88 books like Onion Street

By Reed Farrel Coleman,

Here are 88 books that Onion Street fans have personally recommended if you like Onion Street. 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 Bright Orange for the Shroud

David Michael Dunaway Author Of Angry Heavens: Struggles of a Confederate Surgeon

From my list on celebrating an author’s literary style.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifetime, passionate reader. During the summer vacations, my brother and I would often ride with our father to his job in downtown Mobile and walk to Mobile Public Library, where we would spend all day exploring and reading. Well-written novels with remarkable but believable characters—such as those I've noted here are my passion. I have included novels in my list where I can identify personally with the protagonist. My list of books is varied. They have one thing in common: believable characters who struggle with life—authored by legitimate wordsmiths. When I wrote Angry Heavens as a first-time novelist, it was my history as a reader that I used as a writer.

David's book list on celebrating an author’s literary style

David Michael Dunaway Why did David love this book?

John D. MacDonald is the father of modern fictional detectives—especially Robert Parker—who, like MacDonald, is a writer of sparse dialogue. John D. MacDonald’s main character is the unforgettable Travis McGee. Travis McGee lives on his houseboat, The Busted Flush, which he won in a poker game. McGee has no steady job. Instead, he takes on salvage jobs as he can find them and is paid 50% of the value of the recovered items he returns to the owner.  

Bright Orange for the Shroud—interestingly, is typical for John D. MacDonald as each of his books is connected to a color—The Deep Blue Goodbye, A Purple Place for Dying, and The Empty Copper Sea. 

While enjoying another short “retirement” Travis McGee is visited by Arthur Wilkinson, a friend from days gone by. In terrible health, McGee nurses him back to health only to find that Wilkinson has been bankrupted in…

By John D. MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bright Orange for the Shroud as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From a beloved master of crime fiction, Bright Orange for the Shroud is one of many classic novels featuring Travis McGee, the hard-boiled detective who lives on a houseboat.
 
Travis McGee is looking forward to a “slob summer,” spending his days as far away from danger as possible. But trouble has a way of finding him, no matter where he hides. An old friend, conned out of his life savings by his ex-wife, has tracked him down and is desperate for help. To get the money back and earn his usual fee, McGee will have to penetrate the Everglades—and the…


Book cover of Early Autumn

Gayleen Froese Author Of The Girl Whose Luck Ran Out

From my list on hard-boiled comfort reads for a disappointing world.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was nine years old, I joined a book club. The members were me and my dad. He’d throw detective books into my room when he was done with them, and I’d read them. We’d never discuss them. But that’s why hard-boiled detective fiction is comfort food for me and how I know it so well. I’ve been binging on it most of my life and learning everything the shamus-philosophers had to teach me. Now I write my own, the Ben Ames series, for the joy of paying it forward.

Gayleen's book list on hard-boiled comfort reads for a disappointing world

Gayleen Froese Why did Gayleen love this book?

Early Autumn made me cry from two directions. As a tween, reading about Spenser’s rescue of Paul, a shut-down, emotionally neglected boy that Spenser first assesses as “an unlovely little bastard”, I cried in sympathy and relief for Paul.

Over a summer, Spenser taught him skills, built up his strength and gave him the confidence to find his own dreams, before leaving him at the doorway to the life he now knew he wanted. As an adult, I cried with joy for Spenser, who connected with a stranger, taught what he had to teach, and changed a life.

Really helping someone in a lasting way is rarely so easy as it was in this book, but it’s a worthwhile dream and this Cinderella story gets me every time.

By Robert B. Parker,

Why should I read it?

4 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.


Book cover of Time to Murder and Create

Tom Schreck Author Of The Vegas Knockout

From my list on mysteries with a message.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked and taught in the field of human services for over 40 years. Helping people and creating nurturing communities isn’t always what it appears. It is mired in hypocrisy, inefficiency, and neglect and the people looking for help are often their own worst enemies. Still, there is something inherently good just in trying to reach out to the vulnerable and fight the injustice that surrounds us. Sometimes that fight is figurative and sometimes it is literal. I am also a black belt-trained martial artist, a boxer, and a world championship professional boxing official. I love the dichotomy of helping people and knowing how to fight.

Tom's book list on mysteries with a message

Tom Schreck Why did Tom love this book?

It is hard to beat Lawrence Block’s writing. It often seems like a conversation you’d have, late at night, on a bar stool while sipping a bourbon served neat. Later in the Scudder series, it might seem more like a conversation you might have in a diner after an AA meeting but that’s hardly important.

What is important in this book is Scudder’s motive. He’s hired to look after something and then his client winds up dead. Scudder has no reason to keep pursuing the case—he’s not getting paid and his client won’t ever know the difference.

A promise is a promise and Scudder isn’t stopping.

The message—Commitment is about all we have in life. Commitment means integrity.

By Lawrence Block,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time to Murder and Create as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author behind the upcoming Hollywood all-star film A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES - the second brilliant novel in the Matthew Scudder series

The Spinner is dead, bashed on the head and left to rot in a river. There are three suspects.

Henry Prager has paid enough for the sins of his daughter, and begs Scudder not to destroy his shaky business or the fragile girl's reformed life.

Beverly Etheridge cheerfully admitted all the sex acts Scudder had seen in the photos and she promises to show him a few more.

Theodore Huysendahl offers Scudder enough money to choke…


Book cover of Fools Rush In

Tom Schreck Author Of The Vegas Knockout

From my list on mysteries with a message.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked and taught in the field of human services for over 40 years. Helping people and creating nurturing communities isn’t always what it appears. It is mired in hypocrisy, inefficiency, and neglect and the people looking for help are often their own worst enemies. Still, there is something inherently good just in trying to reach out to the vulnerable and fight the injustice that surrounds us. Sometimes that fight is figurative and sometimes it is literal. I am also a black belt-trained martial artist, a boxer, and a world championship professional boxing official. I love the dichotomy of helping people and knowing how to fight.

Tom's book list on mysteries with a message

Tom Schreck Why did Tom love this book?

This is a fun series. It starts off in the 50s in small-town Iowa with most of the small-time innocence that you’d imagine but Gorman likes to take a different look. He leads us through the era’s less-than-shining moments while we get to relive the 50s and early sixties.

In this one, a young Black civil rights worker turns up dead. Along the way, we learn about racism and the subtle forms it can take and how it can poison a whole community.

In the end, things are not what they seemed but it doesn’t change the facts about America during this era.

Message—People are people and fighting ignorance and hate is all our responsibility.

By Ed Gorman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In America's heartland, Sam seeks justice for a black college student who's found dead in a car trunk at the drive-in, while thousands gather in the nation's capital for the March on Washington with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.


Book cover of Devil House

John Mantooth Author Of Holy Ghost Road

From my list on appealing to horror readers and non-horror readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t consider myself specifically a horror reader (or writer for that matter!) any more than I consider myself a fantasy, mystery, or science fiction reader. As a writer (under my real name John Mantooth as well as my pseudonym, Hank Early), much of my work has been classified as horror, though I take pride in my novels appealing to people who aren’t typically well-versed in the genre. So, it got me thinking… what are some novels that may or may not be classified as horror that will appeal to a wide range of readers? I call these books horror-adjacent, and no matter what you typically read, I think you’ll enjoy them. 

John's book list on appealing to horror readers and non-horror readers

John Mantooth Why did John love this book?

This one is truly unique. It’s a true crime story operating under the guise of a horror story that is really neither. Instead, it grapples with teenage alienation and the way stories transform the truth, while offering an insightful meditation on empathy. Darnielle is one of the most unique and stylistically adventurous writers we have. And this may be his best.

By John Darnielle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“It’s never quite the book you think it is. It’s better.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

From John Darnielle, the New York Times bestselling author and the singer-songwriter of the Mountain Goats, comes an epic, gripping novel about murder, truth, and the dangers of storytelling.

Gage Chandler is descended from kings. That’s what his mother always told him. Years later, he is a true crime writer, with one grisly success—and a movie adaptation—to his name, along with a series of subsequent less notable efforts. But now he is being offered the chance for the…


Book cover of Palace Council

Michael R. Lane Author Of The Gem Connection

From my list on African American mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid reader, I read a wide variety of books. Of the fiction genre mystery and suspense remain my favorite. From the classics to the gritty, a well-told mystery is a literary gem. As my mystery palette has aged—like my taste in wine—so are my demands of what makes a good mystery novel. The best mysteries for me contain more than a serpentine journey toward the hidden truth. They have intriguing characters, crisp dialogue, interesting settings, formidable foes, and of course indispensable heroes or anti-heroes. My writing goal is aimed at achieving the same level of literary penmanship of the mysteries I enjoy reading so much.

Michael's book list on African American mysteries

Michael R. Lane Why did Michael love this book?

Twenty prominent men hold a secret meeting on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1952 to formulate a plan to manipulate the President of the United States. A rising Harlem literary star, Eddie Wesley discovers the body of a famous lawyer Philmont Castle while leaving the engagement party of Kevin Garland and the woman he loves, Aurelia Treene. The mysterious disappearance of Eddie’s younger sister shortly thereafter sparks a twenty-year search by Eddie and Aurelia for the truth. Wesley and Aurelia uncoil secrets involving a conspiracy and murder that leads them to the Oval Office. One of the things I enjoy about this novel is Carter’s ability to dispense with stereotypes. A multifaceted, suspenseful, unique, captivating read. 

By Stephen L. Carter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Summer, 1952. Twenty powerful men gather in secret and devise a plot to manipulate the President of the United States.

Soon after, writer Eddie Wesley leaves a party hosted by affluent and influential members of black society, and discovers a body. The murdered man had an unusual gold cross gripped between his hands and Eddie is determined to find out why he was killed and what the cross signifies.

But then Eddie's sister Junie becomes entangled in an underground movement and vanishes...

Is her disappearance connected to the conspiracy to control the President of the United States?


Book cover of Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

Sarah Fox Author Of Six Sweets Under

From my list on culinary cozy mystery to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a cozy mystery lover with a sweet tooth, I devour dozens of mystery novels every year (many featuring food) and I love to sample new series while also following my long-time favorites. I have also written and published more than 15 cozy mysteries of my own, many of which have a culinary theme. Although I grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, I now live in a small town and I have a particular fondness for cozy small-town mysteries set by the ocean, as well as those featuring scrumptious treats.

Sarah's book list on culinary cozy mystery to satisfy your sweet tooth

Sarah Fox Why did Sarah love this book?

As a chocoholic, I had to check out the Death by Chocolate Mysteries by Sarah Graves, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

Protagonist Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree and her best friend sell their delectable chocolate creations from their shop, the Chocolate Moose, in Eastport, Maine, while solving local mysteries.

Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake is sprinkled with intense, page-turning scenes and plenty of chocolate, making this a fun and delicious cozy mystery.

By Sarah Graves,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Life just got a little sweeter in the island fishing village of Eastport, Maine. Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree and her best friend Ellie are opening a waterfront bake shop, The Chocolate Moose, where their tasty treats pair perfectly with the salty ocean breeze. But while Jake has moved on from fixing up houses, she still can't resist the urge to snoop into the occasional murder. 
 
Jake and Ellie have been through a lot together, from home repair to homicide investigation. So when they decide to open a chocolate-themed bakery, they figure it’ll be a piece of cake. With Ellie’s old family…


Book cover of Murder at the Mena House

Jennifer Kincheloe Author Of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

From my list on smart historical mysteries that start a series.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a public health research scientist who writes humorous historical mysteries set in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD. Like you, I read. I love smart, well-researched historical fiction with strong female protagonists and a good romantic subplot. Extra points if the book is funny because studies show laughter is good for you. 

Jennifer's book list on smart historical mysteries that start a series

Jennifer Kincheloe Why did Jennifer love this book?

Jane Wunderly survives her abusive now-dead husband and does not want to get married again. She fends off the match-making efforts of her aunt Millie while solving a murder at a destination hotel in 1920s Egypt. Enter Mr. Redvers, a bad-boy banker and the romantic subplot. Maybe I have a thing for strong, smart, single heroines. Maybe I have a thing for Egypt. I spent a whole summer painting an orphanage there in 1984 when I was 17. The land is magic. Erica Ruth Neubauer makes the 1920s in Egypt come vibrantly to life. Her novel conjures the romance of the desert, colonial excess, and vast oceans of sand. It’s just cool. 

By Erica Ruth Neubauer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder at the Mena House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Well-heeled travelers from around the world flock to the Mena House Hotel—an exotic gem in the heart of Cairo where cocktails flow, adventure dispels the aftershocks of World War I, and deadly dangers wait in the shadows . . .
 
WINNER OF THE 2021 AGATHA AWARD

Egypt, 1926.Fiercely independent American Jane Wunderly has made up her mind: she won’t be swept off her feet on a trip abroad. Despite her Aunt Millie’s best efforts, the young widow would rather gaze at the Great Pyramids of Giza than into the eyes of a dashing stranger. Yet Jane’s plans to remain cool…


Book cover of Creep

Steena Holmes Author Of The Patient

From my list on that keep you up past your bedtime.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I loved reading past my bedtime, getting lost within a story, then having it fill my dreams and leaving me on the hunt for another book just as good. The best books to read are those that draw me in with their voice and storytelling and leave me needing to turn page after page. Getting in trouble as a kid for reading too late was the best type of trouble to get into and even now, when I need to make a second pot of coffee after a night of reading, I walk away with no regrets. 

Steena's book list on that keep you up past your bedtime

Steena Holmes Why did Steena love this book?

I love a good story about a therapist having to not only battle her own demons but also her patients – and Creep has this covered. I went to bed thinking I’d start the book and read a few chapters – I ended up finishing it with only a few hours to spare before my alarm went off. 

By Jennifer Hillier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If he can't have her...

Psychology professor Dr Sheila Tao is an expert on human behaviour, so when she begins an affair with charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she's well aware she's playing with fire. Consumed by lust and riddled with guilt, Sheila ends their three month fling when she becomes engaged to a kind and loving man who adores her. But Ethan has different plans...

NO ONE CAN.

When a star student is stabbed to death, it's clear someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex and blackmail on campus. Before long, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse…


Book cover of Crime at Christmas

Benedict Brown Author Of The Snows of Weston Moor

From my list on overlooked classic Christmas whodunits.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up in a family of crime-fiction readers, I published my first murder mystery in 2019 and have created two bestselling series. My 1920s-set “Lord Edgington Investigates…” books have been a big hit for me, and I’ve just published my third Christmas book overall. But that’s not the only reason I’m qualified to recommend Christmassy whodunits. I am obsessed with Christmas and, with a little help from my four-year-old daughter, spend far too much time decorating every December. Let’s just say that my Christmas Lego village is already out of control, and someone really needs to stop me from buying any more before it takes over our house.

Benedict's book list on overlooked classic Christmas whodunits

Benedict Brown Why did Benedict love this book?

Another unexpected amateur sleuth is the young stockbroker Malcolm Warren who is invited to a wealthy client’s house for the holiday when an apparent accident is followed by a definite murder. A twisting mystery, secrets galore for our sleuth to uncover, and any number of potential killers help create an atmospheric and pacy puzzle.

Published in 1934, this book is interesting for its complex interplay between the different classes and echelons within the grand house. There is a perfect array of characters from the uber-wealthy patriarch and his spoilt daughter to his patronised employees and servants. Perhaps best of all though, Warren is the kind of gutsy hero that was so common in films and books of the thirties, and he keeps the plot ticking along with plenty of wit and charm.

By C. H. B. Kitchin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'There we were, all gathered together for a Christmas party, and plunged suddenly into gloom.'

It's Christmas at Hampstead's Beresford Lodge. A group of relatives and intimate friends gather to celebrate the festive season, but their party is rudely interrupted by a violent death. It isn't long before a second body is discovered. Can the murderer be one of those in the great house? The stockbroker sleuth Malcolm Warren investigates, in this brilliantly witty mystery.

'Kitchin's knowledge of the crevices of human nature lifts his crime fiction out of the category of puzzledom and into the realm of the detective…


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