The best books about blackmail

Many authors have picked their favorite books about blackmail and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia

I’m always onboard for a mystery set in the exclusive circles of London society, and Freddy Pilkington-Soames, a young gentleman in 1920s London, is just the ticket when I want a fun, lighthearted read. Freddy’s mother ropes him into helping clear away a bothersome little matter, a dead body in her front hall. Before Freddy quite knows what’s happened, he’s interviewing suspects and tracking down clues. Although Clara Benson is a modern author, I love how she’s captured the tone and language of the lighter Golden Age mystery romps. A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia’s is breezy and lighthearted. It’s fun to be swept along with Freddy as he tries to untangle a web of blackmail among society’s upper crust.

A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia

By Clara Benson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's 1929, and Ticky Maltravers is the toast of London high society, adored by everyone—or so it seems, until somebody poisons him over dinner. Now it turns out that numerous people with secrets to hide had every reason to wish him dead. But which of them murdered him? For Freddy Pilkington-Soames, newspaper reporter and man-about-town, the question hits a little too close to home, thanks to an unfortunate drunken encounter with Ticky's corpse which he'd much rather the police didn't find out about—and thanks also to his exasperating mother Cynthia's seeming determination to get herself arrested by tampering with the…

Who am I?

My love of mysteries began with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. I moved on to Elizabeth Peters and Mary Stewart before discovering Agatha Christie and other Golden Age authors. My love of mysteries inspired me to try my hand at the genre, first with cozy mysteries then with historical mysteries. The 1920s is my favorite time period to read and write about. I’m fascinated by the way society was changing then, and I can’t resist an English country house murder. I’ve listed some of my favorite undiscovered mystery gems from the 1920s and hope you find them the bee’s knees! 


I wrote...

Murder at Archly Manor

By Sara Rosett,

Book cover of Murder at Archly Manor

What is my book about?

London, 1923. Olive Belgrave needs a job. Despite her aristocratic upbringing, she’s penniless. Determined to support herself, she jumps at an unconventional job—looking into the background of her cousin’s fiancé, Alfred.  Before Olive can gather more than the basics, a murder occurs at a posh party. Suddenly, every Bright Young Person in attendance is a suspect, and Olive must race to find the culprit because a sly murderer is determined to make sure Olive’s first case is her last. 

Murder at Archly Manor is the first in the High Society Lady Detective series of charming historical cozy mysteries. If you like witty banter, glamorous settings, and delightful plot twists, you’ll love USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett’s series for Anglophiles and mystery lovers alike.

Y Is For Yesterday

By Sue Grafton,

Book cover of Y Is For Yesterday

Number twenty-five in Grafton’s alphabet series, and sadly her last, was published shortly before her death, Y Is For Yesterday explores dark deeds from the past that haunt characters in present day. I personally recommend the entire series, but this title bookends A Is For Alibi as it illustrates the author’s and Kinsey’s growth over 25 titles. I was blown away, as I always am, by Kinsey’s self-deprecating humor, warmth, and intelligence as she fends off a vicious sociopath from her past while investigating a ten-year-old murder.   

Y Is For Yesterday

By Sue Grafton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Y Is For Yesterday as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Y is for Yesterday is the twenty-fifth in the Kinsey Millhone mystery series by Sue Grafton.

The darkest and most disturbing case report from the files of Kinsey Millhone, Y begins in 1979, when four teenage boys from an elite private school sexually assault a fourteen-year-old classmate - and film the attack. Not long after, the tape goes missing and the suspected thief, a fellow classmate, is murdered. In the investigation that follows, one boy turns in evidence for the state and two of his peers are convicted. But the ringleader escapes without a trace.

Now, it's 1989 and one…


Who am I?

I’m the author of over thirty novels, including two mystery series. One is a cozy, small-town series, the Roger and Bess mysteries, the other a series that features a smart, resilient, courageous, sometimes bumbling women sleuth, Ricky Steele. I hope that she is loveable to readers. They often write to tell me she feels like their best friend. I tend to read the kinds of books I’ve recommended. Devour them actually. I also write in the genre. Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Janet Evanovich, and Marcia Mueller have inspired and entertained me throughout both my reading and writing life. 


I wrote...

Prepped to Kill

By M. Lee Prescott,

Book cover of Prepped to Kill

What is my book about?

What happens when you send phony news to your boarding school’s alumni magazine? Ricky Steele, a fifty-something-odd jobber, finds out when she returns to her alma mater pretending to be a private investigator. Before long, the niece of Massachusetts’ governor goes missing and a murderer strikes again. As Ricky races against time to stop a killer and rescue a child, she enlists the aid of her former roommates. Together, the trio wreaks havoc on Whitley School’s Reunion Weekend. Before they know it, Ricky and her pals have unleashed a killer, who is not afraid to kill again.  

Join Ricky on her first caper and see how this humorous rollicking mystery series got its start.  

Deal Breaker

By Harlan Coben,

Book cover of Deal Breaker

With this book began my true passion for mystery/thriller novels. I willingly tumbled through all the books Coben has written in this series with Myron Bolitar and his lofty sidekick, Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III). Coben’s clever writing style and sports references captured my interest… and my reading heart for all the years that followed this. I simply couldn’t get enough of it. Still can’t! Coben is a master of words. 

Deal Breaker

By Harlan Coben,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The truth can get you killed... A stunning thriller from the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of SIX YEARS.

Investigator and sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big-time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron's prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour.

Suddenly Myron is plunged into a baffling mystery of sex and blackmail. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret and a man's lies, Myron is…


Who am I?

Writer, reader, editor, reviewer, publisher… those are all parts of me. With a lifetime of experience in the “words” industry, I have a pretty good handle on what makes a book not just good, but hot. I say this with the understanding that each reader brings their own histories to the reading experience, and what one person may like, another may not. Nonetheless, I offer you my professional and personal favorites in the mystery/thriller/suspense categories. It is my sincere hope that you find these books as addictive as I’d found them. Superb and clever writing, engaging characters, unpredictable plots—yes, please! Though I occasionally step outside my comfort zone, I'm consistently drawn back to these categories. 


I wrote...

The Broken Soul

By Janet Fix, Cheryl Bradshaw,

Book cover of The Broken Soul

What is my book about?

When the party of a lifetime becomes a party to the death, the lines become blurred. Friends become enemies. Drugs become weapons. And that's just the beginning ...

Sloane Monroe, private investigator, discovers her best friend Maddie LaFoe has gone missing during Mardi Gras festivities. Where did Maddie go, and why didn’t she call? This time the investigation is personal, and Sloane will stop at nothing to find her friend. The Broken Soul is the latest installment in the mystery series Sloane & Maddie: Peril Awaits. Dive in for some heart-stopping action, enthralling characters, and a party that gets crazier by the minute for your favorite dynamic duo.

The Chain

By Adrian McKinty,

Book cover of The Chain

This book made me wonder.

Rachel’s daughter has been kidnapped, and to get her back, Rachel must pay a ransom and abduct another child. The kidnapper is another mother whose child has been kidnapped—by someone else whose child has been kidnapped, by someone else whose... Well. You get the idea. As I tore through this novel, I couldn’t help wondering what I would do in that situation. Could I actually kidnap somebody else’s child? I still don’t have an answer, but watching this ingenious plot unfold was a rollercoaster ride I’ll never forget.

The Chain

By Adrian McKinty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


When a mother is targeted by a dangerous group of masterminds, she must commit a crime to save her kidnapped daughter—or risk losing her forever—in this "propulsive and original" award-winning thriller (Stephen King).

It's something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it's a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a…

Who am I?

Call me a worrier, but I’ve always viewed the world as a place fraught with danger, especially for the very young. Hidden sinkholes, falling tree branches, kidnappers lurking on street corners—there’s no threat I haven’t imagined. (Full disclosure: I’m a mom.) As a fiction author, I like to put my young characters in harm’s way and then deliver them to safety, an approach that helps me deal with my anxieties by giving me a sense of control. If I had my way, all imperiled-child stories, whether real-life or fiction, would end with a happily ever after. Alas, not all of them do.


I wrote...

Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams

By Kimberly Baer,

Book cover of Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams

What is my book about?

When Annie Barkley discovers a boy living in the attic of her cookie shop, she's stunned—and oddly elated. She can almost believe the universe is giving her back the infant son she lost eleven years ago. Annie senses that something bad happened to the boy, but he won't talk. All she knows is that he's terrified of being found. When her long-ago crush, police captain Sam Stern, stops by to inquire about a missing boy, Annie says she hasn't seen him.

Big mistake. Because that lie might cost her more than a romance with Sam. It also leaves her vulnerable to a ruthless pursuer, one who's determined to silence the boy for good.

A Gambling Man

By David Baldacci,

Book cover of A Gambling Man

This book is a ferociously fast-paced mystery set in 1949 California after a brief stop in Reno. Archer is the quintessential loner PI in the vein of Marlowe and Spade. Although not really a gambling man at all, he gets his stake winning money at craps and roulette in Reno, as well as meeting the intriguing Liberty. In Baldacci fashion, there is action on almost every page, the prose is tight and well-constructed, and the twists keep you guessing. This is definitely at the top of my list for recent historical mysteries and promises to entertain. 

A Gambling Man

By David Baldacci,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Aloysius Archer, the straight-talking World War II veteran fresh out of prison, returns in this riveting #1 New York Times bestselling thriller from David Baldacci.

The 1950s are on the horizon, and Archer is in dire need of a fresh start after a nearly fatal detour in Poca City. So Archer hops on a bus and begins the long journey out west to California, where rumor has it there is money to be made if you’re hard-working, lucky, criminal—or all three.
 
Along the way, Archer stops in Reno, where a stroke of fortune delivers him a wad of cash and…

Who am I?

I am a former history major and teacher who has always loved to read histories and mysteries and then went on to write them as well. I have two mystery series of four books each (so far), the Mainely Mystery and Clay Wolfe/Port Essex series. I’ve also written three historical fiction books about the diverse topics of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War, and New Orleans during Reconstruction. I’ve decided to combine my passion for histories and mysteries into a historical PI mystery set in 1923 Brooklyn, Velma Gone Awry


I wrote...

Velma Gone Awry: A Brooklyn 8 Ballo Mystery

By Matt Cost,

Book cover of Velma Gone Awry: A Brooklyn 8 Ballo Mystery

What is my book about?

Award-winning author Matt Cost brings us back to Brooklyn in the Roaring ’20s and introduces us to Hungarian private eye, 8 Ballo, who is hired to find the daughter of a wealthy businessman. The search will lead him to cross paths with Dorothy Parker, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bugsy Siegel, Babe Ruth, and many more as he tries to uncover why Velma went awry.

Now, in his mid-thirties, 8 is a college-educated man, a veteran of the Great War, jilted in love, and has his own private investigator business. He enjoys his friends, a good book, jazz music, and a very simple life. When he is hired to find the young flapper daughter of a German businessman, life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

Passion

By Lisa Valdez,

Book cover of Passion

Passion is a highly intense and passionate novel that transports you away from the traditional HR to a whole new world of an exotic and steamy love affair. The characters flourish together from hot-blooded lovers to hopelessly in love. This book carries all that you would hope to find in a historical romance, from lust, obsession, longing, and love with a happy conclusion. If you’re looking for all the qualities, and then some, in a historical romance, then this book will get you there! Truly unforgettable! I read this over a decade ago, and I still remember it fondly! But honestly, because of all the sensual sex scenes!

Passion

By Lisa Valdez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her second year of mourning, lovely, young widow Passion Elizabeth Dare never dreamed she would be with a man again—and certainly not a complete stranger.

But amidst the crowds of London's Crystal Palace, Passion finds herself discreetly, yet insistently, pursued by a sensual gentleman who awakens her long-supressed desires. After a loveless marriage of restrained propriety, Passion abandons herself to true bliss for the first time.

Intoxicated by his encounter with the beautiful stranger, Mark Randolph Hawkmore, Earl of Langley, cannot wait to see her again. As a series of rapturous rendezvous follows, he and his mystery lover find…

Who am I?

I’ve been in love with HR novels ever since my parents took me to a bookstore when I was fifteen, where for the first time, I stepped into an aisle filled with romance. It was love at first sight, as I searched for that one book that called to me. After finishing that book, my world had changed. Now, seventeen years later, as a published author for both New Age and Historical Romance, I still feverishly read romance books to continue feeding that internal flame of love and passion I still have for Historical Romance. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have.


I wrote...

The Lover of The Opera

By S.M. Harlow,

Book cover of The Lover of The Opera

What is my book about?

Anita never wanted to return to London. Nor did she dream of returning during the Ton’s most ambitious season for gossip. Their hottest topic? The Six Rakes of Springfield. But as a gratified wallflower, how was Anita to know that she would be plunged into a wild dream of love and disgrace?

Nothing plagued Bram more than the meddling of Ton’s judgment and rumors. Having a mixed heritage only added to his ruined reputation. The only solace was his Opera House, but even that sealed his name in gossip. Bram never imagined finding freedom, nor did he dream of ever finding a lost rose hidden within his desolate realm. What could be gained from pleasures found within each other’s embrace?

The Quiet Game

By Greg Iles,

Book cover of The Quiet Game

The Quiet Game introduces a troubled Penn Cage, who returns with his daughter to his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi when his father lands in trouble. For Penn, family is sacrosanct. Iles uses Natchez brilliantly to support characterization, atmosphere, and plot. Events unfold quickly in a series of twists and turns that thrill the reader and severely test Penn as he struggles to unearth his father’s connection to a horrific Natchez mystery that the town is determined to keep buried. I admire how Penn battles relentlessly on behalf of his father, doggedly pursues a truth that frightens him, and protects his daughter in the face of growing condemnation and danger. He hews to his moral compass even when it would be expedient to abandon it.

The Quiet Game

By Greg Iles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first thriller in the New York Times No.1 bestselling series featuring Penn Cage: a prosecutor in a corrupt system, a husband whose wife has died, and a father who must protect his daughter. 'An engrossing, page-turning ride' (Jeffery Deaver).

Don't say a word...

Natchez, Mississippi. A city of old money and older sins. A place where a thirty-year-old crime lies buried, and everyone plays the quiet game. But on man cannot stay silent.

Returning to his home town, former prosecuting attorney Penn Cage is stunned to discover that his father is being blackmailed over a decades-old murder.

Negotiating the…


Who am I?

I’m a Canadian thriller and suspense novelist with an abiding affinity for stories of good ultimately overcoming evil. I’m partial to reluctant heroes battling powerful entities that are inflicting injustice. If our protagonist is flawed and forced to overcome internal demons and/or challenges, so much the better! My Tony Valenti thrillers feature a mom-and-pop law firm known as Lawyers to Little People and Lost Causes, so I know a thing or two about this type of book. Characters using brains, integrity, and bravery—moral and/or physical—fascinate me every time.


I wrote...

A House on Liberty Street

By Neil Turner,

Book cover of A House on Liberty Street

What is my book about?

​Meet Tony Valenti. His high-flying corporate law career just cratered. His society marriage blew up in a bitter divorce. He’s returned to the Chicago suburbs to lick his wounds and regroup in the haven of the Valenti family home. 

Tony’s elderly father inexplicably shoots a sheriff’s deputy on their front porch. Nobody knows why, and Papa isn’t talking. Then their house becomes an unlikely target for condemnation and expropriation by corrupt local officials and their cronies. Tony steps up to defend his father and take on city hall. He quickly finds himself in peril when he unearths sinister connections between the two cases. The audacity of the plot against his parents fuels a gritty determination to get to the bottom of what really happened. 

The Inheritance

By R. Franklin James,

Book cover of The Inheritance

Hudson and Lowell Legacy Consultants is a genealogy business formed by Johanna Hudson. The first line of the novel reads, “... clients don’t consider… that genealogy outcomes can be disappointingly unpredictable.” This statement is a prelude to the conflict weaving throughout the novel as the protagonist becomes embroiled in murder. Johanna makes a career move to pursue a new business opportunity. I left clinical medicine to have more time for writing. It was a difficult choice because I enjoyed taking care of people.

The Inheritance

By R. Franklin James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A 30 year-old genealogist is forced to face the pain of her own past while discovering that her talents can be used to solve more than her clients' ancestor family lines -- including blackmail and murder.

Genealogist Johanna Hudson discovers that the intersection of unintended consequences and murder is unavoidable, and her determination to find an heir puts her in the path of a killer who is just as determined to stop her.


Who am I?

Like myself, each of these novels involved older professional Black women protagonists. Each of these authors presented multidimensional women experiencing circumstances that surpass culture and ethnicity. As women age, not only do we take on new roles, but we physically and emotionally change. I appreciate books with relatable characters coping with issues I experience—menopause, aging parents, an empty nest. Reading mysteries with fictional characters dealing with situations I experience makes me feel less isolated. 


I wrote...

Murder is Revealing

By Michelle Corbier,

Book cover of Murder is Revealing

What is my book about?

Aspiring author Dr. Myaisha Douglas joined the Greensboro Women of Color Writing Group hoping to publish her writing. When someone murders a friend and member of the group, Myaisha believes she can help the police solve the crime. An avid mystery fan, she relies on the skills she gained from those stories to catch the killer. 

Though determined to get justice for her friend, the amateur detective soon regrets her involvement when the deceased’s corruption and illegal dealings become public. The police warn Myaisha to stop investigating when their prime suspect is also murdered.  Drawn back into the case after the police charge another member of the group with murder, Myaisha uses her medical knowledge—and years as an armchair detective—to solve the homicide without becoming another victim.

Indecent Exposure

By David McClintick,

Book cover of Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street

McClintick makes the Hollywood boardroom scandal that began with David Begelman’s forgery of Cliff Robertson’s name on a $10,000 check, into a compulsively readable account of power run amok amongst  Hollywood-Wall Street executives. An expose of theft, cover-up, and blackmail, it is also a beautifully written, incisive portrait of men and women seduced by the glamor and power of Hollywood fame.

Indecent Exposure

By David McClintick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When the head of Columbia Pictures, David Begelman, got caught forging Cliff Robertson's name on a $10,000 check, it seemed, at first, like a simple case of embezzlement. It wasn't. The incident was the tip of the iceberg, the first hint of a scandal that shook Hollywood and rattled Wall Street. Soon powerful studio executives were engulfed in controversy; careers derailed; reputations died; and a ruthless, take-no-prisoners corporate power struggle for the world-famous Hollywood dream factory began.

First published in 1982, this now classic story of greed and lies in Tinseltown appears here with a stunning final chapter on Begelman's…


Who am I?

Tom Santopietro is the author of eight books, including the New York Times Editor’s Choice Considering Doris Day, The Importance of Being Barbra, Sinatra in Hollywood, Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters, and The Godfather Effect. A frequent media commentator and interviewer, he lectures on classic films and over the past thirty years has managed more than two dozen Broadway shows.


I wrote...

The Sound of Music Story

By Tom Santopietro,

Book cover of The Sound of Music Story

What is my book about?

Very few films transcend enormous initial popularity to become both legend and a permanent part of American cultural life, but The Sound of Music has done just that. Great Hollywood filmmaking at the tail end of the golden era, casting debates, location set-tos, and critical controversy- The Sound of Music had it all. When I read that then President Ronald Reagan did not read a specially prepared G-7 Summit Briefing because he wanted to watch The Sound of Music on television instead, I knew I wanted to write about the extraordinary hold this film classic continues to exercise upon audiences around the world.

Blue Heaven

By Joe Keenan,

Book cover of Blue Heaven

This is the first of a trilogy of which any book in the series is worth reading. In this farce written long before marriage equality, a gay man hatches an outlandish scheme to throw a wedding, just for the expensive gifts. What follows is a comedy that incorporates blackmail and the mafia. You read this novel for pure pleasure, enjoying the clever one-liners while the plot spirals out of control. Flamboyant, camp, and ridiculously funny.

Blue Heaven

By Joe Keenan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in contemporary New York, this book revolves around four characters, all either unemployed or barely employed. The calamities begin when Gilbert, who is gay, and Moira, an arch bitch, devise a seemingly brilliant plan to swindle their respective monied families - by getting married.

Who am I?

I usually write queer fiction with an urban fantasy or magic realism bent, although I’ve dabbled in dystopian novels and a couple of romance novellas. I have an interest in bringing to light modern queer works that aren’t rooted in erotica or romance because I know firsthand the misconceptions that are placed on writers of gay fiction. And too often I’ve had to find tactful ways to explain what I write when people assume I’m limited by genre.


I wrote...

Winter Masquerade

By Kevin Klehr,

Book cover of Winter Masquerade

What is my book about?

Winter Masquerade is a novella where Ferris finds a safe haven, away from his abusive partner. He wakes aboard an enchanted ocean liner where the eccentric inhabitants are gearing up for a masquerade ball. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.

The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea with scones and jam. Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.

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