10 books like Ceremony

By Robert B. Parker,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Ceremony. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Mystic River

By Dennis Lehane,

Book cover of Mystic River

After Robert B. Parker, Lehane is the most successful and skilled descendant of Eddie Coyle (a debt he acknowledges in his introduction to a reissue of the Higgins book). While you can’t go wrong with any of the entries in his Kenzie/Gennaro detective series (or his later historically-based trilogy), this stand-alone novel about three childhood friends brought back together by a crime one of them may have committed is his most powerful work, as well as the novel that first spurred my interest in trying my hand at Boston-based crime fiction.

Mystic River

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This New York Times bestseller from Dennis Lehane is a gripping, unnerving psychological thriller about the effects of a savage killing on three former friends in a tightly knit, blue-collar Boston neighborhood.

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened—something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever.

Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave is trying to…


The Friends of Eddie Coyle

By George V. Higgins,

Book cover of The Friends of Eddie Coyle

This is the one that started it all, although it was actually Higgins’ fifteenth attempt at getting a novel published. When we think of Boston, most of us hear the distinctive voice of the city first. (Just think of all the Hollywood actors who have tried to master the “pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd” accent.) Coyle spins most of its yarn about a low-level gangster selling stolen guns through its razor-sharp dialogue, a lesson I took to heart when writing my book. But don’t take it from me; no less an authority than Elmore Leonard called it the best crime novel ever written.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

By George V. Higgins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eddie Coyle is a small-time punk with a big-time problem - who to sell out to avoid being sent up again. Eddie works for Jimmy Scalisi, supplying him with guns for a couple of bank jobs. But a cop named Foley is onto Eddie, and he's leaning on him to finger Scalisi, a gang leader with a lot to hide. These and others make up the bunch of hoods, gunmen, thieves, and executioners who are wheeling, dealing, chasing, and stealing in the underworld of Eddie Coyle.


A Trouble of Fools

By Linda Barnes,

Book cover of A Trouble of Fools

Here’s another PI series set in Boston, and while Carlotta Carlyle is nowhere near as well-known as Spenser, Linda Barnes is every bit as readable as Robert Parker. In her first outing (an Edgar Award nominee for Best Novel), ex-cabbie and ex-cop Carlyle takes on a missing person case that has her tangling with IRA gunrunners. A Trouble of Fools is my pick because it brings the ‘80s Boston I remember to life, and because of the light, humorous voice Barnes lends the proceedings.

A Trouble of Fools

By Linda Barnes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This award-winning debut mystery introduces a Boston PI who’s “one of the most sparkling, most irresistible heroines ever to grace the pages of a whodunit” (Chicago Sun-Times).
 
Six-foot-tall, redheaded ex-cop and Boston-based private eye Carlotta Carlyle is “the genuine article: a straightforward, funny, thoroughly American mystery heroine” (New York Post).

Let go from the Beantown police force for insubordination, Carlotta Carlyle is ready for business. Her first client is the genteel and elderly Margaret Devens, whose brother, Eugene, one of the last in a handful of Boston’s aging Irish cabbies, has suddenly vanished.
 
The case should be a cinch. Carlotta…


Little Comfort

By Edwin Hill,

Book cover of Little Comfort

The newest book on this list is the first in the Hester Thursby series about a diminutive Harvard librarian turned sleuth. Those expecting a cozy mystery based on that character description should brace themselves because Hill’s debut has more in common with Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels than the typical “librarian investigates” yarn. I feel a personal connection to this one because it was published at the same time as my book and I did my first event for that book with Hill, but rest assured, Little Comfort and the rest of the Thursby series are tremendous reads.

Little Comfort

By Edwin Hill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a brilliantly twisted debut set among Boston’s elite, Edwin Hill introduces unforgettable sleuth Hester Thursby—and a missing persons case that uncovers a trail of vicious murder . . .
 
Harvard librarian Hester Thursby knows that even in the digital age, people still need help finding things. Using her research skills, Hester runs a side business tracking down the lost. Usually, she’s hired to find long-ago prom dates or to reunite adopted children and birth parents. Her new case is finding the handsome and charismatic Sam Blaine.
 
Sam has no desire to be found. As a teenager, he fled his…


A Catskill Eagle

By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of A Catskill Eagle

Spenser is a hard-nosed private detective living and working in Boston. When his girlfriend Susan runs off to California with another man, Spenser feels betrayed but understands. She has her freedom. Then his best friend, Hawk, is falsely arrested and jailed in the new man’s town. This sets off a firestorm of murder and violence as Spenser first frees Hawk and then they both attempt to free Susan from an abusive, if consensual, relationship. And then the CIA gets involved. A Catskill Eagle is the twelfth of forty Spenser novels written by Parker.

A Catskill Eagle

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Susan's letter came from California: Hand was in jail, and she was on the run. Twenty-four hours later, Hawk is free, because Spenser has sprung him loose—for a brutal cross-country journey back to the East Coast. Now the two men are on a violent ride to find the woman Spenser loves, the man who took her, and the shocking reason so many people had to die. . . . 

Praise for A Catskill Eagle

“Entertaining.”—The San Diego Union-Tribune

“His best mystery novel.”—Time


Cold Service

By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of Cold Service

Robert B. Parker’s Cold Service is one of my favorite Spenser novels because it provides more insight into the character Hawk. Hawk is in the hospital, three bullets in his back from trying to protect a bookie from the Ukrainian mob. The Ukrainians are spreading their turf from NYC to the Boston area (a town called Marshport). Spenser comes to the rescue, and the two men take on the impossible task of defeating the Ukrainian mob and their Afghani heroine-dealing overlords while avenging Hawks shooting. Alone, Hawk can’t deal with the thought of showing weakness and Spencer ponders his mortality. Together Spenser and Hawk appear to be invincible. Their code allows them to engage in brutality and come out as likable characters. The way in which Parker spins a tale using simple dialogue is ingenious. His main characters Spenser, Hawk, and Susan Silverman are a joy to get to know…

Cold Service

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When his closest ally, Hawk, is beaten and left for dead while protecting a bookie, Spenser embarks on an epic journey to rehabilitate his best pal, body and soul. But that means infiltrating a ruthless mob-and redefining his friendship with Hawk in the name of vengeance...

"Cold Service moves with the speed of light."-Orlando Sentinel


Early Autumn

By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of Early Autumn

No big shock here, recommending a Spenser book, right? The iconic private eye is probably the most imitated in the genre and, for me, at least, his plotlines are usually secondary to his prose and his message.

In Early Autumn, Spenser takes on a case of a narcissistic woman (an outdated recurring theme in the early books) but quickly changes his focus to her neglected son. Spenser teaches the boy to be a man through carpentry, cooking, exercise, and boxing, using all as a vehicle for self-sufficiency. He encourages the boy to find a passion, and when Paul chooses modern dance and ballet, Spenser is supportive.

The message—self-sufficiency makes life manageable; passion makes it worthwhile.

Early Autumn

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“[Robert B.] Parker's brilliance is in his simple dialogue, and in Spenser.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

A bitter divorce is only the beginning. First the father hires thugs to kidnap his son. Then the mother hires Spenser to get the boy back. But as soon as Spenser senses the lay of the land, he decides to do some kidnapping of his own.

With a contract out on his life, he heads for the Maine woods, determined to give a puny 15 year old a crash course in survival and to beat his dangerous opponents at their own brutal game.


Looking for Rachel Wallace

By Robert B. Parker,

Book cover of Looking for Rachel Wallace

Street names, the Charles River, bridges, the Back Bay, the Public Gardens, actual hotels and restaurants—Robert B. Parker’s forty Spenser novels make Boston so much a character that Parker wrote Spenser’s Boston. The sixth novel in the series, published in 1980, has Spenser searching for a missing lesbian activist who’s been kidnapped by an anti-gay group. Like Buffalo, Boston sometimes gets a lot of snow. Unlike Buffalo, which is not the snowiest city in New York but is depicted as such, Boston is not known as a snow capital. That Spenser must search during a blizzard is a welcome dose of realism.

Looking for Rachel Wallace

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Looking for Rachel Wallace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Crackling dialogue, plenty of action, and expert writing.”—The New York Times

Rachel Wallace is a tough young woman with a lot of enemies. 

Spenser is a tough guy with a macho code of honor, hired to protect a woman who thinks that kind of code is obsolete. Privately, they will never see eye to eye.

But when Rachel vanishes. Spenser is ready to lay his life on the line—to find Rachel Wallace.

“A rare kind of book.”—Chicago Sun-Times


Gone Baby Gone

By Dennis Lehane,

Book cover of Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone is book 4 in Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro series. As private detectives, Gennaro and Kenzie are a top-notch investigative team and the story itself is one that will suck you in from the start. It keeps you guessing with its mix of characters, reliable, and unreliable, upfront and in the shadows. It’s my kind of story and one I often referred to while writing my book. Beyond the story of a missing girl, Lehane uses the relationship between Gennaro and Kenzie as a subplot. The friction, the conflict, the barriers in their personal life continue to give the reader angst even after the facts are uncovered. Gone Baby Gone is a suspense story that doesn’t just solve a crime, but also takes the reader into the lives of the investigators, questioning their morality, their decisions and ultimately asking the reader, is the truth always worth…

Gone Baby Gone

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired to find four-year-old Amanda Cready.

Despite extensive news coverage and dogged investigation into her abduction, the police have uncovered nothing. And as the Indian summer fades, Amanda McCready stays gone - vanished so completely that she seems never to have existed.

Then a second child disappears.

Confronted with a police force seething with lethal secrets, Kenzie and Gennaro soon discover that those who go looking for the missing may not come back alive.


A Drink Before the War

By Dennis Lehane,

Book cover of A Drink Before the War: The First Kenzie and Gennaro Novel

Lehane, one of my favourite authors, introduces the crime writer’s device of the duo, in his first Kenzie and Gennaro novel. For me, as in my own DCI Steel novels, the duo in writing can work to inform, or mislead, the reader and, if handled well, the reader doesn’t notice, seeing the interaction between characters as normal. Clichés abound in crime fiction, especially in lead characters, but Lehane avoids this with P.I. Patrick Kenzie, and his lifelong friend, Angie Gennaro. Given the area they inhabit, with its racial and gang tensions, added to the clients they have, clichés would seem unavoidable, but—once again—the lesson here is to write multi-faceted characters, which Kenzie and Gennaro emphatically are. They are flawed, but in Lehane’s hands, triumphantly human, and very believable.

A Drink Before the War

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Drink Before the War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are tough private investigators who know the blue-collar neighbourhoods and ghettos of Boston's Dorchester section as only natives can. Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential Statehouse documents.
But finding Jenna proves easy compared to staying alive. The investigation escalates, uncovering a web of corruption extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of state government.

With slick, hip dialogue and a lyrical narrative pocked…


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