100 books like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

By Alan Bradley,

Here are 100 books that The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie fans have personally recommended if you like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. 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 The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Harini Nagendra Author Of The Bangalore Detectives Club

From my list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ecologist who loves history. I love incorporating elements from the past in my non-fiction and fiction writing. I’ve learnt so much about parts of the world I have never visited from historical mysteries, especially those with strong female characters. My grandmother, born in 1907 during the British Raj, fought just to go to school. I love books that offer an insight into the lives and thoughts of fierce, feisty women like her, everyday women who did extraordinary things. Each of the books I’ve selected is the first in a series, and I hope they give you endless hours of reading pleasure, just as they did for me.

Harini's book list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists

Harini Nagendra Why did Harini love this book?

While this wasn’t written as a historical, it was published in the 1960s, so it qualifies as one.

Mrs. Pollifax is another unlikely spunky heroine who’s one of my favorites. A suburban housewife and widow with grown children and an empty nest, Pollifax is so bored with gardening and yoga that she volunteers to help the CIA! What was supposed to be a short and safe trip to Mexico City turns into something far more sinister, and she ends up in an Albanian prison.

It could be a wild and unbelievable read, but in this author’s skillful hands, the plot comes together perfectly. Gillman’s sense of society and cultural context is nuanced, and I love how her books bring out her belief in the strength of innate human kindness.

By Dorothy Gilman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mrs Emily Pollifax is a 60-ish widow wanting more from life than teas and garden club meetings. In search of adventure, she decides to offer her services to the CIA - who, after all, would spot a suburban grandmother as a cold war secret agent? - and adventure she finds. Her first assignment, in Mexico City, doesn't sound dangerous until something goes wrong. She suddenly finds herself abducted across the world, embroiled in quite a hot Cold War... and her abductors find themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady. Armed with only an open mind and a little karate, Mrs…


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 Girl Waits with Gun

Cayce Osborne Author Of I Know What You Did

From my list on female sleuths with personality to spare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love reading complicated women. Messy, difficult, sarcastic, strong, clever, unusual, prickly women—works in progress who don’t always make good decisions and defy expectations. Characters shaped by their circumstances—good or bad—who use their considerable talents to figure their way out of difficult situations. I crave books that make me look anew at familiar genres or subjects. An element of mystery is the secret ingredient that makes me fall hard for a story; add a memorable female lead, and you’ve got the perfect book. It wasn’t long before I switched from reading female-led mysteries to writing them. I haven’t looked back.

Cayce's book list on female sleuths with personality to spare

Cayce Osborne Why did Cayce love this book?

Constance Kopp was a real person, one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the United States, and the inspiration for this book.

I love how Stewart plays off brief mentions in the historical record and brings her fully to life. Constance doesn’t fit the expectations of a proper lady in 1914 New Jersey—she’s too outspoken, too tall, too independent. This is a feminist story, a finding-your-purpose story, and a wonderful historical snapshot.

The next book in the series is called Lady Cop Makes Trouble, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, I love women who make trouble.

By Amy Stewart,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Girl Waits with Gun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten, true story of one of the US's first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn't quite fit the mould. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters from the city to the country fifteen years before. When a powerful, ruthless factory owner runs down their buggy, a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he…


Book cover of Some Danger Involved

J L Wilson Author Of Heir

From my list on mystery with first person narration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've read mystery books since I was a kid in a small Iowa town and my mother was on the library board and in charge of reviewing books for purchase. She would bring home mysteries and I grew up reading about James Bond, The Saint, Miss Marple, and many, many other 'classic' detectives. I wrote my first mystery 'novel' when I was ten and it took me forty more years to finally decide to get serious about it. I found I wanted to write about an older demographic—my heroes and heroines are usually in their 40s or 50s. I try to make my characters believable and down-to-earth—except they get involved in the occasional murder!

J's book list on mystery with first person narration

J L Wilson Why did J love this book?

This is another historical mystery but it's set in a different time period than Huber's mysteries.

The main character of this book has been hired as an assistant to a detective in Victorian England and through the course of the book, I learned a great deal about the history of law enforcement. I think we take so much for granted in our high-tech, always-connected world.

It's surprising and sometimes amazing to realize how the world functioned before telephones, automobiles, and a unified law enforcement department. 

By Will Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar in London's Jewish ghetto.

When the eccentric and enigmatic Cyrus Barker takes on the recent murder case of a young scholar in London's Jewish ghetto, he realizes that he must hire an assistant, and out of all who answer an ad for a position with "some danger involved," he chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man with a murky past.

As they inch ever…


Book cover of A Foreign Affair

John B. Campbell Author Of A Lark Ascending

From my list on British mysteries of the Victorian Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a fine arts major alumnus of Lake Forest College and Illinois Wesleyan University, I have written a variety of works, fiction and non, throughout my professional life. My preferred literary escape became the genre of British Mystery. I learned much from reading Martha Grimes in the 1990s. Her use of interplay between a character’s internal psychic landscape and the surrounding one interested me. As a mystery writer, I employ what I think of as light brushstrokes of the cozy genre while aiming for some depth of prose. A Lark Ascending has been described as an engaging escape from today.

John's book list on British mysteries of the Victorian Era

John B. Campbell Why did John love this book?

The year is 1837 and Liberty is a fiercely independent young woman. The story begins with her crossing the Channel to find her father, only to discover that he had recently been killed in a duel. In the course of investigating what had happened, she comes upon a plot that involves treason, with the potential to spark another civil war.

What I love about Peacock’s work is her use of imagery in echoing a character’s psyche or situation. Horse lovers will enjoy Liberty’s relationship with her horse and her growing friendship with her good-hearted stable hand. I have not yet put my finger on it, but for some reason, I feel a hint of Edgar Allen Poe when I read her books.

By Caro Peacock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A remarkable debut novel rich in atmosphere, color, and suspense, Caro Peacock's A Foreign Affair is an irresistible blend of history, adventure, and ingenious invention that brings an extraordinary new writer—and a truly endearing and unforgettable heroine—to the literary stage.

The year is 1837. Queen Victoria, barely eighteen, has just ascended to the throne of England, and a young woman named Liberty Lane has just had her first taste of true sorrow. Refusing to accept that her gentle, peace-loving father has been killed fighting a duel, she vows to see justice done. . . .

The trail she follows is…


Book cover of The Man with a Load of Mischief

Elizabeth Spann Craig Author Of Checked Out

From my list on enjoying the delicious coziness of murder.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a child, I loved stories where an element of danger is introduced into a peaceful setting. Armchair sleuths can solve crimes alongside the detectives and in the comfort and relative security of their own homes. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and The Hardy Boys before moving on to Agatha Christie. It’s such an interactive experience when we get the same clues as the detectives and try to come to similar conclusions. These books all replicate the experience well and put the reader in the driver’s seat.

Elizabeth's book list on enjoying the delicious coziness of murder

Elizabeth Spann Craig Why did Elizabeth love this book?

One of the biggest joys in this fine series is the pub settings. Each title is the name of a pub and each pub is the sort of spot you'd like to settle comfortably down with a drink and a chat with friends. Add onto this backdrop a puzzling murder, the wonderful Scotland Yard inspector Richard Jury, and his aristocratic sidekick Melrose Plant, and you've got a winning formula from Martha Grimes.

By Martha Grimes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Man with a Load of Mischief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the Man with a Load of Mischief, they found the dead body stuck in a keg of beer. At the Jack and Hammer, another body was stuck out on the beam of the pub’s sign, replacing the mechanical man who kept the time. Two pubs. Two murders. One Scotland Yard inspector called in to help. Detective Chief Inspector Richard Jury arrives in Long Piddleton and finds everyone in the postcard village looking outside of town for the killer. Except for one Melrose Plant. A keen observer of human nature, he points Jury in the right direction: into the darkest…


Book cover of The Face of a Stranger

Jeanne M. Dams Author Of Murder in the Park

From my list on historical mysteries that make the period come alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to hate history, until I made the startling discovery that history wasn’t about dates and wars—the stuff we had to memorize in high school—but about people. And what can be more absorbing than people? When I started my first historical series, set in the very early 20th century in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, I delved into the local newspaper and learned that the people of the time and their problems were very much like today’s. That pulled me in, and never let go. Now, researching the 1920s, I’m meeting people who might live next door. It’s so much fun!

Jeanne's book list on historical mysteries that make the period come alive

Jeanne M. Dams Why did Jeanne love this book?

Anne Perry is too well known for me to add anything about her or her many books.

This particular one, though, the first in the William Monk series, intrigues me particularly because of the startling idea of a detective who doesn’t know who he is, knows nothing about his past. What a challenge to the writer!

Monk is understandably ill-tempered and extremely touchy, but this, oddly enough, makes him, for me, a sympathetic character.

As always, the brooding descriptions of Victorian London set the scene perfectly, and I was desperately hoping for Monk to resolve not only the crime but his personal problems. And, as with all books that I love, it’s beautifully written. 

By Anne Perry,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Face of a Stranger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He is not going to die, after all, in this Victorian pesthouse called a hospital. But the accident that felled him on a London street has left him with only half a life, because his memory and his entire past have vanished. His name, they tell him, is William Monk, and he is a London police detective; the mirror reflects a face that women woud like, but he senses he has been more feared than loved.
Monk is given a particularly sensational case: the brutal murder of Major the Honourable Joscelin Grey, Crimean war hero and a popular man about…


Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

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?

I believe you can choose to be kick-ass. Delilah “Lila” Bard eventually chooses to be kick-ass. Eventually, on the surface, this book is about Kell. But Lila has the true character arc. I love that Lila walks the edge: hero or anti-hero?

My own life has been defined by the choices I make. I wasn’t given a lot of opportunities. I didn’t have a lot of luck. I had to make my own luck. Lila makes her own ‘luck’. She turns surviving into an opportunity to thrive because of the choices she makes. She screws up several times, risking her life and others. Even at the end, I’m not sure if she’s a hero. She’s real and attempting to evolve out of a dim past into a bright future in her own unique way. I relate to that. 

By V. E. Schwab,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked A Darker Shade of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning collector's edition of the acclaimed novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab.

With an exclusive metallic ink cover, this edition will feature:

* End papers of London
* Fan art
* A glossary of Arnesian and Antari terms
* An interview between author and editor
* Original (never before seen!) tales from within the Shades of Magic world

Kell is one of the last Antari-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered, Grey London, without magic and ruled by mad King…


Book cover of The Silver Pigs: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery

Hannah Cornwell Author Of Pax and the Politics of Peace: Republic to Principate

From my list on ancient Rome and its empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Roman historian (associate professor at the University of Birmingham, UK), who’s particularly interested in understanding the nature of Roman power and how Rome’s presence and impact within the Mediterranean changed over time. I’m dyslexic and I think this, in part, might explain why I am quite a visual learner and find material culture a really valuable way to engage with the past, just as much as through written sources.  I really hope that my selection of books offers you various different (and perhaps new) ways to think about ancient Rome!

Hannah's book list on ancient Rome and its empire

Hannah Cornwell Why did Hannah love this book?

I love historical detective novels, and this one, set in AD 70, is a great way to immerse yourself in the Roman world. Lindsey Davis does her research, creating a real, lived-in space that makes the ancient past feel alive and present.

Another big plus is that it’s hilariously entertaining: I’m regularly guffawing out loud while reading it. Best of all? It’s the first book in a fantastic series, and I’ve enjoyed following private instigator Marcus Didius Falco, and then later his daughter, Flavia Alba, over a number of adventures across the city of Rome and the wider Empire.

By Lindsey Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rome. AD 70. Private eye Marcus Didius Falco knows his way round the eternal city. He can handle the muggers, the police and most of the girls. But one fresh 16 year old, Sosia Camillina, finds him a case no Roman should be getting his nose into . . . Sosia's uncle is a Senator with suspicions. Some friends, Romans and countryment are doing a highly profitable, if highly illegal, trade in silver ingots or pigs. For Falco it's the start of a murderous trail that leads far beyond the seven hills. To a godforsaken land called Britain, to Emperor…


Book cover of Slow Horses

Bruce Borgos Author Of The Bitter Past

From my list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved peculiar heroes and heroines. Characters with strange gifts and an equal number of challenges. It started with Sherlock Holmes, whose mind fascinated me. As a child, I gravitated to the unnatural protagonist, Tarzan, in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was never a big fan of Superman, I preferred people who adapted quickly to new surroundings and could think on their feet. Once I began my writing career, I kept those protagonists in my mind. Four novels in, I do my best to capture their spirit and determination to overcome whatever lands in front of them.

Bruce's book list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities

Bruce Borgos Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book because it’s about misfits. In this case, misfits who are spies. Spies who have screwed up and disgraced themselves and their masters at the British Secret Service. They’re led by the disheveled and malodorous Jackson Lamb, who is so smart he disdains everyone around him.

He and the Slow Horses get all the bad assignments, but I loved how each of them possessed special skills and a desire to redeem themselves. I think Mick Herron is the master of humorous spy fiction!  

By Mick Herron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Now a major TV series starring Gary Oldman*

'To have been lucky enough to play Smiley in one's career; and now go and play Jackson Lamb in Mick Herron's novels - the heir, in a way, to le Carre - is a terrific thing' Gary Oldman

Slough House is the outpost where disgraced spies are banished to see out the rest of their derailed careers. Known as the 'slow horses' these misfits have committed crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal while on duty.

In this drab and mildewed office these highly trained spies don't run…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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