100 books like Notes on an Execution

By Danya Kukafka,

Here are 100 books that Notes on an Execution fans have personally recommended if you like Notes on an Execution. 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 Talented Mr. Ripley

Tim O'Leary Author Of Men Behaving Badly

From my list on characters you love to hate.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Tim O’Leary and two of my books, Dick Cheney Shot Me in the Face–And Other Tales of Men in Pain and Men Behaving Badly, emanate from the minds of protagonists trying to do the right thing the wrong way or evil characters doing the wrong thing they believe to be right. I’m particularly drawn to those wonderful literary psychopaths that draw you in with compelling personalities, while reviling the reader with their heinous actions. 

Tim's book list on characters you love to hate

Tim O'Leary Why did Tim love this book?

Ripley is iconic, with multiple film adaptations, including a very good current series on Netflix that takes a few liberties with the original book yet makes it work well.

The book is a perfect example of how a talented writer can create a “slow burn” via a character that grows more compelling, even as their true evil is unmasked.

By Patricia Highsmith,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked The Talented Mr. Ripley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's here, in the first volume of Patricia Highsmith's five-book Ripley series, that we are introduced to the suave Tom Ripley, a young striver seeking to leave behind his past as an orphan bullied for being a "sissy." Newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan, Ripley meets a wealthy industrialist who hires him to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley's fascination with Dickie's debonair lifestyle turns obsessive as he finds himself enraged by Dickie's ambivalent affections for Marge, a charming American dilettante, and Ripley begins a deadly game. "Sinister and strangely alluring"…


Book cover of The Silent Patient

Alice McIlroy Author Of The Glass Woman

From my list on books featuring unreliable narrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved unreliable narrators and how they place us as readers into the role of detectives, piecing the "truth" of a story together. The narrators I’ve picked below vary in their intent: some deliberately deceive, and others do so unconsciously or through omission. In several, the twist hinges on the use of an unreliable narrator, while in others, narrative unreliability poses a moral dilemma for the reader. In a few, an added layer of unreliability emerges: the narrator’s perception is distorted by technology. In an age of AI, simulations, and deep fakes, the unreliable narrator is arguably more needed than ever, holding a mirror up to the unreliability of our own world. 

Alice's book list on books featuring unreliable narrators

Alice McIlroy Why did Alice love this book?

Many contemporary thrillers’ ultimate twist hinges on the use of an unreliable narrator. One of the best is Alex Michaelides’ internationally bestselling debut, The Silent Patient. It follows a psychotherapist trying to help his patient, Alicia, recover after she refuses to speak following the murder of her husband.

The novel is a perfect balancing act of suspecting Alicia yet finding her sympathetic in equal measure. I did not, for one moment, anticipate the ending and first-person unreliable narration is key to Michaelides’ masterful twist.

By Alex Michaelides,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Silent Patient as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**THE INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

"An unforgettable―and Hollywood-bound―new thriller... A mix of Hitchcockian suspense, Agatha Christie plotting, and Greek tragedy."
―Entertainment Weekly

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five…


Book cover of The Lies I Tell

Angela Lam Author Of No Amends

From my list on sociopaths and liars.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why am I an expert on recommending books about sociopaths and liars? I unknowingly shared a life with one for five years. Shattered, I grappled with the aftermath of deception. How could I have been duped for so long? Through therapy and reading, I discovered many smart, compassionate people fall hard for the charismatic charm and convincing stories sociopaths tell to get whatever it is they want from whomever they want it. Without a conscious and incapable of feeling, they often latch onto someone with high morals and emotional intelligence in the hopes of learning how to mirror those attributes only to destroy the ones who love them the most.

Angela's book list on sociopaths and liars

Angela Lam Why did Angela love this book?

Sure, you could say con artist Meg Williams, or any of the aliases this woman goes by, is a vigilante, determined to right the wrongs done to her by society through the many lies she tells. Or you could see her as a sociopathic opportunist.

Kara Roberts is out to catch Williams and bring her to justice for being instrumental in both destroying Roberts’ career and her personal life. But once Roberts gets close to Williams, she falters…and falls under her spell. See a pattern yet? Yep, that’s right. The sociopath always charms the victim.

While the book skews toward a Machiavellian “the ends justify the means” philosophy, the characters are duplicitous and amoral at best, sociopathic and self-serving at worst.

By Julie Clark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Julie Clark has done it again...taking you straight into the collision course of two dynamic, complicated women." -Laura Dave, #1 New York Times bestselling author

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight!

She's back.

Meg Williams. Maggie Littleton. Melody Wilde. Different names for the same person, depending on the town, depending on the job. She's a con artist who erases herself to become whoever you need her to be-a college student. A life coach. A real estate agent. Nothing about her is real. She slides alongside you and tells you exactly what you need to…


Book cover of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

Angela Lam Author Of No Amends

From my list on sociopaths and liars.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why am I an expert on recommending books about sociopaths and liars? I unknowingly shared a life with one for five years. Shattered, I grappled with the aftermath of deception. How could I have been duped for so long? Through therapy and reading, I discovered many smart, compassionate people fall hard for the charismatic charm and convincing stories sociopaths tell to get whatever it is they want from whomever they want it. Without a conscious and incapable of feeling, they often latch onto someone with high morals and emotional intelligence in the hopes of learning how to mirror those attributes only to destroy the ones who love them the most.

Angela's book list on sociopaths and liars

Angela Lam Why did Angela love this book?

The only nonfiction book on my list, this memoir is written by a highly functional, medically diagnosed, nonviolent sociopath who shares how someone with this disorder thinks, feels, and acts.

She will shoplift for no reason. When her husband confronts her, she shows no remorse, but she does return the stolen item.

Like a child who will never learn, she constantly needs reminders of how to navigate a world of rules and regulations.

Personally, I have no tolerance or patience to constantly parent another adult who is wired without a conscious. Lucky for Thomas, she has a loving husband who should be nominated for sainthood. 

By M.E. Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The memoir of a high-functioning, law-abiding (well, mostly) sociopath and a roadmap—right from the source—for dealing with the sociopath in your life.

“[A] gripping and important book . . . revelatory . . . quite the memorable roller coaster ride.”—The New York Times Book Review

As M.E. Thomas says of her fellow sociopaths, “We are your neighbors, your coworkers, and quite possibly the people closest to you: lovers, family, friends. Our risk-seeking behavior and general fearlessness are thrilling, our glibness and charm alluring. Our often quick wit and outside-the-box thinking make us appear intelligent—even brilliant. We climb the corporate ladder…


Book cover of Dead Girls Walking

Nicole M. Wolverton Author Of A Misfortune of Lake Monsters

From my list on YA books to launch you into the autumn spooky season.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Pushcart-nominated writer of (mostly) young adult and adult horror and suspense. I primarily write about the fear of isolated and sparsely populated places, which makes sense: I grew up in the rural hinterlands of northeast Pennsylvania, steeped in dark cornfields, eerie quiet, and weird characters. I now live in the Philadelphia area with my husband and rescue dog in a creaky, century-old house, giving myself agita about the creepy crawlspace in the basement. I’m the author of two novels: A Misfortune of Lake Monsters (YA horror, July 2024) and The Trajectory of Dreams (adult psychological suspense, 2013).

Nicole's book list on YA books to launch you into the autumn spooky season

Nicole M. Wolverton Why did Nicole love this book?

Horror-themed summer camp for Black queer girls? Yes, I don’t mind if I do!

Reading Ellis’ book is like returning to the summer going into my junior year of high school and the angst and drama of summer camp, only with the addition of woods and crappy cabins where the danger is very real and at least one camp counselor has an agenda that involves her genetic legacy of being the daughter of a convicted serial killer.

Temple, our angry (peer) counselor, is on a mission to find her mother’s corpse, even though she doesn’t buy that her dad actually killed her. The novel gives me a real Friday the 13th vibe, mixed with a tangled family history that rivals Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches series. I can't refuse a complicated family mess, and this has it… a lot!

Read this book while you’re taking a break from a solo hike…

By Sami Ellis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A shocking, spine-chilling YA horror slasher about a girl searching for her dead mother's body at the summer camp that was once her serial killer father's home-perfect for fans of Friday the 13th and White Smoke

Temple Baker knows that evil runs in her blood. Her father is the North Point Killer, an infamous serial killer known for how he marked each of his victims with a brand. He was convicted for murdering 20 people and was the talk of countless true crime blogs for years. Some say he was possessed by a demon. Some say that they never found…


Book cover of I'd Know You Anywhere

Polly Stewart Author Of The Good Ones

From my list on fast-paced mysteries with a strong sense of place.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of the novel The Good Ones, published by Harper Books earlier this year. I grew up in a beautiful and somewhat isolated part of the country, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and it’s still my favorite place to set my fiction. When I began writing crime fiction, I knew I wanted to balance telling compelling stories with creating a sense of place and interesting characters to inhabit it, and I’ve learned so much from these writers about how to do that. 

Polly's book list on fast-paced mysteries with a strong sense of place

Polly Stewart Why did Polly love this book?

I think I’ve read all of Laura Lippman’s novels, both the Tess Monaghan series and the standalones, but this is hands-down my favorite.

On the surface, it’s high-concept subject matter: the story of a girl who was abducted by a serial killer and then let go, told in dual timelines. I was compelled by the thrilling and fast-paced plot, but again, the scenes I remember best are of the main character’s childhood in the 1980s, as she attempts to maneuver an adult world she can’t yet understand.

The novel is set in a part of southern Maryland that resembles my home state of Virginia, and I love the way Lippman evokes a bucolic landscape turned suddenly sinister.

By Laura Lippman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'd Know You Anywhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Laura Lippman is among the select group of novelists who have invigorated the crime fiction arena with smart, innovative, and exciting work.”
—George Pelecanos

“Lippman’s taut, mesmerizing, and exceptionally smart drama of predator and prey is at once unusually sensitive and utterly compelling.
—Booklist

Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of What the Dead Know, Life Sentences, and the acclaimed Tess Monaghan p.i. series, delivers a stunning stand-alone novel that explores the lasting effects on lives touched by crime. With I’d Know You Anywhere, Lippman—master of mystery and psychological suspense, winner of every major literary prize given for crime…


Book cover of The Green Mile

J.G. Schwartz Author Of The Curious Spell of Madam Genova

From my list on making you believe in the paranormal.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 13, I paid 25 cents to see a mysterious fortune teller at a local carnival. She predicted I would marry a tall, handsome man, and then she paused and told me my next-door neighbor would soon break his arm. Within a week, my neighbor, Jack, dressed in his Superman costume, jumped off his roof and broke his arm. I was impressionable – and impressed. Since that time, I have been fascinated with fortune tellers and the magic that surrounds them as well as books based on magical realism and the paranormal. Oh, and by the way, I did marry a tall, handsome man.

J.G.'s book list on making you believe in the paranormal

J.G. Schwartz Why did J.G. love this book?

Be prepared. If you want a good cry, this book is for you, as it has one of the saddest endings of any novel I have read.

The Green Mile is the riveting and tragic story of John Coffee, a giant, gentle inmate with supernatural powers, condemned to death for the rape and murder of twin nine-year-old girls.

Coffee is a simple and kind man with a deathly fear of the dark. Your heart will break. Mine did. 

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Green Mile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stephen King's iconic horror masterpiece. An international bestselling and highly acclaimed novel, a must-read for any horror fan, also a hugely successful film starring Tom Hanks.

The Green Mile: those who walk it do not return, because at the end of that walk is the room in which sits Cold Mountain penitentiary's electric chair. In 1932 the newest resident on death row is John Coffey, a giant black man convicted of the brutal murder of two little girls. But nothing is as it seems with John Coffey, and around him unfolds a bizarre and horrifying story.

Evil murderer or holy…


Book cover of Paper Butterflies

Deborah Crossland Author Of The Quiet Part Out Loud

From my list on YA that made me cry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved story since I was little, and I’ve curated a life where it has always taken center stage in some or another. I was a high school English teacher for ten years, and have been a college professor for eight. But what really inspires me to write the books I do is my PhD in mythological studies. As a mythologist, I’m lucky enough to be able to see why stories resonate with us for so long and use those same themes and metaphors to write my own. 

Deborah's book list on YA that made me cry

Deborah Crossland Why did Deborah love this book?

I first read this book pre-publication in 2016, and I still think about it at least once a week.

The story is a haunting portrayal of a girl lost in a blended family with a stepmother who treats her worse than Cinderella and a father who only wants to see the shiny surface of his shiny new family. It’s told in a then/now timeline which slowly reveals not only what June did to land her on death row but the abuse she endured that got her there. This one is heavy, but oh so worth the read.

By Lisa Heathfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one―and a secret one. Not even her dad knows the truth, and she can't find the words to tell anyone else. She's trapped like a butterfly in a net. Then June meets Blister, a boy from a large, loving, chaotic family. In him, she finds a glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away. Because she deserves her freedom. Doesn't she?


Book cover of The Executioner's Song

Rick R. Reed Author Of The Man from Milwaukee

From my list on true crime that would be criminal not to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose this list for two reasons—one, true crime has always held great fascination for me. I have a real hunger to understand the motivations behind the darkest sides of human nature, which I believe exists in us all. My own book, The Man from Milwaukee, dives deep into this obsession by sympathetically portraying a closeted young gay man in 1991 Chicago, who sees the cannibal killer as a victim himself of his own irresistible murderous impulses, likening them to our main character’s own self-loathing toward his same-sex desires. 

Rick's book list on true crime that would be criminal not to read

Rick R. Reed Why did Rick love this book?

Mailer’s opus dramatizes the cursed life of Gary Gilmore. In 1976, he robbed and killed two strangers. After being tried and sentenced to death, Gilmore insisted on being executed, to the disagreement of the justice system, who wanted him to remain alive. Written simply and with great compassion, the novel is disturbing, yet ultimately thought-provoking and redemptive.

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Executioner's Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW O'HAGAN

In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row - and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years.

But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity - and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.


Book cover of Seven Days

Roxie Key Author Of The Deadly Spark

From my list on strong kick ass female lead characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, most books seemed to feature strong and adventurous boys but rarely were the female characters cast in the same roles. Remember Anne in the Famous Five? Bless her. Even non-gendered animal characters in books were almost always called ‘he.’ And, as I look for books to empower my daughter, I’m so happy to see that things are moving in the right direction. Nowadays, I actively seek out books that feature strong female leads, which, thankfully, are many in the crime fiction world. These are just five of my favorites, but there are so many to choose from!

Roxie's book list on strong kick ass female lead characters

Roxie Key Why did Roxie love this book?

I was really excited to read this book when I heard about it, and it was so incredibly gripping. I found myself, during more than one particularly tense scene, holding my breath. When Alice discovers that her estranged father is on death row, due to be executed in one week, she ends up on a fast-paced, terrifying journey to clear his name (albeit somewhat reluctantly).

I absolutely love the character of Alice. She’s smart, fearless and feels as real as you and me. The plot itself is unpredictable, twisting and turning all over the place. I was completely and utterly addicted to this! Seven Days has all the ingredients required for a compelling, keep-you-up-at-night thriller. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

By Robert Rutherford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Wow! An absolutely fantastic edge of your seat thriller. I could not turn the pages fast enough... Would be an amazing film or tv series. The ending was perfect... Highly recommended' Reader review


Your father is on death row. You have seven days to save him. But do you want to?
Alice knows her father is guilty of many things.
He's guilty of abandoning her.
He's guilty of being unfaithful to her mother.
But is he guilty of murder?

Now on Death Row, he has seven days to live.
Some people want him released.
Others will kill to keep him…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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