63 books like Mortal Fear

By Greg Iles,

Here are 63 books that Mortal Fear fans have personally recommended if you like Mortal Fear. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Kate Robards Author Of Only The Guilty Survive

From my list on thrillers inspired by real events.

Why am I passionate about this?

My new thriller centers around a small, mysterious cult and their shocking demise. For years, I’ve read true crime books on the subject, and I wanted to infuse the reality and truth of real-life events into my fictional novel. In a similar vein, these books represent a range of thrillers inspired by true events, ranging from cults to serial killers to teenage criminals. I hope you find these books as gripping and haunting as I do.

Kate's book list on thrillers inspired by real events

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

I’m fascinated by the in-depth character development and details in this book. The film is a classic, but I think the book is even better. Many people think of Hannibal Lecter as the obvious villain of Silence of the Lambs, forgetting that Clarice and the FBI were seeking his guidance to find “Buffalo Bill,” a fictional serial killer attacking women.

Buffalo Bill is an amalgamation of real serial killers, including Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, and Gary Heidnik. By cherry-picking the methods and traits of real killers, I think Harris created a truly terrifying villain. I find the characters, and especially the villain, to be rooted in reality, making them stick in your mind long after the last page.

By Thomas Harris,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Silence of the Lambs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of the search for a serial murderer nicknames "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him.

That man, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs--an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.


Book cover of Child 44

E.R. Yatscoff Author Of Fire Dream

From my list on gutsy crime thrillers and exotic adventure reads.

Why am I passionate about this?

My travels have been quite adventurous, purposely or by accident. I’ve visited 32 countries, 5 of them Communist. I look below the surface. I love the jungle and even Mexican police. My young reader novels have elements of crime. I knew and know a lot of tough guys and use elements of them in my characters. Crime weaved through much of my 32-year firefighting career. Firefighter crime thrillers are rare. Firefighters do come in contact with crime: bomb threats, meth labs, child abuse, arson of all sorts, murder, assaults, drownings, and as they say ‘much, much more’. I’m glad to be retired.

E.R.'s book list on gutsy crime thrillers and exotic adventure reads

E.R. Yatscoff Why did E.R. love this book?

So good it was made into a movie. The movie however didn’t catch the suspense, and the investigation took far longer in the book.

Set in Stalinist Russia, the book is depressing, as was Commie Russia. The investigator, Leo Demidov’s friend has a child gone missing and a cursory investigation by the state goes nowhere. Leo Demidov, a Moscow investigator looks into it and is told to lay off—or else—because he makes the state look incompetent.

He and his family are exiled far away from Moscow and scorned by everyone. But he continues and discovers 44 children have been murdered along a railway line. Suspense and peril in this story combined with a vengeful Communist bureaucracy and its astounding ego make for a real thriller.

I visited the USSR in the late 70s and that bureaucracy is not to be challenged in any way or form.

By Tom Rob Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Child 44 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 2 MILLION COPIES SOLD

MOSCOW, 1953.
Under Stalin's terrifying regime, families live in fear. When the all-powerful State claims there is no such thing as crime, who dares disagree?

AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER IN OVER 30 LANGUAGES

An ambitious secret police officer, Leo Demidov believes he's helping to build the perfect society. But when he uncovers evidence of a killer at large - a threat the state won't admit exists - Demidov must risk everything, including the lives of those he loves, in order to expose the truth.

A THRILLER UNLIKE ANY YOU HAVE EVER READ

But what if the…


Book cover of The Alienist

Emily Matchar Author Of In The Shadow Of The Greenbrier

From my list on historical fiction with mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical settings and detail – I love coming away from a novel feeling like I’ve also learned something about the world. But I also like lots and lots of plot and intensity. Historical fiction slash mystery novels hit the spot just right. Though my own work thus far is more on the historical fiction side, I do try to plot it like a mystery, with lots of questions, revelations, and discoveries to be made as you go along.  

Emily's book list on historical fiction with mysteries

Emily Matchar Why did Emily love this book?

I read this one in college, and it sparked my imagination for years and years. Set in 1890s New York, it combines the lowbrow pleasures of gory crime with lots of nifty historical settings and facts (the history of psychiatry! Early forensic science! Gilded Age politics!).

I read it on my bottom bunk in the dorms in about 8 hours, probably while I should have been studying. I’d love to recapture that intensity of pleasure in reading, but a job and two small children make it tricky. 

By Caleb Carr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling historical thriller, now a major Netflix series starring Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning and Daniel Bruhl.

Some things never change.

New York City, 1896. Hypocrisy in high places is rife, police corruption commonplace, and a brutal killer is terrorising young male prostitutes.

Unfortunately for Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, the psychological profiling of murderers is a practice still in its infancy, struggling to make headway against the prejudices of those who prefer the mentally ill - and the 'alienists' who treat them - to be out of sight as well as out of mind.

But as the body count…


A House on Liberty Street

By Neil Turner,

Book cover of A House on Liberty Street

Neil Turner Author Of A House on Liberty Street

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Traveler Inquisitive Family guy Writer

Neil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Meet Tony Valenti. His high-flying corporate law career just cratered. His society marriage blew up in a bitter divorce. He's returned to the Chicago suburbs to lick his wounds and regroup in the haven of the Valenti family home. But time to heal isn't in the cards.

Tony's elderly father inexplicably shoots a sheriff's deputy on their front porch. Nobody knows why, and Papa isn't talking. Then their house becomes an unlikely target for condemnation and expropriation by corrupt local officials and their cronies.

With money and hope dwindling, Tony steps up to defend his father and take to city hall, and quickly finds himself in peril when he unearths sinister connections between the cases. The audacity of the plot against them fuels a gritty determination to get to the bottom of what really happened—regardless of the risks and ultimate cost to himself. To win, Tony must earn his father's trust and outwit his wily opponents.

A House on Liberty Street

By Neil Turner,

What is this book about?

A father. A son. A murder.

Meet Tony Valenti. His high-flying corporate law career just cratered. His society marriage blew up in a bitter divorce. He’s returned to the Chicago suburbs to lick his wounds and regroup in the haven of the Valenti family home. But time to heal isn’t in the cards.

Tony’s elderly father inexplicably shoots a sheriff’s deputy on their front porch. Nobody knows why, and Papa isn’t talking. Then their house becomes an unlikely target for condemnation and expropriation by corrupt local officials and their cronies.

With money and hope dwindling, Tony steps up to defend…


Book cover of Irène

James Markert Author Of The Nightmare Man

From my list on serial killers that made my skin crawl.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a passion for crime/thriller/suspense/horror novels since high school, when I truly fell in love with reading. Specifically, during my junior year, when my English teacher, after having us read Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger, then announced to the class that we were reading Stephen King the rest of the year. Up until that point I hated to read, but then after reading King—we read just about all of his novellas—I fell in love with the darker side of storytelling, and the macabre in general. Now when I consider buying a book, the darker the better! I hope you enjoy these reads as much as I did!

James' book list on serial killers that made my skin crawl

James Markert Why did James love this book?

Why did I first pick it up? Because of the cover. Why did I buy it? Because of the story promised on the cover flap. And it was a French, international, multi-translated mega-hit. What happened after I read it? I hunted down the author’s next 2 books and bought them, because holy smokes, this one blew me away. The crime scenes in this novel left absolutely nothing to the imagination, and once the pages started turning there was no stopping this deadly suspense train. Plus, Commandant Camille Verhoeven is about as uniquely cool as a protagonist can get.

By Pierre Lemaitre, Frank Wynne (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NOVELIST KILLS BY THE BOOK

For Commandant Camille Verhoeven life is beautiful. He is happily married and soon to become a father.

HE'S ALWAYS ONE CHAPTER AHEAD

But his blissful existence is punctured by a murder of unprecedented savagery. When his team discovers that the killer has form - and each murder is a homage to a classic crime novel - the Parisian press are quick to coin a nickname . . . The Novelist.

HE HATES HAPPY ENDINGS

With the public eye fixed on both hunter and hunted, the case develops into a personal duel, each hell-bent on…


Book cover of Loves Music, Loves To Dance

Lisa M. Lucero Author Of Waves Crashing

From my list on thrilling, creepy tales of mystery and suspense.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a former journalist who has written for several newspapers in Kansas and Texas. Ever since I was young, I had an incredible imagination, a love for storytelling, and an adventurous spirit. I started writing my first novel Waves Crashing, a suspense romance, when I was a senior at McPherson High School; then I worked on it some in college, and it was published in 2019. I'm also the author of the science fiction novels The Death Firm and The Re-Creation of the Death Firm. I'm currently working at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, as an administrative assistant in data and records. I plan on starting to write my fourth novel in 2023. 

Lisa's book list on thrilling, creepy tales of mystery and suspense

Lisa M. Lucero Why did Lisa love this book?

There’s nothing scarier than answering personal ads to a complete stranger in my opinion. Women in Loves Music, Loves to Dance who answers a personal ad find themselves the next victim of a serial killer. What makes this particularly frightening is that the situation actually happens in real life. This book might make you rethink answering that personal ad in the newspaper or online. That’s what makes this book a nail-biter and keeps you up until all hours of the night. It is a fun read, and I highly recommend it. 

By Mary Higgins Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loves Music, Loves To Dance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York's trendy magazines are a source of peril when a killer enacts a bizarre dance of death, using the personal ads to lure his victims in bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark's Loves Music, Loves to Dance.

After college, best friends Erin Kelley and Darcy Scott move to the city to pursue exciting careers—Erin is a promising jewelry designer and Darcy finds success as a decorator. On a lark, Darcy persuades Erin to help their TV producer friend research the kinds of people who place personal ads. It seems like innocent fun...until Erin disappears.

Erin's body is found on an…


Book cover of Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

Deborah Halber Author Of The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases

From my list on cold cases involving unidentified victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d always known about the Lady of the Dunes. I’d read about how she was found in the dunes of Provincetown, Massachusetts, on July 26, 1974. I didn’t know about the tens of thousands of other unidentified victims like her, stowed around the US in the back rooms of morgues and unmarked graves. As a journalist who has always given a voice to those who struggle to be heard, I feel compelled to research and write about these Jane and John Does and the people who work to keep their cases in the public eye. I share a unique bond with writers who do the same.

Deborah's book list on cold cases involving unidentified victims

Deborah Halber Why did Deborah love this book?

It was chilling to learn that the bodies of several apparently unconnected young women had been discovered at a desolate Long Island beach in 2010. Five of the victims turned out to be sex workers who advertised on Craigslist. Through in-depth interviews with the victims’ families, Kolker illuminates these young women as individuals and pieces together their lives and their movements just before their murders.

By Robert Kolker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller * Now a Netflix Film

"Rich, tragic...monumental . . . true-crime reporting at its best."-Washington Post

The bestselling account of the lives of five young women whose fates converged in the perplexing case of the Long Island Serial Killer. Now updated, with a new epilogue by the author.

One late spring evening in 2010, Shannan Gilbert-after running through the oceanfront community of Oak Beach screaming for her life-went missing. No one who had heard of her disappearance thought much about what had happened to the twenty-four-year-old: she was a Craigslist escort who had been fleeing a…


Book cover of Every Dead Thing

Jeffrey B. Burton Author Of The Finders

From my list on thriller subgenres.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a bookworm ever since my grandfather lent me his Louis L'Amour books when I was in grade school. Eventually, I gravitated towards mystery/thrillers as my all-time favorite reads (including the various subgenres brought up in my book recommendations). In addition, I’ve been writing mystery/thrillers for the past dozen years. I am the author of the Mace Reid K-9 mystery series about the danger Reid and his pack of human remains detection dogs (cadaver dogs) get into and, hopefully, out of.

Jeffrey's book list on thriller subgenres

Jeffrey B. Burton Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Supernatural Thrillers: Every Dead Thing by John Connolly is the first novel in Connolly’s Charlie Parker series (it contains Parker’s origin story). If you like your thrillers with a blood-curdling slice of the supernatural, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and pick up this novel. Haunted by his dead wife and daughter, Parker is an ex-cop turned private detective. And the cases Parker works—Good Lord!—best sleep with the lights on. Though John Connolly’s an Irish lad, his Parker novels take place along the East Coast (Parker lives in Portland, Maine). You’ll realize how literary and poetic Connolly’s prose is as the hairs on the back of your neck begin to rise and you refuse to investigate that sound you just heard coming from the basement.

By John Connolly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

EVIL TAKES MANY FORMS.
PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR CHARLIE PARKER HUNTS THEM ALL.

Tormented and racked with guilt over the deaths of his wife and daughter, Charlie Parker, ex-cop with the NYPD, agrees to track down a missing girl. It is a search that will lead him into an abyss of evil.

The Charlie Parker novels can be read and enjoyed in any order. Every Dead Thing is the first book in this globally bestselling series.

'One of modern crime fiction's most popular creations' Irish Independent

'Stunning' Jeffery Deaver


Book cover of Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

Rebecca McKanna Author Of Don't Forget the Girl

From my list on true crime that still honor the victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing a novel about the toll true crime can take on victims’ loved ones and the risk it runs of glamourizing killers while overshadowing victims, I’ve been on the hunt for true crime books that don’t fall into these traps. The titles on this list showcase beautiful writing and tell compelling stories without dehumanizing the victims or glamourizing the perpetrators. 

Rebecca's book list on true crime that still honor the victims

Rebecca McKanna Why did Rebecca love this book?

In 1991, a maintenance worker at a Pennsylvania rest area discovered a man’s head in a trash barrel.

Even though he hadn’t touched blood, people suggested the worker should take an AIDS test. Green’s exceptional book opens with this moment, dropping the reader into early ‘90s AIDS panic and the brutal murders of a string of gay and bisexual men from Manhattan.

Green fleshes out the victims’ lives, showing how homophobia was their constant companion, even in the way the police and media treated their eventual murders. Diligently researched and compassionately written, Green’s book is a page-turner that never dehumanizes its victims or glorifies their killer.

By Elon Green,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**WINNER OF THE EDGAR® AWARD FOR BEST FACT CRIME**

A "terrific, harrowing, true-crime account of an elusive serial killer who preyed upon gay men in the 1990s."
-The New York Times (Editor's Pick)

"In this astonishing and powerful work of nonfiction, Green meticulously reports on a series of baffling and brutal crimes targeting gay men. It is an investigation filled with twists and turns, but this is much more than a compelling true crime story. Green has shed light on those whose lives for too long have been forgotten, and rescued an important part of American history."
-David Grann, #1…


Book cover of The Gods of Gotham

Eleanor Kuhns Author Of Murder on Principle

From my list on historical mysteries with a dash of social commentary.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love the mysteriousness of the past. Learning dates or the importance of battles does not yield understanding. Skillfully written historical fiction can make a reader live history—in a twelfth-century abbey or nursing in WWI. The characters I find the most gripping are outsiders: a Black man always in danger of capture and slavery, and investigating the murders of the marginalized; a monk, once a crusader, who sees human frailties clearly; or a Victorian lady, restless under the constraints of her time, who marries beneath her. Why murder mysteries? Because, although murder is forbidden in almost every culture and every religion, we still kill each other. 

Eleanor's book list on historical mysteries with a dash of social commentary

Eleanor Kuhns Why did Eleanor love this book?

Disfigured and jobless after a fire, Timothy Wilde takes a job with the newly formed NYPD. He is assigned to the Sixth Ward, right on the border of the Five Points, a ward notorious for the desperately poor who live there and the rampant crime. One night he finds a young girl running through the street in a nightgown soaked with blood. She tells an unbelievable story of bodies buried in a nearby woods. Wilde investigates and soon finds himself a target of the city’s wealthy, several of whom are guilty of the most heinous of crimes but feel entitled to escape any accountability. Written in the slang of the times, it reads with the immediacy and plausibility of a memoir. I loved this book because it treats such serious issues: income inequality and the lack of accountability for the rich and powerful—even when engaged in child prostitution and murder.

By Lyndsay Faye,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Spectacular' Gillian Flynn. GODS OF GOTHAM is the fantastic first novel in Lyndsay Faye's Edgar Award-nominated series, for fans of Andrew Taylor and Antonia Hodgson's The Devil in the Marshalsea.

August 1845 in New York; enter the dark, unforgiving city underworld of the legendary Five Points...

After a fire decimates a swathe of lower Manhattan, and following years of passionate political dispute, New York City at long last forms an official Police Department. That same summer, the great potato famine hits Ireland. These events will change the city of New York for ever.

Timothy Wilde hadn't wanted to be a…


Book cover of The Locked Door

Matt Witten Author Of Killer Story

From my list on thrillers you'll devour in one sitting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime novels and TV shows for years. For TV, I wrote for Law & Order, Pretty Little Liars, CSI: Miami, and several other crime shows. In the book world, I used to write amateur sleuth novels, and now I write thrillers. My favorite form of relaxation is to get a cup of tea, put my feet up, and read a great thriller. They inspire me. As I read, I study how they’re structured. There’s nothing I appreciate more than a twist I didn’t see coming, a morally good character who turns out to be evil, or a flawed character who ultimately turns out to be good.

Matt's book list on thrillers you'll devour in one sitting

Matt Witten Why did Matt love this book?

I enjoyed this novel about a serial killer's daughter. The main character is flawed but very rootable, and the ending took me by surprise.

I especially admired the way all the different strands of the plot came together. The author laid out some good cookie crumbs for the reader to follow, and I missed several of them in a way that was very satisfying when they were revealed to me. I also liked that the main character gets a happy ending that I found very believable.

By Freida McFadden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Housemaid and The Coworker!

Some doors are locked for a reason…

While eleven-year-old Nora Davis was up in her bedroom doing homework, she had no idea her father was killing women in the basement.

Until the day the police arrived at their front door.

Decades later, Nora's father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon with a quiet, solitary existence. Nobody knows about her past, and she'll do anything to keep it that way.

Then one of her young…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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