100 books like The Water Rat of Wanchai

By Ian Hamilton,

Here are 100 books that The Water Rat of Wanchai fans have personally recommended if you like The Water Rat of Wanchai. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Still Life

Susan McBride Author Of To Helen Back

From my list on small town mysteries with sleuths who aren’t Spring chickens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved mysteries since I gobbled up Nancy Drew and the Encyclopedia Brown books in grade school. As I grew older, I got hooked on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone, and Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski. Besides being a diehard fan of female sleuths, I have a B.S. in Journalism, which drummed the importance of “who-what-when-where-and-why” into my brain. I definitely take a reporter’s mindset into my story-telling, particularly when it comes to the “who.” Breathing life into characters is crucial. Maybe that’s why I used bits and pieces of my grandma Helen in order to create my fictional Helen. Plus, it gives me a chance to spend time with her again, if only in my imagination.

Susan's book list on small town mysteries with sleuths who aren’t Spring chickens

Susan McBride Why did Susan love this book?

Though this is Penny’s first in the “Three Pines” series featuring CI Armand Gamache, I’ll confess that I initially read it out of order. I picked up a later Penny book and liked it well enough to go back and start from the beginning.

This book feels like a debut. The writing is good, but not quite as sure-handed as more recent books (which makes sense). It introduces us to Armand Gamache, a seasoned detective if ever there was one, and to the cast of characters in Three Pines.

By the time I finished it the first time around, I’d become a legit Gamache fan-girl. This series is one of the few that I’m so enamored with that I pre-order forthcoming titles. ‘Nuff said.

By Louise Penny,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Still Life, bestselling author Louise Penny introduces Monsieur L'Inspecteur Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, a modern Poirot who anchors this beloved traditional mystery series.

Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain…


Book cover of The Suicide Murders

Rosemary McCracken Author Of Uncharted Waters

From my list on Canadian mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Canadian writer who started writing fiction after a career as a journalist at newspapers across the country. I’ve always marvelled at the diversity of Canada, and I try to portray that diversity in my own stories set in Toronto, one of the world’s most multicultural cities. And I revel in stories by fellow Canadian crime writers, tales filled with First Nations characters, and characters with Ukrainian, Russian, Asian, African, and British backgrounds, stories set in various parts of our far-flung country. The five novels I have focused on here are just a few of my favorites.

Rosemary's book list on Canadian mysteries

Rosemary McCracken Why did Rosemary love this book?

The Suicide Murders introduces Benny Cooperman, one of the most beloved characters in Canadian fiction, and a major influence on my own crime fiction. Howard Engel’s 14 Cooperman novels are filled with sharp dialogue and sparkling wit, and play with the tropes of detective fiction. A nice Jewish boy who runs a small detective agency, Benny doesn’t swear or carry a gun, and he’s squeamish about violence—much like my Pat Tierney protagonist--giving the PI genre a distinctly Canadian twist. 

The Suicide Murders was released in 1980, and Engel’s impact on crime fiction was enormous. He set most of the Cooperman books in the fictional town of Grantham, recognizable as St. Catharines, Ontario, where he grew up. Engel proved that writers could set stories on their own turf and have them published.

By Howard Engel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ontario PI Benny Cooperman is on the case of a suspicious suicide in this “convincingly complex” mystery “with an ironic sense of humor” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Myrna Yates shows up at Benny Cooperman’s office asking him to check up on her husband, the contractor Chester Yates, who she believes is having an affair. It seems like an open-and-shut case, until Cooperman finds out that the straying spouse has committed suicide. Something doesn’t add up; Mr. Yates bought a 10-speed bicycle just 2 hours before he killed himself. Could this “suicide” in fact be murder? The Jewish detective’s got a…


Book cover of Going to Beautiful

Sue Jaskula Author Of Tangled Lies

From my list on romantic suspense with real-life characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

My administrative career covered a mix of legal and hospital work which provided a wealth of real-life scenarios to fuel my own convoluted story ideas. Thrilled to take early retirement and pursue a writing career, I have since published five romantic suspense novels. I strive to produce quality stories on par with the countless amazing romantic suspense authors I have enjoyed since my teen years. Storyline prompts surround us. A dark bunkie, screaming neighbor, or even an oddly shaped bag of garbage can trigger my suspicion. My favorite spot to walk is the peaceful shores of Lake Huron, where my twisted imagination soars, and my best stories come to life.

Sue's book list on romantic suspense with real-life characters

Sue Jaskula Why did Sue love this book?

Diverse characters who feel like friends; a picturesque town that will have you checking Google maps for your next road trip; a murder; an unexpected love story; what is not to love about this book?

This is my favorite read of the year. I still envision the characters months after reading, as if I visited “Beautiful” on a wild adventure to solve a mystery and met an eclectic bunch of new travel mates along the way. The ending will surprise you in more ways than one. An easy, solid 5+ stars for this one.

By Anthony Bidulka,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

International chef Jake Hardy has it all. Celebrity, thriving career, plenty of friends, a happy family and faithful dog. Until one day when a tragic accident tears it all apart. Struggling to recover, Hardy finds himself in a strange new world—a snow-swept prairie town that time forgot—a place where nothing makes sense. Cold is beautiful. Simple is complex. And doubts begin to surface about whether Jake’s tragedy was truly an accident after all. As the sun sets in the Land of Living Skies, Hardy and his glamourous, seventy-eight-year-old transgender neighbour find themselves ensnared in multiple murders separated by decades. In…


Book cover of Windigo Fire

Rosemary McCracken Author Of Uncharted Waters

From my list on Canadian mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Canadian writer who started writing fiction after a career as a journalist at newspapers across the country. I’ve always marvelled at the diversity of Canada, and I try to portray that diversity in my own stories set in Toronto, one of the world’s most multicultural cities. And I revel in stories by fellow Canadian crime writers, tales filled with First Nations characters, and characters with Ukrainian, Russian, Asian, African, and British backgrounds, stories set in various parts of our far-flung country. The five novels I have focused on here are just a few of my favorites.

Rosemary's book list on Canadian mysteries

Rosemary McCracken Why did Rosemary love this book?

Windigo Fire, M.H. Callway’s 2014 debut novel, is set in one of my favorite Canadian locations—the Northern Ontario wilderness. It’s an adventure thriller filled with fast-paced action, psychological suspense, and First Nation legends. It has a fabulous sense of place, and a terrific cast of characters, headed by its Native Canadian protagonist, Danny Bluestone. A truly Canadian crime thriller.

By M.H. Callway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Danny Bluestone, a young Native Canadian drifting through life, settles for a job at a children's camp in his Northern Ontario hometown of Red Dog Lake. Local entrepreneur, Meredith Easter, offers Danny some easy money: play the role of native scout for his wealthy hunting buddies. Danny knows that Easter's roadside attraction, Santa's Fish Camp, is the front for the local grow-op, and probably more, but the money is his way out of Red Dog Lake.

Danny flies the hunters to an island lodge deep in the wilderness. Once there, he learns that he's part of an illegal bear hunt…


Book cover of Out of School: Information Art and the Toronto School of Communication

William J. Buxton Author Of Harold Innis on Peter Pond: Biography, Cultural Memory, and the Continental Fur Trade

From my list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (.

Why am I passionate about this?

William J. Buxton is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Senior Fellow, Centre for Sensory Studies, at Concordia University Montreal, Qc, Canada. He is also professeur associé au Département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. He has edited and co-edited five books related to the life and works of the Canadian political economist and media theorist, Harold Adams Innis.

William's book list on By or about the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (

William J. Buxton Why did William love this book?

This book dovetails with those of Kitnick as well as Sharma and Singh. While framed by a broader concern with the emergence of the Toronto School of Communication, it gives particular attention to how McLuhan’s notions about “information art,” came to influence artistic practice through initiatives such as “N.E. Thing and Company” (NETCO), Robert Smithson’s West Coast work and “General Idea.” Echoing some of the issues raised by the Sharma/Singh collection, he examines these ventures through the lens of power and gender. It is impeccably edited and handsomely illustrated, in line with the high production standards of McGill-Queen’s University Press.

By Adam Lauder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through a series of focused and interconnected case studies, Out of School explores the long history of information art associated with the Toronto School of Communication. It highlights the perspectives of artists inspired by the speculations of Marshall McLuhan and colleagues as well as the philosophical underpinnings of the Toronto School's ideas about information.

Using pre-Internet media such as telex and the telecopier, the artists explored in this book materialized visionary concepts of information without the aid of computers. Harbingers of contemporary digital culture, Bertram Brooker, N.E. Thing Co., Robert Smithson, Wyndham Lewis, General Idea, and other artists approached information…


Book cover of Canzone di Guerra

Brian Castro Author Of The Garden Book

From my list on writing that falls between the cracks of genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an aficionado of lost objects, lost time, afterlives; of writing which never “fitted” its era. Examples would be that of John Aubrey, Herman Melville, Fernando Pessoa, Djuna Barnes, Elizabeth Hardwick, Ralph Ellison… the list goes on. I look for writing that has stood the test of time, not celebrated for the fame and bling of the moment. I look for the futile products of those who possessed genius, but who never earned enough readers until decades or centuries later, once they were released from the prison-house of genre. I look for the posthumous brilliance of language; the phosphoric glow of its offerings and of the buried treasures found therein.

Brian's book list on writing that falls between the cracks of genre

Brian Castro Why did Brian love this book?

I just love the way she is so contemptuous of people telling false “stories”. Her writing falls between every genre imaginable, a collage of well-researched facts and the indelible list of the horrors of war. She makes lists as monuments to dead victims; she names names; she calls out nationalism and racism. Wry and ironic, she has composed a battle-hymn against the barbarity of the Yugoslav wars between 1991 and 2001. To my lasting regret, I missed meeting her in Melbourne not long before she died. 

By Daša Drndić,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tea Radan, the narrator of the novel Canzone di Guerra, reflects on her own past and in doing so, composes a forgotten mosaic of historical events that she wants to first tear apart and then reassemble with all the missing fragments. In front of the readers eyes, a collage of different genres takes place - from (pseudo) autobiography to documentary material and culinary recipes. With them, the author Dasa Drndic skillfully explores different perspectives on the issue of emigration, the unresolved history of the Second World War, while emphasizing the absurdity of politics of differences between neighboring nations. The narrator…


Book cover of No Place Like Home

Landra Jennings Author Of Wand

From my list on middle grade with fresh takes on portal fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Middle grade always takes a big portion of my TBR pile. I love the hopefulness that kids this age have. And for a child reader, a book can be a way to work out big emotions in a place far removed from their own life. I love the function of a portal in taking the reader that much further away from their reality. As a child, the fantasy A Wrinkle in Time got me through a difficult period. This love of fantasy and children’s literature is the reason I started writing in the first place. And why I got an MFA in writing specifically for children and young adults. 

Landra's book list on middle grade with fresh takes on portal fantasy

Landra Jennings Why did Landra love this book?

I read the Canadian printing of this book, but hopefully the publishers won’t be changing too much for the American printing.

Like the heroine in The Wizard of Oz (and I’m assuming the title is a nod to that classic line, “There’s no place like home.”), Lan is whisked away by a mysterious wind, but I really like the fact that she discovers she has called for the wind herself. I also love that the wind takes her into the novel she’s reading (I’m sure you can see a theme here with one of my other picks!) and that she can then change the story’s outcome. 

By Linh S. Nguyễn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Place Like Home 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?

Sweeping in scope and timeless in tone, No Place like Home is a middle-grade portal fantasy unlike any other

Lan, a teenager who recently came to Canada from Vietnam, spends every day searching for a sense of belonging. Books are the only things that make her feel at ease. But it comes as a shock when a mysterious wind whisks her right into the pages of her latest fantasy read. More shocking still is the fact that she herself summoned this wind!

Plunged into the magical world of Silva, Lan realizes she has much to offer protagonists Annabelle and Marlow.…


Book cover of Until the Night

Venezia Miller Author Of The Find

From my list on Nordic Noir to get you hooked on this genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an engineer with a PhD in electrical engineering and have spent more than twenty years of my career in the nanoelectronics industry researching how to create better electronic chips. The need to tell stories has always been there, but I never really envisioned a career as a writer. It wasn't until my 40s that I decided it was time to rekindle that passion for writing. I've always loved the dark atmosphere of Scandinavian noir TV series like The Killing and The Bridge with their often flawed and intriguing characters. So when I decided to write my first novel, it was almost a given that it was going to be a Nordic Noir thriller.

Venezia's book list on Nordic Noir to get you hooked on this genre

Venezia Miller Why did Venezia love this book?

Giles Blunt's books show that Scandinavia does not have a monopoly on Nordic Noir. In 2017 we were on vacation in Canada and quite by chance I saw an episode of Cardinal on TV. Only one episode from the first season, but enough to keep me captivated by the story set in the snowy landscapes of Algonquin Bay in Canada. I knew it was based on a book series. When I got home, I immediately found the author and started reading. I chose this book because of some amazing passages that capture the essence of Nordic Noir, among others a frozen body in the ruins of an abandoned hotel in the woods. The book presents a clever plot where seemingly unrelated threads are ingeniously weaved together. 

By Giles Blunt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's not unusual for John Cardinal to be hauled out of a warm bed on a cold night in Algonquin Bay to investigate a murder. And at first this dead body, sprawled in the parking lot of Motel 17, looks pretty run of the mill: the corpse has a big bootprint on his neck, and the likely suspect is his lover's outraged husband. But the lover has gone missing. And then Delorme, following a hunch, locates another missing woman, a senator's wife from Ottawa, frozen in the ruins of an abandoned hotel way back in the woods. Spookily, she was…


Book cover of Muddy York Mud: Scandal & Scurrility In Upper Canada

Ann Birch Author Of A Daughter Rebels

From my list on brave women who dared to challenge the norms.

Why am I passionate about this?

For a number of years, I was a historical interpreter at two of Toronto’s oldest and finest houses. While looking at the furniture, paintings, and below-stairs bells and open-hearth cooking in these upper-class mansions, I became immersed in the lives of the people who once lived in these places. I have always been interested in history, and I have a post-graduate degree in Canadian literature, but my schooling in history seemed confined to the Tudor period and Greek and Roman times. Working in Toronto’s fine homes led me to a deep understanding of the fascinating history we have right here on our doorstep!

Ann's book list on brave women who dared to challenge the norms

Ann Birch Why did Ann love this book?

I found this book at a sale about 20 years ago, and it opened my eyes to the fascinating early history about my city, Toronto. It’s filled with information about the scandals, tragedies, and courtroom clashes of the prominent families of the times, the problems faced by early immigrants, and the attempts of a government elite to control the town’s inhabitants. Some of it seems very relevant for today!

By Chris Raible,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Raible, Chris


Book cover of The Rez Sisters

Drew Hayden Taylor Author Of The Night Wanderer

From my list on Indigenous plays on the people and community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning playwright, novelist, journalist, and filmmaker. Born and raised on the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario (Anishnawbe), Drew has had over a hundred productions of his plays and enjoys spreading the gospel of Indigenous literature across the world. 

Drew's book list on Indigenous plays on the people and community

Drew Hayden Taylor Why did Drew love this book?

Perhaps one of the most seminal plays to come out of the First Nations community, if not the Canadian theatre community in general. It starts off with the simplest of plots, seven Indigenous women plan to leave their community on Manitoulin Island to participate in the world's largest bingo game in Toronto. It’s funny, tragic, and a wonderful introduction to the colourful world which we come from. 

By Tomson Highway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play

Nominated for the Governor General's Award

This award-winning play by Native playwright Tomson Highway is a powerful and moving portrayal of seven women from a reserve attempting to beat the odds by winning at bingo. And not just any bingo. It is THE BIGGEST BINGO IN THE WORLD and a chance to win a way out of a tortured life.

The Rez Sisters is hilarious, shocking, mystical and powerful, and clearly establishes the creative voice of Native theatre and writing in Canada today.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Canada, Hong Kong, and Toronto?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Canada, Hong Kong, and Toronto.

Canada Explore 404 books about Canada
Hong Kong Explore 50 books about Hong Kong
Toronto Explore 62 books about Toronto