100 books like Murphy's Law

By Rhys Bowen,

Here are 100 books that Murphy's Law fans have personally recommended if you like Murphy's Law. 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 Murder on the Orient Express

Kitty Murphy Author Of Death in Heels

From my list on murder mysteries to brighten your day.

Why am I passionate about this?

I adore crime fiction, especially mysteries. They make sense. In the real world, crime rarely has the resolution of fiction, and almost never has Belgian detectives with very neat moustaches, or old ladies solving a who-dunnit… I grew up reading these books, mentally inhaling everything from Christie to Rankin to McDermid, and now I spend my days writing brutal but quite silly murders solved by a woman who would really rather wear an old grey fleece and jeans than a sparkly dress, and her friends, the fictional TRASH drag family. Murder mysteries are fun – perfect escapism. In a world so messed up as ours is right now, don’t we need to escape into fiction?

Kitty's book list on murder mysteries to brighten your day

Kitty Murphy Why did Kitty love this book?

I hate this book for all the reasons I love it: because it’s perfect.

It’s a perfect crime novel and a perfect mystery, with perfectly awful characters, set in a perfectly fabulous situation, and as a mystery writer I know I will never ever top Christie’s brilliance but oh my, any chance I have, I fall into this story.

Romance. Deception. Murder. Shiny things.

Genius.

Forget the movie, pick up the real thing. Poirot at his best.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Murder on the Orient Express as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MOST WIDELY READ MYSTERY OF ALL TIME—NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY KENNETH BRANAGH AND PRODUCED BY RIDLEY SCOTT!

“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s…


Book cover of Set Sail for Murder

Carmen Radtke Author Of The Case of the Missing Bride

From my list on mysteries set on ships and trains.

Why am I passionate about this?

After years dedicated to the hard facts of a newspaper reporter’s life, including a sting covering the police beat, Carmen Radtke has changed her focus to fiction. She’s been fascinated by both history and mystery as long as she can remember and stays dedicated to the truth behind the lie, and the joys of in-depth research. As a repeated emigrant, she is enthralled by voyages into the unknown and the courage (or madness) that takes.

Carmen's book list on mysteries set on ships and trains

Carmen Radtke Why did Carmen love this book?

Carolyn Hart is one of those cozy mystery writers who effortlessly reel me into their world. Set Sail for Murder satisfies my longing for travel with its itinerary and the lush vivid descriptions, as well as having an enjoyable mystery at its core. As a former journalist, I’m also a sucker for retired reporters turned sleuth. I read this first on a train, and it made the hours fly by. As soothing as the sound of waves gently lapping a boat. 

By Carolyn G. Hart, Carolyn G. Hart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Set Sail for Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Though retired newspaper reporter Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins, Henrie O to her friends, once turned down a marriage proposal from Jimmy Lennox, he's still one of her most cherished friends. So when he asks for her help on behalf of his wife, world-famous documentary filmmaker Sophia Montgomery, Henrie O reluctantly agrees to join them on a Baltic cruise. Sophia is the stepmother to the now-grown heirs of a great fortune, who are none too happy that she controls their inheritance. But do they really want her dead? Jimmy thinks so, and he wants Henrie O to prove it.

On the cruise,…


Book cover of The Golden Rendezvous

Carmen Radtke Author Of The Case of the Missing Bride

From my list on mysteries set on ships and trains.

Why am I passionate about this?

After years dedicated to the hard facts of a newspaper reporter’s life, including a sting covering the police beat, Carmen Radtke has changed her focus to fiction. She’s been fascinated by both history and mystery as long as she can remember and stays dedicated to the truth behind the lie, and the joys of in-depth research. As a repeated emigrant, she is enthralled by voyages into the unknown and the courage (or madness) that takes.

Carmen's book list on mysteries set on ships and trains

Carmen Radtke Why did Carmen love this book?

Fast-paced, exciting, with enough twists to keep me reading without a single break – this is one of my all-time favourites by prolific author Alistair MacLean. I found myself chuckling and, in the next instant, holding my breath as the First Officer has to outwit terrorists who have taken over the tramp carrier cum cruise ship “Campari.” But what I enjoy most is the mix of humour and lightheartedness that balance the high octane thrills which are grounded in meticulous research.

By Alistair MacLean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A timeless classic of modern-day piracy from the acclaimed master of action and suspense.

Aboard the SS Campari, all is not well.

For Johnny Carter, the Chief Officer, the voyage has already begun badly; but it's only when the Campari sails that evening, after a succession of delays that he realises something is seriously wrong.

A member of the crew is suddenly missing and the stern-to-stern search only serves to increase tension. Then violence erupts and suddenly the whole ship is in danger. Is the Campari a victim of modern day piracy? And what of the strange cargo hidden below…


Book cover of The Edge

Stephen Allten Brown Author Of Stealing Picasso

From my list on taking you to unexpected places.

Why am I passionate about this?

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. 

Stephen's book list on taking you to unexpected places

Stephen Allten Brown Why did Stephen love 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.

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…


Book cover of Hereafter: The Telling Life of Ellen O'Hara

Kevin Kenny Author Of Making Sense of the Molly Maguires

From my list on Irish immigration to the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am interested in immigration for both personal and professional reasons. A native of Dublin, Ireland, I did my undergraduate work in Edinburgh, Scotland, completed my graduate degree in New York City, moved to Austin, Texas for my first academic job and to Boston for my second job, and then returned to New City York to take up my current position at NYU, where I teach US immigration history and run Glucksman Ireland House, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the study of Irish history and culture. The key themes in my work—migration and diaspora—have been as central to my life journey as to my research and teaching.

Kevin's book list on Irish immigration to the United States

Kevin Kenny Why did Kevin love this book?

In Hereafter, Vona Groarke accomplishes what most historians can never hope to do.

Filling in the gaps and silences in the historical record with poetry, prose, and imagery, she recreates the interior world of an Irish domestic servant in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century—her transatlantic migration, her back-and-forth journeys to Ireland, her working conditions and family life, and her hopes, dreams, and frustrations.

A work of great imaginative power and empathy, Hereafter is also a profound meditation on the historian’s craft.

By Vona Groarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lyrical portrait of a young Irish woman reinventing herself at the turn of the twentieth century in America
Ellen O'Hara was a young immigrant from Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century who, with courage and resilience, made a life for herself in New York while financially supporting those at home. Hereafter is her story, told by Vona Groarke, her descendant, in a beautiful blend of poetry, prose, and history.
In July 1882, Ellen O'Hara stepped off a ship from the West of Ireland to begin a new life in New York. What she encountered was a world…


Book cover of Empire Rising

Fred Van Lente Author Of Never Sleep

From my list on historical mysteries/thrillers set before World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical fiction because it’s the next best thing to the invention of time travel. Books can immerse you in a time and a place in a way that comics and movies can only gesture at. For books like Never Sleep I even make sure to cook the foods my characters are eating, to make sure the era is evoked for the readers in all five sense. I love fantasy and science fiction as the next person, but the idea of transporting people to times and places that actually happened, to the best of my skill as a dramatist and researcher, is a challenge I find irresistible as an author. 

Fred's book list on historical mysteries/thrillers set before World War II

Fred Van Lente Why did Fred love this book?

I read this book while working on an alternate reality graphic novel for Marvel Comics, X Men Noir, in which we had the Empire State Building as an active docking spot for airships (as intended).

Turns out the actual Great Depression-era construction of the ESB was even more harrowing and fascinating than in our book, as Kelly makes clear here.

By Thomas Kelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Novel of High-Stakes Romance and Betrayal, Set During the Race to Finish the World's Tallest Building

In Empire Rising, his extraordinary third book, Thomas Kelly tells a story of love and work, of intrigue and jealousy, with the narrative verve that led the Village Voice's reviewer to dub him "Dostoevsky with a hard hat and lead pipe."
As the novel opens, it is 1930-the Depression-and ground has just been broken for the Empire State Building. One of the thousands of men erecting the building high above the city is Michael Briody, an Irish immigrant torn between his desire to…


Book cover of Teacher Man: A Memoir

Jennifer Nelson Author Of Teaching with Heart: Lessons Learned in a Classroom

From my list on becoming a great teacher.

Why am I passionate about this?

For almost 20 years, I worked in public and private schools, first teaching with the Peace Corps in Niger and finally in a public high school in New Jersey. For a while, I didn’t feel I knew how to teach. I struggled to reach American teens. I thought they had attitude—and were nasty and lazy. I didn’t want to be in the classroom. But then matters turned around and I began to see how I could make a difference in their lives, enjoying the time I spent with them, and shaping them into decent, hardworking types. And, in the process, they all learned some French—and respected me.

Jennifer's book list on becoming a great teacher

Jennifer Nelson Why did Jennifer love this book?

A memoir by a high school teacher in New York, who explains how he learned how to work with disillusioned teenagers and make them care about learning.

He brings up what is going on in his personal life, adding an extra dimension to the story. I appreciated his struggles and honesty about what it takes to lead in a classroom, where not everyone is motivated to succeed.

Kudos to this author who made me see how it’s not always easy or fun to teach, but that it’s always worthwhile. He gave me the courage to stick to teaching even when sometimes I wanted to quit. 

By Frank McCourt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize -- winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came 'Tis, his glorious account of his early years in New York.

Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises…


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 Seven Million: A Cop, a Priest, a Soldier for the IRA, and the Still-Unsolved Rochester Brink's Heist

Mark Bulik Author Of The Sons of Molly Maguire: The Irish Roots of America's First Labor War

From my list on Irish American true crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a newspaperman for 40 years, the last 25 at The New York Times, and crime is the meat and potatoes of the business. My mother came from an Irish American clan in the Pennsylvania township where the Molly Maguires were born – my great-uncle died at 13 in the mine where the Mollies made one of their first recorded appearances. So I’ve been fascinated by Irish American true crime ever since the Sean Connery film The Mollies Maguires came out in 1970. I’ve spent most of my adult life researching the subject, and have given lectures on it all over the country.

Mark's book list on Irish American true crime

Mark Bulik Why did Mark love this book?

In 1993, a gang of thieves got away with $7 million in a heist at a Brink’s depot in Rochester, N.Y – and the bulk of it has never been recovered.

The cast of characters includes a former I.R.A. man who’d done prison time in Northern Ireland, an activist priest, an ex-cop who became a suspect, and a charismatic prizefighter whose dismembered body was found in Lake Ontario.

I liked this because at the center of it all is the lingering question of whether the missing money ended up with the Irish Republican Army. 

By Gary Craig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On a freezing night in January 1993, masked gunmen walked through the laughably lax security at the Rochester Brink's depot, tied up the guards, and unhurriedly made off with $7.4 million in one of the FBI's top-five armored car heists in history. Suspicion quickly fell on a retired Rochester cop working security for Brinks at the time-as well it might. Officer Tom O'Connor had been previously suspected of everything from robbery to murder to complicity with the IRA. One ex-IRA soldier in particular was indebted to O'Connor for smuggling him and his girlfriend into the United States, and when he…


Book cover of The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld

Mark Bulik Author Of The Sons of Molly Maguire: The Irish Roots of America's First Labor War

From my list on Irish American true crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a newspaperman for 40 years, the last 25 at The New York Times, and crime is the meat and potatoes of the business. My mother came from an Irish American clan in the Pennsylvania township where the Molly Maguires were born – my great-uncle died at 13 in the mine where the Mollies made one of their first recorded appearances. So I’ve been fascinated by Irish American true crime ever since the Sean Connery film The Mollies Maguires came out in 1970. I’ve spent most of my adult life researching the subject, and have given lectures on it all over the country.

Mark's book list on Irish American true crime

Mark Bulik Why did Mark love this book?

This work came out in the Roaring Twenties, but the gangsters of that decade had nothing on the 19th-century outfits like the Dead Rabbits and the Gas House Gang.

When the dive bars have names like the Tub of Blood and they’re kept in business by the likes of Razor Riley, One-Lung Curran, and Stumpy Malarkey, you can’t go wrong. But to me the most compelling part was Asbury’s account of New York’s horrendous Civil War draft riots.

The Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania were born in opposition to that same draft, after a Protestant Republican allied with the coal industry used conscription to try to rid the coal fields of Irish Catholic Democrats and mine labor activists before a crucial election. 

By Herbert Asbury,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1928, Herbert Asbury's whirlwind tour through the low-life ofnineteenth-century New York has become an indispensible classic of urban history.

Focusing on the saloon halls, gambling dens, and winding alleys of the Bowery and the notorious Five Points district, The Gangs of New York dramatically evokes the destitution and shocking violence of a turbulent era, when colorfully named criminals like Dandy John Dolan, Bill the Butcher, and Hell-Cat Maggie lurked in the shadows, and infamous gangs like the Plug Uglies, the Dead Rabbits, and the Bowery Boys ruled the streets. A rogues gallery of prostitutes, pimps, poisoners, pickpockets,…


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