The best books about we don’t know what we don’t know

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by spy stories since childhood, never sure which character is a friend or foe within the stories. As I grew older, I became interested in fictional mysteries, including those with settings in the Medieval era, turn-of-the-century England, and World War II. Unsure of who to trust is a theme through my Detective Henry Ike Pierce series, of which I'm working on the third book now. False hearts abound in my stories, and Detective Pierce must sort through a seemingly flexible definition of trust, including uncertainty of his closest colleagues’ loyalty. If you're a fan of seeking the truth, I hope these books are as enjoyable to you as they were to me.


I wrote...

Peculiar Activities

By Mark Jones,

Book cover of Peculiar Activities

What is my book about?

A murder in a park, and a new detective finds an old conspiracy—Junior Detective Henry Ike Pierce is hired to reassess cold-case killings. On the third day of his new job, a dismembered body appears in a local park. The corpse's desecration is like slayings from over two decades ago, and his boss assigns Henry to his first investigation. He must uncover the present-day killer while his boss pushes him to resolve crimes from the past.

Henry seeks a killer within a community of rival ethnic groups, refugees from the 1990s Balkan wars. Rumors point to a killer called 'the hooded one.' As his investigation unfolds, the young man from western Virginia's coal country discovers that 'trust' has a flexible definition.

The books I picked & why

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Dissolution: A Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery

By C.J. Sansom,

Book cover of Dissolution: A Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery

Why this book?

During the period of dissolution of the English Catholic Church, King Henry VIII assigns a 16th-century attorney, Matthew Shardlake, to investigate the murder of a royal commissioner at a cathedral. He uncovers evidence of sexual abuse, treason, and embezzlement. 

I enjoyed this story as it told of an outsider hunting a murderer within a closed community protecting one of their own. Multiple transgressions have occurred, but the culprit could be more than one person. Many “wheels within a wheel” hide and complicate the evidence for Attorney Shardlake.

Dissolution: A Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery

By C.J. Sansom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger - the highest honor in British crime writing

From the bestselling author of Winter in Madrid and Dominion comes the exciting and elegantly written first novel in the Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery series

Dissolution is an utterly riveting portrayal of Tudor England. The year is 1537, and the country is divided between those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the king and the newly established Church of England. When a royal commissioner is brutally murdered in a monastery on the south coast of England, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's feared vicar general, summons…


The Red Hill

By David Penny,

Book cover of The Red Hill

Why this book?

The Red Hill is a medieval murder mystery set in late-15th-century Muslim Spain. The sultan demands an English doctor living in Granada to investigate a series of brutal murders at the Alhambra palace on top of a red hill that towers over the city. The sultan’s request for Dr. Thomas Berrington’s skills cannot be ignored.

This book is another example of a closed community with a killer murdering its members yet the community still shields itself from outsiders. As an Englishman and, nominally, a Christian, Dr. Berrington must find the killer by sifting through lies and obfuscations within the palace walls. Who can be trusted amid the palace intrigue and self-serving agendas?

The Red Hill

By David Penny,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1482: Granada, Andalucia
When death comes to the Alhambra palace a hero is needed … but did they pick the right man?
A demand is made of Englishman and physician Thomas Berrington – to investigate a series of deaths, each displaying the marks of a savage attack. At first reluctant he is drawn deeper into the investigation when one of the Sultan's wives is brutally murdered.
Teaming up with the eunuch Jorge the pair pursue the killer before another victim is chosen. As the investigation continues they discover nothing is as it seems and nobody can be trusted.
Al-Hamra, the…


One Lost Soul

By J. M. Dalgliesh,

Book cover of One Lost Soul

Why this book?

As the tagline says: “The darkest secrets often hide in plain sight…” This is a British detective novel set in present-day Norfolk along the east coast of England. The story presents a community with many secrets and a dead young woman that knew many of them. Detective Tom Janssen must find a killer in a community trying to hide its dirty laundry.

This book has quite a twist at the end. It’s an example of many underlying subplots interacting within the local population's resistance to opening their lives to an investigation, including the reluctance of the dead girl’s parents to help.

One Lost Soul

By J. M. Dalgliesh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The darkest secrets often hide in plain sight…

When a body is found on a lonely cliff top path, the angelic face of a murdered teenager lies facing the rising sun. Strangled by the hands of an unknown killer, it falls to DI Tom Janssen and his fledgling team to find out how she came to be there. Destined for a career in medicine, one to rival that of her parents, Holly Bettany’s future was as bright as it had been privileged. Seemingly, all that could threaten this promising teenager’s life was Holly herself.

In an idyllic coastal setting, Janssen…


Night Has A Thousand Eyes

By Cornell Woolrich,

Book cover of Night Has A Thousand Eyes

Why this book?

Detective Tom Shawn interrupts a young woman’s suicide attempt. She professes to know a man that predicts the future, including her father's death. The clairvoyant man predicts his own death, but Detective Shawn suspects foul play.

I enjoyed this story. I could not figure out until the end whether most of the events were within the woman’s runaway imagination, a series of happenstances, or whether the clairvoyant man was the killer. The author slowly peels back a few layers as the story progresses, but there always seems to be more, leading to a surprise ending.

Night Has A Thousand Eyes

By Cornell Woolrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Night Has A Thousand Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES is Woolrich's longest and most ambitious novel.  The noir classic follows Detective Tom Shawn on his nightly walk along the river which is interrupted when he follows a trial of money on the ground leading to a woman attempting suicide.  After saving her life, he is drawn into her story.  She tells him of a clairvoyant man that has recently predicted many strange and extreme events with stunning accuracy, and has now ensured the death of her father, with whom she is incredibly close.  The man predicts that he will die in the coming days…


Prince of Spies

By Alex Gerlis,

Book cover of Prince of Spies

Why this book?

Richard Prince is a detective in 1942 Britain. A government entity recruits him as a spy, and its director sends Prince to Denmark, where rumors are floating of the development of a superweapon. Prince’s endeavor requires him to dodge the Gestapo, the S.S., and other German heavies.

This story is another instance of the protagonist having to guess who he can trust, will his so-called allies betray him, and are perceived antagonists actually the enemy? Many wheels within a wheel, false faces, and false hearts. 

Prince of Spies

By Alex Gerlis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Find the truth; risk everything. A gripping WWII spy novel full of intrigue and peril from a modern master.

1942: A German spy comes ashore on a desolate stretch of Lincolnshire beach. But he is hunted down by a young detective, Richard Prince. The secret services have need of a man like him...

In occupied Europe, Denmark is a hotbed of problems for British intelligence. Rumours of a war-ending weapon being developed by the Germans are rife.

Sent to Copenhagen, Prince is soon caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Dodging Gestapo agents, SS muscle and the danger…


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