100 books like The First Rule of Ten

By Gay Hendricks, Tinker Lindsay,

Here are 100 books that The First Rule of Ten fans have personally recommended if you like The First Rule of Ten. 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 Blacktop Wasteland

Tori Eldridge Author Of The Ninja Daughter

From my list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity.

Who am I?

As a multicultural author, born in Honolulu of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent, I am drawn to mainstream thrillers that feature diverse characters and explore non-mainstream cultures. Since I also hold a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and have traveled the United States teaching martial arts and empowerment, authentic fight scenes in fiction are a must! Nothing turns me off quicker than a shallow representation of culturally diverse characters or mundane and improbable action. I strive for authenticity, emotion, and page-turning action in my Lily Wong ninja thrillers, so it’s probably no surprise that I value these elements in the novels I read.

Tori's book list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity

Tori Eldridge Why did Tori love this book?

From the moment I began reading Blacktop Wasteland, I knew S.A. Cosby would become one of crime fiction's most notable authors. His protagonist, Beauregard “Bug” Montage, drew me in and still won't let me go. What I love most are the gray areas between right and wrong, good and bad. There are no easy answers or choices in this strikingly honest look at Black life in the rural South. The action sequences and fights wing as true as Cosby’s characters and dilemmas.

By S.A. Cosby,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Blacktop Wasteland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'BLACKTOP WASTELAND may be the book of the year.' MICHAEL CONNELLY
'Sensationally good' LEE CHILD
'Stunning. Can't remember the last time I read such a powerful crime novel' MARK BILLINGHAM

"Bug" Montage: honest mechanic, loving family man. He's no longer the criminal he was - the sharpest wheelman east of the Mississippi.

But when his respectable life crumbles, a shady associate comes calling with a one-time job promising a huge payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver's seat - and haunted by…

Book cover of The Last Thing He Told Me

Katherine Nichols Author Of The Unreliables: When The Only One You Can Trust Doesn't Exist

From my list on books with gaslighting and manipulation.

Who am I?

Growing up in the South as the daughter of a single mother, I’ve always appreciated strong women, in reality and in fiction. Before I could read, I made up stories featuring me as the super heroine. Later, I devoured all the Nancy Drews I could get my hands on. I credit Ms. Drew for nurturing my fascination with mystery. I especially enjoy suspense with a psychological turn that frequently takes the form of gaslighting or manipulating someone into doubting their perception of reality. As an author of Southern suspense with heart and humor, my female characters fall victim to this device but are strong enough to persevere.  

Katherine's book list on books with gaslighting and manipulation

Katherine Nichols Why did Katherine love this book?

I related to the protagonist Hannah Hill, a woman whose life is upended by the disappearance of the man she loves.

Before his loss, she’s a talented but fairly ordinary wife and stepmother, trying to develop a relationship with her husband’s troubled daughter. When she turns into a heat-seeking missile, determined to make sense of the devastating changes in her life, I felt a sense of empowerment.

What makes this domestic thriller memorable to me is the way the author explores the mother-daughter relationship while creating a thrilling mystery with a haunting ending.

By Laura Dave,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Last Thing He Told Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Brilliant. Pacy tense and twisty' - LISA HALL

'I adored this beautifully written thriller' - JO SPAIN


Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah: protect her. Hannah knows exactly who Owen needs her to protect - his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. And who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As her increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss…

Book cover of The Maid

Jen Craven Author Of Best Years of Your Life

From my list on complicated female characters and a good plot twist.

Who am I?

As an avid reader and author myself, I love books that keep me on the edge of my seat and thrust me into a world of secrets and lies. There’s nothing better than seeing trouble coming for a character and wondering how in the world they’re going to make things right. I read and write these types of stories—ones that are relatable, emotionally charged, and twisty. To me, they’re the most fun! 

Jen's book list on complicated female characters and a good plot twist

Jen Craven Why did Jen love this book?

I love books where female protagonists are longing for something, and in this case it’s acceptance—so relatable! The character in this story has to make a split-second decision (also one of my favorite tropes), and then deal with the consequences. On top of that, it was super fun to get a peek into the hospitality industry. Haven’t we always wondered who cleans our rooms at hotels? It’s a classic whodunnit but in a fresh, new way. 

By Nita Prose,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Maid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'An escapist pleasure' SUNDAY TIMES
'Delightful' GUARDIAN
'An instantly gripping and delightful whodunnit' STYLIST
'Smart, riveting, and deliciously refreshing ' LISA JEWELL


I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She's used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping…

Book cover of The Dry

Rebecca Tope Author Of A Cotswold Killing

From my list on unexpected twist to a familiar situation.

Who am I?

I grew up on farms, and have experienced the undercurrents that exist in small villages, which is why I like crime novels with rural settings. I worked as a couple counsellor for a while, which taught me that no fictional character can quite equal the real quirks and inconsistencies of real people—but I love those books which get close. Charles Dickens probably does it best! In my own novels I try to achieve something approaching this, in characters who break away from stereotypes and behave unpredictably. I like to think I manage to be witty sometimes, tooI really love humour, especially when it’s wordplay or subtly ironic.

Rebecca's book list on unexpected twist to a familiar situation

Rebecca Tope Why did Rebecca love this book?

Set in Australia, the story opens with a dead man lying in the desert heat. The quest to discover who he is, and what happened to him provide a most satisfying read, involving family feuds and community tensions. I can’t think of another book where I was so desperate to learn what had led to the man’s death—the back story, the reasons and the truth of the various family relationships. The central character is endearing and the slow realisations that dawn on the reader are handled with great skill. I have been to Northern and Western Australia a number of times, so could visualise the setting very well. I am fascinated by the lives of those living in such a hostile environment.

By Jane Harper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'One of the most stunning debuts I've ever read...Read it!' David Baldacci

'Packed with sneaky moves and teasing possibilities that keep the reader guessing...The Dry is a breathless page-turner' Janet Maslin, New York Times



I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community…

Book cover of Harlem Shuffle

Andy Mozina Author Of Tandem

From my list on literary with criminal protagonists.

Who am I?

I like books in which there are moral stakes, which sometimes draws me to stories with criminals, and I like when the character at the center of the problem is complex or destabilizes things. Dark humor always helps. Average people should be able to see themselves in some way in the criminal’s bad behavior or at least in their desires. I have published two story collections and two novels. My first collection of short stories won the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award. My fiction has appeared in Tin House, Southern Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. I'm a professor of English at Kalamazoo College. 

Andy's book list on literary with criminal protagonists

Andy Mozina Why did Andy love this book?

Raymond Carney—savvy furniture store owner in 1960s Harlem; a small-time, look-the-other-way fence for stolen goods—is one of the most likable criminals I’ve ever read about.

He dreams of moving his young family on up to a nice apartment on Riverside Dr. and scraps for every dollar. His hustling ways occasionally flare into big-time crime or revenge, but his insights into the teeming city are always keen.

Whitehead can do it all: perfectly observed details of the time and place, great characters, wry humor, surprising plot developments, devastating emotional scenes. The implications of race and class are deftly drawn. The prose is gorgeous.

Really, no American writer is better than Whitehead right now. A fun and profound ride. 

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Harlem Shuffle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, this gloriously entertaining novel is  “fast-paced, keen-eyed and very funny ... about race, power and the history of Harlem all disguised as a thrill-ride crime novel" (San Francisco Chronicle).

"Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked..." To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents…

Book cover of Red Bones

Carole Johnstone Author Of The Blackhouse

From my list on eerie islands.

Who am I?

I’ve been drawn to islands ever since I was a child spending summer holidays ferry-hopping around the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. In 2017 I was lucky enough to be able to live for several months in a remote settlement called Cliff on the Atlantic coast of the Outer Hebrides. It was such a life-changing experience: the isolation, storms, abandoned villages, standing stones, and shipwreck memorials; the beauty and wonder and peace, but also the fear, how vulnerable living somewhere like that can make you feel. How vulnerable you are. My latest novel, The Blackhouse, is a gothic thriller inspired by all the wonderful and eerie islands that I have ever known or read about! 

Carole's book list on eerie islands

Carole Johnstone Why did Carole love this book?

I have read and loved all of Ann Cleeves’ books about Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, set on the Scottish Shetland Islands. Red Bones is about two feuding families with generations of secrets between them, who are somehow involved in at least two murders. Islands, particularly those that are small and/or remote, foster communities that are incredibly tight-knit by necessity – often your survival entirely depends on one another. That has always made me wonder what lengths such communities might go to in order to survive; what secrets they might have to keep, what lies they might have to tell if something terrible happens that could jeopardise their whole existence. My time living on the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides very much inspired The Blackhouse, but it was in no small part also inspired by the wild Shetland Islands as described in Cleeves’ wonderful stories. 

By Ann Cleeves,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The third Shetland novel featuring detective Jimmy Perez.

Sometimes the dead won't stay buried . . .

When a young archaeologist uncovers a set of human remains, the island settlers are intrigued. Is it an ancient find - or a more contemporary mystery?

Then an elderly woman is shot in what appears to be a tragic accident in the middle of the night, Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called to investigate.

The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding…

Book cover of How the Light Gets In

Emily Bain Murphy Author Of Enchanted Hill

From my list on atmospheric mysteries with twists I didn’t see coming.

Who am I?

I am an author and a reader, and there is little I love more than falling deep into an atmospheric mystery. One that has the texture of dark velvet—something so rich, vivid, and experiential I can almost wrap it around me—and has just the right amount of suspense to keep me turning pages. As an author of historical fiction and mysteries, capturing that immersive, atmospheric sense of place is so important to me. When I see this done well, I want to savor it, study it—and try to get you to read it, too.

Emily's book list on atmospheric mysteries with twists I didn’t see coming

Emily Bain Murphy Why did Emily love this book?

I can’t possibly have a best-of list that doesn’t include Louise Penny. Her Inspector Gamache series exudes such a joyous, hopeful, cozy warmth—even when they’re about premeditated murder.

How the Light Gets In is one of my very favorites because it at first seems like such a quiet, wintry book where subtle hints wink like sunlight on sparkling snow. But there’s something so much more ominous lurking beneath the surface and it leads to a truly shocking climax.

As with all of Penny’s books, this one brims with heart and makes me wish I could travel to the cozy town of Three Pines. Best read near a crackling fire with a blanket and a steaming hot toddy.

By Louise Penny,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How the Light Gets In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How the Light Gets In is the ninth Chief Inspector Gamache Novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." —Leonard Cohen

Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it's a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn't spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining…

Book cover of How Lucky

Melissa F. Miller Author Of Chosen Path

From my list on crime fiction to give you hope for humanity.

Who am I?

I’m a mystery, thriller, and suspense author who’s written dozens of books across five series. In addition to writing crime fiction, I’ve always loved reading in the genre. I’ll take a fast-paced thriller any day. I’ve noticed, over time, that my reading tastes have changed. I gravitate toward crime fiction that features flawed but ethical protagonists who believe, as I do, that light drives out darkness, love is a demonstration of courage, and kindness is a weapon. These five books share this theme in common—all against the backdrop of gripping, high-stakes plots with twists and turns aplenty. These are books that will get your heart racing and give you hope for humanity.

Melissa's book list on crime fiction to give you hope for humanity

Melissa F. Miller Why did Melissa love this book?

Daniel, the unforgettable protagonist of this mystery, is resilient, resourceful, and realistic. Clear-eyed about the world and how it views him, Daniel—who has a debilitating, degenerative condition called spinal muscular atrophy—witnesses an abduction from his wheelchair. The amateur sleuth enters into a risky game of cat and mouse to draw out the kidnapper and save the victim. What I love most about this book is Daniel’s belief that “the world is a place that can welcome everyone.” Driven by his personal philosophy, and with some help from his goofy best friend, Travis, and his outstanding health aide, Marjani, he risks his life to prove it. 

By Will Leitch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2022 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel

“A fantastic novel. . . . You are going to like this a lot.”—Stephen King

“What’s more thrilling than a fictional character speaking to us in a voice we haven’t heard before, a voice so authentic and immediate—think Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield, Mattie Ross—that we suspect it must’ve been there all along, that we somehow managed to miss it? Daniel, the protagonist of Will Leitch’s smart, funny, heartbreaking new novel How Lucky, is just such a voice, and I’m not sure it will ever completely leave my head, or that I want it…

Book cover of The Last Detective

M.W. Craven Author Of Fearless

From my list on sidekicks in crime fiction.

Who am I?

I am a British crime writer with a love of American crime fiction, particularly books with dark plots and quirky, unique characters. I am the author of the Sunday Times bestselling, multiple award-winning, Washington Poe series and the new Ben Koenig series but am first a reader—I read over a hundred books a year. I love discovering a new-to-me series that has a back catalogue for me to work through, and I appreciate recommendations. I’ve been a full-time author since 2015 and, as I suspected, it’s my dream job.

M.W.'s book list on sidekicks in crime fiction

M.W. Craven Why did M.W. love this book?

Although many fans consider Crais’s preceding book, L.A. Requiem, to be his masterpiece, I’ve chosen this because it perfectly encapsulates the relationship between flamboyant Elvis Cole and his partner, the enigmatic Joe Pike.

Pike is the ultimate sidekick. He’s taciturn, monosyllabic, and extremely complex. Dangerous as hell and completely loyal to Cole and anyone in Cole’s life; he’s taken bullets, knives—a whole bunch of weapons during the nineteen-book series.

In The Last Detective, the son of Cole’s girlfriend gets kidnapped and the evidence points to Cole’s service in Vietnam. Cole’s first call isn’t to the LAPD, it’s to Joe Pike. His message: ‘Joe, I’m scared.’ Pike drops everything and together they start hunting...

Pike is the third sidekick on my list to get his own series.

By Robert Crais,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'THE LAST DETECTIVE is literally a thrill-a-minute read. Crais is on top form, which, believe me, is about as good as it gets. Don't miss it' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

'The narrative is taut, the menace palpable, the suspense unbearable' DAILY TELEGRAPH

Elvis Cole has got a problem to solve - and this time it's personal.

Elvis Cole's girlfriend, Lucy, is out of town, and she has left her young son Ben in Elvis's care. Elvis and Lucy have had a few problems lately - not least over his job as a private investigator. But at last things seem to be…

Book cover of Stalking the Angel

Nick Davies Author Of El Flamingo

From my list on fast-paced escapism with a comedic edge.

Who am I?

I'm an actor turned journalist and writer. After a series of roles on low-budget movies and forgettable soap operas, I moved to Latin America to write about travel and life and all the heartbreak and humour it entails. El Flamingo follows the misadventure of a struggling actor who gets mistaken for a rogue assassin in Mexico and is forced to assume the mysterious identity in order to survive. It is a preposterous plot that could never happen in real life, yet the essence of it all was inspired by places I went, people I crossed paths with, and a sense of adventure that, to me, was authentic. 

Nick's book list on fast-paced escapism with a comedic edge

Nick Davies Why did Nick love this book?

Elvis Cole is the first-person narrator of a classic private eye series set in Los Angeles.

It is fun and unpretentious while being full of sociological truisms. The novels are first and foremost crime thrillers, but the comedic voice and observations make for a somewhat genre-bending experience every single read.  

By Robert Crais,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The second blistering Elvis Cole novel from the bestselling author of RACING THE LIGHT

'Brilliant... read this, then read all his others' Mirror

Bradley Warren had lost something very valuable, something that belonged to someone else: a rare thirteenth-century Japanese manuscript called the Hagakure.

Everything PI Elvis Cole knew about Japanese culture he'd learned from reading SHOGUN, but he knew a lot of crooks - and what he didn't know, his sidekick Joe Pike did.

Together, Cole and Pike begin their search in L.A.'s Little Tokyo, the nest of the notorious Japanese mafia, the Yakuza - and find themselves caught…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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