The most recommended books about deception

Who picked these books? Meet our 50 experts.

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

What type of deception book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of The Serpent of Venice

Michael Mullin Author Of Simon

From my list on books that retell plays of Shakespeare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve become a bit of a Hamlet geek in my adult years, including having a framed poster in my house that features the entire text. The passion, for me, comes from the depth and complexity of the story. It sounds like hyperbole, but there really is always something new to discover. Some years ago, I taught Hamlet in a college writing class. That experience really allowed me to dive into the text and much of the attendant criticism. The academic approach opened up whole new worlds of opinions and perspectives for which I’m very grateful.

Michael's book list on books that retell plays of Shakespeare

Michael Mullin Why did Michael love this book?

I know, I know—the same author. But wait–there’s more! Same protagonist, too! Lear’s Fool Pocket is back in this hilarious revenge sequel that features not only characters and plot from The Merchant of Venice but also Othello. (There’s also a sizeable nod to a Poe story with which I’m not familiar.) The craft of piecing this all together and making it work as a funny, engaging tale is impressive, to say the least.

Moore is a different, escapist type of read for me, and his embracing of Shakespeare in multiple books keeps me curious. Some feel this book has too much going on at the cost of depth, but I didn’t mind riding closer to the surface on this one. 

By Christopher Moore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore channels William Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe in The Serpent of Venice, a satiric Venetian gothic that brings back the Pocket of Dog Snogging, the eponymous hero of Fool, along with his sidekick, Drool, and pet monkey, Jeff. Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy of Britain and France, and widower of the murdered Queen Cordelia: the rascal Fool Pocket. This trio of cunning plotters-the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago-have lured Pocket to a dark…


Book cover of The Housekeeper

Marie Still Author Of We're All Lying

From my list on whiplash inducing twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reader and a writer, I am drawn to the darker side of human nature. Dysfunctional families, toxic relationships, liars, murderers, bring on the bad. An avid reader of horror and thrillers, I love a jaw-dropping twist. I aim for that feeling in my own novels, opening up reader questions and slowly delivering satisfying answers until the final big reveal. While inside my head is very dark and murdery, outside I live a very normal, law-abiding life, in Tampa with my husband, our four kids, and two dogs.  

Marie's book list on whiplash inducing twists

Marie Still Why did Marie love this book?

Revenge is sweet, or is it? Claire has a bone to pick with Hannah, who she blames for ruining her life. She infiltrates Hannah’s picture-perfect life by posing as a housekeeper. All that glitters isn’t gold, and when Claire moves in with Hannah, her husband, and their newborn, she discovers she’s not the only one with secrets. I can blame a few sleepless nights on this book, as I furiously flipped pages to get to the end.   

By Natalie Barelli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"...Dark and bitingly funny!"

She's a liar. She's a stalker. She's in your house.

When Claire sees Hannah Wilson at an exclusive Manhattan hair salon, it's like a knife slicing through barely healed scars. It may have been ten years since Claire last saw Hannah, but she has thought of her every day, and not in a good way. So Claire does what anyone would do in her position—she stalks her.

Hannah is now Mrs. Carter, living the charmed life that should have been Claire's. It's the life Claire used to have, before Hannah came along and took it all…


Book cover of Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory

M. Girard Dorsey Author Of Holding Their Breath: How the Allies Confronted the Threat of Chemical Warfare in World War II

From my list on World War II that make you wonder.

Why am I passionate about this?

Imagine World War II—with frequent chemical warfare attacks on cities and battlefields. Before and during World War II, laypeople and leaders held the widespread conviction that poison gas would be used in the next big war more destructively than in World War I. Churchill considered using gas if Germany invaded Britain. Roosevelt promised retaliation if the Axis used gas. Canada tested gas in Alberta’s fields. Fear and preparation for gas attacks permeated multiple countries, from laypeople to the top, from civilians to the military, but few talk about it. This is a hidden story of World War II, but one worth knowing. Just the threat of gas influenced the conflict.

M.'s book list on World War II that make you wonder

M. Girard Dorsey Why did M. love this book?

This is one of the most tricky, macabre, and yet human deception plans in World War II. The sheer cleverness involved as an Allied team, including James Bond creator Ian Fleming, created a pretend Marine, fake invasion plans, and a non-existent crash as part of an operation to trick the Germans reads like fiction.

The gamble had real-life consequences. If the operation had failed, the invasion of Sicily would have cost many more Allied lives and probably delayed the end of the war. While there have been older accounts of the events, Ben McIntyre is a talented and credible journalist and historian who often focuses on tales of espionage. Every time I read this one, I wonder:  How did they pull that deception off? 

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A NETFLIX FILM STARRING COLIN FIRTH • The “brilliant and almost absurdly entertaining” (Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker) true story of the most successful—and certainly the strangest—deception carried out in World War II, from the acclaimed author of The Spy and the Traitor

“Pure catnip to fans of World War II thrillers and a lot of fun for everyone else.”—Joseph Kanon, The Washington Post Book World

Near the end of World War II, two British naval officers came up with a brilliant and slightly mad scheme to mislead the Nazi armies about where the…


Book cover of The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception

Philip Mirowski Author Of The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics

From my list on the politics of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economist who came to realize that the marketplace of ideas was a political doctrine, and not an empirical description of how we came to know what we think we know. Science has never functioned in the same manner across centuries; it was only during my lifetime that it became recast as a subset of market reality. I have spent a fair amount of effort exploring how economics sought to attain the status of a science; but now the tables have turned. It is now scientists who are trained to become first and foremost market actors, finally elevating the political dominance of the economists.

Philip's book list on the politics of science

Philip Mirowski Why did Philip love this book?

If Oreskes & Conway documented the historical trend, Michaels shows what the daily battle over the implications of science for governance is like from within. As former Assistant Secretary for Labor for OSHA, he recounts the never-ending combat over how science is generated and interpreted when it comes to the safety and comprehension of the American public. From dark money to hired guns to compromised scientists, he puts names and faces to the war on science, with truth as the first casualty.

By David Michaels,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Opioids. Concussions. Obesity. Climate change.

America is a country of everyday crises - big, long-spanning problems that persist, mostly unregulated, despite their toll on the country's health and vitality. And for every case of government inaction on one of these issues, there is a set of familiar, doubtful refrains: The science is unclear. The data is inconclusive. Regulation is unjustified. It's a slippery slope.

Is it?

The Triumph of Doubt traces the ascendance of science-for-hire in American life and government, from its origins in the tobacco industry in the 1950s to its current manifestations across government, public policy, and even…


Book cover of Diversion and Deception: Dudley Clarke's a Force and Allied Operations in World War II

Helen Fry Author Of The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of World War II

From my list on deception in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Helen is an ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence, a trustee of the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum, and a trustee of the Medmenham Collection. Her latest book Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6 about one of the greatest spies of the 20th century, was a Daily Mail best biography for 2021. Her history of MI9—the first such history for over 40 years—was shortlisted for The Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History. 

Helen's book list on deception in WW2

Helen Fry Why did Helen love this book?

This is perhaps an unusual choice in that it focuses on deception outside the sphere of countries usually covered by historians. Bendeck explores the numerous deceptions around D-Day, in a cluster of operations that were known as Plan Bodyguard. He explores the little-known, but vital, Plan Zeppelin which was the largest and most complex of the Bodyguard plans. Plan Zeppelin, in conjunction with A Force’s strategic deception plans in the Mediterranean, succeeded in convincing Hitler to hold back sixty German divisions from southern France and move them to the Balkans in time for D-Day. Focusing on the years 1943 to 1945, Bendeck illuminates how A Force, under the leadership of charismatic Dudley Clarke, orchestrated both strategic and tactical deception plans to create the illusion of military threats by the Allies to German defences and troops across the southern perimeter of Europe. Her book is a nuanced and important…

By Whitney T. Bendeck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Among the operations known as Plan Bodyguard, the deception devised to cover the Allies' Normandy landing, was the little known but critical Plan Zeppelin, the largest and most complex of the Bodyguard plans. Zeppelin, in conjunction with the Mediterranean Strategy, succeeded in pinning down sixty German divisions from southern France to the Balkans in time for D-Day. This was the work of "A" Force, Britain's only military organization tasked with carrying out both strategic and tactical deception in World War II. Whitney T. Bendeck's Diversion and Deception finds "A" Force at its finest hour, as the war shifted from North…


Book cover of The Woman in White

Alex Gough Author Of Caesar’s Soldier

From Alex's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author History nut Ancient Rome nut Scientist Guitarist

Alex's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Alex Gough Why did Alex love this book?

Although dated in style, it is a fascinating and intriguing read, a page-turning mystery with plot twists, multiple points of view, and unreliable narrators. I listened to this old classic with narration by the late great Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy). 

The characters are the high point, however, just staying on the right side of caricature and making the reader truly invested in the outcome. 

By Wilkie Collins,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Woman in White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its range of best-loved, essential classics.

'The woman who first gives life, light, and form to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature that has remained unknown to us till she appeared.'

One of the earliest works of 'detective' fiction with a narrative woven together from multiple characters, Wilkie Collins partly based his infamous novel on a real-life eighteenth century case of abduction and wrongful imprisonment. In 1859, the story caused a sensation with its readers, hooking their attention with the ghostly first scene where the mysterious 'Woman in White'…


Book cover of Someday, Somewhere

Anna Hecker Author Of When the Beat Drops

From my list on YA about girls who literally rock.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a painfully awkward teenager, two years younger than the rest of my class and a little too “extra” to fit in anywhere. I spent all of high school desperately seeking my weirdos—people who would accept me the way I was, rabid-puppy enthusiasm and all. One night I met a colorfully-dressed trio on the street who invited me to a loft party that changed my life. That night I fell in love with NYC’s underground party scene: the high-energy music, grimy locations, and most of all the people. I had found my weirdos. When the Beat Drops is my love letter to discovering your people and finding your scene. 

Anna's book list on YA about girls who literally rock

Anna Hecker Why did Anna love this book?

I was dying to read this book because I'd heard it was structured after Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano, and even though it's not a piece I'm intimately familiar with I could almost hear the music as I read. Even though it's billed as a love story, it's not so much a typical romance as it is an ode to following your passions, listening to your heart, and falling in love with New York City...for the first time, or all over again. As a longtime New Yorker I found myself rediscovering the city through Dominique's eyes, and I even learned some cool NYC facts I'd never heard before (not going to spoil anything, but I listen to the subway in a whole new way now)! Highly recommended for anyone who loves music, New York, or lyrical writing about flawed but shimmering characters.

By Lindsay Champion,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someday, Somewhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Structured like a sonata, this heartbreaking debut novel hits all the right notes.

Dominique is a high school junior from gritty Trenton, barely getting by. Ben is a musical prodigy from the Upper East Side, a rising star at a top conservatory.

When Dom’s class is taken to hear a concert at Carnegie Hall, she spots Ben in the front row, playing violin like his life depends on it — and she is transfixed.

Posing as an NYU student, Dom sneaks back to New York City to track him down. Soon, the two are desperately in love, each seeing something…


Book cover of The Cottingley Secret

Cindy Thomson Author Of Enya's Son

From Cindy's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author History-lover Word-weaver Spiritual seeker Reader Lover of all things Irish

Cindy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Cindy's 2, and 3-year-old's favorite books.

Cindy Thomson Why did Cindy love this book?

This book looks back to a simple act that had rippling effects. The historical thread is set in 1917, a dark time. 

We sometimes forget people at the time didn’t know how the war would end and desperately needed hope. In this story, two young girls claim they photographed fairies, an innocent tale. But the two become famous when Sir Arthur Conan Doyles hears of it.

One hundred years later, a woman discovers the story and photograph and realizes that what is real and what is fantasy can intertwine today just as it had back then.

This story made me consider how easily people can be convinced of something they desperately want to believe. What if this seemingly impossible thing happened? How does that change how I view the world?

These questions kept me turning pages. This was a 5-star read for me.

By Hazel Gaynor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author turns the clock back to a time when two young girls convinced the world that fairies really did exist...

1917: When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, announce they have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when the great novelist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, endorses the photographs' authenticity, the girls become a sensation; their discovery offering something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war.

One hundred years later... When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript and a photograph in her…


Book cover of Lady Audley's Secret

Amy Carol Reeves Author Of Ripper (A Ripper Novel)

From my list on to get your Sherlock Holmes fix.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think the lure of the detective novel lies in our human instinct to problem solve. There’s something satisfying about following a smart, observant, and even flawed character as they solve a crime. We’re working through a complicated puzzle, deciphering clues and theorizing, alongside the detective. Personally, I love detective novels set in richly drawn historical settings. I grew up addicted to Edgar Allan Poe and Sherlock Holmes stories. I remember reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins in a few days because I couldn’t put it down. The following books are a must-have for any Sherlock Holmes fans.

Amy's book list on to get your Sherlock Holmes fix

Amy Carol Reeves Why did Amy love this book?

Often overlooked on detective fiction lists, Lady Audley’s Secret is a hidden gem. My favorite Victorian detective novel, I didn’t discover the book until grad school, and since have taught it in numerous British lit courses. When Robert Audley becomes curious about the beautiful, young bride of his uncle, Michael Audley, he starts investigating her past. He finds surprising ties to his friend George Talbot, who, years earlier, abandoned his young wife and son to seek his fortune in Australia. What I love about this book is how Braddon plays with Victorian anxieties—particularly preoccupations with the unconventional means a woman might go through to escape unhappiness. 

By Mary Elizabeth Braddon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Originally published in Robin Goodfellow magazine, Lady Audley's Secret is the essential work of Mary Elizabeth Braddon and is considered a staple of sensation fiction. The story centers on a mysterious woman, whose dark past slowly comes to light.

Lady Audley is a former governess who marries the wealthy widower, Sir Michael Audley. She thoroughly enjoys the life of privilege and status associated with her new husband. Although she appears beautiful and polished, Lady Audley is more than meets the eye. She has a dark secret that could jeopardize everything she's worked for. To maintain her facade, she plots and…


Book cover of The Postscript Murders

Susan McCormick Author Of The Fog Ladies

From my list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a doctor, an award-winning writer, and lifelong lover of mysteries. Many mysteries feature smart characters. I prefer those with wise characters, who can teach me something about a life well-lived. Or not. Sometimes the mistakes are more instructive and more fun. Stories with older characters offer a plethora of life experience and wisdom, and usually poignancy and humor as well. From my life as a doctor and my daily visits to my mother’s retirement community dinner table, I see seniors who are strong, wise, vital, and often overlooked. I love stories that give voice to this robust and rich generation who have so much to offer.

Susan's book list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters

Susan McCormick Why did Susan love this book?

This is Book 2 in a series but can easily be read alone.

It introduces several older characters, including the page one murder victim, each of whom is so well-sketched they could be your friend or neighbor. The story has an excellent murder, a twist, wonderful characters, and humor.

The best is that the unlikely sleuths are a mixture of old and young, male and female, many backgrounds, yet all best of friends and all very funny yet sometimes heartbreaking.

By Elly Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

INVENTING CRIME STORIES CAN GET YOU KILLED

'A LOVE LETTER TO MURDER MYSTERIES' SUNDAY MIRROR

The ultimate gripping murder mystery to curl up with, from the bestselling author of The Stranger Diaries and the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka's account of Peggy Smith's death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her...

And that Peggy Smith had been a 'murder consultant'…