100 books like The Burnt Orange Heresy

By Charles Willeford,

Here are 100 books that The Burnt Orange Heresy fans have personally recommended if you like The Burnt Orange Heresy. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From my list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Marshall Jon Fisher Why did Marshall love this book?

In the 1990s, I was captivated by Peter Matthiessens three Mr. Watson” novels, which explored the lawless world of Floridas fin de siècle Ten Thousand Islands region.

Last year, I finally reread them in their final form, fused into the magnum opus Shadow Country. In telling the story of the murder of real-life Florida pioneer and renegade Edgar Watson from many different points of view, Matthiessen creates a richly textured landscape.

Outlaws, escapees, and adventurous settlers work, intermarry, and squabble, making a hardscrabble life among the swamps, the rivers, the mosquitos, and the gators.

By Peter Matthiessen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shadow Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself to his own violent end at the hands of his neighbours. Following the story of his son Lucius as he tries to learn the truth about his father, the story tells of devastating events and traverses wild landscapes inhabited by Americans of every provenance and colour. In this new rendering of the Watson trilogy, Matthiessen has consolidated his fictional masterwork into a poetic, compelling…


Book cover of Devil in a Blue Dress

Ashley Clifton Author Of Twice The Trouble

From my list on literary novels masquerading as crime novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

Flannery O’Connor once said that all fiction is ultimately about the “mystery of personality.” I agree. In fact, I have always suspected that all good novels, genre-based or otherwise, are secretly mystery novels, if only in the psychological sense. Conversely, many so-called genre novels have just as much depth, insight, and realism as any literary work. I have read a lot of genre and literary fiction in my time, and I have long been fascinated by works that blur the line between the two. My favorite kind of book is one that feels like a genre novel (that is, it has a great plot) but also has the depth and vividness of a literary novel.

Ashley's book list on literary novels masquerading as crime novels

Ashley Clifton Why did Ashley love this book?

What I really love about this novel is the voice of the main character, Ezekial “Easy” Rollins. Easy is not your typical P.I. A recently fired machinist in post-war Los Angeles, he’s just a guy trying to pay his bills. But he’s also a black man from the South trying to survive in a white, west-coast world. When a white gangster hires him to find a missing girl, Easy senses that he’s in extreme danger, but he has no choice but to take the job.

Told in the first-person, this book captures all of Easy’s doubt, dread, and defiance as he unravels the mystery.

By Walter Mosley,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Devil in a Blue Dress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Devil in a Blue Dress honors the tradition of the classic American detective novel by bestowing on it a vivid social canvas and the freshest new voice in crime writing in years, mixing the hard-boiled poetry of Raymond Chandler with the racial realism of Richard Wright to explosive effect.


Book cover of The Corpse Had a Familiar Face

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From my list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Marshall Jon Fisher Why did Marshall love this book?

Edna Buchanan moved from New Jersey to Miami on a whim in 1965 and found her calling in the journalistic life.

Calvin Trillin would later write, In Miami, a few figures are regularly discussed by first name among people they have never actually met. One of them is Fidel. Another is Edna.

She had a nose for the bizarre and the macabre—as well as for a good lead: A man wandering along a Miami Beach street in his undershorts and carrying a blood-stained knife Sunday morning led police to the scene of a murder.

In this memoir she recalls zipping around South Florida from Hollywood to Homestead in her yellow Triumph Spitfire to produce her almost-daily cataloguing of gruesome crime. The “polite” killer who abducted couples on dates, raped the woman, and then allowed her to dress before shooting both.

The hand grenade thrown…

By Edna Buchanan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Corpse Had a Familiar Face as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Now in trade paperback, Pulitzer Prize winner Edna Buchanan’s classic nonfiction masterpiece detailing events from her eighteen years writing for The Miami Herald.

Nobody covered love and lunacy, life and death on Miami’s mean streets better than legendary Miami Herald police reporter Edna Buchanan. Winner of a 1986 Pulitzer Prize, Edna has seen it all, including more than 5,000 corpses. Many of them had familiar faces.

Edna Buchanan doesn’t write about cops—she writes about people: the father who murdered his comatose toddler in her hospital crib; fifteen-year-old Charles Cobb—a lethal killer; Gary Robinson, who "died hungry"; the Haitian who was…


Book cover of Inner City Blues

Aaron Philip Clark Author Of Under Color of Law

From my list on crime novels that explore race in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a novelist and screenwriter best known for my fourth novel, Under Color of Law, which features Black detective Trevor "Finn" Finnegan of the LAPD. I'm a lover of crime fiction, preferably noir, that works to entertain and enlighten readers by exploring the topical issues of today. I hold an MFA in Writing from Otis College and I’ve taught college-level English and creative writing courses for over ten years.

Aaron's book list on crime novels that explore race in America

Aaron Philip Clark Why did Aaron love this book?

A solid police procedural that influenced my own book, the novel explores race relations in Los Angeles amid the 1992 Uprising spurred by the beating of motorist Rodney King. Detective Charlotte Justice not only is tasked with solving the murder of a man responsible for killing her family but also contends with the misogynistic, racist, and overall toxic good old boy culture of the LAPD. The novel delivers a twisty mystery and deconstructs an event that should have served as the tipping point for police reform in America.

By Paula L. Woods,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Meet Detective Charlotte Justice, a black woman in the very white, very male, and sometimes very racist Los Angeles Police Department. The time is 48 hours into the epochal L.A. riots and she and her fellow officers are exhausted. She saves the curfew-breaking black doctor Lance Mitchell from a potentially lethal beating from some white officers - only to discover nearby the body of one-time radical Cinque Lewis, a thug who years before had murdered her husband and young daughter. Was it a random shooting or was Mitchell responsible? And what had brought Lewis back to a city he'd long…


Book cover of Monster

Wayne Harrison Author Of Spark and the Drive

From my list on coming of age unstoppable, underdog protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I began reading seriously (albeit late in life!), I’ve been seduced by the travails of underdog protagonists trying to save their own lives through transformation. If you had told me when I was a teenager—drinking too much, racing muscle cars, and scraping by with Ds and Cs in a vocational high school—that I would end up teaching writing at a university, I would’ve said you were nuts. It wasn’t until I started college in my mid-twenties that I actually read a novel for the pleasure of it. My novel and short story collection are expressions of my cheering on the young underdogs who bravely fight to change their worlds despite all odds.  

Wayne's book list on coming of age unstoppable, underdog protagonists

Wayne Harrison Why did Wayne love this book?

This one’s the fastest read of the bunch; in fact, you may find yourself rebooting for a second savory read without putting it down. Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon faces a life sentence for his alleged participation in a robbery that killed a convenience store owner. To cope with the horrors of his cell block, where the spirited African American teen is housed until his trial ends, Steve recounts events before and after the crime in the form of a screenplay; this enthralling courtroom drama deep-dives into the racial and economic forces responsible for overcrowding our flawed criminal justice system. Steve’s perseverance against odds is truly inspiring.  

By Walter Dean Myers,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

This New York Times bestselling novel from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial.

Presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.

Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story that was the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award recipient, an ALA Best Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor selection, and a National Book Award finalist.

Monster is now a major motion picture called All Rise and starring Jennifer Hudson, Kelvin Harrison,…


Book cover of A Time to Kill

David Rohlfing Author Of Cold Consequences

From my list on murder mysteries to keep you entertained and guessing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been a voracious reader of murder mysteries and thrillers. My business career took me to all but one continent and countless countries, mostly living and working in large metropolitan areas. After retiring, I moved to a small Midwest city and found it an excellent setting for a murder mystery when I sat down to write. Since I started, I've written two books in the Detective Sasha Frank Mystery Series, and I'm currently writing the third. The first book, Deliberate Duplicity, won a 2021 American Fiction Award. The second book in the series is Cold Consequences. I've been pleased with the reviews on Goodreads and other platforms.

David's book list on murder mysteries to keep you entertained and guessing

David Rohlfing Why did David love this book?

A Time to Kill is the first book of a four-book fiction series written by world-renowned author John Grisham featuring Clanton, Mississippi, lawyer Jake Brigance. Grisham is one of my favorite authors, and although the titles in this series may not be as well known as many of his other books, A Time to Kill is an exciting introduction to this young lawyer. Set in a  time in the South that endured blatant racial injustice, Jake fights tirelessly for his client accused of avenging the rape of his daughter. Grisham's extraordinary storytelling shines through and takes you on a journey that defines his main character in this first book, which you'll enjoy reading in his subsequent books. I highly recommend A Time to Kill.

By John Grisham,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked A Time to Kill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

______________________________
THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLER

John Grisham's first and most shocking novel, adapted as a film starring Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey

When Carl Lee Hailey guns down the violent racists who raped his ten-year-old daughter, the people of the small town of Clanton, Mississippi see it as justice done, and call for his acquittal.

But when extremists outside Clanton - including the KKK - hear that a black man has killed two white men, they invade the town, determined to destroy anything and anyone that opposes their sense of justice. A national media circus descends on Clanton.

As…


Book cover of Miami Blues

Lee Goldberg Author Of Calico

From my list on humor that makes us human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime stories since I was a child. They entertained me and helped me cope with a lot of family strife. My first novel was published in college and sold to the movies, which got me into screenwriting, leading to writing hundreds of hours of TV and fifty novels to date. The one thing all of my stories share is humor because I believe it’s an essential part of life–and of memorable story-telling. Humor makes characters come alive, revealing shades of personality and depths of emotion you wouldn’t otherwise see. Here are five books that taught me that it’s true and that continue to influence me as a writer. 

Lee's book list on humor that makes us human

Lee Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

Creative writing instructors (and later TV showrunners and network executives) taught me that the protagonist in a crime story can be flawed, but he has to be likable, someone you want to spend time with and who you will root for.

They were all wrong. The detective hero of this book borders on repulsive, and the world he lives in is dark, violent, and a touch grotesque…but also very, very funny. The humor not only makes it all palatable but somehow even more vivid and powerful. And entertaining, oh, how entertaining.

There may not be a single likable character in the whole book, and I don’t care. I love every word. 

By Charles Willeford,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Miami Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After a brutal day investigating a quadruple homicide, Detective Hoke Moseley settles into his room at the un-illustrious El Dorado Hotel and nurses a glass of brandy. With his guard down, he doesn’t think twice when he hears a knock on the door. The next day, he finds himself in the hospital, badly bruised and with his jaw wired shut. He thinks back over ten years of cases wondering who would want to beat him into unconsciousness, steal his gun and badge, and most importantly, make off with his prized dentures. But the pieces never quite add up to revenge,…


Book cover of Ninety-Two in the Shade

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From my list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Marshall Jon Fisher Why did Marshall love this book?

I re-read this early McGuane as I was researching my book, looking for details of South Florida life during the 1972 football season.

The protagonist, Thomas Skelton, comes home to Key West from Gainesville and sets out to become a fishing guide. It was written during, and takes place during, the fall of 1972, and Skelton’s dad even watches football in one scene.

But this Key West native isn’t interested in the perfect Dolphins—he’s a Packers fan! (This anomaly is explained, though not excused, by the fact that the author hailed from northern Michigan.)

I was enthralled, though, by some of McGuane’s best writing, and got this gem about the lure of South Florida: “…American bad actors who, when the chips are down, go to Florida with all the gothics and grotesqueries of chrome and poured-to-form concrete that that implies.” 

By Thomas McGuane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ninety-Two in the Shade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tiring of the company of junkies and burn-outs, Thomas Skelton goes home to Key West to take up a more wholesome life. But things fester in America's utter South. And Skelton's plans to become a skiff guide in the shining blue subtropical waters place him on a collision course with Nichol Dance, who has risen to the crest of the profession by dint of infallible instincts and a reputation for homicide. Out of their deadly rivalry, Thomas McGuane has constructed a novel with the impetus of a thriller and the heartbroken humor that is his distinct contribution to American prose.…


Book cover of Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

Anna M. Lewis Author Of Women of Steel and Stone: 22 Inspirational Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Designers

From my list on inspiring your inner artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning toy inventor and author/illustrator, with a lifelong love of art, learning, and creativity. I strive to inspire the future builders and creators of our world in my books, articles, and blog musings. Some of my favorite reads inspired my creative side.

Anna's book list on inspiring your inner artist

Anna M. Lewis Why did Anna love this book?

Graduating from design school with a BFA and having taught Art Enrichment Classes in the schools for many years, I thought I had read every book about Vincent Van Gogh.

But when I read Heiligman’s young adult novel, I finally knew Vincent and felt his passion, literally through his letters to his brother.

And, truly, is there any better way to learn about Vincent than reading in his own words about his passion to paint?

By Deborah Heiligman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vincent and Theo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Printz Honor Book • YALSA Nonfiction Award Winner • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner • SCBWI Golden Kite Winner • Cybils Senior High Nonfiction Award Winner

From the author of National Book Award finalist Charles and Emma comes an incredible story of brotherly love.

The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers' lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend―Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo…


Book cover of The Passion of Artemisia

Alison Ragsdale Author Of The Child Between Us

From my list on with feisty, female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scottish writer, based in the USA after living in eight countries. I spent thirty years following work, family, and love, and my experiences seep into everything I write—so there are often elements of travel in my books. Thirteen years ago, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and underwent life-saving surgery. That experience gave me a new perspective on the power of the human spirit, and our ability to forge new and unexpected paths, in the face of adversity. I love to read about and create characters that take on life’s challenges and find inner strength they didn’t know they had. That’s why feisty female protagonists appeal to me. 

Alison's book list on with feisty, female protagonists

Alison Ragsdale Why did Alison love this book?

Artemisia Gentileschi was a 17th-century Italian Baroque painter. One of the most fascinating and progressive artists of her time, she was also the first woman ever accepted into the prestigious Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. Her personal life was riddled with turmoil—from rape to torture and public humiliation, but she endured it all to pursue her passion for painting. Many artists sacrifice for their art, but this woman took on an entire city and the Inquisition, and still went on to paint what are considered some of the most brilliant paintings of all time. For me, she is the quintessential feisty female protagonist, beating the odds and the establishment and standing tall. 

By Susan Vreeland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Susan Vreeland set a high standard with Girl in Hyacinth Blue.... The Passion of Artemisia is even better.... Vreeland's unsentimental prose turns the factual Artemisia into a fictional heroine you won't soon forget." —People

A true-to-life novel of one of the few female post-Renaissance painters to achieve fame during her own era against great struggle. Artemisia Gentileschi led a remarkably "modern" life.  Vreeland tells Artemisia's captivating story, beginning with her public humiliation in a rape trial at the age of eighteen, and continuing through her father's betrayal, her marriage of convenience, motherhood, and growing fame as an artist. Set against…


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