100 books like The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith,

Here are 100 books that The Talented Mr. Ripley fans have personally recommended if you like The Talented Mr. Ripley. 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 A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Michael Davies Author Of Outback

From my list on action-adventure books that are not crime thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Inspired by my dad–a fan of Hammond Innes, Alistair MacLean, and the like–and two older brothers, I discovered Desmond Bagley as a teenager. My passion for his style of action-adventure has never dwindled. As the crime thriller genre appears to move relentlessly in the direction of dark, gritty, serial-killer territory, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something to be said for the now less-fashionable escapist worlds these writers created. Thanks to HarperCollins, I was given the chance to work on Bagley’s last posthumous novel, Domino Island, and my own original books inevitably followed.

Michael's book list on action-adventure books that are not crime thrillers

Michael Davies Why did Michael love this book?

It might seem odd to include a nonfiction book among the best action-adventures, but Ben Macintyre is a master of the genre, weaving brilliant true stories as if they were outlandish spy fiction.

This book deals with the friendship of notorious double agent Kim Philby and his friendship with Nicholas Elliott, from their early recruitment into the intelligence services through to–and beyond–Philby’s defection to Moscow. And it reads with all the pace and thrills of the best spy novelist.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked A Spy Among Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War.

Philby's two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone, and then discovered they had not known him at all. This is a story of intimate duplicity; of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience; of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and…


Book cover of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

David L. Robbins Author Of War of the Rats

From my list on love and war and describing both battlefields.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve penned (so far) seventeen novels, most set during some historical conflict or other, all of them revolving around intense personal relationships (loyalty, love, betrayal, those sorts of profound truths). I tend to read the sorts of books I wish to write. I also teach creative writing at a university (VCU); I tell my students that if they want to really know what a character is made of, shoot at them or have them fall in love. In my own work, I do both.

David's book list on love and war and describing both battlefields

David L. Robbins Why did David love this book?

The Cold War is the war I was born into. No writer has chronicled the competition between superpowers better than LeCarre.

When Alec Leamas falls for Liz, he’s not aware of the depth of his feelings until she’s murdered as a pawn in the great game between Russia and the West. The revenge he seeks and the resolution he acquires are among LeCarre’s best efforts.

I was riveted to every scene. 

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Spy Who Came in From the Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Our Kind of Traitor; and The Night Manager, now a television series starring Tom Hiddleston.

The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carre's career worldwide

In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse-a desk job-Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered…


Book cover of True Grit

Kim Taylor Blakemore Author Of The Good Time Girls

From my list on fierce women in the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

The United States Old West is a legend, a myth, a land of contradictions. I grew up and have never left this vast land of scorching deserts, soaring peaks, misty coasts, and redwoods that touch the heavens. I grew up on the myths – Tombstone, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, Pearl Hart. What I love most are the stories of the women of the West, who survive with grit, wiles, and no small amount of courage. I love finding the lesser known women through novels and research and seeing their lives bloom before my eyes. Cowgirls, sufragettes, doctors, ex-slaves, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, cattle rustlers, homesteaders, dancehall girls.

Kim's book list on fierce women in the American West

Kim Taylor Blakemore Why did Kim love this book?

One of my all-time favorites, both heartrending and humorous and a must read.

True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, a determined and tenacious young girl seeking justice for her father's murder. She hires the relentless U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn to help her track down the killer.

Readers will love this book for its gripping narrative, vivid characters, and Mattie's unwavering resolve and courage, which challenges traditional gender roles in the Wild West.

By Charles Portis,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked True Grit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is no knowing what lies in a man's heart. On a trip to buy ponies, Frank Ross is killed by one of his own workers. Tom Chaney shoots him down in the street for a horse, $150 cash, and two Californian gold pieces. Ross's unusually mature and single-minded fourteen-year-old daughter Mattie travels to claim his body, and finds that the authorities are doing nothing to find Chaney. Then she hears of Rooster - a man, she's told, who has grit - and convinces him to join her in a quest into dark, dangerous Indian territory to hunt Chaney down…


Book cover of The Paying Guests

Alison Moore Author Of The Lighthouse

From my list on in which things take a nasty turn.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find uncomfortable stories comforting. I love fiction that explores eeriness, uncanniness, awkwardness; I love reading it and writing it. I recently published an essay – in Writing the Uncanny: Essays on Crafting Strange Fiction – about the connection between emotional disturbance and the uncanny, focusing on Shirley Jackson’s life and work as well as my own experience of donating a kidney and the pleasure of writing a horror novelette about it. In my most recent novel, a character reads stories ‘in which things take a nasty turn,’ which could describe a number of my own novels and short stories, as well as the five fantastic books I’m going to recommend here.

Alison's book list on in which things take a nasty turn

Alison Moore Why did Alison love this book?

I had the pleasure of hearing Sarah Waters speak at the Derby Book Festival in 2015, bought a signed copy of her latest novel, and have been recommending it ever since. The Paying Guests is set in the wake of World War I, and the historical context is beautifully rendered. Frances Wray and her mother have been living a quiet and orderly life on a street where the houses have ‘a Sunday blankness to them… every day of the week.’ It’s a life stuck in time, in a house whose ‘heart stopped… years ago.’ Then the Wrays’ new lodgers arrive, and they are noisy, gaudy, messy, dramatic, attractive. The two worlds collide with Frances caught between them, and what follows is both a captivating love story and a gripping crime story.

By Sarah Waters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE

This novel from the internationally bestselling author of The Little Stranger, is a brilliant 'page-turning melodrama and a fascinating portrait of London of the verge of great change' (Guardian)

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

For with the arrival of…


Book cover of A Beautiful Crime

John Copenhaver Author Of The Savage Kind

From my list on slow burn psychological suspense.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historical mystery writer, English teacher, and book reviewer for Lambda Literary. I love to write and explore buried and forgotten histories, particularly those of the LGBTQ+ community. Equally, I’m fascinated by the ways in which self-understanding eludes us and is a life-long pursuit. For that reason, as a reader, I’m attracted to slow burn psychological suspense in which underlying, even subconscious, motivations play a role. I also love it when I fall for a character who, in life, I’d find corrupt or repulsive.


John's book list on slow burn psychological suspense

John Copenhaver Why did John love this book?

In Bollen’s fourth novel, the boyishly handsome, 25-year-old Nick Brink meets the older and more remote Clay Guillory at the funeral of Clay’s boyfriend/benefactor, Freddy Van der Haar. Freddy, whose name is synonymous with American royalty, was one of the few remaining vestiges of the old New York gay scene. House poor, Freddy bequeathed Clay his shambling Venetian palazzo and a collection of counterfeit antiques. Nick falls for Clay, and they escape to Venice. To fund their new Continental lifestyle, they cook up a plan to con Richard West, a wealthy American retiree who has a sentimental affection for the Van der Haar name and fondness for acquiring antiques. Even as their criminal behavior begins to accrue a body count, we’re seduced by that all-too-recognizable outsider’s desire to belong to a place. For these men, Venice isn’t just a city but a way of seeing themselves, of imagining their futures.

By Christopher Bollen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An L.A. Times Book Prize Finalist | An O Magazine Best Book of the Year

“Stylish… a compelling take on the eternal question of how good people morph into criminals. Terrific.”—People, Book of the Week

From the author of The Destroyers comes an "intricately plotted and elegantly structured" (Newsday) story of intrigue and deception, set in contemporary Venice and featuring a young American couple who have set their sights on a risky con.

When Nick Brink and his boyfriend Clay Guillory meet up on the Grand Canal in Venice, they have a plan in mind—and it doesn’t involve a vacation.…


Book cover of Carved in Bone

John Copenhaver Author Of The Savage Kind

From my list on slow burn psychological suspense.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historical mystery writer, English teacher, and book reviewer for Lambda Literary. I love to write and explore buried and forgotten histories, particularly those of the LGBTQ+ community. Equally, I’m fascinated by the ways in which self-understanding eludes us and is a life-long pursuit. For that reason, as a reader, I’m attracted to slow burn psychological suspense in which underlying, even subconscious, motivations play a role. I also love it when I fall for a character who, in life, I’d find corrupt or repulsive.


John's book list on slow burn psychological suspense

John Copenhaver Why did John love this book?

One of the qualities of mystery fiction that continues to draw me to the genre is the complex interplay between past and present. Nava’s 8th Rios novel utilizes separate narrative lines that resonate and then, like a parallel perspective drawing, converge in a powerful emotional twist. The first line is the story of Bill Ryan, a young gay man who, after being cast out of his home in Illinois, flees to 1970s San Francisco to discover himself and the gay community. The second line is Rios’s recovery from alcoholism and his investigation of Ryan’s suspicious death during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Ryan and Rios serve as foils: Ryan is a man losing the war with his self-loathing. Rios, in contrast, is winning his war.

By Michael Nava,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

November, 1984. Criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios, fresh out of rehab and picking up the pieces of his life, reluctantly accepts work as an insurance claims investigator and is immediately is assigned to investigate the apparently accidental death of Bill Ryan. Ryan, part of the great gay migration into San Francisco in the 1970s, has died in his flat of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas line, his young lover barely surviving. Rios’s investigation into Ryan’s death–which Rios becomes convinced was no accident–tracks Ryan’s life from his arrival in San Francisco as a terrified 18-year-old to his transformation into…


Book cover of Eileen

Ellen Pall Author Of Must Read Well

From my list on characters you do not want for friends.

Why am I passionate about this?

Okay, I’m just going to say this: I’m a notoriously likable person. I try to be kind. I try to do good. But in fiction, unlikeable characters fascinate me—their secretiveness, their single-minded energy, their shameless lies and utter selfishness. I’ve written Regency Romances featuring dark antagonists. I’ve written murder mysteries featuring—you know, murderers. (I’ve also written some literary novels about ordinary mortals.) I wouldn’t want to have a villain for a pal. But I sure like the freedom fiction gives me to get to know a few.

Ellen's book list on characters you do not want for friends

Ellen Pall Why did Ellen love this book?

Getting a reader engaged with an unlikeable protagonist is a challenge to any novelist.

Moshfegh succeeds brilliantly here. Eileen is as unlikeable as they come, an angry, friendless young woman who hates herself and everyone else. She works in a reprehensible, small-town prison for juvenile offenders and shares a squalid house with her nasty father.

Suddenly, though, a lovely young woman joins the prison staff. To Eileen’s amazement, she befriends her. Within days, she also involves her in a violent crime. Does this sound grim? Repellant? It’s not.

Granted, Eileen isn’t a book to be read over lunch. But the protagonist is like no woman I’ve ever met in fiction (or, thankfully, anywhere else). Her voice is fresh, her anger invigorating, and the book gripping from top to tail.

By Ottessa Moshfegh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize and chosen by David Sedaris as his recommended book for his Fall 2016 tour.

So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes-a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to…


Book cover of Rebecca

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

You can’t have a discussion about gaslighting without including this book. 

From the first time the unnamed protagonist speaks, I felt a sense of dread as if I were trapped in Manderley with Rebecca. I suspected all wasn’t what it seemed to be, but the author made it difficult for me to recognize the truth behind the haunting fiction.

I was captivated from the beginning to the shocking but satisfying ending.

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* 'The greatest psychological thriller of all time' ERIN KELLY
* 'One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century' SARAH WATERS
* 'It's the book every writer wishes they'd written' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'

Working as a lady's companion, our heroine's outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory…


Book cover of Perfume

Theresa Levitt Author Of Elixir: A Parisian Perfume House and the Quest for the Secret of Life

From my list on perfume and scent.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of science who just completed a book on the role of perfume in the quest for the secret of life and vitality. While writing it, I became fascinated with the challenge of translating scent into language. While our nose can recognize a virtually infinite number of odors, there are only a few basic categories of description (“floral,” “woody,” “citrus,” etc.). To fully describe them often requires a poet’s touch – invoking a tapestry of memories, associations, and feelings to create the experience in the reader’s mind. These are some of the best books I’ve encountered for talking about the complex world of scent, and the importance of perfume in human history.

Theresa's book list on perfume and scent

Theresa Levitt Why did Theresa love this book?

A gruesome story of murder and desire that also happens to have the most vivid olfactory descriptions of any genre.

Suskind’s preternatural ability to summon odor from the page makes you feel as if you are there beside him, walking through the flowered hillsides of Provence, or in the back room of a perfume shop on the Pont au Change. His twisted use of classic perfume techniques is as accurate as it is chilling.

By Patrick Suskind,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An erotic masterpiece of twentieth century fiction - a tale of sensual obsession and bloodlust in eighteenth century Paris

'An astonishing tour de force both in concept and execution' Guardian

In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten today.

It is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts…


Book cover of Fatherland

Luciana Cavallaro Author Of Search for the Golden Serpent

From my list on fantasy that blends the past and the imaginary.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my teens, I read a book by Charles Berlitz titled Atlantis: the lost continent. I was enthralled and fascinated about this lost race of people, who were technically and sophisticated advance society and on one fateful day, vanished. My appetite for Greek mythology and ancient history grew from there, and I wanted to learn more about various ancient cultures and their mythologies. I eventually studied ancient history and continue my education as new archaeological discoveries and advancements are made. It wasn’t until a trip to Europe and seeing the Roman Forum and Colosseum, that I was inspired to write and combine my love for mythology and ancient history into historical fiction fantasy.

Luciana's book list on fantasy that blends the past and the imaginary

Luciana Cavallaro Why did Luciana love this book?

Fatherland was the first book I read by Robert Harris and from then on, I’ve read all his books except his latest publication.

The novel is an alternative history narrative, the plot a murder mystery set in Nazi Germany in the 1950s. Yes, you read that right. What if Hitler won World War 2? The allies have negotiated a treaty with Hitler and the world is a very different place.

The main character, Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, investigates the death of an old man and as he delves into the murder, he discovers a conspiracy that involves the Gestapo.

I’ve recommended this book to friends and colleagues and all have enjoyed the story. While the setting is more contemporary than the other four titles, this is definitely worth reading.

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

_________________________
'The highest form of thriller . . . non-stop excitement' The Times

NOW AVAILABLE: THE SECOND SLEEP, ROBERT HARRIS'S LATEST NOVEL
_________________________

What if Hitler had won the war?

It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler's 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin's most prestigious suburb.

As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind,…


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