100 books like The Late Show

By Michael Connelly,

Here are 100 books that The Late Show fans have personally recommended if you like The Late Show. 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 Maisie Dobbs

Ellen Barker Author Of East of Troost

From my list on magical books for realists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write and read realistic fiction. I’m not a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, ghost stories, or magical (other than, you know, Tolkien). I don’t want to have to suspend a lot of belief and buy into an alternate reality. And yet, and yet. . . . All these books have a little element of something going on, and they each grabbed me and kept my attention, and I didn’t roll my eyes once. The supernatural is just a little extra kick and, in every case, as believable as it can possibly be. 

Ellen's book list on magical books for realists

Ellen Barker Why did Ellen love this book?

This book is about a private investigator in London in the early 1900s. It is the first of a long series about Maisie’s cases and the people who are dear to her.

This first book gives us an introduction to Maisie and her working-class background, the people who influenced her, and the way she uses her own version of second sight to understand both clients and criminals. Her description of Maisie mimicking someone’s body movements to figure out their motives actually made me try it out.

I also got a strong sense of London during the difficult years of wars and depression and a bedraggled peace. If you enjoy this one, you’ll have a nice backlog to return to whenever you need more.

By Jacqueline Winspear,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Maisie Dobbs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A favorite mystery series of Hillary Clinton (as mentioned in What Happened, The New York Times Book Review, and New York Magazine)
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Agatha Award Winner for Best First Novel
Macavity Award Winner for Best First Novel
Alex Award Winner

Fiercely independent Maisie Dobbs has recently set herself up as a private detective. Such a move may not seem especially startling. But this is 1929, and Maisie is exceptional in many ways.

Having started as a maid to the London aristocracy, studied her way to Cambridge and served as a nurse in…


Book cover of Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

Katie Tietjen Author Of Death In The Details

From my list on mystery books starring kick-butt female sleuths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a steady diet of Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. Then, in a plot twist that surprised exactly no one, I became an English teacher, a librarian (did you know you can recommend books for a LIVING???), and an author. I love books where the sleuth must not only solve the case at hand, but also wrestle with some sort of ongoing personal problem–bonus points if they can simultaneously pull the curtain back on societal issues and make me feel like I’m getting to experience life in a place where I don’t actually live (I’m looking at you, London and L.A.). 

Katie's book list on mystery books starring kick-butt female sleuths

Katie Tietjen Why did Katie love this book?

I enjoyed being along for this wacky ride as Finlay accidentally gets herself hired as a contract killer, disposes of a body, and navigates the criminal underworld–all while raising her two small children and dealing with her infuriating ex-husband. There’s a love triangle in this book, but the relationship I enjoyed most was the friendship that develops between Finlay and Vero, her former nanny turned partner in crime.

This story is completely absurd, laugh-out-loud funny, and very suspenseful. 

By Elle Cosimano,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Finlay Donovan Is Killing It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Getting the job done" for one single mom takes on a whole new meaning in Finlay Donovan is Killing It.

One of Suspense Magazine's "Best Thrillers of 2021"
One of New York Public Library's Best Books of 2021
Nominated for the Left Coast Crime 2022 Lefty Award for the Best Humorous Mystery

“Funny and smart, twisty and surprising.”—Megan Miranda

Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny…


Book cover of The Simple Art of Murder

Stephen Bentley Author Of Operation George: A Gripping True Crime Story of an Audacious Undercover Sting

From my list on grounded crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a cop for fourteen years and a barrister in the UK for another fourteen years appearing in criminal trials. I've seen and heard enough real cops, lawyers, and criminals to last me a lifetime and more. It left an indelible mark on my own writing and reading preferences. I love true crime but also good crime fiction with realistic characters, settings, and plausible storylines. There's a thread that connects me to most of the authors whose books I have recommended. They're either former lawyers with investigative experience or experienced journalists with experience of a crime beat. Chandler is the exception, but I must say he would've probably fitted right into the police forces.

Stephen's book list on grounded crime fiction

Stephen Bentley Why did Stephen love this book?

I am a fan of this style of writing. Some may call it pulp fiction. Perhaps, hard-boiled? I suppose it is like comparing bare-knuckle fighting and boxing under the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Chandler's style, and those like him, is down and dirty, and supposed to be realistic. Indeed, in his essay, he writes: "Fiction in any form has always intended to be realistic." He was writing in the context of denigrating the old-fashioned British-style mystery. I do believe he has a point. Anyone who is familiar with his work and style can understand my penchant for liking crime fiction that is realistic. The remainder of my picks reflect this. 

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a collection of early short stories and an essay which gave the book its name. The latter is fairly short and its main idea is an argument for the virtues of a noir mystery as opposed to a traditional British one. Considering the fact that this comes from a guy who became a classic of the former even before his death and that he picked up some below the average examples of the latter, I agree.

The stories themselves left me out cold for the most part. I can actually describe the plot in practically all of them…


A House on Liberty Street

By Neil Turner,

Book cover of A House on Liberty Street

Neil Turner Author Of A House on Liberty Street

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Traveler Inquisitive Family guy Writer

Neil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Meet Tony Valenti. His high-flying corporate law career just cratered. His society marriage blew up in a bitter divorce. He's returned to the Chicago suburbs to lick his wounds and regroup in the haven of the Valenti family home. But time to heal isn't in the cards.

Tony's elderly father inexplicably shoots a sheriff's deputy on their front porch. Nobody knows why, and Papa isn't talking. Then their house becomes an unlikely target for condemnation and expropriation by corrupt local officials and their cronies.

With money and hope dwindling, Tony steps up to defend his father and take to city hall, and quickly finds himself in peril when he unearths sinister connections between the cases. The audacity of the plot against them fuels a gritty determination to get to the bottom of what really happened—regardless of the risks and ultimate cost to himself. To win, Tony must earn his father's trust and outwit his wily opponents.

A House on Liberty Street

By Neil Turner,

What is this book about?

A father. A son. A murder.

Meet Tony Valenti. His high-flying corporate law career just cratered. His society marriage blew up in a bitter divorce. He’s returned to the Chicago suburbs to lick his wounds and regroup in the haven of the Valenti family home. But time to heal isn’t in the cards.

Tony’s elderly father inexplicably shoots a sheriff’s deputy on their front porch. Nobody knows why, and Papa isn’t talking. Then their house becomes an unlikely target for condemnation and expropriation by corrupt local officials and their cronies.

With money and hope dwindling, Tony steps up to defend…


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Book cover of Thirteen

Abi Silver Author Of The Pinocchio Brief

From my list on challenging our views that justice prevails.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Abi Silver Why did Abi love this book?

"The serial killer isn’t on trial he’s on the jury."

Actor Bobby Solomon is accused of murdering his wife and bodyguard in a frenzied attack. Eddie Flynn, former conman turned lawyer, is brought in to assist the defence team. Eddie’s the full package—resourceful, quick-witted, a masterful cross-examiner, and he can handle himself in a fight. He also believes in Bobby’s innocence. But he’s up against an ingenious, ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to achieve his cause. 

If the central premise—that of a killer infiltrating the jury and undermining the entire justice system—isn’t sufficiently terrifying, then the array of corrupt police officers and self-serving lawyers (on both sides) should tip you over the edge. Happily, Eddie stands head and shoulders above them all.

By Steve Cavanagh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE SERIAL KILLER ISN'T ON TRIAL.

HE'S ON THE JURY...

****************

'THIRTEEN is my favourite read of the year.' Sarah Pinborough

'Outstanding.' Lee Child

'Smart and original. This is a belter of a book.' Clare Mackintosh

****************

They were Hollywood's hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to…


Book cover of Capital Kill

Stephen Bentley Author Of Operation George: A Gripping True Crime Story of an Audacious Undercover Sting

From my list on grounded crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a cop for fourteen years and a barrister in the UK for another fourteen years appearing in criminal trials. I've seen and heard enough real cops, lawyers, and criminals to last me a lifetime and more. It left an indelible mark on my own writing and reading preferences. I love true crime but also good crime fiction with realistic characters, settings, and plausible storylines. There's a thread that connects me to most of the authors whose books I have recommended. They're either former lawyers with investigative experience or experienced journalists with experience of a crime beat. Chandler is the exception, but I must say he would've probably fitted right into the police forces.

Stephen's book list on grounded crime fiction

Stephen Bentley Why did Stephen love this book?

Capital Kill is a classic example of an author “writing what he knows.” Marc Rainer is a former prosecutor in the courts of Washington D.C. and a former lawyer with the US Air Force's Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. He is married to a former Air Force OSI Special Agent.

His protagonist, Jeff Trask, shares the same background. In the book we also get to meet Lynn, an Air Force OSI Special Agent.

This is the first in a series based on Jeff Trask and it is labelled as “crime drama.” It is. But it is also a delightful mix of police procedural and legal courtroom thriller. I loved it!

By Marc Rainer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A few short blocks from the safety of the museums and monuments on the National Mall, a ruthless killer prowls the streets of Washington, D.C. Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask joins a team of FBI agents and police detectives as they try to solve the series of brutal murders. As the body count rises, the investigation leads to a chilling confrontation with the leader of an international drug smuggling ring, and no one is safe, not even the police.

Written by former Washington prosecutor Marc Rainer, Capital Kill is a swirling thrill ride through the labyrinth of a major federal investigation…


Book cover of Rabette Run

Stephen Bentley Author Of Operation George: A Gripping True Crime Story of an Audacious Undercover Sting

From my list on grounded crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a cop for fourteen years and a barrister in the UK for another fourteen years appearing in criminal trials. I've seen and heard enough real cops, lawyers, and criminals to last me a lifetime and more. It left an indelible mark on my own writing and reading preferences. I love true crime but also good crime fiction with realistic characters, settings, and plausible storylines. There's a thread that connects me to most of the authors whose books I have recommended. They're either former lawyers with investigative experience or experienced journalists with experience of a crime beat. Chandler is the exception, but I must say he would've probably fitted right into the police forces.

Stephen's book list on grounded crime fiction

Stephen Bentley Why did Stephen love this book?

Not only did this novel remind me of Lewis Carroll's works, but it also reminded me of the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour and other works of theirs in their hallucinogenic-inspired songs and albums. Rippington himself is aware of that in his writing as he references both Alice in Wonderland and the phrase 'magical mystery tour.'

So far, I may have misled you because this book is a real thriller. It travels along at the speed of sound and though the things happening to Emerson Rabette are fantastic, they are so believable at the same time. That's difficult to do as a writer but Mr. Rippington manages it with ease and much panache.

By Nick Rippington, Emma Mitchell (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What the readers are saying...
★★★★★ The perfect escapist read for our times
‘★★★★★ The sort of book you ‘watch’ while reading... utterly brilliant
★★★★★ If possible, I would have awarded this 10 stars. This book is much more than amazing.
★★★★★ The author, Nick Rippington, himself describes it as "Alice in Wonderland... with guns." Well, he's right and it's not hype.

Graphic designer Emerson Rabette is forced to use the London Underground to get to a meeting with his employers. There's a problem, as he's terrified of the tube. He is no ordinary commuter and this is no ordinary…


Book cover of Truly Devious

Katie Tietjen Author Of Death In The Details

From my list on mystery books starring kick-butt female sleuths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a steady diet of Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. Then, in a plot twist that surprised exactly no one, I became an English teacher, a librarian (did you know you can recommend books for a LIVING???), and an author. I love books where the sleuth must not only solve the case at hand, but also wrestle with some sort of ongoing personal problem–bonus points if they can simultaneously pull the curtain back on societal issues and make me feel like I’m getting to experience life in a place where I don’t actually live (I’m looking at you, London and L.A.). 

Katie's book list on mystery books starring kick-butt female sleuths

Katie Tietjen Why did Katie love this book?

I can’t get enough of quirky, indefatigable teen sleuth Stevie Bell. She’s determined to solve a decades-old cold case, but must also navigate social awkwardness, anxiety, and people who literally want her dead.

I enjoyed how this book flip-flopped between the present-day narrative and the past. My friend and I got to see Maureen Johnson give a talk at a nearby bookstore, and we loved it; she’s basically a stand-up comedian. 

By Maureen Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Truly Devious 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?

From New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson comes the start of a new series about a sharp and funny young detective named Stevie Bell who begins school at an elite, yet peculiar, boarding school and finds herself entangled in a murder mystery; perfect for fans of 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES.

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists.…


Book cover of Land of Shadows

Katie Tietjen Author Of Death In The Details

From my list on mystery books starring kick-butt female sleuths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a steady diet of Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. Then, in a plot twist that surprised exactly no one, I became an English teacher, a librarian (did you know you can recommend books for a LIVING???), and an author. I love books where the sleuth must not only solve the case at hand, but also wrestle with some sort of ongoing personal problem–bonus points if they can simultaneously pull the curtain back on societal issues and make me feel like I’m getting to experience life in a place where I don’t actually live (I’m looking at you, London and L.A.). 

Katie's book list on mystery books starring kick-butt female sleuths

Katie Tietjen Why did Katie love this book?

For me, there’s something extra compelling about a crime novel set in Los Angeles. I can’t remember why I picked up this first book in the Elouise (Lou) Norton series, but I’m glad I did.

In the first few pages, Lou is called out to the scene of an apparent suicide that may have connections to her own sister’s long-ago disappearance, which instantly intrigued me. I loved getting to follow fierce, tough Lou around the city as she investigated her current case, broke in her newbie partner, and also tried to figure out, once and for all, what really happened to her sister.

By Rachel Howzell Hall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self-made millionaire...and the man who may have murdered Lou's missing sister, Tori, thirty years ago. As Lou investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases. But her department is sceptical. Lou is convinced that when she solves Monique's case she will finally bring her lost sister home. But as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. After all this time, can he be brought to justice...before Lou becomes his next victim?


Book cover of Bluebird, Bluebird

Susan Bickford Author Of A Short Time To Die

From my list on great writing with crime writers of color.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was participating on a crime fiction panel in 2022, we were all asked to recommend books, and I was struck that none of us mentioned a book by a writer of color. Since I knew there were many excellent books by writers of color, I felt this was something I needed to fix. This past summer I decided to make a concerted effort to read more books by writers of color/#OwnVoices, and looked to members of Crime Writers of Color as a starting point. Encouraged by that very exciting read, I went to Bouchercon in Minneapolis where the association Crime Writers of Color was actively promoting the works of their members.

Susan's book list on great writing with crime writers of color

Susan Bickford Why did Susan love this book?

Edgar Award-winner Bluebird, Bluebird, is the first in the Jay Porter Series. Black Texas Ranger, Jay Porter, tried to escape East Texas and become a lawyer, but his home and people clawed him back. Jay is on the verge of losing his prestigious job, his reputation in tatters, when he heads to a tiny rural town to investigate the death of a visiting Black lawyer from Chicago and the seemingly separate death of a local white woman. Locke deftly reveals how the persistent stain of racism continues to poison many facets of life, while the law enforcement hierarchies and jurisdictional infighting threaten to undo Jay’s best efforts.

By Attica Locke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award 2018
2018 Edgar Award Winner for best novel

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules - a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply conflicted about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him back.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town…


Book cover of In a Dark, Dark Wood

Claire Cooper Author Of The Elevator

From my list on locked room thrillers to get your heart pounding.

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s nothing I love more than a good thriller, especially one with a locked room setting. I’m fascinated by how people react to psychological pressure, and what it would take for any of us to behave in extreme ways. With The Elevator, I wanted to push that locked room scenario to its limits: two characters, trapped together in a tiny space. This might also be the book that’s been gestating inside me for longest – my mum was trapped in a lift when she was pregnant with me! I hope some of the books on this list appeal to you, and that you enjoy them as much as I did.

Claire's book list on locked room thrillers to get your heart pounding

Claire Cooper Why did Claire love this book?

I was glued to every page of this book!

It’s a claustrophobic thriller with a startling visual image at its heart: an ultra-modern glass cabin in the middle of a deep, dark wood. At night, the light against the glass means you can’t see out – but anyone outside can see right in. I loved the way Ruth Ware turned the rickety old building cliché on its head, turning light from a source of comfort into a threat. 

By Ruth Ware,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In a Dark, Dark Wood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*AUTHOR OF THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 and THE LYING GAME
*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, AND LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
*SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

An NPR Best Book of the Year * An Entertainment Weekly Summer Books Pick * A Buzzfeed “31 Books to Get Excited About this Summer” Pick * A Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers” Pick * A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year * A BookReporter Summer Reading Pick * A New York Post “Best Novels to Read this Summer” Pick * A Shelf Awareness “Book Expo America 2015…


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