100 books like The Spellman Files

By Lisa Lutz,

Here are 100 books that The Spellman Files fans have personally recommended if you like The Spellman Files. 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 Just One Damned Thing After Another

Yvonne Kjorlien Author Of Memoirs of a Reluctant Archaeologist

From my list on kick-ass women come from screwed up families.

Why am I passionate about this?

On the surface, my childhood was characterized by 1980s unsupervised country freedom in rural Alberta. Deeper in, my history involved emotional abuse and neglect. I wanted nothing more than to be seen and loved for my true self. The library was a refuge, but the fiction section allowed me to find the community I so greatly desired. I was seen and loved by the characters I read. They showed me it was possible to be myself–loudly and audaciously–and still be accepted. I read and now write books that delve into themes of identity, autonomy, and acceptance because I still struggle with these themes today. 

Yvonne's book list on kick-ass women come from screwed up families

Yvonne Kjorlien Why did Yvonne love this book?

The title made me stop mid-step. Sometimes, a book title is misleading. I’ve been burned before. I finally borrowed it from the library and found myself smitten by the “Dramatis Thingummy” at the very beginning and headlong in love by the end.

I re-read this series often: I weird out my neighbors by laughing so hard I can’t breathe; I seek the community of St. Mary’s. Mostly, I love Max. For all her flaws, her sarcasm, her deep-seated need to go down in flames, I love her to bits. She gives me hope that no matter how screwed up a person may be, they can find love and a place in the world. This is the first book in a many-book series. With short stories. And Christmas specials. All of which I now own.

By Jodi Taylor,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Just One Damned Thing After Another as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Time Travel meets History in this explosive bestselling adventure series.

`So tell me, Dr Maxwell, if the whole of History lay before you ... where would you go? What would you like to witness?'

When Madeleine Maxwell is recruited by the St Mary's Institute of Historical Research, she discovers the historians there don't just study the past - they revisit it.

But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And she soon discovers it's not just History she's fighting...

Follow the tea-soaked disaster magnets of St Mary's as they rattle around History. Because wherever the…

Book cover of I'm Alice, I Think

Jass Richards Author Of This Will Not Look Good on My Resume

From my list on to make you snort your drink out your nose.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a Master’s degree in Philosophy and for a (very) brief time was a stand-up comic (now I'm more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, I have received four Ontario Arts Council grants.  This Will Not Look Good on My Resume was shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award, and excerpts from my several other books have appeared in The Cynic Online Magazine and 222 More Comedy Monologues, and on Erma Bombeck’s humor website.  

Jass' book list on to make you snort your drink out your nose

Jass Richards Why did Jass love this book?

I found out after I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed this novel that it's classified as YA. Pity. It made this adult laugh and laugh often. Alice is a refreshing change to … normal. Fortunately, there are two more books in the series.

I was so disappointed that the novel did not win the Leacock (technically, the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour). It definitely should have. But then … written by a woman … blah blah when will men get over themselves?)

By Susan Juby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'm Alice, I Think as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hilarious diary of Alice and her attempts to survive the embarrassments that are her parents, the small-minded nature of her hometown, and her own struggle to fit in. Highly observant, satirical and wise.

Fifteen years old and nursing a "serious case of outcastitis," Alice MacLeod is having a hard time finding anything much to like in small town Smithers, British Columbia. Her mum's a folk-festival hippie chick with a hair-trigger temper, her dad's a mild and reasonable sort of loser who hides out in the basement trying to write soft-core romance novels, and her last school counsellor threw a…

Book cover of The Best Laid Plans

Joan Havelange Author Of Wayward Shot

From my list on whodunits where you can never guess the ending.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write whodunits because I love a good mystery and a good puzzle. I like giving clues out to the reader, sometimes red herrings, sometimes not. Three of my mysteries are set in a fictional little town in the Canadian prairies. I like showing the readers rural life with humour and mystery. Two of my mysteries are set in foreign countries I have visited. One takes place in Egypt. The other takes place on a bus tour of the Nordic countries and ends up in Moscow. I like the challenge of showing the readers the sights and the feel of the country without making the book a travel log. 

Joan's book list on whodunits where you can never guess the ending

Joan Havelange Why did Joan love this book?

Terry Fallis makes politics fun. No really. Okay, this isn’t a whodunit as in murder. But the ending is very surprising. Angus McLintock is a crusty old engineering professor who will do anything to avoid teaching English to engineers. The university will give him leave to let his name stand in the election. So, he does; no need to campaign; he is certain to lose. He wants to lose. This campaign had me in stitches. Sometimes you have to branch out from your chosen genre. I did, and I not only learnt a lot, I laughed a lot.

By Terry Fallis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Best Laid Plans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Here’s the set up: A burnt-out politcal aide quits just before an election—but is forced to run a hopeless campaign on the way out. He makes a deal with a crusty old Scot, Angus McLintock—an engineering professor who will do anything, anything, to avoid teaching English to engineers—to let his name stand in the election. No need to campaign, certain to lose, and so on.

Then a great scandal blows away his opponent, and to their horror, Angus is elected. He decides to see what good an…

Book cover of Make Russia Great Again

Michael Contarino Author Of The Environmental Alarmist: A Political Satire

From my list on satires for crazy times.

Why am I passionate about this?

The worst of all deceptions, said Plato, is self-deception. Perhaps it is also the most common. I'm fascinated by the human capacity to believe nonsense, and also by the power of satire to weaken twaddle’s hold on us. As a political science professor, and as a political speechwriter, I often used humor to expose sloppy thinking, debunk untruths, and open minds. Especially today, satire is one of the best ways to show the high price we pay for our delusions. Satire alone will not end our collective folly, but laughing at rather than denying what we're doing to the natural environment can be a step on the road to change.

Michael's book list on satires for crazy times

Michael Contarino Why did Michael love this book?

If you don’t find Make Russia Great Again hilarious, you have no sense of humor.

Here’s my executive summary: Former Trump Chief of Staff, a naïf named Herb Nutterman – think Chauncey Gardner without the acumen – narrates the book from prison, where his service to the very stable genius has landed him. The leader of the free world saw Nutterman as eminently qualified to run the White House because he was his “favorite Jew,” and had loyally served him for 27 years as a resort manager.

Got the gist? OK, that’s all the executive summary you need for now. Just read the book. It’s outrageously funny. 

By Christopher Buckley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Make Russia Great Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "the Trump satire we've been waiting for" (The Washington Post), award-winning and bestselling author of Thank You for Smoking delivers a hilarious and whipsmart fake memoir by Herb Nutterman-Donald Trump's seventh chief of staff-who has written the ultimate tell-all about Trump and Russia.

Herb Nutterman never intended to become Donald Trump's White House chief of staff. Herb served the Trump Organization for twenty-seven years, holding jobs in everything from a food and beverage manager at the Trump Magnifica to being the first general manager of the Trump Bloody Run Golf Course. And when his old boss asks "his favorite…

Book cover of Hemlock

L.M. Jorden Author Of Belladonna

From my list on mysteries with poison plants to please a gardener.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the author of the Dr. Josephine Plantae Paradoxes, a historical mystery series based on my grandmother, an early trailblazing woman doctor, I stay true to the facts. I remember entering her apothecary filled with strange bottles of little homeopathic white pills, giant stills, and finding poisonous plants in her atrium. In my novels, Dr. Josephine Reva fights for woman’s equality and practices a mix of botanical and modern medicine, and moonlights as a sleuth to solve paradoxical ‘poison cure’ crimes. An award-winning journalist, author, and former professor with an MS from Columbia University, I studied botany. I currently live between France and New England with my family, furry friends, and lots of plants.

L.M.'s book list on mysteries with poison plants to please a gardener

L.M. Jorden Why did L.M. love this book?

Hemlock contains much information about this poisonous botanical, famous for killing Socrates.

The mystery revolves around the disappearance of a rare and valuable volume of A Curious Herbal by the botanist Elizabeth Blackwell.

There’s a novel within a novel framework, and the second novel concerns the difficult life of Mrs. Blackwell as she attempts to save her family from debtor’s prison by publishing her botanical treatise.

Interestingly, Sussan Wittig Albert is a successful self-published author, and very original. Hemlock is sure to please for its exciting dual-arc stories, both concerning poisonous plants.

By Susan Wittig Albert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Susan Wittig Albert, the New York Times bestselling author of A Plain Vanilla Murder, comes a tightly crafted novel that juxtaposes the disappearance of a rare, remarkably illustrated 18th-century herbal with the true and all-too-human story of its gifted creator, Elizabeth Blackwell.

Herbalist China Bayles' latest adventure takes her to the mountains of North Carolina, where her friend Dorothea Harper serves as the director and curator of the Hemlock House Library, a priceless collection of rare gardening books housed in a haunted mountainside mansion that once belonged to Sunny Carswell, a reclusive heiress. But the most valuable book-A Curious…

Book cover of Saint with a Gun: The Unlawful American Private Eye

Ellen McGarrahan Author Of Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, a Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice

From my list on what it’s like to be a real-life private eye.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a private eye. No, I don’t carry a gun. Or trail around after cheating spouses. In fact, the job is way more interesting than that, in a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction way. So it’s a pleasure to recommend these books that tell private eye life as it really is. One is written by a private eye, three others are written about us, and one more is a remarkable investigation itself, but they all ring true about the mystery that is private detective work. On days when even I can’t believe my job, I turn to these books for inspiration, information, and reality checks too. I hope you enjoy them as I do.

Ellen's book list on what it’s like to be a real-life private eye

Ellen McGarrahan Why did Ellen love this book?

This provocative work of investigatory scholarship takes a dim view of private eyes, but that’s fair enough – as a detective (definitely not a saint) who has never carried a gun myself, I share the author’s dismay at the violent anti-heroes of mythic American lore. Ruehlmann’s question in this book is also my own: why are people so interested in private eyes? Answering it, he traces the idea of an omniscient private eye back to the outlaw vigilantes of the Old West, draws a distinction between intellectual English detectives and the musclemen of American noir, and includes an overview of modern masters of detective fiction along with a history of the profession starting in 18th-century France. Who knew? None of it is flattering, which makes it even more fun to read. 

By William Ruehlmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saint with a Gun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Examines the history and works representative of American detective fiction, providing psychological insight into popular opinions on violence, crime, revenge, and justice. Bibliogs

Book cover of Inherent Vice

Travis Jeppesen Author Of Settlers Landing

From my list on when you need a heavy dose of satire.

Why am I passionate about this?

Given the state of the world today, laughter truly is the best coping mechanism. The best satire is all about excess in design, intention, characterization, and deployment of attitude. The more extreme, the better; leave restraint to the prudish moralists! 

Travis' book list on when you need a heavy dose of satire

Travis Jeppesen Why did Travis love this book?

Really hard to pick just one Pynchon for this list, as he is an all-around master of satire. But Inherent Vice is probably his LOL funniest, a stoner take on the detective genre set in the hippie world of 1970s southern California. The cinematic adaptation by Paul Thomas Anderson ain’t half bad, either. 

By Thomas Pynchon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon-Private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre that is at once exciting and accessible, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there.

It's been a while since Doc Sportello has seen his ex- girlfriend. Suddenly she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. It's the tail…

Book cover of The Way Some People Die

Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn Author Of Strange Markings: A Skylar Drake Mystery

From my list on golden age detective stories.

Why are we passionate about this?

Janet and I have traveled extensively and found inspiration and story ideas at every destination. As writers for more than 10 years and as fans of classic detective stories, we feel qualified to tackle this genre.

Will's book list on golden age detective stories

Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn Why did Will love this book?

Ross MacDonald is one of the classic detective series that features a damaged leading character who finds more trouble than he knows. Many people have told us our writing style is similar to his. If you want to read classic noir, read this book. His books are hidden gems that beg to be discovered.

By Ross Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way Some People Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a rundown house in Santa Monica, Mrs. Samuel Lawrence presses fifty crumpled bills into Lew Archer's hand and asks him to find her wandering daughter, Galatea. Described as ‘crazy for men’ and without discrimination, she was last seen driving off with small-time gangster Joe Tarantine, a hophead hood with a rep for violence. Archer traces the hidden trail from San Francisco slum alleys to the luxury of Palm Springs, traveling through an urban wilderness of drugs and viciousness. As the bodies begin to pile up, he finds that even angel faces can mask the blackest of hearts.Filled with dope,…

Book cover of Brown's Requiem

Steven Powell Author Of Love Me Fierce In Danger: The Life of James Ellroy

From my list on the king of LA noir James Ellroy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by James Ellroy’s life and writing since I first discovered it as a lonely teenager on a rainswept family holiday. He went through dark times; the unsolved murder of his mother and his subsequent struggles with addiction. But how he overcame this to become one of America’s greatest writers is an inspiring story and has inspired me to get through my own personal turmoil. Indeed, many Ellroy readers will attest to how his life story and writing helped them overcome their struggles. Now as Ellroy’s biographer, I am continually drawn back to his work. Reading just a few pages allows me to contemplate what Ellroy calls ‘the Wonder’.

Steven's book list on the king of LA noir James Ellroy

Steven Powell Why did Steven love this book?

This was James Ellroy’s debut novel and has been all but forgotten compared to the masterpieces he later produced. But there is so much in this book that reveals why Ellroy was destined for greatness: strong plotting, vivid characters, electrifying prose. The plot involves a car repo man who takes on a private eye case for an oddball golf caddy. The plot owes a lot to Raymond Chandler, but it still feels original in Ellroy’s hands. Allow yourself to be swept away by it.

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beneath the slick, glittering surface of L.A., an underworld of depravity and wickedness reins. Fritz Brown is a part-time private eye and full-time repo-man who gets his kicks listening to classical music. But the waters get too deep for Brown when he takes a case from a cash-flashing golf caddy named Freddy “Fat Dog” Baker that puts him on the trail of his client’s sister and the older gentleman she’s run off with. But more suspicious than his sister, a classy cellist, is Fat Dog himself, who has a past more sordid than he lets on. Diving into a cesspool…

Book cover of Stalking the Angel

Nick Davies Author Of El Flamingo

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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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