The most recommended books about criminal investigations

Who picked these books? Meet our 461 experts.

461 authors created a book list connected to criminal investigations, and here are their favorite criminal investigation books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of criminal investigation book?



By Femi Kayode,

Book cover of Lightseekers

Michael Stanley Author Of A Deadly Covenant

From the list on African noir thrillers.

Who are we?

Michael Stanley is actually two people—Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip both South Africans, passionate about Africa and its cultures. We read a lot of books set in or concerning Africa. We think of African thrillers as Sunshine Noir—things are always at their most deadly in the glare of the sun! The diverse cultures generate complex character clashes and intriguingly original plots. We believe some of the best thrillers anywhere are set in Africa and written by African writers. Michael writes an article every month titled Africa Scene for the International Thrillers Writers magazine (The Big Thrill) where he interviews an author about a new thriller set in Africa.

Michael's book list on African noir thrillers

Why did Michael love this book?

Loosely based on a true story, Lightseekers explores the dynamics of mob violence and how it can be manipulated. What persuaded a gang of boys at a rural university to behave as they did? Why was the response so out of proportion? How was the local politics involved and why? In this thriller we know what happened, the mystery is why and how it happened the way it did. A superb debut.

By Femi Kayode,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Waterstones Thriller of the Month 'Lightseekers is ripe with all the twists and turns you could hope for... A fast-paced thriller that offers insight into the ever present tensions in a poverty stricken community. An action-packed and spirited debut' Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of My Sister, the Serial Killer Selected as a Best Crime Novel of the Month by The Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Financial Times and Irish Times. Winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize, Lightseekers is the start of a major new crime series introducing investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo. When three young students are brutally…

Book cover of Murder at the Lakeside Library

Denise Swanson Author Of Murder of a Smart Cookie

From the list on feel good mysteries.

Who am I?

As a former school psychologist and author of over 45 books, I love reading about characters that are likable, plots that are believable, and settings that I want to visit. My years as a psychologist make it easy to spot poorly written characters that don’t ring true. It is also my years as a psychologist that makes me enjoy a light, humorous read with a guaranteed happy ending.

Denise's book list on feel good mysteries

Why did Denise love this book?

Holly Danver’s first book in the Lakeside Library series is fast-paced and an easy read that skillfully evokes both the charm and the quirks of a small town. The setting is fun and the characters are likable. It has delightful touches and twists with a nimble plot that will keep you turning the pages until the very end. It provides a fictional vacation at a rustic Wisconsin cabin that includes a private lending library

By Holly Danvers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder at the Lakeside Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this series debut perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Miranda James, Rain Wilmot must discover the killer, before the book closes on her life.

Rain Wilmot has just returned to her family's waterfront log cabin in Lofty Pines, Wisconsin after the untimely death of her husband. The cabin is peaceful compared to Rain's corporate job and comes with an informal library that Rain's mother, Willow, used to run. But as Rain prepares for the re-opening of the library, all hopes for a peaceful life are shattered when she discovers the body of Thornton Hughes, a real estate buyer,…

Book cover of The Last of the Moon Girls

Katie Munday Williams Author Of Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America's First Published Poet

From Katie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Playful Bookworm Mom Dreamer Adventurous

Katie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Katie's 8-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Katie love this book?

Despite the fact that this book was fairly predictable in its plot, I loved the way the main character ends up digging into her past to discover who she truly is. She finds forgiveness and love along the way, which, while trite, also resonates on many levels.

Life is so packed with big and little hurts that eventually, a person can get too weighed down, hauling them all around. Learning to understand people’s actions and show empathy is a lesson we can all benefit from. 

By Barbara Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts Bestseller.

A novel of secrets, memory, family, and forgiveness by the bestselling author of When Never Comes.

Lizzy Moon never wanted Moon Girl Farm. Eight years ago, she left the land that nine generations of gifted healers had tended, determined to distance herself from the whispers about her family's strange legacy. But when her beloved grandmother Althea dies, Lizzy must return and face the tragedy still hanging over the farm's withered lavender fields: the unsolved murders of two young girls, and the cruel accusations that followed Althea to her grave.

Lizzy wants nothing more than to sell…

Hold Back the Night

By Axel Blackwell,

Book cover of Hold Back the Night

Armand Rosamilia Author Of Shake Down

From the list on tropical author thrillers.

Who am I?

I am such a huge fan of Thrillers. Always have been, since I started reading Dean Koontz at 12. The Tropical Authors listed are some of my favorites, but they are a stepping stone to other great authors who write unique thrillers as well. I hope you’ll check them out, and let me know if you find a new favorite. I also love suggestions as well. (Of other authors, please don’t be tacky and suggest your own book!) 

Armand's book list on tropical author thrillers

Why did Armand love this book?

The author’s work with Dawn Lee McKenna might be more fighting for this list (check out The Stillwaters Suspense Series) but I absolutely love this series because the main characters are fun to follow along with. They are so multi-dimensional, and the dialogue is outstanding. I could read chapter after chapter of them chatting about nothing, and still enjoy it. The action is well-written and not hokey, which I love. The twists and turns will leave you wanting more, and I cannot wait to read more from Axel in the future. You should, too! 

By Axel Blackwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hold Back the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

4:23 a.m. The phone rings. The officer on the other end says, “It’s a bad one, Darren. Can you come?” Darren McDaniel has worked dozens of homicides in his years as a detective. It’s a dark and gritty business, and he’s prepared to handle whatever it throws at him. Or so he once believed.The pre-teen girl is dead, dressed in a white princess gown, lying on a bus stop bench. There’s a steel chain clamped to her ankle. A cryptic message scrawled across the booth’s dusty glass wall may be the only clue.As McDaniel plunges into the case, he isn’t…

No One Will Miss Her

By Kat Rosenfield,

Book cover of No One Will Miss Her

Marc D. Giller Author Of Candidate Z

From the list on not minding your workout as much.

Who am I?

Just your friendly neighborhood thriller novelist. When people find out I write books, they inevitably enquire, “Really? Have I read anything of yours?” Well, funny you should ask! I’ve been cranking out stories since I was sixteen but took a couple of decades to finally land a publishing deal for my debut novel Hammerjack and its sequel Prodigal (Bantam Spectra). A lifelong Star Trek fan, I’ve also published the novella “Revenant” in the collection Seven Deadly Sins (Gallery Books). My latest is the high-tech thriller Candidate Z, available on Amazon.

Marc's book list on not minding your workout as much

Why did Marc love this book?

Genre fiction tends to lean on tropes and be somewhat predictable, particularly thrillers (I have yet to read a Robin Cook novel in which I didn’t figure out the villain halfway through the book)—but in her debut mystery, YA and popular culture writer Kat Rosenfeld subverts all that and give us a genuinely original tale of greed, envy, treachery, and murder with well-drawn characters and a mastery of setting.  The greatest trick she pulls is leading you to believe that you’re reading one kind of story, before pulling a switcheroo that changes everything—and believe me when I say, you won’t see it coming.

By Kat Rosenfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No One Will Miss Her as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Blade-sharp, whip-smart, and genuinely original - a thriller to refresh your faith in the genre, your belief that a story can still outpace and outsmart you."- A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in The Window

"Clever and surprising...The superb character-driven plot delivers an astonishing, believable jolt."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Deserves two big thumbs up. Readers will be gripped by this astonishing story in which one gasp-inducing twist follows on the heels of another. A unique page-turner that just begs to be turned into a movie." -Booklist (starred review)

A smart, witty, crackling novel of…

Bayou Book Thief

By Ellen Byron,

Book cover of Bayou Book Thief

Lisa M. Lane Author Of Murder at Old St. Thomas's

From Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Historian Online teaching maven Gardener Professor emeritus

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Lisa love this book?

I ended up really enjoying this book! I didn't think I'd care for it, and I started it twice. Why? I don't cook, I don't care about cookbooks, and I'm never sure about youthful amateur sleuths.

And although I love New Orleans as a visitor, I don't live there, and surely this was a love letter to The Big Easy. What ultimately impressed me was the complexity of the story, the way it turned into a real tangle of murder and vintage books and sneaky villains.

Add to this a sexy neighbor, cool work friendships, and people with a history and I had a great time reading.

By Ellen Byron,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bayou Book Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.
Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee”…

Bitter Rain

By Shannon Baker,

Book cover of Bitter Rain

Pamela Beason Author Of Backcountry

From Pamela's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Nature lover Animal lover Former private investigator Eclectic reader

Pamela's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Pamela love this book?

I am from rural Kansas, and I find that most rural areas are overlooked in mysteries. So it was with great pleasure that I discovered Shannon Baker’s Kate Fox series, set in the Nebraska Sandhills.

These books introduced me to this fascinating area of the Midwest with intriguing descriptions of landscapes and weather patterns, and reminded me of the close-knit everyday life of ranchers and surrounding communities in small towns.

When everyone knows everyone else, few are neutral about their neighbors. Every individual has an opinion, a prejudice, and sometimes a hidden agenda. Kate Fox is the new sheriff in the county and needs to deal with it all with all eyes focused upon her.

By Shannon Baker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sometimes, even the best-kept secrets can’t stay hidden forever.

"Bitter Rain seeps into your bones and stays with you, its characters haunting your thoughts long after the rain stops and the sun breaks through the clouds.” —Colorado Book Review

Sheriff Kate Fox is still settling into her new role when Deputy Kyle Red Owl’s sister, Shelly, vanishes from the nearby Lakota reservation. Convinced it’s an “Indian issue,” neighboring sheriffs are reluctant to get involved. Tempers flare—and Kate knows things are bound to get even more heated.

But when Kate and Kyle start to gather evidence, they realize the case isn’t…

Pursuit of the Truth

By K.D. Richards,

Book cover of Pursuit of the Truth

Delia C. Pitts Author Of Murder Take Two

From the list on featuring Black private eyes.

Who am I?

I’m a nerd by temperament (raised by a psychologist and a librarian, what else could I be?) and by profession (decades working as a U.S. diplomat and an academic administrator honed my people-watching faculties to a fine edge). So, of course, I’ve always been drawn to my opposite: that cynical loner whose pursuit of justice requires hard fists and a bent moral compass. Private eye mysteries are my perfect place. In them, I can exercise my passion for intellectual puzzles and my love for thrilling action. I enjoy the combination of social commentary and sheer entertainment I find when I dive into reading (or writing) a private eye mystery.

Delia's book list on featuring Black private eyes

Why did Delia love this book?

This first-in-series thriller revved my engine with its fun combination of action and romance. New Yorker Ryan West is an expert in personal protection who runs his own security firm. But he wasn’t prepared for the personal fall-out from falling for the tough-minded hotel boss he’s hired to guard. She’s brainy and resourceful, the kind of modern-day princess who can save herself but doesn’t mind engaging with a dashing prince of a private eye.

By K.D. Richards,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Her secrets could get them killed...

After hotel CEO Nadia Shelton barely escapes an attack, security expert Ryan West realises someone will kill to find the brother Nadia thought was dead. And the only way Ryan can protect her as they uncover the truth, is to stay strictly professional. But the sparks igniting between them refuse to be ignored...

Far Gone

By Danielle Girard,

Book cover of Far Gone

Marcy McCreary Author Of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon

From the list on memorable female detectives/investigators.

Who am I?

I'm the author of two police procedural mysteries, a series that features a father/daughter detective team. I write in the traditional mystery genre for the simple reason that I'm a passionate reader of this genre, and always have been. I enjoy the structure of a whodunnit—the pacing, red herrings, clues, plot twists, reveals—and love constructing a multi-layered mystery that is both engaging and suspenseful. I’m a big fan of the masters of this genre: Agatha Christie, PD James, Dick Francis, and Val McDermid. I’m also an avid watcher of police procedural television series, and I’m especially drawn to the darker investigative stories you find in programs like The Killing, Mare of Easttown, and The Wire.

Marcy's book list on memorable female detectives/investigators

Why did Marcy love this book?

Detective Kylie Millard returns to her investigative duties in this second book in the Badlands Thriller series when she’s called to a murder scene of a young couple and a missing baby. Like the first book in the series, White Out, the writing is taut and the pacing is brisk. But what I especially love about this book is the intertwining narratives of the three female characters—Kylie, Lily, and Hannah—and how these disparate stories eventually come together. Quite the twist at the end!

By Danielle Girard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the USA Today bestselling author of White Out comes a story of two heroines with shattered pasts and a town with blood on its hands.

When a North Dakota couple is shot down in their home in cold blood, the sleepy town of Hagen wakes with a jolt. After all, it's usually such a peaceful place. But Detective Kylie Milliard knows better.

Despite not handling a homicide investigation in years, Kylie is on the case. A drop of blood found at the scene at first blush promises to be her best evidence. But it ultimately only proves that someone…

Stockholm Delete

By Jens Lapidus,

Book cover of Stockholm Delete

Cecilia Ekbäck Author Of The Historians: A Thrilling Novel of Conspiracy and Intrigue During World War II

From the list on Nordic noir from a Nordic noir fan.

Who am I?

I was born in Sweden in a northern fishing town. My parents come from Lapland. I always loved reading, especially crime novels. My parents used to drop me off at the local library and pick me up at closing time. When young, I worked for the local newspaper and had dreams of becoming a journalist. Instead, it became a corporate career with postings all over the world. When I picked up writing again in my early forties, it didn’t come together for me until I put a dead body in there, and thus I found myself writing thrillers. Nordic Noir is a genre I am particularly fond of. It is crime, where setting in the broadest use of the word (physical, mental, geographical, climate…) is allowed to take space. Below you will find five of my favourites. 

Cecilia's book list on Nordic noir from a Nordic noir fan

Why did Cecilia love this book?

Emilie Jansson, a newly made partner at a law firm in Stockholm, is asked to collaborate with Teddy, the firm’s investigator. Teddy is an ex-con trying to stay out of trouble. A body is discovered after what looks like an attempted robbery. An injured man found at the scene becomes the prime suspect. Emilie takes on the role of his defence lawyer. But then the trail leads back to Teddy...

Jens Lapidus used to work as a criminal defence lawyer at a law firm representing some of the most infamous criminals in Sweden. His background gives him unusual insight and his books feel very exciting and fresh.

By Jens Lapidus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stockholm Delete is a superbly gritty thriller which gets right to the heart of the Stockholm criminal world.

Emilie Jansson has just been made partner at a prestigious law firm when she is asked to work with an unusual partner. Teddy is an ex-con trying to stay on the right side of the law while working as the firm's fixer and Special Investigator.

Meanwhile, a body is discovered in a remote house in the country after what looks like an attempted robbery - and a severely wounded man found near the scene is soon in the frame for murder. Emilie…

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (translator),

Book cover of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

David Bellos Author Of Who Owns This Sentence? A History of Copyrights and Wrongs

From David's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Wordlover Polyglot Aged Writer Witty

David's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did David love this book?

Serial murders in rural Silesia form the backbone of this cunning mystery novel and the backdrop to a self-portrait of a wise, eccentric, opinionated old bag who turns out to be not only quite charming but extraordinarily devious.

Almost completely devoid of sex and drugs, the story mixes lessons in astrology with an impassioned engagement with the poetry of William Blake and resumes his campaign to respect the lives of animals. Crammed full of witty observations of human beastliness, Drive Your Plow is an unusually accomplished detective story, a first-rate animal rights manifesto, and a defense of a person’s right to be different.

You might guess the solution a few pages before the end, but even so, the final reveal is a stunning tour de force. An altogether unique combination of learning, style, insight, and philosophical argument wrapped inside a gripping yarn.

By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (translator),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel. In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she's unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation. By…

Blood on the Tracks

By Barbara Nickless,

Book cover of Blood on the Tracks

Chris Goff Author Of A Parliament of Owls

From the list on mysteries on rogue women spending time outdoors.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small, rural, mountain community in Colorado, which is where I learned to love the outdoors. I explored every inch of “my mountain” with my dog, Blueberry. I skied by age three, and my father taught me to fish, shoot a rifle and drive a Jeep before I turned twelve. And I loved to read. To my good fortune, a small stone house at the bottom of our hill housed the public library. The librarian was my best friend. My favorites were mysteries, suspense, and thrillers with strong female characters, which is how I came to be a mystery writer and a founding member of the Rogue Women Writers.

Chris' book list on mysteries on rogue women spending time outdoors

Why did Chris love this book?

Barb Nickless came out with a debut novel to die for. I think it’s absolutely the best debut I’ve ever read. Then she followed it up with four more in the series and four in a new series. In Blood on the Tracks, we’re introduced to Sydney Parnell and her K-9 partner, Clyde. They are ex-military turned railroad cops, and both suffer from PTSD. Nickless brings to life the underground world of rail riders and the obscure job of the railroad cop as Sydney investigates the brutal murder of a young woman found on the tracks. The crimes are shocking, and Sydney puts herself in mortal danger as she seeks justice for victims. This is a writer to watch.

By Barbara Nickless,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blood on the Tracks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim's fiance, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can't shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.

In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde-both haunted by their time in Iraq-descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and…

A Master of Djinn

By P. Djèlí Clark,

Book cover of A Master of Djinn

Caroline Stevermer Author Of The Glass Magician

From the list on historical fantasy for armchair travel.

Who am I?

I write fantasy novels, including A College of Magics, River Rats, and When the King Comes Home. With Patricia C. Wrede, I wrote half of the Kate and Cecy series: Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour, and The Mislaid Magician.

Caroline's book list on historical fantasy for armchair travel

Why did Caroline love this book?

Agent of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, Fatma el-Sha'arawi is the spectacularly well-dressed protagonist tasked with saving the world (again) in an alternate 1912 Cairo. This award-winning novel awed me with its detail and invention. What I loved most was the way the world building relegated the British Empire to relative unimportance. Come to think of it, I loved the Ministry library almost as much.

By P. Djèlí Clark,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Master of Djinn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Included in NPR’s Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade (2011-2021)
A Nebula Award Winner
A Ignyte Award Winner
A Compton Crook Award for Best New Novel Winner
A Locus First Novel Award Winner
A RUSA Reading List: Fantasy Winner
A Hugo Award Finalist
A World Fantasy Award Finalist
A NEIBA Book Award Finalist
A Mythopoeic Award Finalist
A Dragon Award Finalist
A Best of 2021 Pick in SFF for Amazon
A Best of 2021 Pick in SFF for Kobo

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark goes full-length for the first time in his dazzling debut…

Monument Road

By Michael Wiley,

Book cover of Monument Road

Charles Salzberg Author Of Second Story Man

From the list on memorable, morally complicated characters.

Who am I?

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

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 Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance

Mary F. Burns Author Of The Spoils of Avalon

From the list on famous people as the amateur sleuths.

Who am I?

My mother was an avid reader of Agatha Christie, and she gave me my first Nancy Drew book when I was nine, so I’ve loved mysteries all my life—not the ‘true crime’ kind, more the ‘cozy village’ kind, where the focus is on the characters and how they solve the mystery because of who they are and how they understand the people around them. After I wrote an historical novel about John Singer Sargent and his friends, I couldn’t stop thinking about them, even hearing their voices continuing to talk—I missed them! So naturally, I decided I’d turn John and his friend Violet into detectives and write mysteries. 

Mary's book list on famous people as the amateur sleuths

Why did Mary love this book?

This is the first book in a series that is as witty, complex, charming, and dark as Oscar Wilde himself. (“I can resist everything but temptation.”) The author is steeped in Wilde and his world, quotes him extensively (but appropriately) and also delivers a great mystery set in the fascinating era of Victorian decline and fin de siècle artistic fervor. Arthur Conan Doyle, in a great turnabout, plays “Watson” to Wilde’s “Sherlock” in all the mysteries. A later book in the series takes on Jack the Ripper, with some surprising suspects!

By Gyles Brandreth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lovers of historical mysteries will relish this chilling Victorian tale based on real events and cloaked in authenticity. The first in a series of fiendishly clever historical murder mysteries, it casts British literature’s most fascinating and controversial figure as the lead sleuth.

A young artist’s model has been murdered, and legendary wit Oscar Wilde enlists his friends Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Sherard to help him investigate. But when they arrive at the scene of the crime they find no sign of the gruesome killing—save one small spatter of blood, high on the wall. Set in London, Paris, Oxford, and…

The Appeal

By Janice Hallett,

Book cover of The Appeal

Lia Matera Author Of The Good Fight

From the list on details of legal and definitely illegal professions.

Who am I?

Before I wrote crime novels, I was a lawyer. Legal mysteries back then were mostly set in traditional firms, with just enough lawyering to set up final courtroom scenes. I preferred novels that showed more of the nitty-gritty, the conflicts, and temperaments peculiar to different workplaces. I’d been binging Dick Francis, with his deep dives into jobs connected to racing, and I wished there were books with his level of detail in settings I knew—students scrabbling to make law review, firebrand litigators in labor firms, double-crosses in corporate practice, the horrors of bank law retreats. When I finished Francis’s excellent Whip Hand, I decided to try writing one myself. 

Lia's book list on details of legal and definitely illegal professions

Why did Lia love this book?

What is it like to be a lawyer in the information age? Janice Hallett’s characters show us, in this update of the epistolary novel. Two lawyers are handed a sheaf of emails, text messages, police reports, press releases, and medical records by their firm’s top partner. He tells them that he wants fresh eyes on documents pertaining to a case he tried and may appeal. He won’t prejudice their reading of the material by explaining what the crime was or who committed it, much less what the court decided or why he might challenge the ruling. Along with the reader, the lawyers sift through documents that offer an intriguing look at the players, eventually revealing who did what. It’s an excellent puzzle with a modern twist on a time-honored structure.

By Janice Hallett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the CWA New Blood Dagger Award

“[W]itty, original…a delight.” —The New York Times

Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell, this international bestseller and “dazzlingly clever” (The Sunday Times, London) murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.

The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and…

The City & the City

By China Miéville,

Book cover of The City & the City

Guy Morpuss Author Of Black Lake Manor

From the list on speculative crime.

Who am I?

I grew up reading the crime and thriller books on my parents’ bookshelves. As a teenager I got into science fiction, reading everything I could. Speculative crime fiction mixes the best of both genres. You twist one aspect of the real world, add a dead body, and play with the consequences. I have written two novels that do this: in my first, I imagined a world in which five people share a body, and one of them is trying to kill the others; in my second, a killer who can turn back time. I love books that toy with reality in this way, and read all that I can.

Guy's book list on speculative crime

Why did Guy love this book?

The speculative twist is brilliant – two cities that exist in the same place, but whose citizens are taught to ignore one another’s existence.

When someone breaks this rule to commit a murder, it is both disturbing and revealing. This is a great murder mystery that also raises difficult questions about social divisions and the ability of humans to ignore what is right in front of them.

By China Miéville,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The City & the City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, the multi-award winning The City & The City by China Mieville is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

'You can't talk about Mieville without using the word "brilliant".' - Ursula Le Guin, author of the Earthsea series.

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to…

The Ice Princess

By Camilla Läckberg, Steven T. Murray (translator),

Book cover of The Ice Princess

Mats Vederhus Author Of Murder In Lima

From the list on mysteries with a Nordic flair.

Who am I?

I started writing stories when I was a kid and could hardly spell, and have done so ever since. I’ve been fascinated by crime fiction since I started watching the TV adaptations of Poirot with my grandfather as a child and later as a teenager. Subsequently, I also started reading Agatha Christie and writing my own crime fiction books! As I got older, I started reading Nordic Noir books, and this genre heavily influenced my first two books.

Mats' book list on mysteries with a Nordic flair

Why did Mats love this book?

This is Läckberg’s debut novel, where she showcased her new twist on the mystery genre: a murder that happens in the present day with ties to historical events in the past. Läckberg is in many ways Sweden’s Agatha Christie, as these books are as set in the sleepy village of Fjällbacka in coastal Sweden. In later years, Läckberg has proven that she can also write thrillers, and these books have indications of that as the pacing is ramped up somewhat towards the end. But this is mostly a cozy mystery, written by one of the best in the business.

By Camilla Läckberg, Steven T. Murray (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A top-notch thriller, one of the best of the genre” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) from international crime-writing sensation Camilla Läckberg tells the story of brutal murders in a small Swedish fishing village, and the shattering, decades-old secrets that precipitated them.

In this electrifying tale of suspense from an international crime-writing sensation, a grisly death exposes the dark heart of a Scandinavian seaside village. Erica Falck returns to her tiny, remote hometown of Fjällbacka, Sweden, after her parents’ deaths only to encounter another tragedy: the suicide of her childhood best friend, Alex. It’s Erica herself who finds Alex’s body—suspended in a bathtub…

Yesterday's News

By R. G. Belsky,

Book cover of Yesterday's News

Thomas Kies Author Of Random Road

From the list on by and about journalists.

Who am I?

I’m the author of the critically acclaimed Geneva Chase Crime Reporter series. I live and write on a barrier island on the coast of North Carolina with my wife, Cindy, and Annie, our Shih-Tzu. I’ve had a long career working for newspapers and magazines, primarily in New England and New York, and I’m currently working on my next novel. 

Thomas' book list on by and about journalists

Why did Thomas love this book?

Mr. Belsky’s media background is in newspapers, magazines, and TV/digital news. Yesterday’s News is the first in his series featuring Clare Carlson, the hard-driving and tenacious news director for Channel 10 in New York City. When eleven-year-old Lucy Devlin disappeared on her way to school more than a decade ago, it became one of the most famous missing child cases in history. The story turned reporter Clare Carlson into a media superstar overnight.

Now Clare once again plunges back into this sensational story. With new evidence, new victims, and new suspects—too many suspects. Everyone from members of a motorcycle gang to a prominent politician running for a US Senate seat seems to have secrets they’re hiding about what really might have happened to Lucy Devlin. 

I love Mr. Belsky’s Clare Carlson series because they’re fast-paced and thought out and the protagonist is easy to identify with.

By R. G. Belsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Yesterday's News as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Tell me what happened to my daughter?” For fifteen years this anguished plea has haunted reporter Clare Carlson

When eleven-year-old Lucy Devlin disappeared on her way to school more than a decade ago, it became one of the most famous missing child cases in history.

The story turned reporter Clare Carlson into a media superstar overnight. Clare broke exclusive after exclusive. She had unprecedented access to the Devlin family as she wrote about the heartbreaking search for their young daughter. She later won a Pulitzer Prize for her extraordinary coverage of the case.

Now Clare once again plunges back into…

Book cover of Recipes for Love and Murder

Carmen Amato Author Of Cliff Diver

From the list on thrillers set in exotic locations.

Who am I?

I’ve turned lessons from a 30-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency into crime fiction loaded with intrigue and deception. My Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series pits the first female police detective in Acapulco against Mexico's drug cartels, government corruption, and social inequality. Readers will love Detective Cruz’s complex plots, fast action, and exotic location. I’m originally from upstate New York, the setting for the upcoming Galliano Club thriller series. My family tree includes a mayor, a Mensa genius, and the first homicide in the state of Connecticut with an automatic weapon. After killing two people, including his wife, my great-grandfather eluded a state-wide manhunt. He was never brought to justice.

Carmen's book list on thrillers set in exotic locations

Why did Carmen love this book?

Having travelled in Africa, I’m always keen to find books set on the continent. It’s a bonus if suspense is involved and a double bonus if the story hinges on the setting. This book gets high marks in both departments. It was a better immersive experience than if I’d rented an Airbnb and watched the action unfold from the front porch.

Rural South Africa is home to advice columnist and cooking authority Tannie Maria (Tannie meaning Auntie, the respectful Afrikaans address for a woman older than you) in the first book in this unique and extraordinary series. A middle-aged widow, she offers advice and recipes to the lovelorn and others who write the local newspaper.

One letter-writer is a woman desperate to escape her abusive husband: an echo of Tannie Maria’s own fraught past. When the woman is murdered, Tannie Maria becomes dangerously entwined in the investigation, despite the best…

By Sally Andrew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Recipes for Love and Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Vivid, amusing and immensely enjoyable . . . A triumph' Alexander McCall Smith

Meet Tannie Maria: the loveable writer of recipes in her local paper, the Klein Karoo Gazette.

One Sunday morning, as Maria stirs apricot jam, she hears her editor Harriet on the stoep. What Maria doesn't realise is that Harriet is about to deliver a whole basketful of challenges and the first ingredient in two new recipes - recipes for love and murder.

A delicious blend of intrigue, milk tart and friendship, join Tannie Maria in her first investigation. Consider your appetite whetted for a whole new series…