30 books like Original Sin

By P. D. James,

Here are 30 books that Original Sin fans have personally recommended if you like Original Sin. 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 Rivers of London

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

I love a mix of fantasy and reality. This book (and the following series) has changed the way I look at almost everywhere in London.

Unbeknownst to most policemen and nearly all members of the ordinary public, the Metropolitan Police have a unit that deals with magic in the city. Seemingly-innocent events are often caused by vampires, magicians, or the rivalries between the gods and goddesses of the River Thames’ tributaries.

Here, it is not just the Thames that is important; all the little, often overlooked, waterways have a role to play. Peter, the Detective Constable at the heart of the story, is also a trainee wizard; the plot moves at breakneck speed, and I found it funny, exciting, and surprising all at once. 

By Ben Aaronovitch,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Rivers of London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book 1 in the Rivers of London series, from Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch.

My name is Peter Grant, and I used to be a probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth.

My story really begins when I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead...

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London's Metropolitan Police. After taking a statement from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost, Peter comes…


Book cover of Offshore

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

I have always liked the idea of living in a houseboat on the River Thames. This wonderful story simultaneously fed my fantasies and made me realise it might not be as idyllic as I imagined.

The houseboats on Battersea Reach are like a small village–each character is an individual yet integral part of the whole, their fortunes rising and falling with the tide. Through these characters, the book paints a picture of sixties London, swinging yet also unforgiving for those who slip between the cracks. Penelope Fitzgerald lived on a barge in Battersea, and I think much of the story is based on personal experience.

What I particularly liked was the sense of the houseboat dwellers not quite belonging, being offshore in more ways than one. 

By Penelope Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE
FEATURED ON BBC'S BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOK CLUB

Penelope Fitzgerald's Booker Prize-winning novel of loneliness and connecting is set among the houseboat community of the Thames, with an introduction from Alan Hollinghurst.

On Battersea Reach, a mixed bag of the temporarily lost and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the tide of the Thames.

There is good-natured Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by chance a receiver of stolen goods. And Richard, an ex-navy man whose boat, much like its owner, dominates the Reach. Then there is Nenna, an abandoned wife…


Book cover of Ordinary Thunderstorms

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

As with all the books I have chosen, the River Thames is a central part of this story.

From the affluence of Chelsea, it moves through the varied moods of the river, from crime in Rotherhithe through the Thames Barrier Park (one of my favourite London parks) to the point where it becomes the North Sea. At each twist and turn in the tale, the river matches the events perfectly.

The story is centred round a crime, but what I found fascinating was how a single error of judgement on the part of an innocent academic leaves him homeless, jobless, and in danger, with nowhere to run but a tiny patch of grass by the river. 

By William Boyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One May evening in London, as a result of a chance encounter and a split-second decision, the young climatologist Adam Kindred loses everything - home, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, money - never to get them back. With the police and a hit man in merciless pursuit, Adam has no choice but to go underground, joining the ranks of the disappeared, struggling to understand how his life has unravelled so spectacularly. His journey of discovery will take him along the Thames from Chelsea to the sink estates of the East End. On the way he encounters aristocrats, priests, prostitutes and…


Book cover of The Miraculous Sweetmakers #1: The Frost Fair

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

As a bookseller as well as a writer and editor, I believe strongly that good children’s books should also be read by adults.

The setting here is 1683, and the River Thames is frozen. I studied history, and I often stand on London Bridge and try to imagine the flowing water as a field of ice with stalls and side shows on the frozen surface. Embankments and new bridges mean the river no longer freezes, but this story brings historical London to life and allows us to feel what it would have been like.

A magic nocturnal Frost Fair, a lost boy, and a determined twin sister are at the heart of this bewitching story, which is dark yet uplifting–a perfect combination that had me gripped throughout. 

By Natasha Hastings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Miraculous Sweetmakers #1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

'Absolutely stunning... Real emotional depth alongside a fast-paced plot. Fantastic' A F Steadman

An amazing and captivating, curl-up-on-the-sofa debut about a magical frost fair and the lasting power of friendship, perfect for fans of Tamzin Merchant, Abi Elphinstone and Anna James.

The Great Frost of 1683 has London in its icy grip.

Thomasina and her best friend Anne sell sweets on the frozen Thames, amid rumours of the magical Frost Fair that awakens there at night. They say if you can find the fair, Father Winter himself will grant you any wish.

And Thomasina has an impossible wish: the return…


Book cover of The Cater Street Hangman

Anastasia Hastings Author Of Of Manners and Murder: A Dear Miss Hermione Mystery

From my list on dark and stormy Victorian vibes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I confess to a life-long interest in both the Victorian era and in crime, and I blame my dad for both. Dad was a Cleveland Police detective who introduced me to the Holmes stories at an early age. We read Doyle and we both enjoyed Basil Rathbone’s take on Sherlock in the old black-and-white movies. Dad also gave me my first chance to practice my detecting skills when on his days off, he’d load me into the car, buy me an ice cream cone (no doubt to keep me quiet), and take me for a cruise around the city looking for stolen cars.  

Anastasia's book list on dark and stormy Victorian vibes

Anastasia Hastings Why did Anastasia love this book?

I will admit it’s been a while since I read this, the first Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery.

The fact that I still remember it and include it on this list says something. The mystery is convoluted enough to keep readers interested and the story of the lead characters going against societal norms (young woman from a good family attracted to a “lowly” police inspector) is intriguing. 

Throw in the foggy atmosphere of Victorian London and you’ve got a real winner. Be aware, though, Hangman is the first of 32 Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels.

By Anne Perry,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cater Street Hangman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the debut of the New York Times–bestselling Victorian crime series, Inspector Thomas Pitt seeks an elusive strangler among upper-class British society.

Panic and fear strike the Ellison household when one of their own falls prey to the Cater Street murderer. While Mrs. Ellison and her three daughters are out, their maid becomes the third victim of a killer who strangles young women with cheese wire, leaving their swollen-faced bodies on the dark streets of this genteel neighborhood. Inspector Pitt, assigned to the case, must break through the walls of upper-class society to get at the truth. His in-depth investigation…


Book cover of The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

Austin Grossman Author Of Crooked

From my list on set in alternate histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lot of things. I design games. I study literature and theater. I write novels that are messy fusions of literary and genre fiction. I'm endlessly curious. Each of my books starts with when I hear in my head, the voice of a character asking a question. It's always a silly question, and it's always the one that matters more to them than anything else in the world. "Why does being superintelligent make you evil?" became Soon I Will Be Invincible. "What are people who play video games obsessively really looking for?" became You. Answering the question isn't simple, but of course that's where the fun starts.

Austin's book list on set in alternate histories

Austin Grossman Why did Austin love this book?

A cult novel from the early twentieth century, beloved of everyone from C.S. Lewis to Neil Gaiman to literally Kafka.

It starts at a peaceful suburban garden party, then plunges us into the secret anarchist conspiracy to bring down civilization, and the equally secret police force dedicated to stopping them. Duels, disguises, and mind-blowing revelations ensue, with writing just packed with Edwardian-era wit and charm.

By G.K. Chesterton,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Man Who Was Thursday as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can you trust yourself when you don't know who you are? Syme uses his new acquaintance to go undercover in Europe's Central Anarchist Council and infiltrate their deadly mission, even managing to have himself voted to the position of 'Thursday'. In a park in London, secret policeman Gabriel Syme strikes up a conversation with an anarchist. Sworn to do his duty, When Syme discovers another undercover policeman on the Council, however, he starts to question his role in their operations. And as a desperate chase across Europe begins, his confusion grows, as well as his confidence in his ability to…


Book cover of The Jigsaw Man

Sam Holland Author Of The Echo Man

From my list on fictional serial killers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having always been fascinated with the dark and macabre, I grew up hanging out in the library, forging a love of reading through Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and James Herbert. To write The Echo Man, I read more serial killer books than should be deemed healthy – anything from biographies to first-person accounts to psychology and profiling. So who better to recommend serial killer fiction, then a self-confessed serial killer nerd?!

Sam's book list on fictional serial killers

Sam Holland Why did Sam love this book?

The Jigsaw Man introduces us to DI Anjelica Henley and the Serial Crimes Unit as they investigate body parts found along the River Thames. Matheson pulls no punches with her portrait of her gritty East London, combined with pacey action and characters that quickly feel like old friends.

By Nadine Matheson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A heart-pounding roller coaster ride."—Tami Hoag, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boy

*A Crime Reads Most Anticipated Book of 2021*

A serial killer and his copycat are locked in a violent game of cat and mouse. Can DI Anjelica Henley stop them before it’s too late?

On the day she returns to active duty with the Serial Crimes Unit, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is called to a crime scene. Dismembered body parts from two victims have been found by the river.

The modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer, who has…


Book cover of A Philosophical Investigation

John L. Casti Author Of Prey for Me: A Psychological Thriller

From my list on psychological thrillers that will make you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've spent the last half-century researching complex systems and mathematical modeling, both at research centers including The RAND Corporation, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Int'l Center for Applied Systems Analysis (Vienna), as well with professorships at New York University, Princeton and the Technical U. of Vienna. I have also had a lifelong interest in the connection between science fiction and science fact, and have explored the relationship in several of my books including X-EVENTS, The Cambridge Quintet, and Paradigms Lost. I also served as editor for the volume Mission to Abisko, which gives an account of a week-long meeting between sci-fi writers and scientists held north of the Arctic Circle in Abisko, Sweden some years back.

John's book list on psychological thrillers that will make you think

John L. Casti Why did John love this book?

THEME: Technically, this is not really a work of science fiction per se, even though it takes place in London 2013, twenty-one years before the book's publication. So it explores aspects of the future through a journey into the head of a serial killer and to the heart of murder itself. In the book, London at that time was a city where serial murder has reached epidemic proportions. To combat this raft of murders, the government has created a test to screen people for a predisposition to commit violent crimes. Tested at random, a man is shocked to hear that he fits the model. Yet when he breaks into the computer to erase his name, he discovers a list of his "brothers" a logical idea springs into his mind: What if to protect society he becomes a killer of serial murderers?

The inspector charged with tracking down this sociopath, code-named…

By Philip Kerr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

London, 2013, and the city is battling an epidemic of serial killings - even with the widespread government use of DNA detection, brain-imaging, and the 'punitive coma'.

Detective Isadora 'Jake' Jacowicz is hunting a murderer, code-named 'Wittgenstein,' who has taken it upon himself to eliminate anyone who has tested positive for a tendency towards violent behaviour - even if they've never committed a crime.

His intellectual brilliance is matched only by his homicidal madness.


Book cover of The Murder Room

J.C. Paulson Author Of Adam's Witness

From my list on mystery in which you really want to hug the detective.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been reading mysteries since childhood. You know the sort of thing: Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton books, The Bobbsey Twins. The desire to profoundly understand the battles of good versus evil, the delicious gathering of clues, and the hope of solving the cases never left me. As I grew, I began to read the adult-themed greats, and dominantly the women of crime fiction. I couldn't possibly count the number of mysteries I have read. Then, seven years ago, I was violently moved to write them as well. My “real” job as a journalist was little different. In a way, every story, every interview subject, has been a little mystery to unravel. 

J.C.'s book list on mystery in which you really want to hug the detective

J.C. Paulson Why did J.C. love this book?

It is hard to resist a detective who is also a poet. Such wordy pursuits, mingled with crime detection, loudly declare sensitivity and left-brain-right-brain involvement, a perfect combination in the elegant, exceedingly attractive Adam Dalgliesh. (My own detective is named, in part, after him.)

All the Dalgliesh mysteries are marvelous. However, in The Murder Room, the detective’s new relationship with Emma Lavenham comes to a critical point. As the description says, “as he moves closer and closer to a solution to the puzzle, he finds himself driven further and further from commitment to the woman he loves.” The poor dear.

By P. D. James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major Channel 5 series

'The Queen of Crime.' New York Times

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead, and with its sinister murder room celebrating notorious crimes committed in the interwar years, when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the trustees. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of both staff and fellow trustees. Everyone, it seems, has something to gain from the crime.

When it becomes clear that the killer is prepared to kill again, inspired by the real-life crimes…


Book cover of The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840

Melissa McShane Author Of Burning Bright

From my list on touring the unfamiliar corners of Regency England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved the Regency era since first reading Jane Austen’s novels, but in writing my series of 19th-century adventure fantasies, I discovered there was so much more to the period than I’d ever dreamed. Though their culture and traditions aren’t like ours, I’m fascinated by how much about the lives of those men and women is familiar—the same desires, the same dreams for the future. I hope the books on this list inspire in you the same excitement they did in me!

Melissa's book list on touring the unfamiliar corners of Regency England

Melissa McShane Why did Melissa love this book?

Captain Gronow shed some light on the darker aspects of the Regency period, which was a time before law enforcement as we know it. But it wasn’t all bad—the Bow Street Runners were the start of a new era of policing. I was fascinated by the story of how these first detectives came to be and how much truth was behind the myth, especially since the myth has become a popular one for fiction writers in recent years.

By J. M. Beattie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first comprehensive study of the Bow Street Runners, a group of men established in the middle of the eighteenth century by Henry Fielding, with the financial support of the government, to confront violent offenders on the streets and highways around London. They were developed over the following decades by his half-brother, John Fielding, into what became a well-known and stable group of officers who acquired skill and expertise in investigating crime,
tracking and arresting offenders, and in presenting evidence at the Old Bailey, the main criminal court in London. They were, Beattie argues, detectives in all but…


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