influenced my writing.


I wrote...

The Buchanan Bastard

By Dedra L. Stevenson,

Book cover of The Buchanan Bastard

What is my book about?

High-society debutante Laura Lynn Beauford entered the groovy 1970s with great expectations. Newly married to millionaire Brian Buchanan and expecting their first child, heir to the vast Buchanan empire, life could not be sweeter for this Louisiana darling.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the hometown of the Buchanan dynasty, was set to be the best the state had ever seen until a shocking murder plunged Laura Lynn into her worst nightmare. The glamorous debutante is trapped in the surreal world behind bars, desperate to prove her innocence and save her baby. Larry Beauford, her decorated war hero father and small town Mayor, is Laura Lynn’s only champion, fighting to clear his daughter’s good name. Can Larry untangle the convoluted threads leading him down the rabbit hole?

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

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Girl on the Train

Dedra L. Stevenson Why did I love this book?

I really enjoyed this novel, or maybe “enjoy” isn’t the word. I was captivated by the novel. The main characters are three women: the ex-wife narrator, the wife, and the lover. The narrator, who is the helpless victim of such brutal gaslighting by her horrific ex-husband that she’s driven to drink and is on the verge of ruining her life, when certain events regarding the other two women offer her a path to redemption and rescue. The story speaks to any woman who’s suffered from psychological abuse from a man in her life, which probably accounts for its massive success and the Hollywood film that sprang from this narrative. 

The thriller takes place slowly and unfolds one scene at a time until the explosive ending, a satisfying experience as a lover of murder mysteries and female empowerment stories. 

By Paula Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girl on the Train as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller, USA Today Book of the Year and now a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt.
 
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple having breakfast on their deck. She's even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It's…


Book cover of A Game of Thrones

Dedra L. Stevenson Why did I love this book?

The TV show, Game of Thrones, only followed the first book, this book, to the letter, however, in spite of this, I still prefer the book. The descriptions of the characters, their inner thoughts, their adventures, their tragedies. It’s Shakespearian in scale. If Shakespeare had the chance to know of the horror of what it takes to be an honest man like Ned Stark, he’d be inspired to write a play on this. I know my own writing has been greatly influenced by Martin. 

By George R. R. Martin,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked A Game of Thrones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HBO's hit series A GAME OF THRONES is based on George R R Martin's internationally bestselling series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. A GAME OF THRONES is the first volume in the series.

'Completely immersive' Guardian

'When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground'

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

From the fertile south, where heat breeds conspiracy, to the vast and savage eastern lands, all the way to the frozen…


Book cover of Misery

Dedra L. Stevenson Why did I love this book?

Stephen King inspired some of my own writing. I am particularly blown away by how he can take something that seems so harmless, like a writer meeting his number one fan, and turn it into something insidious and terrifying. The villains in his novels are also very real and they have a vulnerable side that can almost make you feel sorry for them. That’s just great writing.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the exciting build-up to publication of Stephen King's new mainstream novel, LISEY'S STORY, enjoy this world-famous classic novel on audio.


Book cover of The Bourne Identity

Dedra L. Stevenson Why did I love this book?

This book, like the film, is action-packed from the beginning. As a spy thriller, it’s got it all. An operative, a missing identity, nefarious purposes, and deep tragedy. Also a hero that comes out of it all, but at a great cost. Ludlum builds a world that makes one wonder if this deep level of deceit truly happens within the government and exposes the dark underbelly of the beast. 

By Robert Ludlum,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Bourne Identity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jason Bourne is back in the forthcoming major motion picture starring Matt Damon and Alicia Vikander. Go back to where it all began for Bourne in his first adventure - The Bourne Identity

He was dragged from the sea, his body riddled with bullets. There are a few clues: a frame of microfilm surgically implanted beneath the skin of his hip; evidence that plastic surgery has altered his face; strange things he says in his delirium, which could be code words. And a number on the film negative that leads to a bank account in Zurich, four million dollars, and…


Book cover of The Librarian Spy: A Novel of World War II

Dedra L. Stevenson Why did I love this book?

Once upon a time, I was a professional librarian, and I remember thinking what a perfect placement for a spy. This would make the perfect setting for a spy novel, so imagine my surprise when this novel came along! Martin has created a fine period piece in this as well, and the reader is walking through scenes from World War II and experiencing this world through the protagonist’s eyes. I love books and films that have been set in the past, and I highly recommend this one. 

By Madeline Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**A NATIONAL BESTSELLER**

“Readers will be on the edge of their seats….  A brilliant tale of resistance, courage and ultimately hope.”  –Kelly Rimmer, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Orphan

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Bookshop in London comes a moving new novel inspired by the true history of America’s library spies of World War II.

Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as…


You might also like...

A School for Unusual Girls

By Kathleen Baldwin,

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls

Kathleen Baldwin Author Of Sanctuary for Seers: A Stranje House Novel

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Loves God Mother to Many Wilderness Adventurer History Enthusiast

Kathleen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A spy school for girls amidst Jane Austen’s high society.

Daughters of the Beau Monde who don’t fit London society’s strict mold are banished to Stranje House, where the headmistress trains these unusually gifted girls to enter the dangerous world of spies in the Napoleonic wars. #1 NYT bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this exciting historical series "completely original and totally engrossing."

A School for Unusual Girls

By Kathleen Baldwin,

What is this book about?

A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure "completely original and totally engrossing."

It's 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England's dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society's constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, railroad, and escapism?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, railroad, and escapism.

France Explore 902 books about France
Railroad Explore 17 books about railroad
Escapism Explore 36 books about escapism