The best books about kidnapping

Who picked these books? Meet our 136 experts.

136 authors created a book list connected to kidnapping, and here are their favorite kidnapping books.
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What type of kidnapping book?


Book cover of All Your Twisted Secrets

Marie Hoy-Kenny Author Of The Girls from Hush Cabin

From the list on YA thrillers you’ll stay up way too late reading.

Who am I?

I’m a teacher who has mainly taught the eighth grade. When I read short stories and books aloud to my students, I pay attention to when I feel their interest waning and when they’re completely enthralled. Books are so much more action-driven than they used to be and there is often not a lot of description of setting and appearances. I can tell that my students lose interest in scenes that describe a room, for example, in careful detail. They want to hear about what the characters are saying and doing. They also like to feel like they’re being let in on secrets. 

Marie's book list on YA thrillers you’ll stay up way too late reading

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

Why did Marie love this book?

This book is an awesome locked-room thriller about six teens who are invited to a dinner and find themselves trapped in a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note with instructions that they have to decide who among them to kill within the next hour or they’ll all be murdered.

There’s something about close-proximity thrillers that gets me every single time. As a person who is definitely not a big fan of enclosed spaces in real life, these types of books have me breathless.

By Diana Urban,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked All Your Twisted Secrets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thrilling debut, reminiscent of new fan favorites like One of Us Is Lying and the beloved classics by Agatha Christie, that will leave readers guessing until the explosive ending.

"Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting."

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it's a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to…

The Cellar

By Natasha Preston,

Book cover of The Cellar

Christina Casino Author Of Unforeseen

From the list on throwing you directly into the character's shoes.

Who am I?

I enjoy writing fiction. I’ve never been drawn to one genre in particular so because of this my novels seem to fluctuate depending on the mood I am in when writing. I like the flexibility that self-publishing allows—being able to write in whatever genre I want. To not be bound to one. So far, I have written romantic suspense, crime thriller, and fantasy—with the hopes of one day soon writing a good horror story! I always dreamed of writing about the things that I would never see or never do and the things that are just not possible, I think that’s what keeps it exciting for me.

Christina's book list on throwing you directly into the character's shoes

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

Why did Christina love this book?

The Cellar will have you holding your breath at each turn! I felt like my skin was crawling while I was reading this book and I was thinking of ways to escape the nightmare. Natasha Preston did a fantastic job of making you feel like you’re living in Summer’s shoes. It’s a gripping story of a horrific kidnapping and the new life Summer finds herself living in. This book makes you glance twice over your shoulder when you’re walking alone at night and it is a reminder of how quickly something like this can happen. The Cellar opens your mind to both the kidnapper and the captives. Highly recommend this book!   

By Natasha Preston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller!
A gripping, ripped-from-the-headlines, twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling thriller author Natasha Preston!
Summer is trapped in a cellar with the man who took her-and three other girls: Rose, Poppy, and Violet. His perfect flowers. His family. But flowers can't survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out...
Teen thrillers also by Natasha Preston:
The Cabin
You Will Be Mine
The Lost
The Twin


By Skye Warren,

Book cover of Wanderlust

Kay Freeman Author Of The Devil You Know: Gothic Romance Suspense

From the list on gothic with obsessed characters.

Who am I?

I’ve always had an interest in art, growing up a military brat and constantly moving, left me time to doodle and read. I spent the first part of my life as an art professor and artist. I began writing three years ago when my manuscript was chosen for RWA’s Ramp program in 2021. With my art, my interest leans more towards the bizarre and unexplained. I believe the romance stories I write follow suit, dark and gothic romance my primary interest, but always with spiritual and hopeful undertones. I also write some non-fiction for a local magazine where I live, The Greenville Stroll and on substack a newsletter for romance writers.

Kay's book list on gothic with obsessed characters

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

Why did Kay love this book?

Skye Warren is one of my favorite romance authors. Her Endgame Trilogy got me hooked on romance. However, I love Wanderlust even more.

It chronicles the story of a budding photographer who leaves her overbearing mother to work in another city. On her way there, a trucker kidnaps and holds her in the back of his truck as they cross the country. This book has a similar theme as my book and some of the others I've listed and deals with captivity and power.

I've read this book several times, once as a reader and then as a writer, analyzing how to transform a morally gray character or someone despicable into someone readers could care about. Turning hatred for an abductor into pity and wanting him to be with the heroine is no easy feat. I'm still impressed with her skill.

By Skye Warren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I loved the story! I loved that it made me feel, that it turned me on, turned me off, made me pause and think, twisted my stomach into knots..." - Haydee's ReviewsCan love come from pain?Evie always dreamed of seeing the world, but her first night at a motel turns into a nightmare. Hunter is a rugged trucker willing to do anything to keep her--including kidnapping. As they cross the country in his rig, Evie plots her escape, but she may find what she's been looking for right beside her.Wanderlust is a full-length dark romance novel that explores captivity and…

Dear Miss Metropolitan

By Carolyn Ferrell,

Book cover of Dear Miss Metropolitan

Joan Silber Author Of Secrets of Happiness

From the list on linking characters who seem to be strangers.

Who am I?

One of my favorite bits of praise for my books was Michael Silverblatt, of KCRW, saying, "There is no one else like her—she invents a new improvised form for her fiction." The last five books of fiction I’ve written (my total is nine) have been webs, spinning out from one character to another, across different times and places. It lets me be intimate and distant both at once. So I’ve naturally loved reading writers who’ve done this in various ways. People like to quote John Berger saying, “Never again shall a single story be told as though it were the only one,” and I’m in line with that. 

Joan's book list on linking characters who seem to be strangers

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

Why did Joan love this book?

In a novel inspired by the decade-long kidnapping of three women in Cleveland, Ferrell has crafted a story out of voices. We hear each of the young women—their inner obsessions and distractions, the details they live inside of—before, during, and after their confinement, and their joy in each other. But Ferrell has also included the Miss Metropolitan of her title, a nosy woman living on the same street, with her eager attentions misdirected, one of the neighbors who didn’t notice. There’s an extra ambition in the reach of that, a context that insists on including unexpected corners, picking up lots of loosely connected characters to get the full meaning of the story.

By Carolyn Ferrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A finalist for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
A finalist for the 2022 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel

Introducing an extraordinary and original writer whose first novel explores the intersections of grief and rage, personal strength and healing--and what we owe one another.

Fern seeks refuge from her mother’s pill-popping and boyfriends via Soul Train; Gwin finds salvation in the music of Prince much to her congregation’s dismay and Jesenia, miles ahead of her classmates at her gifted and talented high school, is a brainy and precocious enigma. None of this matters to Boss Man, the monster who abducts…

Show Me a Sign

By Ann Clare LeZotte,

Book cover of Show Me a Sign

Shirley Vernick Author Of Ripped Away

From the list on historical fiction for young readers.

Who am I?

I fell in love with historical fiction as a child, devouring books like Johnny Tremain and The Door in the Wall. While I always wanted to be a writer, and I always loved history, it took a special discovery to align my two interests. In college, I learned that “real history” had happened in my little hometown in northern New York in the 1920s. A small girl had gone missing, and local anti-Semites accused the Jewish community of murdering her for a ritual sacrifice. It got ugly. Decades later, this incident became the subject of my first novel, The Blood Lie.

Shirley's book list on historical fiction for young readers

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

Why did Shirley love this book?

This engrossing book, inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 1800s, triumphantly probes our perceptions of ability and disability. I’m always drawn to stories that explore what it means to be and/or feel different. Too many youngsters (and adults) equate being different with being less than, whether the different person is themselves or someone else. I don’t know if our species will ever fully break free of that false belief, but novels like this one go a long way toward achieving that goal.

By Ann Clare LeZotte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Show Me a Sign as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't miss the companion book, Set Me Free


Winner of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award * NPR Best Books of 2020 * Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 * School Library Journal Best Books of 2020 * New York Public Library Best Books of 2020 * Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2020 * 2020 Jane Addams Children's Book Award Finalist * 2020 New England Independent Booksellers Award Finalist

Deaf author Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard…

Along Came a Spider

By James Patterson,

Book cover of Along Came a Spider

J.J. McGraw Author Of Marked Targets

From the list on thrillers and mysteries that don’t let go.

Who am I?

I love to write thriller/mystery books and the more twists I can come up with, the happier I am. I want the reader to be drawn in, and become a part of the stories. That’s why I picked these five books. I like the way they pull you into the stories, and keep you guessing, sometimes even to the end. I have always been fascinated by the workings of the criminal mind. I worked in Law Enforcement for over 25 years and received my Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology/Latent evidence, helping me to spin stories, keeping people guessing, and yearning to find out what’s happening next!

J.J.'s book list on thrillers and mysteries that don’t let go

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

Why did J.J. love this book?

I was hooked by James Patterson’s first book of the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. A predator that enjoys playing mind games with Detective Cross, and a kidnapping that sends one of those thoughts through your mind, “No, they didn’t do that, did they?” One of the things I enjoyed are the short chapters. It’s filled with psychological suspense, a real thriller that I didn’t want to put down. This is something that I crave in books. For it to grab my attention, hold it, and surprise me at the end. And Patterson delivers.

By James Patterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Along Came a Spider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legendary thriller that launched the Alex Cross phenomenon

Adapted into a major Hollywood movie starring Morgan Freeman

Two children have been kidnapped from an elite private school in Washington DC, and Detective Alex Cross is charged with finding them.

The kidnapper's identity is quickly determined as one of the children's teachers. But capturing him is the true challenge.

As Cross gets pulled deeper into the strange world of the kidnapper, it becomes clear he is far more dangerous than anyone could have anticipated.

'No one gets this big without amazing natural storytelling talent - which is what…

Bring Back Our Girls

By Joe Parkinson, Drew Hinshaw,

Book cover of Bring Back Our Girls: The Untold Story of the Global Search for Nigeria's Missing Schoolgirls

Kenneth Dekleva Author Of The Last Violinist

From the list on hostage negotiation.

Who am I?

My book recommendations reflect my experience as a former US government physician-diplomat, based overseas in Russia, Mexico, Europe, and South Asia, where I was involved in working closely with law enforcement and diplomatic negotiators in several highly sensitive, delicate, and dangerous hostage situations, both as a consultant and in providing medical support/care coordination to released hostages. I always found this work to be exhilarating and demanding, and it left me with the highest respect for law enforcement, diplomatic, and mental health professionals who work in this space. As a result, I’ve had additional formal training in hostage negotiation, negotiation psychology, and medical/psychological support to victims.

Kenneth's book list on hostage negotiation

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

Why did Kenneth love this book?

This book is an incredible story of the behind-the-scenes efforts to locate and free the 276 young Nigerian [Chibok] schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014, a kidnapping which attracted worldwide media attention. 

It’s a story of 2 tales: first, of the incredible courage and Christian faith of those young girls, which in many cases, sustained them, keeping them alive physically, psychologically, and spiritually as they underwent immense hardships and tortures. Second, it’s a tale of two other heroes, a Nigerian lawyer, Zanna Mustapha, and a Swiss diplomat, Pascal Holiger, who worked tirelessly over many years to free many of the hostages. 

A gripping read about Nigeria, Christian faith, hostage negotiation, terrorism, and redemption.

By Joe Parkinson, Drew Hinshaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bring Back Our Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens after you click tweet?. . . The heart-stopping and definitive account of the rescue mission to free hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, and their heroic survival, after their 2014 kidnapping spurred a global social media campaign that prompted the intervention of seven militaries, showing us the blinding possibilities-for good and ill-of activism in our interconnected world.

In the spring of 2014, American celebrities and their Twitter followers unwittingly helped turn a group of teenagers into a central prize in the global War on Terror by retweeting #BringBackOurGirls, a call for the release of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls who'd been kidnapped…

In the Presence of the Enemy

By Elizabeth George,

Book cover of In the Presence of the Enemy

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?

Threat of exposure of a scandalous affair takes Lynley and his sidekick Havers from London into the countryside, where they reveal how a hidden past and the mistaken identity of a father by his son, led to murder. I love it for the writing style – George's later books became too big for me – the characters she creates with such clarity and passion, who are put into situations that threaten their lives, reputation, and ideals.

By Elizabeth George,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the editor of a popular left-wing tabloid, Dennis Luxford has made a career out of scandal. But this time the scoop involves his own daughter. To save the life of his child, Luxford must expose the girl's mother - Eve Bowen, now Under Secretary of State for the Home Office. And Eve refuses to involve the police, convinced that Charlotte's disappearance is just one more shabby tabloid ploy.

Only when events take an unbearable turn is New Scotland Yard brought in, in the guise of Inspector Thomas Lynley and his partner, Barbara Havers. And as their investigations move from…

The Eagle Has Landed

By Jack Higgins,

Book cover of The Eagle Has Landed

Trevor D'Silva Author Of A Bloody Hot Summer

From the list on Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Who am I?

Even though I’m an engineer and accountant by education, I love to write and growing up, I read many historical fiction and murder mysteries. History spanning from the Victorian Era until the mid-twentieth century has always fascinated me, and I’ve studied various events from that period. Therefore, I wrote A Bloody Hot Summer, a crime novel using some historical events as a background. The interwar years were the heyday of crime fiction, and that is why I set my novel during that period. While researching, I get to expand my knowledge regarding history, culture, art, language, and values of those times, which I add to the novel.

Trevor's book list on Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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

Why did Trevor love this book?

Even though this book is mainly about a group of Germans trying to kidnap Prime Minister Winston Churchill as he is on his way to the Tehran Conference in 1943, the backstory gave me a few ideas for my book. It has an unusual story of an English woman revered by the villagers, but only when the Germans take over the village, her real identity is revealed. She is actually a Boer and was a survivor of a Boer Concentration camp run by the British during the Second Anglo Boer in South Africa. Filled with vengeance against the British for what they did to the Boers and to her family, she changes her identity, moves to England, and works as a spy for the Germans to kidnap PM Churchill. 

By Jack Higgins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the Allied forces slowly begin turning the tide of war, Hitler vehemently orders the impossible-kidnap Winston Churchill, or kill him. A crack team of commandos led by a disgraced war hero must venture into the heart of England to carry out their mission, or die trying.

Meanwhile, in a quiet seaside village, a beautiful widow and an IRA assassin have already laid the groundwork for what will be the most treacherous plot of the war. It begins on November 6, 1943, when Berlin receivs the fateful message...

"First rate...a fascinating adventure story." -San Francisco Chronicle

"The master's master of…

And Then She Was Gone

By Rosalind Noonan,

Book cover of And Then She Was Gone

Kate Robards Author Of The Three Deaths Of Willa Stannard

From the list on missing children.

Who am I?

A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Emotionally driven, tense, full of despair and hope, these stories captivate me. When I decided to include a cold case mystery of a toddler’s disappearance in my debut novel, I dove deep into both true crime and fictional novels on the subject. These books represent a range of gripping mysteries about not only finding missing children, but the scrutiny and heartache their mothers face. I hope you find these stories as absorbing, powerful, and suspenseful as I do!

Kate's book list on missing children

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

Why did Kate love this book?

This book is haunting, and different from other missing child stories in that the child returns home early in the story.

And Then She Was Gone is about the healing journey of the victim and family, with a captivating mystery at its core. It’s intensely emotional, thought-provoking, and deeply believable. The changing points of view are well done, and each character stands on their own.

By Rosalind Noonan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eleven-year-old Lauren O'Neil vanished one sunny afternoon as she walked home from school. Six years later, her parents Rachel and Dan still tirelessly scour their Oregon hometown and beyond, always believing Lauren will be found. Then one day, the call comes.

Lauren has been rescued from a secluded farm mere miles away, and her abductor has confessed. Yet her return is nothing like Rachel imagined. Though the revelations about what Lauren endured are shocking, most heartbreaking of all is to see the bright-eyed, assertive daughter she knew transformed into a wary, polite stranger.

Lauren's first instinct is to flee. For…


By Lucy Christopher,

Book cover of Stolen

Patrick Cave Author Of Dying of Exposure: Oli

From the list on teenagers in love and lust.

Who am I?

Like all of you reading this, I am an infinite multi-dimensional being of incredible beauty and light with my own unique connection to Source! The answer to the question ‘who am I?’ (for anyone) is not to be found in all the constructs of identity we get encouraged to build, covering our brightness with ego and opinion and beliefs and values and supposed fragility where we are not in fact fragile at all. My book subject choice for this list, though, is all about our first steps into that weird and wonderful world of ‘relationships,’ fuelled by exploding hormones, romantic dreams, social programming and, somewhere underneath (underneath the inadequacy), a perfect connection with other.

Patrick's book list on teenagers in love and lust

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

Why did Patrick love this book?

This disturbing and sensual tale of a teenage girl kidnapped and held by an obsessive young man was something I had to read in a day. The writing has a kind of D.H. Lawrence quality in that every part of the Outback landscape, every object and garment and exchange seems to vibrate with physicality and sexuality. The story is also gripping, a page-turner, and such a wonderful examination of where love and obsession meet, of Stockholm Syndrome and survival, and the jumble of feelings from the most animal to the most selfless that we all have to pick our way through.

By Lucy Christopher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I was stolen from an airport.

Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used

Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected
me to love him.

This is my story.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken
to the Australian Outback.

Ty, her captor, is no stereotype - he's young and attractive.

This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning.
He loves only her, wants only her.

Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world
outside, can the force of his love…

Blue Monday

By Nicci French,

Book cover of Blue Monday

Jenny Twist Author Of A Gift for Murder: A Tommy Ross mystery

From the list on crime fiction with memorable plots and characters.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading crime fiction all my life. I love following the detective sifting through the evidence—the clues, the false trails, and the eventual denouement. It was a crime fiction book that made me realise that history is not fixed but is, in fact, detective work. It changes as more evidence is discovered or a new interpretation is accepted. That book made me decide to take history as my subject at university and I spent six deliriously happy years examining evidence, evaluating it, and, reaching conclusions. Amongst my case studies were the princes in the tower, the gunpowder plot, and witchcraft. Happy days!

Jenny's book list on crime fiction with memorable plots and characters

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

Why did Jenny love this book?

Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist dedicated to helping her patients overcome their private horrors. She tells them that they are in a safe place with her—nothing will go beyond these walls. Until one day, a patient’s dreams and desires accord so closely to the case of a missing child that she decides to break that promise.

She finds herself involved in a complex police investigation that can only be solved with her specialist insight. The tension mounts to breaking point as she tracks down the killer, ending in a shocking climax that comes straight out of the left field.

By Nicci French,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in the Frieda Klein Mystery series

"Complex psychological suspense at its best." -Booklist (starred review)

Immensely intelligent and poignantly human, Frieda Klein has captivated book critics and crime readers everywhere with her debut outing as Blue Monday's iconoclastic heroine. A psychotherapist and insomniac who spends her nights walking along the ancient rivers that lie beneath modern London, Frieda stars in a dazzling new crime series in which the terrors of the mind spill over into real life.

When five-year-old Matthew Farraday is abducted, Frieda cannot ignore the fact that his photograph perfectly matches the boy one of…

Say Nothing

By Patrick Radden Keefe,

Book cover of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

Jane Hamilton Author Of The Excellent Lombards

From the list on sad but funny bummer literature.

Who am I?

I’m no particular expert on anything, but I know what I love in a book, and I’ve read approximately a million books, plus or minus. I’ve written novels with the hope that they will be funny and poignant in about equal measure, I value humor in books more than just about anything, and here I have listed books that I cherish.  

Jane's book list on sad but funny bummer literature

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

Why did Jane love this book?

Say Nothing is nonfiction. Keefe is a first-rate storyteller, an expert researcher, and a writer who can explain complex matters simply and beautifully. 

Even if you’re not interested in the Troubles of Ireland, or in Ireland, this book allows for an understanding of how local war is, how neighbors become enemies, how war breeds war, and how governments don’t work to erase poverty or manage the anger of young people. 

On top all of that, there are the archives at Boston University, which figure in the tale, and, the passage of time, which allows the participants to reflect on their youth. This was the best book that I read in 2018.  

By Patrick Radden Keefe,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Say Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER •From the author of Empire of Pain—a stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devastating repercussions

"Masked intruders dragged Jean McConville, a 38-year-old widow and mother of 10, from her Belfast home in 1972. In this meticulously reported book—as finely paced as a novel—Keefe uses McConville's murder as a prism to tell the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Interviewing people on both sides of the conflict, he transforms the tragic damage and waste of the era into a searing, utterly gripping saga." —New York Times Book Review

Jean McConville's…

The Butterfly Garden

By Dot Hutchison,

Book cover of The Butterfly Garden

Jeannette de Beauvoir Author Of Dead in the Water

From the list on stories involving kidnapping.

Who am I?

One of the joys of writing a mystery series is you have time to explore your characters—who they are, where they come from, what motivates them. In this particular series, I’d established a rift between the protagonist and her family, and I began to wonder why it was there. My own sister died when still a baby, yet her absence cast a long, complicated shadow over our family for decades. I wanted to explore more about the family dynamics around a missing child—and kidnapping seemed the best tool to get there. So I read everything I could about kidnapping to present that absence in both intimate and compelling ways.

Jeannette's book list on stories involving kidnapping

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

Why did Jeannette love this book?

This book is both absolutely gorgeous and deeply disturbing.

The premise is simple: in an FBI interview, a young woman recounts the horrific ordeal she’s survived as a member of a serial killer’s “garden” of kidnapped victims. The reading experience is considerably more complex. Much of the story is told in flashbacks, allowing the reader to explore Maya’s experience in the Garden; that’s then balanced with her FBI interview, filling in blanks and establishing her as an almost-reliable narrator.

The dual timeline—one of my favorite devices to read and write—is handled brilliantly, and Hutchinson successfully achieves a formidable tightrope act, balancing the brutality of torture and murder with an elegant and refined narrative.

Her darkness is graceful—but it’s still darkness. 

By Dot Hutchison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees...and a collection of precious "butterflies"-young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle…


By Tim Johnston,

Book cover of Descent

Jennifer Fawcett Author Of Beneath the Stairs

From the list on thrillers that give you something to chew on.

Who am I?

I love thrillers. Mysteries, police procedurals, domestic noir, horror—no matter the sub-genre, I love books that grip me in a well-structured plot. But the books that I re-read, that leave me thinking about them long after, have more than just the pull of a page-turner. There’s a lushness to the language, a psychological complexity to the characters, and the landscapes are alive, vivid, and filled with menace. I call these books “chewy” because, like excellent food, there’s so much to savor. They satisfy my cravings and fill me up, but their flavors and textures add layers to the experience. I hope you’ll devour and savor these books as much as I have.

Jennifer's book list on thrillers that give you something to chew on

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

Why did Jennifer love this book?

This book is a meticulous and gut-wrenching story of the unraveling of a family. At its center, is a young woman who is abducted while running in the Rockies, but it is so much more than that (and that story in and of itself is riveting). I’ve always been drawn to stories that look at the ripples of an act of violence. There’s the shock of the act itself, but then there’s all of the days and years after. What Johnston does so beautifully in this story is show how this family unravels but also how each one of them fights like hell to survive within that unraveling and how that hope ultimately saves them all. 

By Tim Johnston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As their world comes undone, the Courtlands are drawn into a vortex of dread and recrimination. Why weren't they more careful? What has happened to their daughter? Is she alive? Will they ever know? Caitlin's disappearance, all the more devastating for its mystery, is the beginning of the family's harrowing journey down increasingly divergent and solitary paths until all that continues to bind them together are the questions they can never bring themselves to ask: At what point does a family stop searching? At what point will a girl stop fighting for her life? Written with a precision that captures…

Gone Missing in Harlem

By Karla FC Holloway,

Book cover of Gone Missing in Harlem

G.P. Gottlieb Author Of Charred: A Whipped and Sipped Mystery

From the list on fabulous historical mysteries set in American cities.

Who am I?

I read at least 100 books each year, mostly novels, and before I became a published author in 2019, used to send a list of my favorite 30 to hundreds of friends, friends of friends, and family. I began hosting New Books in Literature, a podcast channel on the New Books Network, in 2018, and have interviewed over 180 authors so far. It was tough to choose just 5 top books, but in looking over all those interviews, I remembered how much I loved reading these books, all set in the United States long before the 21st century.

G.P.'s book list on fabulous historical mysteries set in American cities

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

Why did G.P. love this book?

This novel about an African American family struggling to survive in early 20th century America touches upon many things, including African American soldiers coming home from WWI, the Great Migration north, and the world of 1930s Harlem.

It’s historical literary fiction and a mystery, but it’s ultimately a stunning novel about the lengths a mother will go to protect her family. Holloway is emerita professor of English and Law at Duke University, and I loved talking to her about her retirement career as an author!

By Karla FC Holloway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her anticipated second novel, Karla Holloway evokes the resilience of a family whose journey traces the river of America's early twentieth century. The Mosby family, like other thousands, migrate from the loblolly-scented Carolinas north to the Harlem of their aspirations-with its promise of freedom and opportunities, sunlit boulevards, and elegant societies.

The family arrives as Harlem staggers under the flu pandemic that follows the First World War. DeLilah Mosby and her daughter, Selma, meet difficulties with backbone and resolve to make a home for themselves in the city, and Selma has a baby, Chloe. As the Great Depression creeps…

The Lucky One

By Lori Rader-Day,

Book cover of The Lucky One

Deborah Halber Author Of The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases

From the list on cold cases involving unidentified victims.

Who am I?

I’d always known about the Lady of the Dunes. I’d read about how she was found in the dunes of Provincetown, Massachusetts, on July 26, 1974. I didn’t know about the tens of thousands of other unidentified victims like her, stowed around the US in the back rooms of morgues and unmarked graves. As a journalist who has always given a voice to those who struggle to be heard, I feel compelled to research and write about these Jane and John Does and the people who work to keep their cases in the public eye. I share a unique bond with writers who do the same.

Deborah's book list on cold cases involving unidentified victims

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

Why did Deborah love this book?

I am biased toward any writer who features amateur sleuths. Lori Rader-Day not only plunges readers into a compelling story with a delightfully twisty ending, she also pays tribute to the volunteers who slave away on real-life sites such as The Doe Network. When the protagonist comes across a picture of a missing person, she realizes it’s someone from her past and resolves, for complicated reasons, to track him down. 

By Lori Rader-Day,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"This might well be my favorite Rader-Day so far: a brilliant premise intriguingly developed, totally believable characters and a climax that took my breath away." - Ann Cleeves, New York Times bestselling author of The Shetland and Vera Series

From the author of the Edgar Award (R)-nominated Under A Dark Sky comes an unforgettable, chilling novel about a young woman who recognizes the man who kidnapped her as a child, setting off a search for justice, and into danger.

Most people who go missing are never found. But Alice was the lucky one...

As a child, Alice was stolen from…

The End of Miracles

By Monica Starkman,

Book cover of The End of Miracles: A Novel

C.J. Washington Author Of The Intangible

From the list on the fluidity of reality.

Who am I?

My background is in computer science, specifically artificial intelligence. As a student, I was most interested in how our knowledge of the human brain could inform AI and vice versa. As such, I read as much neuroscience and psychology as I could and spent a lot of time thinking about how our minds create reality out of our senses. I always appreciate a novel that explores the fluidity of reality.

C.J.'s book list on the fluidity of reality

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

Why did C.J. love this book?

False Pregnancy, a mysterious and fascinating condition, is a topic of The End of Miracles, written by a psychiatrist who has witnessed the condition up close.

The novel examines how unfulfilled desire can meet with mental illness (or perhaps lead to mental illness) and alter our perceptions in ways that can have outsized effects on our behavior. The tale is told with great sympathy and respect for its protagonist and has no shortage of surprising twists.

By Monica Starkman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

International Book Awards 2016 finalist for literary fiction

The End of Miracles is a twisting, haunting story about the drastic consequences of a frustrated obsession.

A woman with a complex past wants nothing more than to become a mother, but struggles with infertility and miscarriage. She is temporarily comforted by a wish-fulfilling false pregnancy, but when reality inevitably dashes that fantasy, she falls into a depression so deep she must be hospitalized. The sometimes-turbulent environment of the psychiatry unit rattles her and makes her fear for her sanity, and she flees. Outside, she impulsively commits a startling act with harrowing…


By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Book cover of Kidnapped

Catherine Czerkawska Author Of The Last Lancer: A Story of Loss and Survival in Poland and Ukraine

From the list on bringing european history vividly to life.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by social history since childhood, although I didn’t know that was what it was called, back then. When I did a postgraduate Masters in Folk Life Studies, it helped to confirm my love of books that, in skilfully fictionalising historical events, allow us to see them through the eyes of people most closely affected by them: ordinary people leading their lives throughout difficult and dangerous times or finding themselves in extraordinary relationships. It’s what I try to do in my own work, fiction and non-fiction alike. My book recommendations here are the kind of books I wish I had written.

Catherine's book list on bringing european history vividly to life

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

Why did Catherine love this book?

Kidnapped was the first novel to make me understand how a talented writer could turn historical events into an entertaining story.

Written in 1886, it is set in 1751, just after the Jacobite Rising of 1745. As a young writer, I dramatised it for BBC Radio, fell in love with Alan Breck and still find him the most attractive man in literature. "A man I would rather call my friend than my enemy" as Stevenson describes him. Kidnapped is a romance as well as an adventure or, more accurately, a bromance between young David Balfour and irrepressible, dangerous, honourable Alan Breck.

It highlights the differences between highland and lowland Scottish culture, differences that persist to this day. If you love history and Scotland, I defy you not to be captivated by it.

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, swashbuckling novel about a young boy who is forced to go to sea and who is then caught up in high drama, daring adventure and political intrigue.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is introduced by Louise Welsh and features black and white illustrations.

Headstrong David Balfour, orphaned at seventeen, sets out from the Scottish Lowlands to seek his fortune in Edinburgh. Betrayed by his wealthy Uncle…

The Emperor's Tomb

By Steve Berry,

Book cover of The Emperor's Tomb

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

From the list on weaving adventure and history.

Who am I?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

Discover why each book is one of E. Chris' favorite books.

Why did E. Chris love this book?

Dan Brown may have initiated the genre, but Steve Berry takes it a few steps further. He spends more time developing the historical reality, and less time on invention, and his streamlined prose really delivers on the promise of his plot.

In this book, Berry links a contemporary interest in fossil fuels with a striking source of historical data—a lamp taken from the tomb of the first Emperor of China, familiar to a Western audience mainly because of the army of terra cotta warriors defending the tomb to this day. Berry delves into the legends about that tomb, then brings it vividly to life.

If Brown gives his readers entry into a secret society, Berry hands over the key to a hidden realm, but one with implications for our own world. Berry manages multiple viewpoints with a skill I hope to emulate.

By Steve Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new Cotton Malone adventure that takes our hero from Europe to the Far East in a race to unlock the mystery of an ancient tomb.

Hearing that his old friend Cassiopeia Vitt is in trouble, Malone follows the few clues he has and realises that they are in the middle of something huge, involving Russian and US oil interests and a centuries-old secret.

After stumbling across two dead bodies and into the crosshairs of his former boss, Malone finds himself in a race to unravel the mystery of an emperor's tomb, a sinister society, and a deadly battle between…