The best books that take you to unexpected places

Stephen Allten Brown Author Of Stealing Picasso: A Mystery Thriller
By Stephen Allten Brown

Who am I?

I have always loved history and art. Combining the two makes perfect sense and provides the inspiration to keep writing. I can spend hours in a museum, just soaking up the magic in Impressionist paintings. I never get tired of researching the artists or their paintings, and I relish the unexpected discoveries. 


I wrote...

Stealing Picasso: A Mystery Thriller

By Stephen Allten Brown,

Book cover of Stealing Picasso: A Mystery Thriller

What is my book about?

A woman can have it all and it's faster to steal it. Dr. Elizabeth Moynihan is a professor, a respected art appraiser, a local television personality, and a thief at heart. Stealing a stolen painting is the perfect crime and she specializes in masterpiece art stolen during World War II. This time, she's trapped in a deadly web of art theft, and the “Black Widow” is her nemesis. With the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art as a target, Elizabeth must play the death card in her elaborate con.

The books I picked & why

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A Thief of Time: A Leaphorn and Chee Novel

By Tony Hillerman,

Book cover of A Thief of Time: A Leaphorn and Chee Novel

Why this book?

I was inspired by his descriptions. He captures the ethos of a place, the unique attributes that elevate mere locations to sensory experiences. I use the five senses as a guideline when writing descriptions. Tony Hillerman can place the reader in the scene, and I’m inspired to accomplish the same thing.

A Thief of Time: A Leaphorn and Chee Novel

By Tony Hillerman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Thief of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don’t miss the TV series, Dark Winds, based on the Leaphorn, Chee, & Manuelito novels, now on AMC and AMC+!  

“All of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo tribal police novels have been brilliant, but A Thief of Time is flat-out marvelous.”—USA Today

From New York Times bestselling author Tony Hillerman, A Thief of Time is the eighth novel featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee as they find themselves in hot pursuit of a depraved killer.

At a moonlit Indian ruin where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground in the name of profit, a noted anthropologist vanishes while on the verge…


The Edge

By Dick Francis,

Book cover of The Edge

Why this book?

I love the way there is a mystery within a mystery. A group of actors is staging a play for the benefit of the passengers on a transcontinental train trip across Canada. The protagonist, who is undercover and posing as a waiter, befriends the lead actor and takes a page out of Hamlet, using the play to pressure the villain into making a mistake and incriminating himself. Accurate details about working as a waiter lend a sense of ‘David versus Goliath’ to the storyline.

The Edge

By Dick Francis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Edge

To the Jockey Club, the racing world would be a better place without Julius Apollo Filmer. An expert in corruption with a devastating line in witness intimidation - and proving to be a slippery character to put behind bars.

Baffled, they call in undercover security agent Tor Kelsey to keep an unflinching eye on Filmer and his associates. A mission that takes him from the finest of English racecourses to the wild Canadian interior - on a luxury transcontinental train journey to end them all.

On board, a troupe of actors are playing out a murder mystery for…


Noble House

By James Clavell,

Book cover of Noble House

Why this book?

Incredible character development, fascinating history, and a story that takes place in one week, yet has enough action and details to fill several years. [This book is what inspired me to incorporate dates and/or times/locations in my chapter headings.] The story is set in Hong Kong in the early 1960s and the author’s understanding of the culture clash between the British who think they are in control and the Chinese who are using them, while making plans for their inevitable exit.

Noble House

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Noble House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taking place over the course of an eventful week in 1963 Hong Kong, James Clavell’s Noble House is a masterfully woven novel of true suspense.

Ian Dunross, the current tai-pan of the illustrious yet financially troubled Struan empire, is racing to undo the damage his predecessor left behind and to once again stand on stable ground. And he’ll do whatever it takes—including striking a hard-fought deal with an American millionaire. But his rival, Quillan Gornt, has other plans. Suddenly caught in a dubious plot involving Soviet spies, Hong Kong’s criminal underground, and the hostile takeover of his company, Dunross holds…


Gorky Park

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Book cover of Gorky Park

Why this book?

I’ve read all of this author’s books. His protagonist is wonderfully flawed, which makes him believable. He is a romantic despite overwhelming odds against any relationship enduring the obstacles. His persistence and patience will ultimately prevail in the most creative way. No happy ending is ever without some exceptions, which I appreciate and which also inspires me to leave a few loose strings at the end of my novels so the reader can fill in the blanks as they see fit.

Gorky Park

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gorky Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't miss the latest book in the Arkady Renko series, THE SIBERIAN DILEMMA by Martin Cruz Smith, 'the master of the international thriller' (New York Times) - available to order now!

THE NOVEL THAT STARTED IT ALL - ARKADY RENKO NOVEL #1

'One of those writers that anyone who is serious about their craft views with respect bordering on awe' Val McDermid

'Makes tension rise through the page like a shark's fin' Independent

***
Three bodies found frozen in the snow. And the hunt for the killer begins...

It begins with a triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three…


1984

By George Orwell,

Book cover of 1984

Why this book?

Step aside Nostradamus. Orwell predicted the future and even coined some of the phrases that have become part of the vocabulary we use to describe our own future. It’s almost scary to re-read this book and see how the nuances I missed, previously, are newsworthy today. Satire and irony are powerful tools for a writer when used sparingly. I enjoy working with a little humor when writing novels because it is so much fun to share an inside joke with my readers.

1984

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked 1984 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU . . .

1984 is the year in which it happens. The world is divided into three superstates. In Oceania, the Party's power is absolute. Every action, word, gesture and thought is monitored under the watchful eye of Big Brother and the Thought Police. In the Ministry of Truth, the Party's department for propaganda, Winston Smith's job is to edit the past. Over time, the impulse to escape the machine and live independently takes hold of him and he embarks on a secret and forbidden love affair. As he writes the words 'DOWN WITH BIG…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Navajo, totalitarianism, and China?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like In Cold Blood, World War Z, and Conversations with Gorbachev if you like this list.