31 books like Transient Desires

By Donna Leon,

Here are 31 books that Transient Desires fans have personally recommended if you like Transient Desires. 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 Angels & Demons

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

From my list on weaving adventure and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

E. Chris Ambrose Why did E. Chris love this book?

While most people associate Dan Brown with his more famous work, The DaVinci Code, this first novel in his Robert Langdon series really founded the archaeological thriller genre.

I loved how this book transports readers to the milieu so thoroughly that it was a bit of a spoiler when I recognized one key location from my own time in Rome before the secret was revealed—but that's a testament to how well he conveys the scene! Brown invites us behind the scenes of secret societies, sharing insider information to raise the stakes.

I had the great good fortune to take a workshop with Dan just before DaVinci Code came out, and benefit from his enormous skill as a teacher. The man tells a ripping yarn, full of puzzles that blend fact and fancy. 

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

CERN Institute, Switzerland: a world-renowned scientist is found brutally murdered with a mysterious symbol seared onto his chest.

The Vatican, Rome: the College of Cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Somewhere beneath them, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion.

In a breathtaking race against time, Harvard professor Robert Langdon must decipher a labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols if he is to defeat those responsible - the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years, reborn to continue their deadly vendetta against their most hated enemy, the Catholic Church.

Origin, the spellbinding…


Book cover of The Monster of Florence

A.M. Kirsch Author Of Murder of an Uncommon Man

From my list on dysfunctional family, gender identity, and murder.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born into a family with friction between parents, I never thought relationships could get much worse. When my parents divorced, father became estranged, then died by apparent suicide, memoirs by diverse voices opened my world and made me feel less alone. When I went through a sexual and gender identity crisis of my own, they helped me navigate the turmoil in my own life. I spent more than twenty-five years writing professionally for corporate and academic employers before writing biography and memoir became a coping skill.

A.M.'s book list on dysfunctional family, gender identity, and murder

A.M. Kirsch Why did A.M. love this book?

Preston and Spezi’s memoir helped me learn how to write from inside a murder investigation. I knew I needed to write about my father’s unusual death and my suspicions, but I didn’t have the tools to tackle it. The two journalists describe how they solved an infamous serial killer case only to become suspects themselves. Preston and Spezi drive their story with a momentum I tried to match in telling mine.

By Douglas Preston, Mario Spezi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Monster of Florence, which was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger Award for Non Fiction in 2010, is a true account of brutal serial murder in idyllic Florence. After settling in Italy in 2000, Douglas Preston discovered that the olive grove in front of his family's new home had been the scene of one of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer who had never been found and was known only as the Monster of Florence. Preston, intrigued, met Italian journalist Mario Spezi, who had followed the case since the first murders in…


Book cover of The Order

Alec Peche Author Of Sicilian Murder

From my list on mysteries to explore the major cities of Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love good stories and I like to learn about other cities even if it is in a work of fiction. With few exceptions, every story I’ve written is in a location I’ve visited. When you can’t visit a place, then reading about a city in modern-day fiction is a close substitute. How many readers feel like they know the English countryside after reading multiple British mysteries? Or feel like you know Boston when reading the Robert Parker Spenser series? That’s the point of a good mystery – to take you someplace you’re not.

Alec's book list on mysteries to explore the major cities of Italy

Alec Peche Why did Alec love this book?

Daniel Silva has written a long series about Israeli spy chief and art restorer Gabriel Allan. I enjoyed the series and there’s a subplot the author has long weaved together with Gabriel Allan and the Vatican. If you ever visit Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, you might hear the church bells from the Catholic Church next to her house. It’s a stunning contrast. I like the powerplay between Gabriel and the Vatican portrayed in the story, and I gain a little history even though it’s a work of fiction.

By Daniel Silva,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Daniel Silva, author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The New Girl and The Other Woman, comes a stunning new action-packed thriller of high stakes international intrigue featuring the enigmatic art restorer and master spy Gabriel Allon.

LOST FOR CENTURIES,

ONE BOOK HOLDS THE KEY.

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon has slipped into Venice for a much-needed holiday with his wife and two young children. But when Pope Paul VII dies suddenly, Gabriel is summoned to Rome by the Holy Father's loyal private secretary, Archbishop Luigi Donati. A billion Catholic faithful have been told that the…


Book cover of Suspicious

Alec Peche Author Of Sicilian Murder

From my list on mysteries to explore the major cities of Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love good stories and I like to learn about other cities even if it is in a work of fiction. With few exceptions, every story I’ve written is in a location I’ve visited. When you can’t visit a place, then reading about a city in modern-day fiction is a close substitute. How many readers feel like they know the English countryside after reading multiple British mysteries? Or feel like you know Boston when reading the Robert Parker Spenser series? That’s the point of a good mystery – to take you someplace you’re not.

Alec's book list on mysteries to explore the major cities of Italy

Alec Peche Why did Alec love this book?

This is a cozy mystery that gives the reader a nice tour of Rome from a bargain tourist perspective. The story takes the reader north into Austria and Germany so you gain a feeling for the Alps. The couple that leads the story are suspects in a series of jewelry heists and work their way through Northern Italy and beyond to solve the thefts. It’s a light-hearted story with a little romance, no cuss words, and little violence.

By Sara Rosett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Zoe and Jack’s trip to Rome was supposed to be a romantic one-year anniversary celebration with a little business on the side. Jack’s fledgling security company has landed the plum assignment of providing additional security for the opening night gala of a museum exhibit featuring priceless gems.However, the easy job turns complicated when they discover the exhibit is the next target of a cat burglar who has struck several times in recent months, snatching up a hoard of sparkling jewels. Opening night goes off without a hitch, but then the police accuse them of switching the real gems for fakes.With…


Book cover of The Golden Egg

Tracey Warr Author Of Daughter of the Last King

From my list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a library, an eccentric bookshop, or the roadside book exchange cupboards where I live in rural southwest France. There is serendipity and synergy in what can be found through browsing (as opposed to purposeful searching). I am the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. My six-year-old grandson recently started to read after his mum and I read many bedtime stories to him. It was a thrilling moment to hear him join the ranks of readers. Writing is inspired by and learned from voracious reading. 

Tracey's book list on reads in idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries

Tracey Warr Why did Tracey love this book?

Found at the Festilitt annual secondhand booksale in Parisot, France.

Any Donna Leon book is irresistible to me. I know I will enjoy inhabiting those Venetian streets and cafes with her Inspector Brunetti; dining with his family, including his wife, who is an expert on Henry James; hearing more about his colleagues (good and bad) at the police station.

Like Peters’ Cadfael series or Jane Austen’s novels, Leon works on a little piece of ivory – a constrained world and community that the reader can step into. Once there, with Inspector Brunetti, we must puzzle out another well-crafted mystery that evidences both the cruelties and the kindnesses of the human heart.

By Donna Leon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The familiar characters and Venetian location are described with remarkable freshness and, as always, the edifying result is both amusing and thought-provoking.' Sunday Telegraph

A New York Times Bestseller
__________________________________

Celebrated by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers, Donna Leon brings Venice to life in the twenty-second Brunetti novel of this bestselling series, where our detective must uncover the mystery surrounding a mute man's murder.

When making routine enquiries into a possible bribery case that could embarrass the mayor - a humiliation Vice-Questore Patta is very keen to avoid - Commissario Brunetti receives a call from…


Book cover of The Four Horsemen: A Novel

Rob Samborn Author Of The Prisoner of Paradise

From my list on historical fiction set in Venice, Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of a dual-timeline thriller series set in Venice in the present-day and 16th century, I’ve spent countless hours researching the world’s most mesmerizing city. I’ve been there three times, including on a research trip. I’ve worked with historians and experts on various aspects and have explored the ancient streets and buildings first-hand. I’ve also read dozens of books set in Venice.

Rob's book list on historical fiction set in Venice, Italy

Rob Samborn Why did Rob love this book?

The Four Horsemen is Gregory Dowling’s follow-up to his book Ascension. Set in the 1700s, it’s a thriller/mystery that follows a tour guide (yes, they had them back then) who is recruited into a secret police of sorts. They need him to investigate the death of an agent, which is connected to a secret society called The Four Horsemen. Forced to go on the run, the book delves into the back alleys, canals, and island of Venice. Another wonderfully researched book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

By Gregory Dowling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After saving the Venetian Republic in Ascension, reluctant spy Alvise Marangon returns in this second adventure, played out once again in the carnivalesque atmosphere of eighteenth-century Venice.

After Alvise is arrested in a tavern brawl, he is summoned to meet the Missier Grande, head of the city's powerful secret service. Rather than being expelled from the city, he is coerced into a top-secret investigation of the mysterious death of one of the service's agents. This death seems to be connected with a mysterious secret society - The Four Horsemen - whose roots go back to the fall of Constantinople, or…


Book cover of The Troubled Man

David Norman Author Of Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on stretching your imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teacher and researcher my primary interest has been focused on the natural history, biology, functional mechanics and interactions between animals through time. Observation and interpretation are keys to my approach, and my little book about dinosaurs explores the range and variety of ways in which science can take observations (the bare fossil bones) and lead to science-based interpretations of what those bones mean. Similarly, the books that I enjoy relate, thematically, to that interest in observation and interpretation/understanding: ranging from attempting to understand the deep history of animal life, to a boy exploring Corfu or even a fictional detective observing and attempting to interpret the scene of a crime.

David's book list on stretching your imagination

David Norman Why did David love this book?

I love good writing, and I love the escapism provided by detective and spy thrillers. Choosing between so many quality authors: Le Carré, Dexter, James, Rankin, Nesbo, etc. is almost impossible and completely unfair. However, the series of Wallander novels by Mankell is one of my favourites. I have chosen the final book in the series – but obviously you should start with the first! As with most detective stories, Mankell’s hero has a messy life, his father doesn’t understand him (and vice-versa), his wife has left him, he has a hit & miss relationship with his only daughter, but in this novel you can feel that Wallander’s life is slowly, but perceptibly, unravelling. The key events that are the focus of this tale become more and more apparently contradictory and complex and at times the tension is almost palpable. It must be difficult for novelists to draw a close…

By Henning Mankell, Laurie Thompson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every morning Hakan von Enke takes a walk in the forest near his apartment in Stockholm. However, one winter's day he fails to come home. It seems that the retired naval officer has vanished without trace.

Detective Kurt Wallander is not officially involved in the investigation but he has personal reasons for his interest in the case as Hakan's son is engaged to his daughter Linda. A few months earlier, at Hakan's 75th birthday party, Kurt noticed that the old man appeared uneasy and seemed eager to talk about a controversial incident from his past career that remained shrouded in…


Book cover of The Keeper of Lost Causes: The First Department Q Novel

David Hutchison Author Of Deacon Brodie: A Double Life

From my list on crime characters who transcend the printed word.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Edinburgh and, from an early age, I heard the tale of Deacon Brodie. However, it was not until I was older—when a city official was charged with corruption—that I realised Brodie might just be the first ‘white collar’ criminal in Edinburgh. The more I found out, the more fascinating he became. Here was a man who everyone in the city saw as a wealthy, respectable, Councillor, yet—at the same time—he was a gambler who became a criminal to feed his habit, and so, when I moved to America, I decided to write my first crime novel based on Brodie’s life.

David's book list on crime characters who transcend the printed word

David Hutchison Why did David love this book?

The effect of Scandinavian crime writing has been far-reaching and, to my mind, one aspect that has helped its growth has been the addition of psychological aspects in the characters and—in a very particular sense—the response to this from the reader. I feel I’ve learned more of this deeper level from the writings of Adler-Olsen, particularly his Department Q novels with their lead, Detective Carl Mørck (a deeply flawed man, although written without a cliché in sight). Adler-Olsen has said the reader must have the opportunity to create their own images from his not-very detailed descriptions, which he calls the “missing voice”, and his light, but masterful creation of Carl Mørck succeeds in this, making the Department Q novels a ‘must’ for any reader.

By Jussi Adler-Olsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Get to know the detective in charge of Copenhagen's coldest cases in the first electrifying Department Q mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Carl Morck used to be one of Denmark's best homicide detectives. Then a hail of bullets destroyed the lives of two fellow cops, and Carl-who didn't draw his weapon-blames himself. So a promotion is the last thing he expects. But Department Q is a department of one, and Carl's got only a stack of cold cases for company. His colleagues snicker, but Carl may have the last laugh, because one file keeps nagging at…


Book cover of The Department of Sensitive Crimes

Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel Author Of Shady Hollow

From my list on off-kilter mysteries for off-kilter readers.

Why are we passionate about this?

We almost said “quirky” instead of off-kilter in this title. But quirky is becoming synonymous with cozy, which is weird because it doesn’t mean the same thing at all. So, off-kilter it is. Done well, playing with expectations makes for an especially engaging read. We’ve attempted that trick in our own Shady Hollow Mysteries, which uses the form of a traditional murder mystery, but in a world of anthropomorphic animals. So naturally we love when other authors play with the form. These five books all fit the description of “off-kilter,” and we hope you can find fun and joy in reading them.  

Jocelyn's book list on off-kilter mysteries for off-kilter readers

Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel Why did Jocelyn love this book?

If you aren’t ready for Scandinavian Noir, perhaps you’d like a dose of Scandinavian Blanc. Alexander McCall Smith excels at mysteries on the lighter side—which isn’t to say this book isn’t very strange, with its own hints of darkness. Detective Ulf Varg and his colleagues solve crimes that are deemed too weird for the regular police: a possible werewolf menacing a spa, a non-lethal knee-stabbing, and a missing (imaginary) person. AMS’s great gift is imbuing small puzzles with weight and humanity. And if the human cast here isn’t off-kilter enough for you, be reassured…there’s also a dog who can lipread in Swedish.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Department of Sensitive Crimes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Swedish criminal justice system, certain cases are considered especially strange and difficult, in Malmö, the dedicated detectives who investigate these crimes are members of an elite squad known as the Sensitive Crimes Division.

These are their stories.

The first case: the small matter of a man stabbed in the back of the knee. Who would perpetrate such a crime and why? Next: a young woman's imaginary boyfriend goes missing. But how on earth do you search for someone who doesn't exist? And in the final investigation: eerie secrets that are revealed under a full moon may not seem…


Book cover of Light Thickens

R. J. Koreto Author Of Death at the Emerald

From my list on mysteries in the theatre world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in New York City, practically within walking distance of the Broadway theatre district. My first show was the original production of 1776. Everything grabbed my attention: Ian McKellan in Amadeus, Patrick Stewart in Macbeth, Richard Dreyfuss in Julius Caesar, and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. In high school, I was an eager, if not especially talented, member of the theatre club. I became curious about the whole theatre scene, and what could be a better place for a mystery, where actors, directors, and scene designers are already creating an alternate world.

R. J.'s book list on mysteries in the theatre world

R. J. Koreto Why did R. J. love this book?

Marsh was one of the great mystery novelists, but her great love was theatre, and in this book, they come together. Few mysteries delve so deeply into the details of the theatre world. In this case, the play is Macbeth, and the murders behind the scenes eerily echo the violent play itself. The scene and setting are so gripping that it's impossible to stop reading and the ending is both surprising and satisfying. 

By Ngaio Marsh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The bad news: This is the last in Ngaio Marsh's marvelous Inspector Alleyn" series. The good: It's one of her very best. The secret to Light Thickens' success may lie in its combination of some of Marsh's greatest passions, including her native New Zealand -in the person of, unusually, a Maori character - and the theater. Indeed, the plot centers on a production of...well, let's skirt disaster by calling it the Scottish play," a play that Dame Ngaio produced and directed several times. Among theater folk, the Scottish play is considered unlucky, so much so that tradition requires anyone who…


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