The best books that kick off a great series

Bill Thompson Author Of Callie
By Bill Thompson

Who am I?

During my decades in the corporate world, I traveled extensively and spent months in England, where I became a devoted Anglophile. I am privileged to have met Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, and to have attended a knighting at Westminster. English history fascinates me, but so do gripping spy thrillers occurring in European and Middle Eastern settings. There’s nothing better than finishing a satisfying first book in a series—fiction or not--and deciding to ration the remaining ones so you can savor the experience a little longer! 


I wrote...

Callie

By Bill Thompson,

Book cover of Callie

What is my book about?

Deep in the Louisiana bayou, an ancient mansion called Beau Rivage sits empty and abandoned. Arceneaux family members built the house and lived there for two hundred years. Juliet Arceneaux, its most recent owner, died there a few months ago and left the forbidding place to her down-on-her-luck granddaughter Callie.

A mysterious child appears and disappears inside the house, Callie finds an enigmatic graveyard in the woods, and even the walls hold long-forgotten secrets. Confounded by things she doesn’t understand and a child who speaks in riddles, Callie struggles to find the secrets of Beau Rivage even as someone works to keep them from her. The odd events come into focus one eerie night as she learns secrets that explain everything. Will it be too late?

The books I picked & why

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The Kill Artist

By Daniel Silva,

Book cover of The Kill Artist

Why this book?

I consider Daniel Silva hands-down the best spy thriller author. I’ve enjoyed Brad Thor, Jack Higgins, and the others, but Silva’s Gabriel Allon novels are so engrossing I have to keep turning pages to see what happens. There’s an even balance of believable suspense and action, no overuse of complicated weaponry or armaments, and a protagonist who’s human, suffering defeats personal and professional in his exploits. They can be read out of order but for a complete understanding of the important backstory, I recommend starting with The Kill Artist.

The Kill Artist

By Daniel Silva,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Wily old Israeli intelligence chief recalls former agents in order to eliminate top Palestinian terrorist. One agent is now an art restorer, the other a fashion model. Ten years before on a mission to destroy the Arab Black September group they were briefly lovers. Now their pasts and their enemies come back to haunt them, as the terrorist murders ambassadors in Paris and Holland. Will the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks be his next target? And what motivates the terrorist? Is it politics, or is it possibly personal? Set mainly in London, but with forays into Paris, Amsterdam, the Middle East and…


George Washington

By James MacGregor Burns, Susan Dunn, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (editor)

Book cover of George Washington

Why this book?

Although the books in this series are not released in chronological order, I found it helpful to begin at the beginning, with George Washington. Each of these books is well-written and provides a concise way to learn about the significant events that occurred. Several times I’ve finished a book in this series and then selected an in-depth biography to further my knowledge about the ones I found most interesting. Though occasionally laborious reading, the insight gained from a brief look at each president’s life is worth every word.

George Washington

By James MacGregor Burns, Susan Dunn, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A premier leadership scholar and an eighteenth-century expert define the special contributions and qualifications of our first president

Revolutionary hero, founding president, and first citizen of the young republic, George Washington was the most illustrious public man of his time, a man whose image today is the result of the careful grooming of his public persona to include the themes of character, self-sacrifice, and destiny.

As Washington sought to interpret the Constitution's assignment of powers to the executive branch and to establish precedent for future leaders, he relied on his key advisers and looked to form consensus as the guiding…


The Last Jihad

By Joel C. Rosenberg,

Book cover of The Last Jihad

Why this book?

Rosenberg, whose knowledge of Israeli and U.S. politics provides a great background for his writing, has produced several series, all of which are excellent. But if you’re new to this author, I recommend reading this book first. His political thrillers are spellbinding, especially since Rosenberg foretold the 9/11 disaster and the killing of Saddam Hussein in his novels. In The Last Jihad, Saddam is hell-bent on attacking the West. On the eve of a treaty signing that may ensure peace for Israel and Palestine, the Israelis discover an Iraqi Scud missile armed with a nuclear warhead. It’s clear that Hussein is planning an attack on major U.S. cities and Tel Aviv, and Israel issues an ultimatum to the USA—take Saddam out or we’ll do it instead. This book is a fascinating tale about events that are as real and as possible as today’s newscasts. 

The Last Jihad

By Joel C. Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Iraqi terrorists wreak havoc on the world, White House advisor Jon Bennett must complete a billion-dollar oil deal--the basis for a historic Arab-Israeli peace treaty--or the world will face the threat of nuclear devastation.


Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors

By Peter Ackroyd,

Book cover of Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors

Why this book?

Peter Ackroyd has written several wonderful books about London, the Thames, and aspects of English life, but this six-volume series (the last to come in 2023) is the best and most comprehensive I’ve found. It’s a delightful trip through history, not only covering the politics of the times but giving insight into the daily lives of people from one era to the next, how towns became cities, infrastructure and the system of government developed. The page counts are daunting, but don’t be dissuaded—nobody can make history come alive better than Ackroyd.

Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors

By Peter Ackroyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in Peter Ackroyd's history of England series, which has since been followed up with two more installments, Tudors and Rebellion.

In Foundation, the chronicler of London and of its river, the Thames, takes us from the primeval forests of England's prehistory to the death, in 1509, of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He shows us glimpses of the country's most distant past--a Neolithic stirrup found in a grave, a Roman fort, a…


The Whispering Dead

By Darcy Coates,

Book cover of The Whispering Dead

Why this book?

Many of my books are ghost stories, and I enjoy finding other authors who write scary stories in that genre. Darcy Coates, a prolific author from Australia, does a wonderful job creating an eerie, spine-tingling setting and characters who will remind you of that monster you thought was in the closet. These are downright scary stories that will cause you to sleep with the light on. She has written numerous excellent stand-alone books, but her Gravekeeper series is a great way to delve into the mind of an author who has this genre nailed down tight (just like that coffin that might be hidden behind a wall in your basement)!   

The Whispering Dead

By Darcy Coates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

USA Today bestseller and rising queen of atmospheric horror Darcy Coates returns with a ghost story that will haunt you long after the final page. She hears them whispering...
Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper's cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.
And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.
The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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