100 books like Where It Hurts

By Reed Farrel Coleman,

Here are 100 books that Where It Hurts fans have personally recommended if you like Where It Hurts. 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 Carolina Moonset

Charles Salzberg Author Of Second Story Man

From my list on memorable, morally complicated characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer who now only writes crime novels. I try to write about a world that exists in varying degrees and shades of black and white. The characters in my books are flawed, sometimes deeply, trying their best to navigate a complex world while grappling with their own psychological and emotional scars. As a result, they often make decisions that wind up not being in their (or anyone else’s) best interest. In trying to breathe life into these characters, I get to know them better than I know myself, and it’s this I think allows me to admire the five books I’ve chosen.

Charles' book list on memorable, morally complicated characters

Charles Salzberg Why did Charles love this book?

Matt Goldman has led an interesting career. His roots are in comedy, having been a successful Hollywood TV writer on shows like Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Ellen. But he made the unlikely career shift becoming a successful crime writer with his Nils Shapiro detective series. Carolina Moonset, his latest, is a standalone novel that tells the story of a young man who visits his family in his childhood home, Beaufort, South Carolina. His father suffers from Lewy Body dementia. He has trouble remembering what he had for breakfast but still connects to rich, childhood memories, some of which concern both a past and present-day crime.

Goldman is especially strong when it comes to depicting a family torn apart by the ravages of this insidious disease. But Goldman skillfully creates a mystery that grabs the reader and won’t let go. As someone who…

By Matt Goldman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Both suspenseful and deeply moving, Carolina Moonset is an engrossing novel about family, memories both golden and terrible, and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden forever, from New York Times bestselling and Emmy Award-winning author, Matt Goldman.

Joey Green has returned to Beaufort, South Carolina, with its palmettos and shrimp boats, to look after his ailing father, who is succumbing to dementia, while his overstressed mother takes a break. Marshall Green’s short-term memory has all but evaporated, but, as if in compensation, his oldest memories are more vivid than ever. His mind keeps slipping backwards in time, retreating into long-ago…


Book cover of Buzz Killer

Charles Salzberg Author Of Second Story Man

From my list on memorable, morally complicated characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer who now only writes crime novels. I try to write about a world that exists in varying degrees and shades of black and white. The characters in my books are flawed, sometimes deeply, trying their best to navigate a complex world while grappling with their own psychological and emotional scars. As a result, they often make decisions that wind up not being in their (or anyone else’s) best interest. In trying to breathe life into these characters, I get to know them better than I know myself, and it’s this I think allows me to admire the five books I’ve chosen.

Charles' book list on memorable, morally complicated characters

Charles Salzberg Why did Charles love this book?

Tom Straw is another one who came to crime writing via a circuitous route. For many years, he’s been a very successful TV writer for shows like Night Court, Nurse Jackie, Grace Under Fire, Craig Ferguson (he still is) but when asked to become “Richard Castle,” the fictional crime writer who works alongside a New York City female cop for the ABC-TV series Castle, he said yes and immediately became a best-selling crime writer. Buzz Killer is the first novel he wrote under his own name and he makes good use of all those skills he honed as a TV writer. NYC public defender Maci Wild takes on the homicide case of a burglar the tabloids call the Buzz Killer because of MO of lobby-buzzing apartments to select his targets. She forms a partnership with Gunnar Cody, an ex-cop from NYPD’s elite surveillance unit. Along the way, they cross…

By Tom Straw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Tom Straw, the author of seven New York Times Bestsellers writing as Richard Castle, comes BUZZ KILLER, his first mystery since the Nikki Heat series.

New York City public defender Macie Wild takes the homicide case of a burglar the tabloids nickname the Buzz Killer for his MO of lobby-buzzing apartments to select his targets. But when he is the victim of an attempted jailhouse killing and then someone tries to kill Macie, her murder case reveals itself to be something bigger.

Stonewalled by a hostile DA and shut down by a code of silence from the Buzz Killer’s…


Book cover of Monument Road

Charles Salzberg Author Of Second Story Man

From my list on memorable, morally complicated characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer who now only writes crime novels. I try to write about a world that exists in varying degrees and shades of black and white. The characters in my books are flawed, sometimes deeply, trying their best to navigate a complex world while grappling with their own psychological and emotional scars. As a result, they often make decisions that wind up not being in their (or anyone else’s) best interest. In trying to breathe life into these characters, I get to know them better than I know myself, and it’s this I think allows me to admire the five books I’ve chosen.

Charles' book list on memorable, morally complicated characters

Charles Salzberg Why did Charles love this book?

This is the first in the Franky Dast series and it was nominated for a Shamus Award. Dast was convicted and sentenced to Death Row when he was 18, for the rape and murder of two adolescent boys. Eight years later, the verdict is overturned, in part as a result of the relationship Dast has established with the Justice Now Initiative, an organization specializing in cases of wrongful imprisonment. On his release, Dast joins the group and becomes involved in a case that hits close to home: the cop who arrested and coerced a confession from him is accused of shooting the son of a prominent judge. In Dast, Wiley has created the kind of complex character I’m drawn to, both as a writer and a reader. Wiley’s ability to dive deep into the psyche of complicated characters is something I’m always striving for.

By Michael Wiley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introducing former death-row inmate turned private investigator Franky Dast in the first of an intriguing new crime noir series. Having spent eight years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, Franky Dast now works as an investigator for the Justice Now Initiative, seeking to help others in the same situation. But when he learns that Bill Higby, the detective whose testimony helped convict him, is facing his own murder charge, Franky is torn. Should he help the man he hates more than any other, the man who remains convinced of Franky's guilt to this day? As Franky delves…


Book cover of The Line That Held Us

Charles Salzberg Author Of Second Story Man

From my list on memorable, morally complicated characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer who now only writes crime novels. I try to write about a world that exists in varying degrees and shades of black and white. The characters in my books are flawed, sometimes deeply, trying their best to navigate a complex world while grappling with their own psychological and emotional scars. As a result, they often make decisions that wind up not being in their (or anyone else’s) best interest. In trying to breathe life into these characters, I get to know them better than I know myself, and it’s this I think allows me to admire the five books I’ve chosen.

Charles' book list on memorable, morally complicated characters

Charles Salzberg Why did Charles love this book?

David Joy, an Edgar Award finalist for his first novel, Where All the Light Tends to Go, is a master of character, mood, and setting. This novel is set in Appalachia and immediately we’re pulled into a dangerous world that has its own set of fierce rules for survival. The novel opens with Darl Moody hunting for a monster buck which if snagged can mean the difference between meat for the winter and an empty freezer. Hunting for men like Moody is not about sport but survival. Unfortunately, he’s followed his prey onto private land, where not only shouldn’t he be but where he certainly be hunting. When he accidentally kills not a buck but a man—it turns out he’s killed a Brewer, a member of a family notorious for vengeance and violence—his life is turned upside down and it’s touch and go as to whether he’ll survive. From…

By David Joy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An accidental death, and the cover-up that follows, sparks a dark series of events that reverberates through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck, a kill that could make the difference between meat for the winter and an empty freezer, he never expected he'd accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he's killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. 

With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But…


Book cover of Werewolf Cop

Sarah M. Awa Author Of Hunter's Moon

From my list on pawsitively awesome werewolfs.

Why am I passionate about this?

While the werewolf curse isn’t real (as far as we know/thank goodness!), I do know what it’s like to have my life turned upside down by a painful illness that seems like a curse. When I was 23, I almost died from a rare autoimmune disease that tried to devour my lungs. More than a decade later, I’m still here and fighting, and my escapist love of reading fantasy books turned into a passion to write them. I also love metaphors and werewolves, and it all combined nicely with my BA in English! Aside from writing, I help other “underdog” authors as COO for indie publisher Thinklings Books.

Sarah's book list on pawsitively awesome werewolfs

Sarah M. Awa Why did Sarah love this book?

Werewolf Cop is a hard-boiled noir quite unlike the other books on my list, but Klavan’s powerful voice drew me in and never let go. The book wasn’t entirely hard and gritty like I assumed at first. I especially like the way Klavan portrays the relationship between the main character and his wife. My favorite quote from the book is: “Bloody hard to know who the good guys are, isn’t it?” “It is,” said Zach. “I’m not even sure that’s how it works... It’s more like—messed-up guys, some fighting for the good, some for the bad, and the rest just wandering around bumping into the furniture.”  

By Andrew Klavan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Zach Adams is one of the best detectives in the country. Nicknamed Cowboy, he's a soft-spoken homicide detective known for his integrity and courage under fire. He serves on a federal task force that has a single mission: to hunt down Dominic Abend, a European gangster who has taken over the American underworld.

In a centuries-old forest under a full moon, a beast assaults Zach, cursing him forever. In the aftermath, he is transformed into something horrible-something deadly.

Now, the good cop has innocent blood on his hands. He has killed-and will kill again-in the form of a beast who…


Book cover of The Blank Wall

Nora Gaskin Author Of The Worst Thing

From my list on noir and psychological suspense by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Do you see the pattern in the five books I’ve recommended? In each of them, a woman writer explores the darker side of human nature and lures the law-abiding reader to explore it, too. I do not expect to ever commit a murder or to have to cover one up for the sake of a loved one. But could I? Could the person next to me in the grocery store line? Hmmm, I wonder. Traditional mystery stories and police procedurals reassure the reader that in the end, justice will be served and order restored. The women writers of noir/psychological suspense make us contemplate the world very differently.

Nora's book list on noir and psychological suspense by women

Nora Gaskin Why did Nora love this book?

The Blank Wall is a departure from my first three recommendations. It focuses on a woman who leads a frazzled but ordinary life during World War II. She must keep her family and home going while her husband is at war. She has to fight a source of evil that invades her home to preserve the norms that seem all-important to her. The fight means stepping outside of those very norms. I recommend this book as an exploration of what it means to do whatever it takes to protect a loved one. 

By Elisabeth Sanxay Holding,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Blank Wall (1947) ‘a suburban matron, harassed by wartime domestic problems – her husband is overseas – finds herself implicated in the murder of her young daughter’s extremely unattractive beau’ (The New Yorker). An outstanding example of the psychological thriller genre, ‘worthy of the great Patricia Highsmith herself,’ as Lady Antonia Fraser said in the Spectator, it was filmed as The Reckless Moment in 1949 and as The Deep End in 2001, starring Tilda Swinton. In 1950 Raymond Chandler asked his English publisher, ‘Does anybody in England publish Elisabeth Sanxay Holding? For my money she’s the top suspense…


Book cover of Cut to Care: A Collection of Little Hurts

Matthew R. Davis Author Of Bites Eyes: 13 Macabre Morsels

From my list on Australian short story collections with real bite.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a horror writer to the core, always have been, so few things get me as interested as a great collection of short stories. I can remember a few corkers that really put the wind up me as a kid, and it seems I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since! Australia is my home, and it has a broad and diverse genre scene that deserves a lot more attention – I’ve befriended a great many authors of horror, fantasy, SF, and all points in between, and to a person they are lovely, generous, and talented. I’m doing my part to draw attention to the proliferation of vital voices down here.

Matthew's book list on Australian short story collections with real bite

Matthew R. Davis Why did Matthew love this book?

Much extreme horror presents us with cardboard characters who are ripped and torn with no real consequence – but Aaron gives us deeply felt people who pulse on the page, which means it really hurts me as a reader when he subjects them to brutal and unforgiving fates.

His fiction aches like unacknowledged truth, displaying an empathy that doesn’t gloss over the horrors of this world and the next, and feels intimately personal whether he's delving into family dramas, failed relationships, queer themes, or sophisticated splatter.

While his work mostly details the horrors we inflict upon each other, even with the best of intentions, it’s too broad to be kept in one box – and if it was, it would surely cut its way out and come for your heart next. 

By Aaron Dries,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An agency that sends social workers into the homes of grieving families to impersonate dead loved ones... The kind old woman who saved a teenager's life but now finds herself haunted by the weight of a cheated suicide... And the daughter of a candlestick maker as she tries to survive a painful existence after her father's execution for making human chandeliers of drunken cowboys... These stories and more-ranging from supernatural to the frighteningly domestic, Splatterpunk to the weird and cosmic-stain the pages of Cut to Care: A Collection of Little Hurts by Aaron Dries. They serve as a timely reminder…


Book cover of A Judgement in Stone

S.P. Miskowski Author Of The Worst is Yet to Come

From my list on women doing terrible things.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, my mother offered daycare at our house. The kids, the regulars, had moms who worked outside their homes. I’ve been listening to the personal, social, and economic worries of adult women since I was in kindergarten. I hope my stories portray their vulnerability, resilience, kindness, and capacity for violence. I set women centerstage as a sign of respect and to make the full range of women as people—our personhood—visible and undeniable. I’m drawn to stories of women who lash out and commit terrible acts. To be counted, I think we must be perceived as human and therefore fallible, potentially dangerous, capable of anything.

S.P.'s book list on women doing terrible things

S.P. Miskowski Why did S.P. love this book?

This is a modern mystery classic by a master of the plot twist. I’ve studied Rendell’s stories for years, to understand how she makes such extraordinary yet plausible leaps.

In this book the revelatory information is contained in the very first sentence. A woman has killed her employers, for a reason that is shocking in its randomness and absurdity. Rendell then backtracks to show us that the victims did nothing rotten enough to deserve their fate. There is no motive. Nothing is gained.

As the author states in that amazing first sentence, the killer is driven to extraordinary violence purely by the need to keep her illiteracy a secret. Stunning.

By Ruth Rendell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping tragedy of crime and class, widely regarded as one of multi-million copy and SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author Ruth Rendell's seminal masterworks and a crime fiction classic. Fans of PD James, Ann Cleeves and Donna Leon will not be disappointed.

'One of her masterpieces' -- Telegraph
'A classic' - The Times
'Quite possibly the best crime book I have ever read' -- ***** Reader review
'One hell of a book' -- ***** Reader review
'An altogether engrossing book' -- ***** Reader review
'A compelling and addictive read' -- ***** Reader review
'An absolute classic - can only be described…


Book cover of The Best American Noir of the Century

G.E. Nordell Author Of Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery

From my list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Among other things, I'm an existentialist. A well-constructed mystery novel is an existential puzzle given to the reader to solve at his/her leisure, and the noir sub-genre has the further subtext that the protagonistand the reader—are doomed in some way even if the solution is nailed. Romance novels are drivel and have no basis in reality, but noir and other types of mystery fiction reflect the way that the world works: you may solve this puzzle problem, but then you are left to a vast world that is rife with puzzles but without a coherent plot. The detective trudges on, achieves a kind of satisfaction, and then is thrust into the next crisis.

G.E.'s book list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories

G.E. Nordell Why did G.E. love this book?

A treasure trove of noir short fiction, an impressive anthology of  American greed, crime, and comeuppance by some of the genre’s greatest authors including Mickey Spillane, Evan Hunter, Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, Cornell Woolrich, and editor Ellroy. The 39 selected stories are a feast of excellence, a wide-ranging buffet of tasty tales from 1923 to 2007makes me drool just thinking about a re-read.

By James Ellroy (editor), Otto Penzler (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best American Noir of the Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A magisterial anthology of American noir writing in the 20th century by the best-selling author of the LA Quartet: The Black Dahlia. The Big Nowhere , LA Confidential and White Jazz. In his intoduction to The Best American Noir of the Century, James Ellroy writes, "noir is the most scrutinised offshoot of the hard-boiled school of fiction. It's the long drop off the short pier and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. It's the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the precise how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad." Offering…


Book cover of A Hell of a Woman

Tom Hansen Author Of American Junkie

From my list on drug addicts and lost souls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been interested in books about lost souls and broken people. Before I got clean it was the story of my life and they’re stories that continue to resonate with lots of readers. I think my being drawn to those kinds of stories was a reaction to the stories I read and tv and movies I saw growing up. The image-conscious suburban American Dream stuff. I grew up without all those illusions and naturally gravitated to gritty realism because it mirrored my experience. My book is less interested in the day-to-day mechanics of the lives of drug addicts and lost souls, but rather how they came to be what they are. 

Tom's book list on drug addicts and lost souls

Tom Hansen Why did Tom love this book?

One of the great tragedies of the literary world is that Jim Thompson never achieved fame and fortune when he was alive. The NYC literati deemed his books and characters too uncouth and depraved for polite society. His books weren’t populated by well-dressed Robin Hood-type criminals, they were mostly just weak men who followed some good intentions down the road to hell. Frank “Dolly” Dillon epitomizes the Thompson character. An unhappily married door-to-door salesman, he intends to help an underage girl escape her aunt who is pimping her out and holding her captive. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong and ends with Dillon in a cheap hotel with the girl and lots of drugs. The last few pages are the most mind-blowing writing about using drugs I have ever read, even more, impressive since it was written in 1954.

By Jim Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frank "Dolly" Dillon has a job he hates, working sales and collections for Pay-E-Zee Stores, a wife named Joyce he can't stand, and an account balance that barely allows him to pay the bills each month. Working door-to-door one day, trying to eke money out of folk with even less of it than he has, Dolly crosses paths with a beautiful young woman named Mona Farrell. Mona's being forced by her aunt to do things she doesn't like, with men she doesn't know -- she wants out, any way she can get it. And to a man who wants nothing…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in hard boiled, the New York City Police Department, and World War 1?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about hard boiled, the New York City Police Department, and World War 1.

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