The best books about homicide

Who picked these books? Meet our 49 experts.

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

What type of homicide book?


The Dry

By Jane Harper,

Book cover of The Dry

Rebecca Tope Author Of A Cotswold Killing

From the list on unexpected twist to a familiar situation.

Who am I?

I grew up on farms, and have experienced the undercurrents that exist in small villages, which is why I like crime novels with rural settings. I worked as a couple counsellor for a while, which taught me that no fictional character can quite equal the real quirks and inconsistencies of real people—but I love those books which get close. Charles Dickens probably does it best! In my own novels I try to achieve something approaching this, in characters who break away from stereotypes and behave unpredictably. I like to think I manage to be witty sometimes, tooI really love humour, especially when it’s wordplay or subtly ironic.

Rebecca's book list on unexpected twist to a familiar situation

Discover why each book is one of Rebecca's favorite books.

Why did Rebecca love this book?

Set in Australia, the story opens with a dead man lying in the desert heat. The quest to discover who he is, and what happened to him provide a most satisfying read, involving family feuds and community tensions. I can’t think of another book where I was so desperate to learn what had led to the man’s death—the back story, the reasons and the truth of the various family relationships. The central character is endearing and the slow realisations that dawn on the reader are handled with great skill. I have been to Northern and Western Australia a number of times, so could visualise the setting very well. I am fascinated by the lives of those living in such a hostile environment.

By Jane Harper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'One of the most stunning debuts I've ever read...Read it!' David Baldacci

'Packed with sneaky moves and teasing possibilities that keep the reader guessing...The Dry is a breathless page-turner' Janet Maslin, New York Times



I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community…

A Great Reckoning

By Louise Penny,

Book cover of A Great Reckoning

N.L. Blandford Author Of The Perilous Road To Her

From the list on thrillers you won't want to put down.

Who am I?

I devour dark, gripping, thrillers which take readers on a journey alongside the characters. People who battle their own demons on whatever road they travel. It’s with this passion that I write stories which do the same. I bring readers into the story to the point where they are cheering for both the hero and the villain. Throw in a few twists and cliffhangers and voila – readers don’t sleep, or do their chores ;) The books on this list fuel my need to be thrilled. I hope you grip the pages like I did…and forget those chores!

N.L.'s book list on thrillers you won't want to put down

Discover why each book is one of N.L.'s favorite books.

Why did N.L. love this book?

Another author first for me…I know what is wrong with me! I wish Three Pines was real and I could meet all of the residents.

Each character is endearing, even the foul-mouthed Ruth, and reaches into the heart of the reader. I look forward to getting to know them over the numerous books in the series.

This book isn’t as dark as I typically read; however, the mystery of who the caped person on the golf course was, why they were there, and the side mystery of the history of the town had me losing track of time. 

Forget walking the dog. Take a walk through Three Pines and just try to leave town before you’ve finished the book!

By Louise Penny,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Former Chief Inspector Gamache has been hunting killers his entire career and as the new commander of the Surete Academy, he is given the chance to combat the corruption and brutality that has been rife throughout the force. But when a former colleague and professor of the Surete Academy is found murdered, with a mysterious map of Three Pines in his possession, Gamache has an even tougher task ahead of him.

When suspicion turns to Gamache himself, and his possible involvement in the crime, the frantic search for answers takes the investigation to the village of Three Pines, where a…


By David Simon,

Book cover of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

Geoffrey C. Fuller Author Of The WVU Coed Murders: Who Killed Mared and Karen?

From the list on crime exploring more than the crime.

Who am I?

I’m always intrigued by certain kinds of crime stories, but usually not by the crimes themselves. Straightforward whodunits bore me, and simplistic retellings of the hero myth just strike me as wrong. About thirty years ago, I began to wonder why—which crime stories intrigue me and which seem more like exercises in voyeurism. Turns out the stories I really get into wrap me in previously unseen worlds. They offer a fresh take, bring up unexpected considerations, present a new way to view the crime, or demonstrate why what I’d always thought was mistaken or insufficient. Such books present the crime, but contain much more than the crime.

Geoffrey's book list on crime exploring more than the crime

Discover why each book is one of Geoffrey's favorite books.

Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Baltimore Sun crime reporter David Simon practically lived with the Baltimore City police to produce Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

I love the writing, which is clean but descriptive. In the thirty years since it came out, this book has often been imitated but is still without rival. He wasn’t reporting stories I’d heard before (good guys chasing bad guys), and the social forces that the book explored (individual and institutional) were palpably real and never drawn in one dimension.

The contents inspired decades of television, from network TV’s Homicide: Life on the Street to The Wire, arguably the best police procedural ever produced. As a fan of both shows, I was drawn to this source material, which was layered with cynicism, hope, and dark humor.

By David Simon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the creator of HBO's The Wire, the classic book about homicide investigation that became the basis for the hit television show

The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the center of this hurricane of crime is the city's homicide unit, a small brotherhood of hard men who fight for whatever justice is possible in a deadly world.

David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and this electrifying book tells the true story of a year on the violent streets of…

The Killing Consensus

By Graham Denyer Willis,

Book cover of The Killing Consensus: Police, Organized Crime, and the Regulation of Life and Death in Urban Brazil

Robert Gay Author Of Bruno: Conversations with a Brazilian Drug Dealer

From the list on the drugs and violence in Brazil.

Who am I?

When I was twelve, my family moved to Brazil for a year because of my father’s work. I’ve been fascinated by the country and it has been always been the focal point of my research. Initially, my focus was how neighborhood associations in Rio’s favelas took advantage of new political opportunities during the transition to democracy in the mid-1980s. By the mid-1990s, however, the neighborhoods had all been occupied by heavily armed and occasionally violent drug gangs. Since then, I've tried to figure out the dynamics of this process, from the involved actors’ points of view. Including the voices of participants in drug gang life and those, like Bruno, who bring drugs to market.

Robert's book list on the drugs and violence in Brazil

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

This tremendous little book is about who has the right to discipline and kill. In an ideal world, the author argues, this right is monopolized by territorial entities we know as states. This is not the case in Brazil, however. In Brazil, or rather in metropolitan São Paulo, the right to discipline and kill is shared—hence the book’s title—between the various agents of the public security state and an extremely well-organized and powerful criminal faction known as the Primeiro Comando do Capital or PCC.

By Graham Denyer Willis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We hold many assumptions about police work that it is the responsibility of the state, or that police officers are given the right to kill in the name of public safety or self-defense. But in The Killing Consensus, Graham Denyer Willis shows how in Sao Paulo, Brazil, killing and the arbitration of normal killing in the name of social order are actually conducted by two groups the police and organized crime both operating according to parallel logics of murder. Based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork, Willis' book traces how homicide detectives categorize two types of killing: the first resulting…

The Sinner

By Tess Gerritsen,

Book cover of The Sinner

Vee Kumari Author Of Dharma: A Rekha Rao Mystery

From the list on families disguised as mysteries.

Who am I?

Being an immigrant from India, a culture that places family values above all else, I am drawn to books that explore family conflicts, secrets, and the triumph of love against all odds. When an author incorporates these themes into a mystery, the book becomes more than a simple formulaic whodunnit story that educates me about the complexities of our lives.

Vee's book list on families disguised as mysteries

Discover why each book is one of Vee's favorite books.

Why did Vee love this book?

This novel gave me an insight into the cloistered grounds of a convent where two nuns are found, one dead, one mortally wounded. The killings appear to be without motive, without an obvious suspect, and are further complicated by the murder and mutilation of a third woman. A medical examiner Maura Isles and a homicide detective Jane Rizzoli (both introduced in earlier Tess Gerritsen novels) uncover an ancient horror that connects these terrible slaughters. I love the camaraderie between Isles and Rizzoli despite their contrasting personalities, and the fact that the story takes us to a distant land where it all started.

By Tess Gerritsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



'Absolutely riveting - you won't be able to put this down' Mo Hayder

Two nuns are brutally attacked within the walls of their convent. There seems to be no shred of motive. But during the autopsy Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles discovers something entirely unexpected.

And when a second, heavily mutilated body is found and linked to the case, she and Detective Jane Rizzoli find themselves in the midst of a terrifying investigation that seems to implicate everyone.

Because who…

Murder and the Making of English CSI

By Ian Burney, Neil Pemberton,

Book cover of Murder and the Making of English CSI

Katherine D. Watson Author Of Medicine and Justice: Medico-Legal Practice in England and Wales, 1700-1914

From the list on the history of forensic medicine.

Who am I?

I work on topics where medicine, crime, and the law intersect, aided by an undergraduate degree in chemistry and stimulated by my fascination with how criminal justice systems work. I have published on the history of poisoning, vitriol attacks, assault, child murder, and the role of scientific expertise in criminal investigations and trials, focusing on Britain since the seventeenth century. I’ve contributed to many TV documentaries over the years, and enjoy the opportunity to explain just why the history of crime is about so much more than individual criminals: it shows us how people in the past lived their lives and helps explain how we got where we are today.  

Katherine's book list on the history of forensic medicine

Discover why each book is one of Katherine's favorite books.

Why did Katherine love this book?

This is an important resource for anyone interested in the history of twentieth-century forensic practice, because it explains the rise of forensic science as a discipline separate from forensic medicine. Forensic scientists, based in laboratories, analyse trace evidence found at crime scenes, while forensic pathologists focus on the dead body in the mortuary. An analysis of the 1953 serial murders committed by John Christie at his infamous London address, 10 Rillington Place, shows how murder investigations had by then become team efforts centred on the crime scene itself. 

By Ian Burney, Neil Pemberton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder and the Making of English CSI as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Crime scene investigation-or CSI-has captured the modern imagination. On television screens and in newspapers, we follow the exploits of forensic officers wearing protective suits and working behind police tape to identify and secure physical evidence for laboratory analysis. But where did this ensemble of investigative specialists and scientific techniques come from? In Murder and the Making of English CSI, Ian Burney and Neil Pemberton tell the engrossing history of how, in the first half of the twentieth century, novel routines, regulations, and techniques-from chain-of-custody procedures to the analysis of hair, blood, and fiber-fundamentally transformed the processing of murder scenes. Focusing…

Book cover of The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Frances McNamara Author Of Molasses Murder in a Nutshell: A Nutshell Murder Mystery

From the list on real women in criminology.

Who am I?

I was frustrated by stories of gilded-age women who floundered around and were pitied because of the limitations society put on them. I thought the heroine of House of Mirth was not heroine but a loser. It seemed to me there must be other women out there who weren’t just sitting around bemoaning their predicament. Since I’m a mystery writer I was especially pleased to find some women who were out there doing things, even in criminology. Finding Frances Glessner Lee was the icing on the cake when I learned that she is known as the Mother of Forensic Science. Had to be great stories there.

Frances' book list on real women in criminology

Discover why each book is one of Frances' favorite books.

Why did Frances love this book?

A book of photographs that show the Nutshell Studies in great detail.

This book inspired me to learn more about the wealthy woman who spent so much time creating these hugely detailed crime scenes.

Why? It took more research to learn that she had developed a passion for teaching investigators to follow the old saying "convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”

It seems to me this is what the investigator is always trying to do in mystery stories, like the 9 I had already written in my Emily Cabot Mysteries. If a picture is worth a thousand words, these pictures suggest a lot of stories.

By Corinne May Botz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death offers readers an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a master criminal investigator. Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy grandmother, founded the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1936 and was later appointed captain in the New Hampshire police. In the 1940s and 1950s she built dollhouse crime scenes based on real cases in order to train detectives to assess visual evidence. Still used in forensic training today, the eighteen Nutshell dioramas, on a scale of 1:12, display an astounding level of detail: pencils write, window shades move, whistles blow, and clues to the…

Werewolf Cop

By Andrew Klavan,

Book cover of Werewolf Cop

Sarah M. Awa Author Of Hunter's Moon

From the list on pawsitively awesome werewolfs.

Who am I?

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

Sarah's book list on pawsitively awesome werewolfs

Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.

Why did Sarah love this book?

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

By Andrew Klavan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

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

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

Book cover of First in Violence, Deepest in Dirt: Homicide in Chicago, 1875-1920

Peter Boag Author Of Pioneering Death: The Violence of Boyhood in Turn-Of-The-Century Oregon

From the list on death and violence of late-19th-century America.

Who am I?

As a student, the Gilded Age bored me to no end. Since then, I have come to understand that the era’s paradoxes, contingencies, and uncertainties are what has created modern America; they have preoccupied my research and writing since. I undertook Pioneering Death as a meditation on how one of the darkest and most intensely personal events—parricide—is both an expected and unexpected outcome of the interconnectedness between place, region, and nation during the Gilded Age. I hope my very select booklist about death, violence, and brutal killings assists you to recognize how these are central to the human condition and how they are foundational to modern America. 

Peter's book list on death and violence of late-19th-century America

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books.

Why did Peter love this book?

Lynching is central to the late 19th century and thus the theme that I explore in my recommendations, but covers this tragic subject elsewhere. Instead, for my last book, I offer Adler’s study that explains the persistently high and even increasing rates of violence and homicide in Chicago during an era when varied modern social controls—urban reform, the discipline of the factory floor, expanding education and the bureaucratic state—swept over that city as they did over America, too. According to older theories about social turbulence and murder, these should have declined. Instead, the opposite was true, though the forms that violence took did change. Perhaps it was Adler’s intention to leave frighteningly unanswered what it is about people generally, and Americans specifically, that the dark impulses they have run so deeply that they are impervious to social control.

By Jeffrey S. Adler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked First in Violence, Deepest in Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1875 and 1920, Chicago's homicide rate more than quadrupled, making it the most violent major urban center in the United States--or, in the words of Lincoln Steffens, "first in violence, deepest in dirt." In many ways, however, Chicago became more orderly as it grew. Hundreds of thousands of newcomers poured into the city, yet levels of disorder fell and rates of drunkenness, brawling, and accidental death dropped. But if Chicagoans became less volatile and less impulsive, they also became more homicidal.

Based on an analysis of nearly six thousand homicide cases, First in Violence, Deepest in Dirt examines the…

On Killing

By Lt. Col. Dave Grossman,

Book cover of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

Ryan Smithson Author Of Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI

From the list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth.

Who am I?

As an equipment operator for the Army Corps of Engineers, I didn’t serve in a “combat” role, per se, but the engineers go wherever the military needs things built, so we were often repairing IED damage, hauling supplies outside the wire, or fortifying bases so the infantry, cavalry, etc. could do their job effectively. Coming home, I owe a lot of my successful reintegration to my writing and the many people who encouraged me to share it with the world. Now with my Master of Arts in English, I’ve taught college courses on military culture, and I present for veteran art groups, writing workshops, and high schools and colleges around the country.

Ryan's book list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth

Discover why each book is one of Ryan's favorite books.

Why did Ryan love this book?

Grossman is a former Army Ranger who digs deep into the psychological impact of taking human life through countless interviews with fellow soldiers of all kinds. Combining these accounts with thorough psychological research, Grossman comments on society's collective aversion to killing while helping us understand its complicated acceptance—and even encouragement—of wartime killing. What was most surprising to me was that historically, only about 4% of soldiers even fire their weapon during war, and how obviously that skews from the “norm” of combat portrayed in popular media. It’s an honest, eye-opening, and important piece of work that should be required reading for every service member, police officer, or anyone tasked with carrying society’s heaviest burden.

By Lt. Col. Dave Grossman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young. Upon its first publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a…

The Ranger

By Ace Atkins,

Book cover of The Ranger

Mike Attebery Author Of Firepower

From the list on crime novels if you appreciate style and humor.

Who am I?

I have loved mysteries and crime thrillers since I worked at the legendary R.J. Julia Booksellers in high school. A lifelong love of books and movies led me to pursue a career in screenwriting and later in indie publishing. My most popular books, including Seattle On Ice, Chokecherry Canyon, and The Grimwood Trilogy all mix fast-paced action with film references and plenty of humor.

Mike's book list on crime novels if you appreciate style and humor

Discover why each book is one of Mike's favorite books.

Why did Mike love this book?

Ace Atkins is a master of the crime genre. It’s no wonder Robert B. Parker’s estate tapped him to carry on the Spenser series. He’s great at capturing places and the internal monologues of weary men. He’s also able to tell stories just seedy enough to keep readers curious, without making them cringe. The first book in Atkins’ Quinn Colson series is on par with Elmore Leonard’s Raylan Givens books. Quinn seems entirely real, the small town he returns to after a years-long absence feels lived in and believable. And the pacing is masterful. Whereas Perry drags readers along for the action, Atkins makes you feel as though you’re sitting in the backseat, riding down the winding roads of Tibbehah County in northeast Mississippi as Quinn uneasily approaches another backcountry crime scene.    

By Ace Atkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Northeast Mississippi is hill country, rugged and notorious for outlaws since the Civil War, where killings are as commonplace as they were in the Old West. To Quinn Colson, just back from a tour of Afghanistan, it's home. But home has changed.

Quinn returns to a place overrun by corruption. His uncle, the county sheriff, is dead - officially it was suicide, but others whisper murder. In the days that follow, it will be up to Colson, now an Army Ranger, to discover the truth - not only about his uncle, but also about his family, friends, hometown and himself.…

Falling Angel

By William Hjortsberg,

Book cover of Falling Angel

Joe Hamilton Author Of Right Place, Wrong Time

From the list on funny mysteries that'll keep you up at night.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian author of eleven mystery/thriller novels that combine suspense and humor, featuring unorthodox private detective Gabriel Ross. Pick a book from the series to step back in time to Biloxi, Mississippi, in the late '70s and early '80s. You'll get caught up in a fast-paced plot driven by compelling and unusual characters. There are elements of my books that I can directly attribute to the five books I've chosen.  

Joe's book list on funny mysteries that'll keep you up at night

Discover why each book is one of Joe's favorite books.

Why did Joe love this book?

A mysterious client approaches a tough-as-nails private investigator named Harry Angel. At first blush, it looks like a straightforward missing person's case. But as he starts peeling back the onion, Harry discovers a deeper mystery and a load of bad guys, murder, and voodoo. I recommend this book because of the author's hard-boiled writing style and how he describes the scenes. 

By William Hjortsberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Filmed as Angel Heart by Alan Parker

An outstanding, spellbinding novel of murder, mystery and the occult, Falling Angel pits a tough New York private eye, Harry Angel against the most fearsome adversary a detective ever faced - one Louis Cyphre. For Angel a routine missing-persons case turns into a fiendish nightmare of voodoo and black magic, of dizzying peril and violent death - a world in which the shadow he chases seems to be the shadow he casts.

The Cardigans

By Cole McCade,

Book cover of The Cardigans

Sarah Luddington Author Of Fortune's Soldier: Shadow Ops Alpha

From the list on gay romance thrillers with strong plots and men.

Who am I?

This is a list for those who love a tough guy with a soft heart. If you crave a story with passion, heat, and that zing of a good thriller, then this is the list for you. I love a romance wrapped around a strong plot. I need a book to stimulate my mind and give my old heart its “Aw, shucks,” moment. I’ve been fascinated by those who serve and the long-term effects it has on mental health. These books tackle the effects of PTSD, trauma, and its consequences. I believe the romance genre, when done well, is one of the best for examining this darkness.

Sarah's book list on gay romance thrillers with strong plots and men

Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.

Why did Sarah love this book?

This is the first in a long-running series about two very different police officers in Baltimore. Cole builds two characters who are fire and ice, both wounded and broken by their pasts and unable to accept the future is anything but bleak. The investigations are fast-paced and clever, often touching on difficult subjects with a deft hand of a skilled writer. The romance is a very slow burn, but the growing attraction between these two men is worth the wait. These books are savage at times, but also lyrical and beautifully written. The characters, the city, the murders, they make everything so very real. Again, we learn what it’s like to be a gay man in a hetero-normative world and how difficult it is to succeed.

By Cole McCade,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Read the complete first two seasons of this thrilling, action-packed investigative suspense romance with two strong-willed detectives, an undeniable slow burn attraction, and a terrifying puppetmaster in the shadows before Season Three returns!


When a string of young queer men turn up dead in grisly murders, all signs point to the ex-boyfriend—but what should be an open-and-shut case is fraught with tension when BPD homicide detective Malcolm Khalaji joins up with a partner he never wanted. Rigid, ice-cold, and a stickler for the rules, Seong-Jae Yoon is a watchful presence whose obstinacy and unpredictability constantly remind Malcolm…


By Martin Daly, Margo Wilson,

Book cover of Homicide: Foundations of Human Behavior

Stephen K. Sanderson Author Of Human Nature and the Evolution of Society

From the list on understanding the biological basis of social life.

Who am I?

I have a PhD in sociology but know almost as much about anthropology. I am a comparative sociologist specializing in the study of the entire range of human societies. This gives me an advantage in knowing which social practices are universal, which are only common, and which are uncommon or not found at all. This is critical in being able to assess the basic features of human nature. For over thirty years I have been studying the literature on Darwinian approaches to human behavior, especially sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. I am one of the leading sociologists in the world today studying the biological basis of social behavior. 

Stephen's book list on understanding the biological basis of social life

Discover why each book is one of Stephen's favorite books.

Why did Stephen love this book?

This husband-wife team uses Darwinian natural selectionist thinking to account for the most important features of homicide throughout the world. A basic principle of Darwinian theory is known as kin selection, which means that people favor kin over nonkin and close kin over distant kin. In this regard, the authors show, for example, that people are much more likely to kill unrelated acquaintances and strangers than genetic kin, and that child homicide is perpetrated much more often by stepparents than by natural parents. The authors also show that there is a huge sex difference in rates of killing. Throughout the world the vast majority of killing is done by men. This is because men are competing with other men for the status and resources needed to secure mates for reproduction.

By Martin Daly, Margo Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The human race spends a disproportionate amount of attention, money, and expertise in solving, trying, and reporting homicides, as compared to other social problems. The public avidly consumes accounts of real-life homicide cases, and murder fiction is more popular still. Nevertheless, we have only the most rudimentary scientific understanding of who is likely to kill whom and why. Martin Daly and Margo Wilson apply contemporary evolutionary theory to analysis of human motives and perceptions of self-interest, considering where and why individual interests conflict, using well-documented murder cases. This book attempts to understand normal social motives in murder as products of…

Hot and Sour Suspects

By Vivien Chien,

Book cover of Hot and Sour Suspects

Andrea J. Johnson Author Of Poetic Justice

From the list on cozy mysteries for readers who love culinary crimes.

Who am I?

Cozy mysteries are one of the most misunderstood subgenres in fiction, so I’ve been advocating for their promotion for nearly a decade. Even going to far as getting my M.F.A. in the subject and writing a book, How to Craft a Killer Cozy Mystery. These stories focus on the puzzle or whodunit aspect of mystery and present any deaths in a bloodless manner. The focus typically centers on an amateur sleuth and their community rather than law enforcement or villains. My picks are all by female authors of color and have heroines whose culinary inclinations not only help them solve the crime but also leave audiences hungry for another helping.  

Andrea's book list on cozy mysteries for readers who love culinary crimes

Discover why each book is one of Andrea's favorite books.

Why did Andrea love this book?

In the early entries of Vivien Chien’s beloved Noodle Shop Mysteries, the focus is on protagonist’s Lana Lee’s failed love life, her mother’s determination to find her a husband, the family restaurant, and murder, of course. But Hot and Sour Suspects focuses more on the dating trials and tribulations of Lana’s friend and local shop owner, Rina Su, who attends a speed dating contest at Lana’s Ho-Lee Noodle House. It isn’t long before Rina’s date is found murdered and Lana takes up the responsibility of uncovering the truth before the situation and subsequent deaths threaten to sour the reputations and businesses of her fellow restaurant owners. 

By Vivien Chien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lana Lee returns for another delectable cozy set in a Chinese restaurant in Vivien Chien's Hot and Sour Suspects.

"Pair your noodles with this steaming mystery, and you have the perfect chilly night combination!”—PopSugar

At the Ho-Lee Noodle House, murder is on the menu.

When Lana Lee’s best friend, Megan Riley, asks her to help host a speed dating contest at Ho-Lee Noodle House, she doesn’t see the harm in lending a hand. The night goes better than anticipated, and both Lana and Megan are beyond thrilled with the results. But before they can break out the champagne, Rina Su,…

Homicide in Hardcover

By Kate Carlisle,

Book cover of Homicide in Hardcover

Hannah Dennison Author Of Murder at Honeychurch Hall

From the list on murder and humor set in small communities.

Who am I?

My picks reflect my passion for the cozy mystery genre (which I write myself!) One of the reasons I love cozy mysteries is that justice always prevails. There is no violence, bad language, or sex on the page. The murders take place in a small town or community where everyone is known to everyone else. If you like Murder She Wrote and Midsomer Murders, you’ll enjoy this genre. 

Hannah's book list on murder and humor set in small communities

Discover why each book is one of Hannah's favorite books.

Why did Hannah love this book?

I love the adventures of bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright. There are 15 books in the series and each one features a well-known book as a backdrop that is integral to the plot. The plots are clever with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. Most of all I enjoy the interaction of the characters – Brooklyn was brought up in a commune and was named after the bridge beneath which she was conceived … which says it all really!

By Kate Carlisle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book expert Brooklyn Wainwright discovers that murder is always a bestseller in the first novel in the New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mystery series.

Brooklyn Wainwright is a skilled surgeon. Sure, her patients might smell like mold and have spines made of leather, but no ailing book is going to die on her watch. The same can’t be said of Abraham Karastovsky, Brooklyn’s friend and former employer. 
On the eve of a celebration for his latest book restoration, Brooklyn finds her mentor lying in a pool of his own blood. With his final breath Abraham leaves Brooklyn with a cryptic…


By Koji Suzuki, Glynne Walley (translator),

Book cover of Ring

Andi Brooks Author Of Ghostly Tales of Japan

From the list on Japanese yurei and yokai.

Who am I?

I am an Anglo-Irish writer who has lived in Japan for eighteen years. During that time, my interest in the Japanese supernatural has deepened to the point where it is now the main focus of my writing. In my free time, I enjoy traveling around Japan collecting local ghost stories and folk tales. This, along with my extensive reading of both fiction and non-fiction on the topic, has provided a rich source of inspiration for my writing. I am also a keen observer of people, daily life, and the environment in which I live, which helps me to colour and add realism to my stories. 

Andi's book list on Japanese yurei and yokai

Discover why each book is one of Andi's favorite books.

Why did Andi love this book?

I first saw the film adaptation of Ring at a film festival in 1998 and was blown away by it. The English translation of the novel wasn’t published in the UK until 2004, but it was worth the wait. It’s difficult now that Sadako has become such a cliched and parodied character to appreciate the impact the character had. The book is much bigger in scope than the film, also providing the inspiration for the film Rasen. I slightly regretted not having read it before seeing the film so that I could have felt the impact Japanese readers must have felt. Ring was the first modern Japanese novel that I read. Reading it coincided with me getting to know Japan for real and was more of a point of reference than any guidebook. Long after I leave Japan, Ringu will remind me of the country I left behind.

By Koji Suzuki, Glynne Walley (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stunning Japanese thriller with a chilling supernatural twist. The novel that inspired the cult Japanese movie and the Hollywood blockbuster of the same name.

Asakawa is a hardworking journalist who has climbed his way up from local-news beat reporter to writer for his newspaper's weekly magazine. A chronic workaholic, he doesn't take much notice when his seventeen-year-old niece dies suddenly - until a chance conversation reveals that another healthy teenager died at exactly the same time, in chillingly similar circumstances.

Sensing a story, Asakawa begins to investigate, and soon discovers that this strange simultaneous sudden-death syndrome also affected another two…


By Scott Sigler,

Book cover of Nocturnal

Blake M. Petit Author Of Other People's Heroes

From the list on superheroes outside of graphic novels.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and teacher from Ama, Louisiana, who has also been a reader of comic books since I first learned how to read. I spent many years as a columnist, reviewer, and podcaster for a now-defunct comic site, while also working on my own novels, humor columns, and even the occasional stage play. My time these days is split between my day job as a high school English teacher, my dream job writing, and my full-time job of being the father of a five-year-old.

Blake's book list on superheroes outside of graphic novels

Discover why each book is one of Blake's favorite books.

Why did Blake love this book?

Homicide detective Bryan Clauser is on the verge of a breakdown: as San Francisco is gripped by a series of gruesome murders, his own dreams seem to be mirroring the crimes. As Clauser tries to find the link between his dreams and the deaths, he finds himself caught up in an underground world of horrors that he is uniquely equipped to battle against. Sigler is one of my favorite modern writers, blending science fiction and horror seamlessly. In this novel, he’s given us a story that’s part gore-soaked monster movie and part superhero origin story, with characters that stay with you long after you’ve put the book down.

By Scott Sigler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Scott Sigler reinvented the alien-invasion story in his bestselling novels Infected and Contagious… rebooted the biotech thriller in Ancestor…now, in his most ambitious, sweeping novel to date, he works his magic on the paranormal thriller, taking us inside a terrifying underworld of subterranean predators that only his twisted mind could invent.
Homicide detective Bryan Clauser is losing his mind. 
How else to explain the dreams he keeps having—dreams that mirror, with impossible accuracy, the gruesome serial murders taking place all over San Francisco? How else to explain the feelings these dreams provoke in him—not disgust, not horror, but excitement? 

The Maul and the Pear Tree

By P. D. James, T.A. Critchley,

Book cover of The Maul and the Pear Tree

Sarah Wise Author Of The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave-Robbery in 1830s London

From the list on true crime shoiwng fact is FAR odder than fiction.

Who am I?

While completing a Master’s degree in Victorian Studies at the University of London, I stumbled across a passing reference to a series of killings in 1831 in East London. I was astonished that I had never heard of these and further research resulted in my first book, The Italian Boy. Three books later I realise now that all my work is an attempt to squeeze out of the archives the less-recorded aspects of the everyday life of ‘marginalised’ people. And I guess that’s why I have selected the true crime books below – they all shine a bright light on previously little-known aspects of our world, and reveal the inter-relationship of victims, criminal, and location of the deed.

Sarah's book list on true crime shoiwng fact is FAR odder than fiction

Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.

Why did Sarah love this book?

There is something very wrong with the official version of the Ratcliff Highway Murders of 1811, in which seven were killed – so much that simply does not add up. Detective fiction writer James and historian Critchley teamed up in 1971 to use their respective talents to sift the contradictory accounts of the killings of the Marr and Williamson households. They brilliantly capture the atmosphere of Regency Wapping and come up with an unusual partial solution, exonerating John Williams, whom tradition has always fingered as the killer.

By P. D. James, T.A. Critchley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1811 John Williams was buried with a stake in his heart. Was he the notorious East End killer or his eighth victim in the bizarre and shocking Ratcliffe Highway Murders? In this vivid and gripping reconstruction P. D. James and police historian T. A. Critchley draw on forensics, public records, newspaper clippings and hitherto unpublished sources, expertly sifting the evidence to shed new light on this infamous Wapping mystery.

This true crime novel begins amid the horror of a dark, wintry London in the year 1811. Using elegant historical detection P.D. James and police historian T.A. Critchley piece together…

Cop Hater

By Ed McBain,

Book cover of Cop Hater

Desmond P. Ryan Author Of 10-33 Assist PC

From the list on police procedurals with a flawed protagonist.

Who am I?

For almost thirty years, I worked as a cop in the back alleys, poorly lit laneways, and forgotten neighbourhoods in Toronto, the city where I grew up. Murder, mayhem, and sexual violations intended to demean, shame, and haunt the victims were all in a day’s work. Whether as a beat cop or a plainclothes detective, I dealt with good people who did bad things and bad people who followed their instincts. And now that I’m retired, I can take some of those experiences and turn them into crime fiction novels.

Desmond's book list on police procedurals with a flawed protagonist

Discover why each book is one of Desmond's favorite books.

Why did Desmond love this book?

I really enjoyed the entire 87th Precinct series, wherein Ed McBain creates the American police procedural genre.

Cop Hater, the first in the series, is hard-hitting, fast-paced, filled with complex characters, and captures the essence of a cop’s soul while giving the reader a wonderful glimpse into the world of criminal investigations.

By Ed McBain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The murder of three detectives in quick succession in the 87th Precinct leads Detective Steve Carella on a search through the city's underside and ultimately into the murderer's sights