96 books like The Profession of Violence

By John Pearson,

Here are 96 books that The Profession of Violence fans have personally recommended if you like The Profession of Violence. 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 A Study in Scarlet

David Cairns Author Of The Case of the Wandering Corpse

From my list on 19th century murder, mystery and mayhem.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has always been a captivating adventure for me, a stage to rekindle the echoes of times long past. My journey began amid musty archives in Hobart, where I stumbled upon a handwritten prison record about my wife's feisty ancestor, transported in the 1830s. There and then, I resolved to breathe life into the fading embers of her existence, and after extensive research, I wrote my first novel, a tapestry of historical events intertwined with the resurrection of long-forgotten souls. Since then, I've applied lessons from masters like Conan Doyle to create exciting, atmospheric stories that turn us all into time travelers on an exhilarating voyage.

David's book list on 19th century murder, mystery and mayhem

David Cairns Why did David love this book?

This is the story that introduced Sherlock Holmes to the world.

The plot brings the reader to the dark streets of Victorian London as a cunning murderer is hunted down. Holmes’s unique powers of observation and deduction then set the bar for all subsequent detective stories as his friend, Watson, is etched into your mind as a ‘true blue’ friend whom you would like to call your own. The story is intricate, delving into the human psyche and the nature of justice. It draws you into the period; it has great characters and mystery, intrigue, and unexpected deductive skills.

I make no apologies for incorporating some of this Sherlockian style into my own mysteries, and perhaps there cannot be a greater tribute than that for this timeless classic. 

By Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Study in Scarlet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet is the literary debut of the world's most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, introduced by Iain Sinclair with notes by Ed Glinert in Penguin Classics.

Convalescing in London after a disastrous experience of war in Afghanistan, Dr John Watson finds himself sharing rooms with his enigmatic new acquaintance, Sherlock Holmes. But their quiet bachelor life at 221B Baker Street is soon interrupted by the grisly discovery of a dead man in a grimy 'ill-omened' house in south-east London, his face contorted by an expression of horror and hatred such as Watson has…


Book cover of The Long Firm

Mike Gerrard Author Of Strip till Dead

From my list on crime set in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Mike Gerrard Why did Mike love 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?

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…


Book cover of The Cuckoo's Calling

Maurice Holloway Author Of Steal a Diamond

From my list on detective books with the most memorable protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for writing, and whenever I can, I try to help new writers improve their expertise so that one day they’ll complete their first book. My first book, born from a few-hundred-word short story at my writing group, turned into a three-book thriller series called FAVOURS. Since then, I’ve branched out by publishing a rom/com, a humorous ghost story as well as a standalone thriller. Agatha Christie published her first book as the result of a dare, which proves you can do it if you really want to.

Maurice's book list on detective books with the most memorable protagonist

Maurice Holloway Why did Maurice love this book?

As a multi-genre author, I was interested to see how the creator of a world-famous boy wizard was going to change her name and turn her hand to crime writing. I relished the result: the first outing for a new private investigator, a character called Cormoran Strike.

Known simply as Strike, he is a P.I. with a handicap (aren’t they all?). Not just the common ones; excessive drinking, difficult relationships, and so on, Strike lost half his right leg whilst serving in Afghanistan. Retiring from service, the ex-MP becomes a private investigator. He has few clients, no money, and is scruffy and unkempt because he sleeps in his office. But he does have a motto, "Do the job and do it well."

In social relationships, Strike isn’t a likable character; demanding and sometimes just plain rude. He has lost his last assistant. I warmed to him the more his traits…

By Robert Galbraith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cuckoo's Calling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Cuckoo's Calling reminds me why I fell in love with crime fiction in the first place' VAL MCDERMID

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Now a major BBC drama: The Strike series

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran - wounded both physically and psychologically - and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the…


Book cover of Bad Penny Blues

Mike Gerrard Author Of Strip till Dead

From my list on crime set in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Mike Gerrard Why did Mike love this book?

I absolutely loved this book, set in the London of the 1960s. It starts with the murder of a prostitute and takes you into the shady world of Soho with its drugs and clubs, its swingers and its singers. A young PC is assigned to work with the CID to catch the killer, as he found the body. The writing is vivid and it appeals as the murder, though central, is only part of a broader picture of the London of that era.

By Cathi Unsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping crime novel inspired by the "Jack the Stripper" killings in 1960s London.

Bad Penny Blues is the latest gripping crime fiction from Cathi Unsworth, London's undisputed queen of noir. Set in late 1950s and early 1960s London, it is loosely based on the West London "Jack the Stripper" killings that rocked the city. The narrative follows police officer Pete Bradley, who investigates the serial killings of a series of prostitutes, and, in a parallel story, Stella, part of the art and fashion worlds of 1960s "Swinging London," who is haunted by visions of the murdered women.


Book cover of East End Underworld: Chapters in the Life of Arthur Harding

Fiona Rule Author Of The Worst Street in London

From my list on Victorian London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fiona Rule is a writer, researcher, and historian specialising in the history of London. ​ She is the author of five books: The Worst Street In London, London's Docklands, London's Labyrinth, Streets Of Sin, and The Oldest House In London. ​ A regular contributor to television and radio programmes, Fiona also has her own company, House Histories, which specialises in researching the history of people's homes. She holds an Advanced Diploma in Local History from the University of Oxford.

Fiona's book list on Victorian London

Fiona Rule Why did Fiona love this book?

In a series of interviews, Arthur Harding tells us of his life as an East End rogue at the turn of the century. The characters he encountered are a “Who’s Who” of the underworld at that time and his descriptions of Spitalfields were very useful to me during research for The Worst Street In London.

By Raphael Samuel (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1981, this book examines the life of Arthur Harding, a well-known figure in the East End underworld during the first half of the twentieth century. The first five chapters survey his life in the 'Jago' slum between 1887 and 1896, offering a different view of an often vilified district. The subsequent phases of his life as a cabinet-maker, street trader and wardrobe dealer reflect the changing fortunes of the East End from hand-to-mouth conditions in the late-nineteenth century to comparative security in the 1930s.

The reader is introduced to some of the major features of East End…


Book cover of Stagolee Shot Billy

Robert Wilhelm Author Of So Far from Home: The Pearl Bryan Murder

From my list on murder in America’s Gilded Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been researching and writing about 19th-century American murders since 2009, and my blog, Murder by Gaslight (murderbygaslight.com), includes illustrated stories of more than 500 murder cases. My book, The Bloody Century: True Tales of Murder in 19th Century America, compiled fifty of the most famous murders. In researching these stories, I prefer to use primary sources such as newspaper articles, pamphlets, and books from the time of the murder. They present the attitudes surrounding the crime without modern analysis and preserve details that tend to disappear over time. My latest book, So Far from Home: The Pearl Bryan Murder, draws almost exclusively from newspaper accounts in 1896 and 1897.

Robert's book list on murder in America’s Gilded Age

Robert Wilhelm Why did Robert love this book?

Stagolee, the bad man who will not back down, is an icon of African American mythology. His defining moment, the Christmas night murder of Billy Lyons is the subject of folk and blues songs from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Though many know the story, before Cecil Brown’s book, most did not realize that the story was true. On Christmas night, 1895, in St. Louis, “Stack” Lee Shelton shot Billy Lyons in a fight over a Stetson hat. Stagolee Shot Billy documents the events leading to the murder while shining a light on the culture, attitudes, and politics of the St. Louis black community in the 1890s. The shooting of Billy Lyons is a Gilded Age murder that continues to resonate.

By Cecil Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although his story has been told countless times - by performers from Ma Rainey, Cab Calloway and the Isley brothers to Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown and Taj Mahal - no one seems to know who Stagolee really is. Stack Lee? Stagger Lee? He has gone by all these names in the ballad that has kept his exploits before us for over a century. Delving into a subculture of St. Louis known as "Deep Morgan", Cecil Brown emerges with the facts behind the legend to unfold the mystery of Stack Lee and the incident that led to murder in…


Book cover of She Rides Shotgun

Christopher Swann Author Of Never Back Down

From my list on crime fiction featuring powerful female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love crime fiction, but the genre can be very much a boys’ club where women are sometimes reduced to femmes fatales or victims who need to be saved. When I look at my bookshelves, I realize how many of the books I’ve read are written by men about men. There’s nothing wrong with stories about men, but I have a lot of strong women in my life, and I’ve learned so much from listening to their perspectives. As a writer, I like pushing myself to try and create strong female characters who find themselves ensnared in a crime and have to figure their way out.

Christopher's book list on crime fiction featuring powerful female characters

Christopher Swann Why did Christopher love this book?

This book grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go.

Jordan Harper does more with suggestion and a few well-crafted sentences than some writers accomplish in an entire novel. When he needs to be brutal, he’s a monster. When he needs to be tender, your eyes sting.

Polly is both a badass and a little girl—I don’t know how Harper pulled that off. And I have never cared so much about a stuffed animal as I have Polly’s teddy bear.

By Jordan Harper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF A 2018 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST DEBUT NOVEL*

*WINNER OF AN ALEX AWARD FROM THE ALA*

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Booklist

A propulsive, gritty novel about a girl marked for death who must fight and steal to stay alive, learning from the most frightening man she knows—her father.

Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school…


Book cover of Young Blood

Michael Stanley Author Of A Deadly Covenant

From my list on African noir thrillers.

Why are we passionate about this?

Michael Stanley is actually two people—Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip both South Africans, passionate about Africa and its cultures. We read a lot of books set in or concerning Africa. We think of African thrillers as Sunshine Noir—things are always at their most deadly in the glare of the sun! The diverse cultures generate complex character clashes and intriguingly original plots. We believe some of the best thrillers anywhere are set in Africa and written by African writers. Michael writes an article every month titled Africa Scene for the International Thrillers Writers magazine (The Big Thrill) where he interviews an author about a new thriller set in Africa.

Michael's book list on African noir thrillers

Michael Stanley Why did Michael love this book?

Sipho is a young man with nothing to lose. He drops out of high school and joins a car-stealing syndicate. The novel is part thriller and part coming-of-age tale, and the story takes the reader on an emotional journey as Sipho is sucked deeper and deeper into South African township crime. The author grew up in this township, and but for his other talents might have followed the same path as his protagonist. A remarkable look at the reality of township life and its effect on the youth.

By Sifiso Mzobe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sipho lives in Umlazi, Durban – he is seventeen, has dropped out of school and helps out at his father’s mechanic shop. But odd jobs do not provide the lifestyle his friend Musa has, with his BMW and designer clothes. Soon Sipho’s love for fast cars and money leads him into a life of crime that brings him close to drugs, death and prison time.


Book cover of A Cargo of Women: Susannah Watson and the Convicts of the Princess Royal

Samantha Battams Author Of The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner

From my list on Australian women in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Samantha Battams is an Associate Professor and has been a university lecturer, researcher, policy professional, community development worker, advocate, health service administrator, and management consultant. Samantha resides in Adelaide, South Australia, is widely travelled, and has lived and worked in Switzerland in global health. She has published academic articles and book chapters in the fields of public health and global health, social policy, and sociology. She has a passion for history and writing and has written a self-published family history and three non-fiction books.

Samantha's book list on Australian women in history

Samantha Battams Why did Samantha love this book?

Thoroughly enjoyed reading about the various fates of a shipload full of convict women who at the time were barely more than chattels of men. Susannah Watson was one of many women who stole in England to feed her starving children and found herself transported for 14 years (which in reality became a lifetime). These survivor women were inspiring and resilient in a pioneering time.

By Babette Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Intrigued to discover a convict ancestor in her family tree, Babette Smith decided to investigate her life and the lives of the 99 women who were transported with her on the ship Princess Royal in 1829.Piece by piece she reveals the story of her ancestor the indomitable Susannah Watson who, trapped in the crowded filthy slums of Nottingham, stole because she could not bear to see her children starving'. Separated forever from her husband and four children, she was transported to Australia for 14 years. She endured the convict system at its worst, yet emerged triumphant to die in her…


Book cover of The Man with the Golden Arm

Matthew Stokoe Author Of Colony of Whores

From my list on gritty American novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

Matthew Stokoe has been translated and published around the world, his books have set new boundaries in urban horror and gritty, pull-no-punches noir. After Cows, Stokoe turned his sights on Hollywood, producing the now-famous High Life – both a page-turning mystery and one of the most brutal critiques of Tinsel Town ever committed to fiction. Stokoe has continued to explore his uniquely dark view of lives lived in the modern world, and in 2014 was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière – France’s most prestigious crime writing award – for his novel, Empty Mile. Colony of Whores, is his latest novel.

Matthew's book list on gritty American novels

Matthew Stokoe Why did Matthew love this book?

Algren has been called a proletarian writer. Working primarily in Chicago from the 1930s to the 1950s, he was intensely concerned with the plight of the common man. His milieux were the gambling dens, the sawdust bars, the decaying hooker-prowled streets, the beat-down police stations, the shooting galleries, the slums, the cheap walk-up flats where broken men and women fought each other in desperate battles to survive one more miserable day. His characters were the poor, the ignorant, the addicted, tramps, bums, card sharps, petty crims, accidental murderers... But in all of them he found something human, something that might have been good, might have been worthy of a decent life – if only it had been given half a chance.

By Nelson Algren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Man with the Golden Arm tells the story of Frankie Machine, the golden arm dealer at a back street Chicago gambling den. Frankie reckons he's a tough guy in the Chicago underworld but finds that he's not tough enough to kick his heroin addiction. With consummate skill and a finely-tuned ear for the authentic dialogue of the backstreets, Algren lays bare the tragedy and humour of Frankie's world.

Features the first UK publication of a foreword by Kurt Vonnegut and an afterword by Studs Terkel.


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