The best books I read again and again

Who am I?

There are some books that transcend a time or a place. Some books demand space on your bookshelf, elbowing aside less demanding, more transient material. Some books, every time you read them, reveal something new about themselves, the writer, or the story they are telling. These are some of the books I return to when I want to rediscover why I became a writer. Why are they my favourites? I really have no idea. The only thing I do know is that re-reading them is like being with an old friend, sharing both the past and the present and everything in between. 

I wrote...

The Irish Inheritance: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery

By M.J. Lee,

Book cover of The Irish Inheritance: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery

What is my book about?

Sometimes, digging up the past reveals more than just secrets…

Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, is commissioned by an adopted American billionaire to discover the identity of his birth father. She has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book, and an old photograph. But she soon realises somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne from discovering the secret hidden in the past. It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, a genealogical detective.

The books I picked & why

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The Daughter of Time

By Josephine Tey,

Book cover of The Daughter of Time

Why this book?

This was one of the first books I ever read that forced me to re-evaluate the way I look at history. It was recommended to me by my teacher when I was fourteen. In it, Josephine Tey examines the death of the Princes in the Tower during the reign of Richard III and comes to some startling conclusions. But it’s not a dry, historical tome. On the contrary, she uses the device of a detective using modern investigative techniques to examine the evidence. He comes to some startling conclusions and so will you if you read the book. Up yours William Shakespeare…

And Then There Were None

By Agatha Christie,

Book cover of And Then There Were None

Why this book?

I read virtually all the books of the Queen of Crime when I was in my teens, relishing her plots for their deviousness and twists and turns. I return to this one every couple of years because this is the perfectly plotted book. I defy anyone to guess the denouement. Despite her reputation as not a great writer of characters, I think she manages a great job here. Each of the suspects is sharply defined in a few pithy sentences. Brilliant.


By Theodore Roszak,

Book cover of Flicker

Why this book?

I picked this up by accident in a beach hotel I was staying and I’m so glad I did. Written in the 1970s, it is a precursor to, and far better than, The Da Vinci Code and the library of conspiracy novels that followed. It tells the story of an obscure Cathar sect, taking in the history and role of film and the movies in the twentieth century. You’ll never be able to look at a horror movie in the same way again. 

Master & Commander

By Patrick O'Brian,

Book cover of Master & Commander

Why this book?

This should actually cover the whole 20-book series as I’ve read them all. Three times. They take historical fiction, and Napoleonic sea stories, to a whole new level. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are wonderfully rounded characters, the detail of life at sea is amazing , and the books unputdownable. And did I say they are beautifully written too? Well worth a few months of reading. Get them and discover their world. You won’t be disappointed.

L.A. Confidential

By James Ellroy,

Book cover of L.A. Confidential

Why this book?

Again, this should cover the whole LA Quartet. Crime novels that ooze the sleaziness, despair, and hypocrisy of the city of dreams that Hollywood built. Perfectly formed sentences, amazing characters, a story that twists and turns more than a rollercoaster and Ellroy’s savage wit. What more could anybody want? Except more Ellroy books….

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