73 books like A Song for the Dark Times

By Ian Rankin,

Here are 73 books that A Song for the Dark Times fans have personally recommended if you like A Song for the Dark Times. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Left You Dead

Steve Orme Author Of Storm Deaths

From my list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by crime ever since I was a junior reporter working on a daily newspaper and covered a huge number of court cases. I’ve written all my working life and turned to crime writing after reaching the final of a UK TV channel’s Search for a New Crime Writer competition. I’ve built up contacts within the police force during my career which has enabled me to write Storm Deaths, the first in a series of police procedural crime novels. I’ve seen so many films and TV shows that don’t follow the proper procedure, so I ensure that all my writing is as authentic as possible. 

Steve's book list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget

Steve Orme Why did Steve love this book?

Peter James is one of the world’s finest crime writers. His books are fast-paced and once you start one of his novels, it’s so difficult to put it down.

His main character, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, is totally credible and takes the reader right into the heart of British policing. You get to know the most intricate details of murder investigations.

Left You Dead features Niall and Eden Paternoster going to a supermarket just before it closes – but Eden doesn’t come back out. A few days later Niall is arrested on suspicion of her murder. But you know that with Peter James nothing is as it seems and there’ll be a twist that you just won’t expect.

By Peter James,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Left You Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The brand new Roy Grace novel from Peter James - Picture You Dead - is available to pre-order now*

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, creation of the CWA Diamond Dagger award-winning author Peter James, faces his most engrossing case yet in Left You Dead.

Niall and Eden Paternoster start their Sunday the same way they always do - with a long drive, a visit to a country house and a quick stop at the local supermarket on the way home.

But this Sunday ends differently - because while Niall waits and waits in the car park for Eden to pick up…


Book cover of Darkness, Darkness

Steve Orme Author Of Storm Deaths

From my list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by crime ever since I was a junior reporter working on a daily newspaper and covered a huge number of court cases. I’ve written all my working life and turned to crime writing after reaching the final of a UK TV channel’s Search for a New Crime Writer competition. I’ve built up contacts within the police force during my career which has enabled me to write Storm Deaths, the first in a series of police procedural crime novels. I’ve seen so many films and TV shows that don’t follow the proper procedure, so I ensure that all my writing is as authentic as possible. 

Steve's book list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget

Steve Orme Why did Steve love this book?

The 12th and final novel in John Harvey’s series about Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick, the jazz-loving, exotic sandwich-eating loner who investigates crimes in the East Midlands city of Nottingham where I’ve spent a lot of my working life.

Darkness, Darkness is partly set in 1984 during the miners’ strike which threatened to tear England apart. Thirty years later the remains of a young woman, an activist who campaigned for justice while her husband continued to work during the strike, are found in a garden.

You root for Resnick, the world-weary detective who despite coming across every possible flaw in the human condition is still driven to bring criminals to justice – even if this means troubled times in his life come back to haunt him.

By John Harvey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thirty years ago, the British Miners' Strike threatened to tear england apart, turning neighbor against neighbor, husband against wife, father against son-enmities which still smolder.

Charlie Resnick, recently promoted to Detective Inspector and ambivalent, at best, about some of the police tactics used in the Strike, had run a surveillance-gathering unit at the heart of the dispute.

Now, in virtual retirement, the discovery of the body of a young woman who disappeared during the Strike brings Resnick back to the front line to assist in the investigation into the woman's murder-forcing him to confront his past-in what will assuredly be…


Book cover of Strange Affair

Steve Orme Author Of Storm Deaths

From my list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by crime ever since I was a junior reporter working on a daily newspaper and covered a huge number of court cases. I’ve written all my working life and turned to crime writing after reaching the final of a UK TV channel’s Search for a New Crime Writer competition. I’ve built up contacts within the police force during my career which has enabled me to write Storm Deaths, the first in a series of police procedural crime novels. I’ve seen so many films and TV shows that don’t follow the proper procedure, so I ensure that all my writing is as authentic as possible. 

Steve's book list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget

Steve Orme Why did Steve love this book?

Peter Robinson has managed to create a character, DCI Alan Banks, who remains likeable even though he can be petty, headstrong and displays behavioural traits not expected of a top police officer. We can all empathise with him when he acts in a way that causes him shame and regret.

In Strange Affair he’s become depressed after a devastating fire at his cottage. But he’s shaken out of his lethargy when he gets a telephone call to say his estranged brother Roy is missing and Roy’s girlfriend has been shot dead. 

The clever plot involves Banks digging into his brother’s life and discovering Roy’s dodgy business practices which threaten to engulf Banks whose life is in danger. It’s one of Robinson’s best thrillers.

By Peter Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Move over Ian Rankin - there's a new gunslinger in town looking to take over your role as top British police procedural author...' Independent on Sunday

Following on from Playing With Fire, Strange Affair is the fifteenth novel in Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series, which inspired the major British ITV drama DCI Banks.

When Alan Banks receives a disturbing message from his brother, Roy, he abandons the peaceful Yorkshire Dales to seek him out amidst the bright lights of London. But Roy seems to have vanished into thin air.

Meanwhile, DI Annie Cabbot is called to a quiet stretch of…


Book cover of So Much Blood

Steve Orme Author Of Storm Deaths

From my list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by crime ever since I was a junior reporter working on a daily newspaper and covered a huge number of court cases. I’ve written all my working life and turned to crime writing after reaching the final of a UK TV channel’s Search for a New Crime Writer competition. I’ve built up contacts within the police force during my career which has enabled me to write Storm Deaths, the first in a series of police procedural crime novels. I’ve seen so many films and TV shows that don’t follow the proper procedure, so I ensure that all my writing is as authentic as possible. 

Steve's book list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget

Steve Orme Why did Steve love this book?

Few characters in crime fiction are as charismatic as Charles Paris, a struggling actor whose career has more ups and downs than a seesaw. Simon Brett presents us with a fascinating character, a middle-aged man who is endearing even though he is a drunk and a womaniser. 

There is always a murder whether Paris is acting in weekly rep or has a cameo role in a film. So Much Blood involves Paris appearing at the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Brett skilfully weaves in the drama of putting on a show and the dynamism of the Scottish city with Paris’ occasionally amateurish sleuthing as he tries to uncover who committed the crime. Excellent entertainment.

By Simon Brett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Appearing in his own one-man show on Thomas Hood at the Edinburgh Festival, middle-aged actor Charles Paris finds himself falling for a gorgeous young girl with navy-blue eyes. He also finds himself being dragged into a complex murder investigation involving the death of a fading pop star, a bomb scare in Holyrood Palace and a suicide leap from the top of the Rock.


Book cover of The Falls

Desmond P. Ryan Author Of 10-33 Assist PC

From my list on police procedurals with a flawed protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

For almost thirty years, I worked as a cop in the back alleys, poorly lit laneways, and forgotten neighbourhoods in Toronto, the city where I grew up. Murder, mayhem, and sexual violations intended to demean, shame, and haunt the victims were all in a day’s work. Whether as a beat cop or a plainclothes detective, I dealt with good people who did bad things and bad people who followed their instincts. And now that I’m retired, I can take some of those experiences and turn them into crime fiction novels.

Desmond's book list on police procedurals with a flawed protagonist

Desmond P. Ryan Why did Desmond love this book?

Having personally investigated numerous missing persons cases (not all of which ended well), I was drawn to this book and identified with DI Rebus’ frustrations with the police bureaucracy. The inner demons that are the cornerstone of the Rebus character make for a wonderfully flawed protagonist and one exceptionally good read.

By Ian Rankin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The twelfth Inspector Rebus bestseller - a powerfully gripping novel where past and present collide...
From the No.1 bestselling author of A SONG FOR THE DARK TIMES

'This is, quite simply, crime writing of the highest order' DAILY EXPRESS

'The unopposed champion of the British police procedural' GUARDIAN

A student has gone missing in Edinburgh. She's not just any student, though, but the daughter of well-to-do and influential bankers. There's almost nothing to go on until DI John Rebus gets an unmistakable gut feeling that there's more to this than just another runaway spaced out on unaccustomed freedom.

Two leads…


Book cover of Quite Ugly One Morning

Lin Anderson Author Of Driftnet

From my list on Tartan Noir and Bloody Scotland.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a keen reader of crime fiction. A huge fan of both Agatha Christie and PD James in the Golden age of English crime fiction. I love American mystery writers too and have attended Bouchercon in New Orleans. Just after Driftnet was published and the Dr. Rhona MacLeod series launched, I was visiting a Crime Writers’ Association conference in Lincoln with my friend and fellow crime writer Alex Gray. That’s where the idea for a weekend promoting Scottish Crime writing began. When we launched it ten years ago, Ian Rankin said, "Scandinavia doesn’t have better crime writers than Scotland, it has better PR." That’s what we set out to change.

Lin's book list on Tartan Noir and Bloody Scotland

Lin Anderson Why did Lin love this book?

I remember to the moment I opened this book. It was on a train to Inverness.

This was Chris’s first novel starring journalist Jack Parlabane and it had garnered great reviews. I couldn’t put it down, although I had to close it on occasions to recover myself from its hilarity and gruesomeness. 

Dark irreverent Scottish humour, it began Chris’s fabulous career in crime and thriller writing which continues to this day.

Chris Brookmyer is a genius, and we at Bloody Scotland can all agree on that. 

By Christopher Brookmyre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it. Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things. Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef? How come his hands are digitally challenged? And if it's not the corpse, what is that awful smell? A post-Thatcherite nightmare of frightening plausibility, QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING is a wickedly entertaining and vivacious thriller, full of acerbic wit, cracking dialogue and villains both reputed and shell- suited.


Book cover of Natural Causes

Diane M. Dickson Author Of Body in the Canal

From my list on when you want to dabble in crime with no risk.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with crime fiction has come from reading about it. I have no idea how many novels I have read focused on baddies and the catching of them, but it’s numbering now in the many hundreds. I think the fact that a crime novel can incorporate elements of all other genres – horror, history, romance, the supernatural, etc. are what make them so appealing and add to the joy of writing them. Untangling the threads that make up a crime novel is very satisfying. Maybe in another reality, I would be a detective – I love that idea, but for now, in this bit of the multiverse, I’ll just carry on making them up.  

Diane's book list on when you want to dabble in crime with no risk

Diane M. Dickson Why did Diane love this book?

Another Police Procedural series introduction. I love James Oswald’s writing and his characters are fascinating. There are some of the usual tropes in here but there is enough that is new and different to keep it fresh. I loved the fact that this had a horror element to it – I don’t read horror but enjoyed it in this case as a bit of seasoning. I think Edinburgh seems to be a great place to set a crime novel, and Oswald seems to know it well and it becomes a character in its own right I think. 

By James Oswald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Natural Causes is the first novel in the Detective Inspector McLean series, from Sunday Times best-selling author James Oswald.

A young girl's mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago.

For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority - but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death.

Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings. Deaths for…


Book cover of The History of Edinburgh. by Hugo Arnot

Elizabeth Ford Author Of The Flute in Scotland from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century

From my list on eighteenth-century Scotland.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dropped out of law school to pursue a PhD in music at the University of Glasgow and to write the history of the flute in Scotland. Essentially, I wanted to know that if Scotland was a leader in Enlightenment thought, and if there were hundreds of publications with flute on the title page, and since the flute was the most popular amateur instrument in the eighteenth century, why was nothing written about the flute. I obsessively read Scottish mythology as a child, and was always drawn to the stereotypical wild misty landscapes of Scotland without knowing much about it. 

Elizabeth's book list on eighteenth-century Scotland

Elizabeth Ford Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Published in 1779, this book shows far more about Enlightenment Edinburgh than it does Edinburgh history, and should be read for that reason. Full of myth, legend, bloody Scottish history, and contemporary events, it is written with the perspective of the historical enquiry of the Enlightenment as described by Broadie. Plus, it’s just fun to see how historic people saw and expressed themselves.

By Hugo Arnot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The History of Edinburgh. by Hugo Arnot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The 18th century was a wealth of knowledge, exploration and rapidly growing technology and expanding record-keeping made possible by advances in the printing press. In its determination to preserve the century of revolution, Gale initiated a revolution of its own: digitization of epic proportions to preserve these invaluable works in the largest archive of its kind. Now for the first time these high-quality digital copies of original 18th century manuscripts are available in print, making them highly accessible to libraries, undergraduate students, and independent scholars.
Rich in titles on English life and social history, this collection spans the world as…


Book cover of Love in the Time of Bertie: A 44 Scotland Street Novel

Kerrie Noor Author Of The Other Side Of Yes

From my list on humor that make me comfortable with my own failings.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like to write characters and situations that readers relate to and find reassurance from. Laughter comes from shared experiences of frustration and mistakes, it reassures us that we are normal and not alone, giving us a big hug when feeling overwhelmed or down. I love the healing power of comedy and use it in all my work. Reading how other authors use comedy improves my writing and expands my viewpoint. I also perform comedy with a mixture of storytelling, standup, and belly dancing, I learn from the audience's reaction and feedback, which not only feeds into my novels but makes me feel like a million dollars.

Kerrie's book list on humor that make me comfortable with my own failings

Kerrie Noor Why did Kerrie love this book?

Deliciously Scottish with sparky dialogue that had me laughing out loud.

The characters are all flawed, making mistakes I can identify with. I find relationships difficult at times, and this book was reassuringly familiar—like I wasn't "the only one". I also love the wee boy Bertie and his desperate need not to hurt anyone, a familiar feeling I could relate to, and found myself forgiving the "pushover” in me.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love in the Time of Bertie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Life for Bertie seems to be moving at a pace that is rather out of his control. In Drummond Place gardens it seems that Olive has their future together all planned out. Meanwhile, upstairs at 44 Scotland Street, Bertie's father Stuart is powerless to stop over-bearing Irene and her motion for Bertie to travel to Aberdeen on a three-month secondment. And, further up in the New Town, while Bruce Anderson plots with old-school chums, love blossoms in Big Lou's Cafe.

Warm hearted, humorous and wonderfully wise, Love in the Time of Bertie offers philosophical insight as well as sartorial elegance.…


Book cover of Black and Blue

Lin Anderson Author Of Driftnet

From my list on Tartan Noir and Bloody Scotland.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a keen reader of crime fiction. A huge fan of both Agatha Christie and PD James in the Golden age of English crime fiction. I love American mystery writers too and have attended Bouchercon in New Orleans. Just after Driftnet was published and the Dr. Rhona MacLeod series launched, I was visiting a Crime Writers’ Association conference in Lincoln with my friend and fellow crime writer Alex Gray. That’s where the idea for a weekend promoting Scottish Crime writing began. When we launched it ten years ago, Ian Rankin said, "Scandinavia doesn’t have better crime writers than Scotland, it has better PR." That’s what we set out to change.

Lin's book list on Tartan Noir and Bloody Scotland

Lin Anderson Why did Lin love this book?

Ian is probably the most famous of all Tartan Noir writers. In fact the term Tartan Noir was coined when Ian met James Ellroy at a crime fiction event in Nottingham many years ago. Ian explained that he too was a crime writer and wrote about Edinburgh and the darker side of Scottish life. He said, you could call it Tartan Noir. Ellroy laughed and signed the book 'To the king of Tartan Noir'.

Black and Blue was Ian’s breakthrough novel and when you read it you can see why. Dark and compelling and complex, with perhaps greater depth than the ones that came before, this was my introduction to Rebus and remains a favourite still. 

For anyone about to enter the world of Ian Rankin’s Rebus, Black and Blue is the ideal way in, with plenty more in store.

By Ian Rankin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Special edition of the award-winning Rebus novel from the No.1 bestselling author of A SONG FOR THE DARK TIMES - includes exclusive extra material.

'Britain's best crime novelist' DAILY EXPRESS

'Ian Rankin is a genius' Lee Child

In the 1960s, the infamous Bible John terrorised Scotland when he murdered three women, taking three souvenirs. Thirty years later, a copycat is at work, dubbed Johnny Bible.

DI John Rebus's unconventional methods have got him in trouble before - now he's taken away from the inquiry and sent to investigate the killing of an off-duty oilman. But when his case clashes head-on…


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