The most recommended books about drug trafficking

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to drug trafficking, and here are their favorite drug trafficking books.
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Book cover of Chasing Justice

Margaret Mizushima Author Of Standing Dead

From my list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the mountain wilderness and national parks of my home state, Colorado. In my younger days, I hiked to the mountain lakes of the Sangre de Cristo range near my hometown and then later the high-country trails of northern Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. When I began writing the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, I combined my experience as a veterinarian’s wife with my love of the great outdoors and dogs to create Killing Trail, book one of eight in my series that features Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Together they solve mysteries in the fictional mountain community of Timber Creek, Colorado.

Margaret's book list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors

Margaret Mizushima Why did Margaret love this book?

Chasing Justice starts off with a bang, literally, as an explosion in a national forest rocks Maya Thompson, a former marine who has recently started a new job with US Forest Service law enforcement, into a new challenge when she must become handler for K9 Juniper, a Belgium Mallinois whose handler has been killed.

Debut author Kathleen Donnelly delivers a tense, action-packed mystery/suspense set in the Colorado wilderness that provides a terrific start to this new National Forest K9 series. It is apparent that as a narcotics detection K9 handler, Donnelly really knows her stuff about canine nose work and dog training.

I was immediately taken with both Maya and Juniper, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

By Kathleen Donnelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A former marine learns to love again in this suspenseful, action-packed K-9 search and rescue from debut author Kathleen Donnelly.

After losing her military K-9, former marine Maya Thompson swears she’ll never work with dogs again. But when she returns home to Colorado and accepts a job with US Forest Service law enforcement, fate brings K-9 Juniper into her life just as another tragedy unfolds.

Juniper, a beautiful two-year-old Malinois, isn’t the only new addition to Maya’s life. Josh Colten, the local deputy sheriff, insists on helping with her new case. Handsome and mysterious, he’s all anyone in town can…

Book cover of American Junkie

Theresa Griffin Kennedy Author Of Talionic Night in Portland: A Love Story

From my list on to help you discover what makes people tick.

Who am I?

When I think of who I am, as a writer and a human being, I remember the words of prolific Portland poet Dan Rapheal, who wrote the foreword to my book of poetry, Blue Reverie in Smoke: “...the reader must look carefully to get a full picture of the poet herself—tender, no nonsense, quietly observing and juggernauting to make things as she thinks they should be.” I’ve never forgotten Dan’s astute appraisal of me, and it surprised me. It seems that's how I’ve always beensomeone who quietly observes, never unmoved by what I see, just trying to make sense of it, sometimes successful in that endeavor, and oftentimes, not successful at all. 

Theresa's book list on to help you discover what makes people tick

Theresa Griffin Kennedy Why did Theresa love this book?

American Junkie is a brutally honest tour de force you will never forget! The life of a young and intelligent musician with the promise of success in the 1990s Seattle Grunge scene slowly morphs into the sad reality of a man slipping into addiction and melancholy. In this memoir, Hansen struggles, but does find that his humanity is tied up in more than just addiction. Hansen was a gentleman heroin dealer, not a thug or bully. He mixed with celebrities and those unseen ghosts of the street that end up unnamed and forgotten. He had a code of ethics he lived by. Cleverly written in intimate second-person narrative voice, I loved this book because as you read, you are at once a part of Hansen’s story and in the end, you feel moved by his honesty and the unsparing way he shares the details of his life. When his final…

By Tom Hansen, Tom Hansen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A non-stop trip into one man's land of desperate addicts, failed punk bands, and brushes with sad fame, as he sells drugs during the Seattle grunge years.

In American Junkie, Tom Hansen maps his heroin addiction, from the promise of a young life to the prison of a mattress, from budding musician to broken down junkie, drowning in syringes and cigarette butts, shooting heroin into wounds the size of softballs, and ultimately, a ride to a hospital for a six-month stay and a painful self-discovery that cuts down to the bone. Through it all he never really loses his step,…

Book cover of Dead Weight: A Memoir in Essays

James E. Cherry Author Of Edge of the Wind

From my list on contemporary African American authors.

Who am I?

I'm a contemporary African American writer born and raised in the South. It was this sense of place that has shaped my artistic sensibilities. I was in my mid-twenties, searching, seeking for answers and direction on my own, when other Black southern writers were instrumental in pointing me in the right direction: Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, Ernest J Gaines, Alice Walker, Arna Bontemps, Albert Murray, just to name a handful. Their writings were revelatory. The same issues that they were dealing with a generation earlier were the same ones I was struggling with every day. It opened my eyes, mind, heart and creativity to put into perspective what I was feeling. 

James' book list on contemporary African American authors

James E. Cherry Why did James love this book?

This book epitomizes what it means to be Black and male in American society and how one’s poor choices or the choices that chose one can be overcome. Horton, a native of the segregated South and the by-product of educators, headed north to college and became swept away by the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. A major drug smuggler, he spent seven years in prison for his crime. But it was during that time, that poetry discovered him and upon his release he earned a B.A., Master, and PhD degrees. In fact, he describes himself as the only tenured professor with seven convicted felonies. In addition, Horton is an award-winning poet, essayist, musician, and devotes much of his time to outreach into the criminal justice system to provide hope for others. Dead Weight, with its theme of redemption, is destined to become an American classic and should be…

By Randall Horton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dead Weight chronicles the improbable turnaround of a drug smuggler who, after being sentenced to eight years in state prison, returned to society to earn a PhD in creative writing and become the only tenured professor in the United States with seven felony convictions. Horton's visceral essays highlight the difficulties of trying to change one's life for the better, how the weight of felony convictions never dissipates.

The memoir begins with a conversation between Horton and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man statue in New York City. Their imagined dialogue examines the psychological impact of racism on Black men and boys, including…

Book cover of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison

Chris Wilson Author Of The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose

From my list on the criminal industrial complex.

Who am I?

I am a victim of the Criminal Industrial Complex. Before being sentenced to life in prison at 17, I lived in neighborhoods that were overpoliced and violent, I went to schools that were underfunded and didn’t have the resources to support my education, and the crack epidemic and subsequent War on Drugs did irreparable damage to my family. The systems discussed in these books are the ones that fundamentally changed the course of my life. In the long run, I was able to succeed despite these systems. Read these books and understand the many odds that are stacked against so many members of our society. People just like me.

Chris' book list on the criminal industrial complex

Chris Wilson Why did Chris love this book?

Shaka Senghor is a friend and a personal inspiration of mine. This book is dear to me, not only because it’s the story of my friend, but also because, in many ways, it’s the story of my life as well. Shaka taught me so many valuable lessons in this book: the importance of writing down your goals, of having a plan, of overcoming the fear of failure. And it was just the beginning of all the flourishing I’ve seen Shaka do, and all the flourishing he has inspired from me.

While many books on my list will make you sad, angry, or both, I think this one will make you feel hopeful. It definitely did for me.

By Shaka Senghor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An “extraordinary, unforgettable” (Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow) memoir of redemption and second chances amidst America’s mass incarceration epidemic, from a member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100

Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle-class neighborhood on Detroit’s east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor—but at age eleven, his parents’ marriage began to unravel, and beatings from his mother worsened, which sent him on a downward spiral. He ran away from home, turned to drug dealing to…

Book cover of A Hustler's Wife

Joylynn M. Jossel Author Of The Root of All Evil

From my list on an urban spin on love, romance, and erotica.

Who am I?

Not only am I an avid reader of the urban love/romance/erotica genre, but I'm an award-winning, bestselling author in the genre, having written under multiple pen names. I've worked with enough traditional editors and freelance editors to know a well-crafted, entertaining, engaging read of this nature when I not only write one—ha!—but read one. As an author, I rarely offer book reviews—you'll only find one review from me on Amazon—but that's because I'm brutally honest and hard to win over, and I respect my relationship with my fellow literary artists too much to risk it on a not-so-favorable review. So, you know when I say it’s good, it’s good.

Joylynn's book list on an urban spin on love, romance, and erotica

Joylynn M. Jossel Why did Joylynn love this book?

The main character, Yarni, is living proof that all that glitters isn't gold, including love. But that sometimes all it takes is a little spit and shine to make it appear platinum. New York Times Bestselling Author, Nikki Turner, debuts into the literary industry with this title, one of her bestselling urban love stories to date.

By Nikki Turner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Yarni, a sweet and innocent girl from a well-to-do family, by chance meets Richmond's notorious drug kingpin, Des. The spark between them immediately blossoms into an astronomical love, which separates Yarni from her family and friends. But when Des is sentenced to life in prison, Yarni will learn that being a hustler's wife isn't all that easy with her sole provider behind bars.

A decade after its original release Nikki Turner’s debut novel, A Hustler’s Wife, is back and in digital form for the very first time. Nikki Turner takes readers along for the ride as Yarni struggles to survive.…

Book cover of Hello, Transcriber

Danielle Girard Author Of Up Close

From my list on thrillers set in small towns with big secrets.

Who am I?

My first books were set in and around San Francisco, an area I knew well and with plenty of opportunities for crime stories. When we moved to Montana twenty years ago, people asked when I’d write one there. I resisted setting dark stories in my own city, where my kids were growing up. Reading about the Bakken Oil Formation in North Dakota, a boom of wealth and expansion and a subsequent bust, offered a perfect storm—the kind that drives desperation, where locals conflict with newcomers, where money—new and old—drives people to make bad decisions. After a visit to the area, the fictional town of Hagen, North Dakota, and the Badlands Thriller Series was born. 

Danielle's book list on thrillers set in small towns with big secrets

Danielle Girard Why did Danielle love this book?

In Black Harbor, Wisconsin’s most crime-ridden city, Morrissey has created a town that is a villain all on its own. A place no one wants to live. Hazel Greenlee has no choice.

An aspiring writer, Hazel is trapped in a less-than-perfect marriage and takes the only job she can find—as a police transcriber. But when her neighbor confesses to hiding the body of an overdose victim in a dumpster, Hazel sees the potential for a story that might help her break out of the frozen hell of Black Harbor.

Morrissey builds Hazel’s desperation, and the desperation of the town itself, with mounting tension so well drawn you can actually feel it in your bones and an ending so intense it leaves you breathless. 

By Hannah Morrissey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every night, while the street lamps shed the only light on Wisconsin's most crime-ridden city, police transcriber Hazel Greenlee listens as detectives divulge Black Harbor's gruesome secrets. As an aspiring writer, Hazel believes that writing a novel could be her only ticket out of this frozen hellscape. And then her neighbor confesses to hiding the body of an overdose victim in a dumpster.

The suspicious death is linked to Candy Man, a notorious drug dealer. Now Hazel has a first row seat to the investigation and becomes captivated by the lead detective, Nikolai Kole. Intrigued by the prospects of gathering…

Book cover of The Coldest Winter Ever

Stephane Dunn Author Of Snitchers

From my list on Black girl coming of age everybody should read.

Who am I?

I was a book-loving Black Girl and am now a Black woman, professor-writer, and lifelong books and popular culture junkie. As a young reader, I marveled at the storytelling in books that took us into the diverse lives and deep interior of teen girls - from Are You There God It’s Me Margaret to especially ones like the five books I name which place Black girls and women at the center of the narrative. In most of the films and writings that I teach and my own book Snitchers, there’s some tragedy and pain, some blues, and perspectives that add to the truth and richness of our human and American story. 

Stephane's book list on Black girl coming of age everybody should read

Stephane Dunn Why did Stephane love this book?

What can you say about a 90s hip hop influenced urban set novel that begins in the protagonist’s voice: “I came busting out of my mama’s coochie on December . . .” nothing except I was all in from line 1!

Sister Souljah takes you on the can’t look away though you want to, self-destructive journey of ghetto princess Winter Santiago and shows the cost of a violent, nihilistic, contemporary worldview and economic inequity. Good drama, great pacing, heavyweight implications, and a convincing contemporary vernacular narrative voice make this one a must-read.

Souljah’s novel reaffirmed what other great voice novels like Zora Neale Hurston showed me, if you can hear, respect, and capture the unique accents of your characters, you can write them authentically on the page. 

By Sister Souljah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a stunning first novel, renowned hip-hop artist, writer and activist Sister Souljah brings the streets of New York to life with a powerful and utterly unforgettable tale. Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, business minded and fashionable, Winter knows no restrictions. No one can control her. She's nobody's victim. Winter knows the Brooklyn streets like she knows the curves of her own body. She manoeuvres skilfully, applying all she has learned to come out on top, no matter how dramatically the scenes change. But a cold winter wind is about…

Book cover of El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Who am I?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

A work of intrepid journalism and sizzling writing, Grillo’s El Narco is the result of upwards of a decade following the mercurial, terrifying evolution of Mexico’s drug cartels. I’ve taught this book to my Davidson College students studying Latin American politics and they repeatedly tell me that it is their favorite book they tackle in the course. 

By Ioan Grillo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'War' is no exaggeration in discussing the bloodshed that has terrorized Mexico in the past decades. As rival cartels battle for control of a billion-dollar drug trade, the body count- 23,000 dead in five years - and sheer horror beggar the imagination of journalistic witnesses. Cartel gunmen have shot up schools and rehabilitation centers, and murdered the entire families of those who defy them. Reformers and law enforcement officials have been gunned down within hours of taking office. Headless corpses are dumped on streets to intimidate rivals, and severed heads are rolled onto dancefloors as messages to would-be opponents. And…

Book cover of Deacon King Kong

Susan S. Scott Author Of Healing with Nature

From my list on inspiring resilience in the face of adversity.

Who am I?

Whether I read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or prose, I especially love books by authors whose voices resonate with authenticity and originality, and who write imaginative page-turners about characters who change and grow personally, regardless of the difficulties they face in life. When their changes lead to creating conducive conditions for others to thrive, I feel gratified and inspired by them. As a practicing psychotherapist and writer I have devoted my career to supporting people in discovering and nurturing the creative sparks within themselves. My PhD in psychology and Post-Doctoral studies, presentations, and publications over the past 45 years have focused on the healing aspect of the creative process.  

Susan's book list on inspiring resilience in the face of adversity

Susan S. Scott Why did Susan love this book?

James McBride has an enormous gift for evoking the goodness in characters whose lives are perceived to be beyond redemption. 

They inhabit the down and out realms of addiction, impoverishment, life on the streets, in housing projects rife with crime. And yet, he also reveals the faith and spirituality that binds them with love and humor, and provides them with the endurance for facing the ugliness and miracles in everyday life.

What I love most about Deacon King Kong is the surprising affection I feel for the characters that James McBride describes in hilariously creative ways, revealing the depths of their souls as well as the sins they rectify or try to cover up.

Never pious or self-righteous, these characters offer the heart of change and give us love!

By James McBride,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Brilliantly imagined, larger than life, a tragicomedic epic of intertwined lives.' JOYCE CAROL OATES

'Deeply felt, beautifully written and profoundly humane.' JUNOT DIAZ, New York Times Book Review

The year is 1969. In a housing project in south Brooklyn, a shambling old church deacon called Sportcoat shoots - for no apparent reason - the local drug-dealer who used to be part of the church's baseball team. The repercussions of that moment…

Book cover of King Suckerman

Lloyd Sachs Author Of T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit

From my list on crime with soundtracks you'll want to playlist.

Who am I?

My earliest filmgoing memory is of a bad guy getting pushed down the stairs in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. That shocking scene has stayed with me, leading me into a lifetime of exploring the dark visions of crime stories. It was only natural that my love of rock music, and in its interaction with other media would draw me to mystery writers whose books were fueled by their love of rock, blues and pop. "If not for music and movies, I wouldn't be a novelist," George Pelecanos once told me. "They have influenced me more than any author. I want to shout about it." Me too.

Lloyd's book list on crime with soundtracks you'll want to playlist

Lloyd Sachs Why did Lloyd love this book?

A lot of people know George Pelecanos from his work as a TV writer, but long before he contributed to The Wire and The Deuce, he was turning out great mysteries, most of them set in his hometown of Washington, D.C. These are smart, sociological thrillers that teach you a lot about life on the city's mean streets. What sets books like King Suckerman apart for me is how much they teach you about the way popular music—heard from car radios, boom boxes, and record store systems—defines people's lives. For me, one of the book's many highlights is a fierce exchange between a guy who, based on Jimi Hendrix's funky playing in Band of Gypsys thinks the guitarist should be filed under soul rather than rock because that was the direction he was going and a friend who responds, "What you think you are, man, the Amazing Kreskin... gonna…

By George Pelecanos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King Suckerman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13.

What is this book about?

While out looking to buy drugs, small-time dealer Dimitri Karras and his friend, record-store owner Marcus Clay, stumble into a big deal gone bad, acquire some cash that is not theirs, and become players in a savage game of cross and double-cross.