10 books like The Brief

By Simon Michael,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Brief. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Vow of Silence

By Veronica Black,

Book cover of A Vow of Silence

Elizabeth Bailey Author Of The Gilded Shroud

From the list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past.

Who am I?

Even as a child, I wanted to escape from current times and visit bygone or future eras. History and literature were favourites and I gleaned most of what I know of the past by reading. Then I found Georgette Heyer, prompting a lifetime love affair with all things Georgian and Regency. Agatha Christie got me into mystery. I loved both the puzzle of whodunit and being whirled away into Poirot, Marple, or Cadfael territory. A good mystery and a deep dive into history as well? Heaven! Best of all is the author who draws me so completely into their imaginary world that the real one fades away.

Elizabeth's book list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past .

Why this book?

Sister Joan is yet another religious sleuth. Set in the early 1990s, I think this series now qualifies as a historical mystery. It is a lighter read than my other choices, but one I absolutely loved and, like Cadfael, I dived in and devoured the lot. Vow of Silence is the first and hooked me straight away. The religious life fascinates me and I enjoyed the way the ceremonial routine of the convent was woven into the mysteries. This detail serves to immerse you in the life of Sister Joan, a down-to-earth heroine who drew my admiration. The mysteries unfold naturally into the setting and don’t seem incongruous. A more gentle read than the others I have chosen, but acutely satisfying.

A Vow of Silence

By Veronica Black,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Vow of Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When one nun dies in a bizarre accident and another disappears, hushed whispers of virgin sacrifice, Mother Goddess worship, suicide, and murder spread among the Sisters at Cornwall House convent and Sister Joan is sent to investigate


The Virgin in the Ice

By Ellis Peters,

Book cover of The Virgin in the Ice: The Sixth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael

Elizabeth Bailey Author Of The Gilded Shroud

From the list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past.

Who am I?

Even as a child, I wanted to escape from current times and visit bygone or future eras. History and literature were favourites and I gleaned most of what I know of the past by reading. Then I found Georgette Heyer, prompting a lifetime love affair with all things Georgian and Regency. Agatha Christie got me into mystery. I loved both the puzzle of whodunit and being whirled away into Poirot, Marple, or Cadfael territory. A good mystery and a deep dive into history as well? Heaven! Best of all is the author who draws me so completely into their imaginary world that the real one fades away.

Elizabeth's book list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past .

Why this book?

My love affair with Cadfael started with the books and continued with the television series, but my absolute favourite read was this one. The image of the face beneath the ice has stayed with me for years. Cadfael was the first historical mystery series that dragged me into the world of the book and kept me reading. When I had read one, I binged on the whole series. Ellis Peters is possibly the most immersive historical writer I’ve come across. It’s not just the detail, it’s the emotive pull of her description that drags you in. Her monk sleuth is a wonderful creation – erudite, clever, persistent, knowledgeable, and yet so humane and compassionate. Derek Jacobi was perfect in the role. But you can’t beat the realism of the books.

The Virgin in the Ice

By Ellis Peters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Virgin in the Ice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is winter 1139 and the tranquil life in the monastery gardens in Shrewsbury is again interrupted by violence. Raging civil war has sent refugees fleeing north from Worcester. Among them are two orphans from a noble family, a boy of thirteen and an eighteen year old girl of great beauty, with their companion, a young Benedictine nun. But the trio have disappeared somewhere in the wild countryside. Cadfael fears for these three lost lambs, but his skills are needed to tend to a wounded monk, found naked and bleeding at the roadside. Why this holy man has been attacked…


Book cover of The Murder of Patience Brooke: Victorian London is Full of Dark Secrets...

Elizabeth Bailey Author Of The Gilded Shroud

From the list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past.

Who am I?

Even as a child, I wanted to escape from current times and visit bygone or future eras. History and literature were favourites and I gleaned most of what I know of the past by reading. Then I found Georgette Heyer, prompting a lifetime love affair with all things Georgian and Regency. Agatha Christie got me into mystery. I loved both the puzzle of whodunit and being whirled away into Poirot, Marple, or Cadfael territory. A good mystery and a deep dive into history as well? Heaven! Best of all is the author who draws me so completely into their imaginary world that the real one fades away.

Elizabeth's book list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past .

Why this book?

With Charles Dickens investigating, I had to check this out. The author’s imaginative use of Dickens as a sleuth is rooted in facts new to me. I didn’t know he had set up a sanctuary for fallen women, for example. Having read much Dickens, I found the voice authentic. His Victorian world, so intense in his novels, was equally immersive here – the poverty, the dirt, the inequality and I became thoroughly involved in the story and the unfolding investigation. If an author can draw me into their world and hold me… this did, due to impressive detailed research. I was particularly struck by the compassion visible in this Dickens which made me realise how much his books also demonstrate this aspect of his character.

The Murder of Patience Brooke

By J. C. Briggs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An intriguing detective series featuring Charles Dickens! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

A brutal murder in Victorian London forces a famous writer to solve the mystery… London, 1849Charles Dickens has set up Urania Cottage as a sanctuary for fallen women.

But he is shocked when the matron’s assistant – Patience Brooke – is found hanging outside the property, covered in blood.

Desperate to protect the reputation of the Home and to stop a scandal from spreading, Dickens takes the investigation into his own hands.

With the help of his good…


Untrue Till Death

By Graham Brack,

Book cover of Untrue Till Death: Murder in 17th Century Europe

Elizabeth Bailey Author Of The Gilded Shroud

From the list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past.

Who am I?

Even as a child, I wanted to escape from current times and visit bygone or future eras. History and literature were favourites and I gleaned most of what I know of the past by reading. Then I found Georgette Heyer, prompting a lifetime love affair with all things Georgian and Regency. Agatha Christie got me into mystery. I loved both the puzzle of whodunit and being whirled away into Poirot, Marple, or Cadfael territory. A good mystery and a deep dive into history as well? Heaven! Best of all is the author who draws me so completely into their imaginary world that the real one fades away.

Elizabeth's book list on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books on mysteries to escape the now and voyage the past .

Why this book?

This story seized my imagination from the off for its unusual setting and sleuth. I mean, you don’t get to be transported to the Netherlands in the 17th Century every day of the week. Our narrator is a priest – always a fascinating field for a sometime convent schoolgirl. And he’s an unusual priest at that. Master Mercurius is not always at ease with his calling and even less keen on the spying task he is set by William of Orange. I was lost in Mercurius’s world even before the murder and the escalating twists and turns kept me on tenterhooks. This is a series to be savoured.

Untrue Till Death

By Graham Brack,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Join Mercurius in another mysterious investigation! Perfect for fans of Andrew Taylor, C J Sansom, S J Parris and Ken Follett.

This time murder has hit close to home… 1674, Leiden, The NetherlandsAfter successfully solving the case of the missing girls in Delft, Master Mercurius has made a name for himself as a private investigator.

With unrest occurring both nationally and internationally, William of Orange is obsessed by plots against his leadership.

He calls on Mercurius to help spy on state officials. But before Mercurius has a chance to investigate, his colleague at the University of Leiden is killed.

And…


Book cover of The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins

Mike Gerrard Author Of Strip till Dead

From the list on crime set in London.

Who am I?

I began my freelance career as a travel writer, though I now also write about drinks. While living in London I worked for a while at the men’s magazine, Mayfair, and around that time went out for several months with a woman who was a stripper. I didn’t know that when we met, so judged her by her personality not her profession. One of the magazine’s models was murdered, and one of the staff questioned by police. He was totally innocent. I wanted to write the kind of book I like reading, bringing together those two storylines to create a fictional version of a very real part of London life.

Mike's book list on crime set in London

Discover why each book is one of Mike's favorite books on crime set in London .

Why this book?

I knew the author when I worked for his literary agent in London, and this is a fascinating and frightening look at the London crime world of the Kray Twins. They ruthlessly ruled parts of London, including the East End, and was an essential background re-read when I wrote my own London crime novel. I was trying to show behind the scenes of the world of striptease, but this book is a reminder of what’s behind even that behind-the-scenes world. I used to send a 6-monthly royalty cheque to their mother as their share for co-operating with the book, which is why it’s so authentic.

The Profession of Violence

By John Pearson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic, bestselling account of the infamous Kray twins, now a major film, starring Tom Hardy.

Reggie and Ronnie Kray ruled London's gangland during the 60s with a ruthlessness and viciousness that shocks even now. Building an empire of organised crime that has never been matched, the brothers swindled, extorted and terrorised - while enjoying a glittering celebrity status at the heart of the swinging 60s scene, until their downfall and imprisonment for life.


Book cover of Memoir of a Fascist Childhood: A Boy in Mosley's Britain

Richard Toye Author Of Winston Churchill: A Life in the News

From the list on sidelights on British politics.

Who am I?

Richard Toye is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. He has published 19 non-fiction books on historical topics and was the co-presenter of the 2018 Channel 4 documentary Churchill's Secret Affair. In 2007 he won the Times Higher Education Young Academic of the Year Award for his book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness

Richard's book list on sidelights on British politics

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books on sidelights on British politics .

Why this book?

This is a through-the-looking-glass journey into the darker side of British politics. Grundy’s parents were violently anti-Semitic and obsessed with Oswald Mosley, and he himself became active in Mosley’s post-war Union Movement, before turning away from Fascism. It is surreal, scary, and hilarious by turns. It also gives important insights into the origins of today’s Far Right politics.

Memoir of a Fascist Childhood

By Trevor Grundy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For Grundy and his family Oswald Mosley was God, anti-Semitism a creed. His father was a fascist brawler, his mother obsessed with Mosley and Grundy himself dreamed Mosley was his father and grew up to be the youngest member of the Fascist Union Movement to speak at Trafalgar Square. But, after her death, Grundy learnt that his mother was Jewish.


Without Prejudice

By Nicola Williams,

Book cover of Without Prejudice

Abi Silver Author Of The Pinocchio Brief

From the list on challenging our views that justice prevails.

Who am I?

Having spent my youth watching dramas Crown Court and L.A. Law on TV and reading Rumpole of the Bailey, it’s not surprising I became a lawyer and then went on to write legal thrillers myself. The courtroom is an inherently theatrical place, where emotions and tensions run high. It’s a place where egos collide, theories are propounded and punctured and the liberty (and sometimes the life) of the accused is at stake. It follows, then, that lawyers operate in a totally even-handed system, where they’ll always achieve a fair and just result and uncover the truth. All the books I’ve recommended challenge this notion in different (but equally brilliant) ways.

Abi's book list on challenging our views that justice prevails

Discover why each book is one of Abi's favorite books on challenging our views that justice prevails .

Why this book?

When Armani-loving lawyer, Leanne Mitchell, is asked to defend millionaire Clive Omartian on fraud charges, she believes her career is on an upward trajectory. But her success puts her at odds with the head of her Chambers, who is desperate to be awarded ‘Silk’ and with her instructing solicitor and old friend, as she begins to suspect he knows more about their client than he is letting on. Before she realises, she’s being dragged into dangerous waters.

Oozing authenticity, twisty and turny, the reader shares Lee’s pain, not just the wounds she suffers from courtroom barbs, but in her everyday experience as a young, black, working-class woman barrister in a mainly white, male, privileged world. Despite huge challenges she remains feisty and principled. A real hero for our times.

Without Prejudice

By Nicola Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Without Prejudice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Impressive and unique. As relevant today as it was over two decades go' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction

A gripping, propulsive courtroom thriller following barrister Lee Mitchell as she uncovers the dark secrets of London's obscenely rich

Lee Mitchell is a thirty-year-old barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

After she takes on the high-profile case of notorious millionaire playboy Clive Omartian - arrested along with his father and stepbrother for eye-wateringly exorbitant fraud - the line between her personal and professional life becomes dangerously blurred.
Spiralling further into…


London's Docklands

By Fiona Rule,

Book cover of London's Docklands: A History of the Lost Quarter

Margarette Lincoln Author Of Trading in War: London's Maritime World in the Age of Cook and Nelson

From the list on maritime London.

Who am I?

I was formerly Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and am now a visiting fellow at the University of Portsmouth. I can safely say that I have spent some years of my life walking along the River Thames. The fascinating thing about maritime London is that our understanding of it is always advancing and changing – much like the riverscape itself.

Margarette's book list on maritime London

Discover why each book is one of Margarette's favorite books on maritime London .

Why this book?

This book is carefully researched and gives fascinating insights into the area around London’s docks. Rule begins her account in Roman times and takes the story through into the twenty-first century. She is committed to explaining how London’s docks, which employed around 100,000 men some sixty years ago, could so quickly have been swept away, and she shows huge sympathy for the people who lived and worked in the area. What I especially like is the range of sources she uses, from archaeological records to personal interviews.

London's Docklands

By Fiona Rule,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked London's Docklands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you remember the docks?

In its heyday, the Port of London was the biggest in the world. It was a sprawling network of quays, wharves, canals and basins, providing employment for over 100,000 people. From the dockworker to the prostitute, the Romans to the Republic of the Isle of Dogs, London's docklands have always been a key part of the city.

But it wasn't to last. They might have recovered from the devastating bombing raids of the Second World War - but it was the advent of the container ships, too big to fit down the Thames, that would…


The Long Firm

By Jake Arnott,

Book cover of The Long Firm

Mike Gerrard Author Of Strip till Dead

From the list on crime set in London.

Who am I?

I began my freelance career as a travel writer, though I now also write about drinks. While living in London I worked for a while at the men’s magazine, Mayfair, and around that time went out for several months with a woman who was a stripper. I didn’t know that when we met, so judged her by her personality not her profession. One of the magazine’s models was murdered, and one of the staff questioned by police. He was totally innocent. I wanted to write the kind of book I like reading, bringing together those two storylines to create a fictional version of a very real part of London life.

Mike's book list on crime set in London

Discover why each book is one of Mike's favorite books on crime set in London .

Why this book?

This is an obvious follow-on from my first choice, a gritty fictionalised version of the kind of world the Kray Brothers moved in. It features the gangster Harry Starks, who is both a porn king and a sociology graduate, and has one of those great openings that grips you from the start:

"You know the song, don’t you?" “There’s no business like show business.” Harry gets the Ethel Merman intonation just right as he heats up a poker in the gas burner.

How can you not read on, albeit a little nervously?

The Long Firm

By Jake Arnott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The cult bestseller that launched Jake Arnott as one of the most exciting new voices of the decade - 'A gangster novel every bit as cool, stylish and venomous as the London in which it's set' (Independent on Sunday)

'I'll tell you what happens now,' Harry says, reading my mind. 'You can go now. We're quits. You don't talk to anybody about anything. You've had a taste of what will happen if you do.'

Meet Harry Starks: club owner, racketeer, porn king, sociology graduate and Judy Garland fan. To be in his orbit is to be caught up in the…


A Useful Woman

By Darcie Wilde,

Book cover of A Useful Woman

Karen Hanson Stuyck Author Of Death of an Unfortunate Woman: An Alexandra Sinclair Mystery

From the list on strong women solving mysteries in Great Britain.

Who am I?

I grew up loving stories set in the 1800s. I read Little Women six times, determined to become a writer just like Jo March. Eventually, I became one, writing everything from newspaper articles to medical brochures, short stories, and nine mystery novels. I set my latest book in 1819 Regency England. The myriad rules governing every aspect of proper behavior for “gently bred women” meant that any female refusing to conform faced scandal and ostracism from society. Any woman who managed to forge a life of her own design had to be strong, determined, and feisty—just the kind of female I want to read and write about.

Karen's book list on strong women solving mysteries in Great Britain

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books on strong women solving mysteries in Great Britain .

Why this book?

Rosalind Thorne’s life as a gently bred woman is upended when her father abandons the family. Finding herself penniless, Rosalind manages to use her connections and considerable skill to help wealthy society women solve their problems, for a discreet payment. In the course of helping a client who wants to become a patroness of Almack’s, the invitation-only social club, Rosalind discovers the body of an acquaintance in the ballroom. The patronesses of Almack’s want Rosalind to hush up the death, while the victim’s sister wants her to find her brother’s killer. Rosalind proves adept at putting the pieces of a very complex puzzle together, at great danger to herself. I loved Rosalind’s determination and cunning as well as the sardonic portrayal of the ton’s countless social rules, spitefulness, and hypocrisy.

A Useful Woman

By Darcie Wilde,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Useful Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high society—including who among the ton is capable of murder...
 
The daughter of a baronet and minor heiress, Rosalind Thorne was nearly ruined after her father abandoned the family. To survive in the only world she knew, she began to manage the affairs of some of London society’s most influential women, who have come to rely on her wit and discretion.
 
So, when artistocratic wastrel Jasper Aimesworth is found dead in…


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