The most recommended police procedural books

Who picked these books? Meet our 63 experts.

63 authors created a book list connected to police procedurals, and here are their favorite police procedural books.
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What type of police procedural book?


Ten Plus One

By Ed McBain,

Book cover of Ten Plus One

Deon Meyer Author Of The Dark Flood

From the list on old-school crime fiction standing the test of time.

Who am I?

I’m a South African crime fiction author. My books are published in 27 languages in more than 40 countries worldwide. Two of my books were turned into international TV series. Accolades for my books include Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière from France, the Deutsche Krimi Preis, the Swedish Martin Beck Award, and the Barry Award for Best Thriller in the USA.

Deon's book list on old-school crime fiction standing the test of time

Why did Deon love this book?

The late, great Ed McBain inspired a whole generation of crime fiction authors (including me) and influenced television too. Hill Street Blues was based on his character-driven novels and changed cop shows forever.

Ten Plus One is just one of the many in the 87th Precinct series, and as close to the perfect crime fiction novel that a mere mortal can get.

By Ed McBain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Anthony Forrest walked out of the office building, the only thoughts on his mind were of an impending birthday and a meeting with his wife for dinner. And a deadly bullet saw to it that they were the last thoughts on his mind.

The problem for Detectives Steve Carella and Meyer Meyer of the 87th Precinct is that Forrest isn’t alone. An anonymous sniper is unofficially holding the city hostage, frustrating the police as one by one the denizens of Isola drop like flies. With fear gripping the citizenry and the pressure on the 87th mounting, finding a killer…

The Dark Hours

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of The Dark Hours

Judy Penz Sheluk Author Of Finding Your Path to Publication: A Step-by-Step Guide

From Judy's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Avid reader Loves research Loyal (probably to a fault) Daydream believer

Judy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Judy love this book?

Part of the LAPD Harry Bosch (#23)/Renee Ballard (#4) police procedural series, The Dark Hours, is primarily told from Ballard’s POV.

The dark hours is cop-speak for midnight to seven on the night shift, but the title equally sums up Ballard’s struggles in her personal life and career. Perfect narration by Titus Welliver (Bosch) and Christine Lakin (Ballard), with Connelly at his best. I love the way he’s allowed his characters to not just grow older, but to change and evolve through the years. Brilliant.

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal and South Florida Sun-Sentinel Best Book of the Year

“A masterpiece”—LAPD detective Renée Ballard must join forces with Harry Bosch to find justice in a city scarred by fear and social unrest after a methodical killer strikes on New Year’s Eve (Publishers Weekly).

There’s chaos in Hollywood at the end of the New Year’s Eve countdown. Working her graveyard shift, LAPD detective Renée Ballard waits out the traditional rain of lead as hundreds of revelers shoot their guns into the air. Only minutes after midnight, Ballard is called to a scene where a hardworking auto shop…

A Clubbable Woman

By Reginald Hill,

Book cover of A Clubbable Woman

Catherine Maiorisi Author Of A Matter of Blood

From the list on mysteries that feature two detectives.

Who am I?

I write the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series featuring Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker. Most mysteries have a single main character so I’m passionate about finding other authors who write mysteries with two professional investigators as main characters. It’s fascinating to see how authors writing the same type of characters handle them and what they do about character growth over the course of the series. To me, watching two characters react to each other, seeing their relationship change over the course of a book or a series is much more interesting than reading about a single detective.

Catherine's book list on mysteries that feature two detectives

Why did Catherine love this book?

I seem to be addicted to long-running series with British detectives, though not all written by British authors, and A Clubbable Woman is the first book in this twenty-one-book series by Reginald Hill.

When I began to write fiction and worked on creating Corelli and Parker, Hill was one of the authors I looked to for inspiration. Although his Yorkshire detectives, the abrupt and rude Detective Superintendent Andrew "Andy" Dalziel and the educated, calm, and well-mannered Detective Sergeant Peter Pascoe, did not fit my vision for my own characters, I enjoyed their antics and read the entire series. The books are fun and challenging and this is a great beginning.

By Reginald Hill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel investigates a murder close to home in this first crime novel featuring the much-loved detective team of Dalziel and Pascoe.

'So far out in front that he need not bother looking over his shoulder' Sunday Telegraph

Home from the rugby club after taking a nasty knock in a match, Sam Connon finds his wife more uncommunicative than usual. After passing out on his bed for a few hours, he comes downstairs to discover communication has been cut off forever - by a hole in the middle of her forehead.

Andy Dalziel, a long-standing member of the…

The Midnight Killing

By Sharon Dempsey,

Book cover of The Midnight Killing

Jason Johnson Author Of Did She See You?

From the list on Northern Ireland since the end of the Troubles.

Who am I?

I grew up in this place, born here when the Troubles began. In one form or another, the conflict was everywhere. It was built into the infrastructure, into attitudes. It infested conversations, hurt friendships, killed old folks, children, friends, and family. Fiction from and about Northern Ireland was inevitably hamstrung by that dominant, terrible story. Since the 1994 ceasefires, our fiction has come charging forward. It’s analytical, bullish, enlightening, funny as hell, and it moves us forward by taking honest stock of what came before. I love this emerging place and its new voices. And I love to read and write stories about it. It’s a stubborn home, often maddening, truly kind, forever breath-taking.

Jason's book list on Northern Ireland since the end of the Troubles

Why did Jason love this book?

A man found hanging sparks suspicion so, just to check all is okay, the cops hang him again. Well, not him. A stand-in. But it’s a fine little detail that sums up this shrewd book – cold, hard, well-researched, loaded with bold ideas. This is Northern Ireland crime fiction as it should be, the procedural narrative we once struggled to host. Policing took place when cops were pretty much soldiers. Nowadays it’s different. And Dempsey’s crime fiction is second to none. The aftermath of the Troubles – and its socio-political complexity – is sewn in here, used to both enhance tension and amplify relationships. So, a forensic shrink and a cop explore the creepy case of a missing girl after the aforementioned hanging. Get your seat belt on – this thing twists.

By Sharon Dempsey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She'd cycled this way hundreds of times before, every twist and turn familiar. She didn't know this would be the last.

When the body of architect James McCallum is found hanging in the grounds of his former school one cold night, DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey suspect foul play behind his apparent suicide.

To their astonishment, the trail leads to a 20-year-old cold case of a missing girl, and a teenage party. But what was James' fascination with the case and how is it linked to his death?

Secrets don't stay buried forever - but the real…


By Mark Billingham,

Book cover of Sleepyhead

Simon Cluett Author Of Minotaur

From the list on thrillers with serial killers that get under your skin.

Who am I?

I’ve been lucky enough to have a happy childhood and enjoy a fulfilling life. Nevertheless, I’ve always been drawn to the darkness… the macabre, the sinister, and the bizarre. My selection of books has, in one way or another, helped to shape me as a writer. I’m constantly fascinated by the process of creating truly disturbed, twisted, or hideous characters. I enjoy the process of working out what makes them tick; shedding my own moral compass and experiencing the world through their eyes… wherever that ends up taking me. 

Simon's book list on thrillers with serial killers that get under your skin

Why did Simon love this book?

This is the first in Mark Billingham’s excellent series featuring D.I Tom Thorne. He’s a compelling main character and in many ways the archetypal maverick cop who hates authority. What sets this book apart for me is not so much the antagonist, but the author’s treatment of the victim. She has been forcibly placed in a coma-like state, but fully aware of what’s going on around her. The reality of her locked-in syndrome is heartbreaking.  

By Mark Billingham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A British police procedural as good as those produced by crime queens Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell.” —USA Today
His first three victims ended up dead. His fourth was not so fortunate . . .
Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a stroke, deliberately induced by a skillful manipulation of pressure points on the head and neck. She can see, hear, and feel and is aware of everything going on around her, but is completely unable to move or communicate. Her condition is called locked-in syndrome. In leaving Alison Willetts alive, the police believe the killer…

Burying Ben

By Ellen Kirschman,

Book cover of Burying Ben

Linda Howe-Steiger Author Of Terroir: A Morgan Kendall Wine Country Mystery

From the list on cozy mysteries that have a secondary ethical theme.

Who am I?

Born in Ohio, transplanted to Northern California, I’ve played many roles in life, including college teacher, environmental writer, urban planner, political activist, and mom. In the evening, when my body aches with tiredness, but my brain won’t stop churning on whatever subject I wrestled with that day, I love a good but “meaty” little cozy—one with a clever puzzle, something to make me smile, and a secondary theme that goes a bit into an important, really engaging topic. Then I snuggle down and enjoy my kind of decompression reading. After retirement, I started to write my own “cozies plus.” I hope you enjoy my picks.  

Linda's book list on cozy mysteries that have a secondary ethical theme

Why did Linda love this book?

I discovered Kirschman through her non-fiction—a book called I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know—when I was working on my first mystery.

Later I discovered she also writes a darned good story herself. Like this one, featuring Dot Meyerhoff, newly hired police psychologist. Dot’s job? Help the police cope better with their stress—those daily dangers, risks, uglinesses.

First client—Ben Gomez, a rookie who just encountered his first corpse. He strikes Dot as a little too sensitive. When Ben becomes a corpse himself, it looks like another cop suicide. Shouldn’t Dot have seen this coming? But she didn’t.

The secondary theme is significant and well handled: the prevalence of police suicide. I learned a lot. Hint: it’s a cozy, not a police procedural.

By Ellen Kirschman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dot Meyerhoff has barely settled into her new job as a psychologist for the Kenilworth Police Department when Ben Gomez, a troubled young rookie that she tries to counsel, commits suicide without any warning and leaves a note blaming her. Overnight, her promising new start becomes a nightmare. At stake is her job, her reputation, her license to practice, and her already battered sense of self-worth. Dot resolves to find out not just what led Ben to kill himself, but why her psychologist exhusband, the man she most wants to avoid, recommended that Ben be hired in the first place.…

The Last Widow

By Karin Slaughter,

Book cover of The Last Widow

Steve Liskow Author Of Oh Lord, Won't You Steal Me a Mercedes Benz

From the list on mysteries featuring feisty females.

Who am I?

I grew up in a family of strong women, and have always been drawn to women with brains and a sense of humor. When I worked in theater as an actor, director, and designer, my favorite stage manager and designers were women because they looked at the production challenges from a different angle than mine, so we both learned something while coming up with the best possible ideas and solutions. I can’t stand fluffy “victim” females. The women in my stories are always looking for a better way and a better world. Both my detective series feature several strong, resourceful women that complement the male detective, adding humor and insight, and—I hope—more humanity.

Steve's book list on mysteries featuring feisty females

Why did Steve love this book?

Doctor Sarah Linton, the star of an earlier series before this one, is now a medical examiner and her partner is Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. When a group of domestic terrorists and survivalists bomb two hospitals and the office of the Center for Disease Control, Sarah rushes to the scene to help. The group kidnaps her and she’s forced into a male-dominated commune where she has to rely on her wits and her acting skills to survive, while trying to get word out to Will and his colleagues where the group is hiding…hopefully, before they strike again to unleash an environmental disaster that will kill millions of people. 

By Karin Slaughter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller!

It begins with an abduction.
The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end...they find nothing. It's as if she disappeared into thin air.

A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon,
medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer's day is broken by the wail of…

Blood Secrets

By Vivi Anna,

Book cover of Blood Secrets

Rae Lori Author Of A Kiss of Ashen Twilight

From the list on contemporary paranormal fantasy that span time.

Who am I?

I’ve been a huge fan of vampires, werewolves, elves, fairies, and all sorts of supernatural-themed creatures since I can remember. In addition, I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy movies and novels, which inspired me to pen my first short story at ten years old and send it in for publication. Since then, I’ve enjoyed creating art and writing stories that feature fantastical characters and creatures in extraordinary worlds having adventures. Though I have had two book series and numerous short stories published, I have many more stories and novels in the vault that I can’t wait to share with my readers.

Rae's book list on contemporary paranormal fantasy that span time

Why did Rae love this book?

This is the first book in the Valorian Chronicles, and boy, I wish it was a tv series! I like to think of this book as CSI: Paranormal (or Otherworld Crime Unit as it is named in the book). It’s a dash of police procedural in a world much like ours but with vampires, werewolves, and more creatures that live in a society that goes by their own rules. This book is mixed with a dose of sexy chemistry between the leads wrapped in a happily ever after bow. It’s great for those nights where I’m looking for a bit of suspense and mystery with my romance featuring a vampire hero.

By Vivi Anna,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Caine Valorian and his Otherworld Crime Unit crack all the unusual cases before any humans take notice. When a young woman is found ritualistically murdered it's his team of professionals with paranormal gifts who must stop the nameless evil stalking the streets. But the toughest case of Caine's 200-year career gets even harder when a new member, Eve Grant, is assigned to their unit. Not only is she green and eager to impress, she's human.

As they sink deeper into the workings of the case, Caine's attraction to the alluring Eve is causing his blood to boil. And with war…


By Ed McBain,

Book cover of Ghosts

Weldon Burge Author Of Harvester of Sorrow

From the list on police procedural series.

Who am I?

I’ve been a writer of nonfiction and fiction and full-time editor since my college years, and a publisher (Smart Rhino Publications). I’ve read horror and suspense fiction all my life, but it’s only been in the past decade or so that my reading has turned more and more toward police procedurals, noir, and crime fiction. It was only natural that I’d turn to writing a police procedural series, starting with Harvester of Sorrow. I hope you’ll read all the wonderful books I’ve recommended!

Weldon's book list on police procedural series

Why did Weldon love this book?

Ghosts was the first book of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series that I read, primarily because I was interested in the paranormal aspect—I’ve always been a sucker for ghost stories. This was the first true police procedural I’d read, and I was most impressed with McBain’s mastery of writing dialogue. I was hooked and I’ve read most of the series since. As I wrote my own debut novel I referred to McBain’s novels many times to see how he handled dialogue tags and beats throughout his books. His dialogue is almost seamless. I’d recommend the 87th Precinct series to any writer serious about writing police procedurals.

By Ed McBain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young woman stops at the grocery store after work, but she never makes it home—at least not all the way. She is stabbed to death in front of her building, her groceries strewn across the cold pavement. Upstairs her neighbor and popular ghost story author Gregory Craig lay dead as well, stabbed in his apartment. When Craig’s publisher is found murdered just days later, Detective Steve Carella has a deadly mystery on his hands, one unlike any he’s ever had before.

Searching for clues, Carella instead finds Craig’s girlfriend, a medium whose spooky predictions keep him guessing. When some…

Survive the Savage Sea

By Dougal Robertson,

Book cover of Survive the Savage Sea

Margalit Fox Author Of The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History

From the list on stories that read like police procedurals.

Who am I?

Considered one of the foremost explanatory writers and literary stylists in American journalism, Margalit Fox retired in June 2018 from a 24-year-career at the New York Times, where she was most recently a senior writer. As a member of the newspaper’s celebrated Obituary News Department, she wrote the front-page sendoffs of some of the leading public figures of our age. The author of three previous books, Conan Doyle for the DefenseThe Riddle of the Labyrinth, and Talking Hands, she lives in Manhattan.

Margalit's book list on stories that read like police procedurals

Why did Margalit love this book?

In January 1971, the Scotsman Dougal Robertson embarked with his wife and children on what was to be the dream of a lifetime: an extended sea voyage aboard their 43-foot wooden schooner, the Lucette. Eighteen months later, as she plied the Pacific some 200 miles west of the Galapagos, the Lucette was rammed by a pod of killer whales; the Robertsons had barely enough time to flee the ship before it sank. They spent the next 37 days adrift, first in the ship’s inflatable raft and later, after the raft gave out, in its tiny dinghy. They braved storms, sharks, and the perpetual lack of food and fresh water before they were rescued by a passing ship. First published in 1973, Robertson’s gripping, day-by-day account of their ingenious survival tactics is a classic of the castaway-narrative genre.

By Dougal Robertson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In June 1972, the 43-foor schooner Lucette was attacked by killer whales and sank in 60 seconds. What happened next is almost incredible. In an inflatable rubber raft, with a 9 foot fiberglass dinghy to tow it, Dougal Robertson and his family were miles from any shipping lanes. They had emergency rations for only three days and no maps, compass, or instruments of any kind. After their raft sank under them, they crammed themselves into their tiny dinghy.

For 37 days-using every technique of survival-they battled against 20-foot waves, marauding sharks, thirst, starvation, and exhaustion, adrift in the vast reaches…

I See You

By Clare Mackintosh,

Book cover of I See You

Marilyn Levinson Author Of Dewey Decimated

From the list on psychological thrillers I've recently read.

Who am I?

I write mysteries and I love to read them. The mysteries I write are traditional and cozy. The focus is on my sleuth as she solves murders, her relationships, and on the local setting. These past few years I've enjoyed reading mysteries quite a bit edgier than the ones I write. These books are filled with characters that are often unstable or emotionally damaged. The murders are more brutal; the plots are more complex. Psychological thrillers veer off in many directions, and the person narrating the story is not always reliable. You can't take for granted that what a character says is true. Your best bet is to observe the action and enjoy the ride!

Marilyn's book list on psychological thrillers I've recently read

Why did Marilyn love this book?

Zoe commutes to her job every day on a crowded train on the London underground. She discovers that someone is posting advertisements in a local paper saying which women take which trains. And there's a photograph of herself, claiming she's up for some "discreet casual action." Who is behind this and why? Zoe becomes suspicious of everyone in her life—her boss, her significant other—wondering who is cruel enough to set up unsuspecting women that commute by train. She's shocked when she finds out the truth, part of which she never discovers. A final zinger.

By Clare Mackintosh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover the twisty, gripping Richard & Judy Book Club pick and Sunday Times Number One bestseller. And don't miss the next nail-biting thriller from Clare Mackintosh. Hostage is out now.

You do the same thing every day.
You know exactly where you're going.
You're not alone . . .

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who…


By Harlan Coben,

Book cover of Win

Paul Gitsham Author Of Time to Kill

From Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Teacher Scientist Trekker Reader Writer

Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Paul love this book?

Windsor Horne Lockwood III is quite simply one of the best characters I’ve read in years.

Lovers of Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series will already be familiar with his incredibly wealthy, psychopathic best friend. It was always obvious that there was much more to Win than what we saw in those stories and so a spin-off was perhaps inevitable. But this is more than just an attempt to expand an already successful franchise.

Win is complex, flawed, admirable, and arguably despicable in equal measure. Told in first-person, Win is remarkably honest and self-reflective and like all the best anti-heroes leaves you feeling a little guilty for cheering him on.

Add in Coben’s trademark wit and a cracking investigation and you have an absolute Winner (sorry!).

By Harlan Coben,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the #1 bestselling author and creator of the hit Netflix series The Stranger, Gone For Good and The Innocent comes a riveting new thriller, starring the new hero Windsor Horne Lockwood III - or Win, as he is known to his (few) friends ...
Over twenty years ago, heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family's estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors, and the items stolen from her family were never recovered.

Until now.

On New York's Upper West Side, a recluse is found…

In Cold Blood

By Jane Bettany,

Book cover of In Cold Blood

Paul Gitsham Author Of Web of Lies

From the list on British Bobbies currently on the beat.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing my DCI Warren Jones series for more than ten years now. In addition to trying my best to craft a compelling story, with relatable characters, I love the challenge of balancing this with authentic police procedure. All the books and authors recommended here are excellent exponents of this craft. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them, and believe that they have helped me improve as a writer. I deliberately chose the first in each series, in the hope that you will continue reading to see how the characters evolve.

Paul's book list on British Bobbies currently on the beat

Why did Paul love this book?

This series has a character seen too rarely in this genre.

DI Isobel Blood is a middle-aged woman with a teenage daughter. We see her trying to juggle her often emotionally draining work with parenting duties. This is a really good introduction to DI Blood and a strong cast of supporting characters.

Set in Derbyshire, it has a really strong sense of place. The story is tightly plotted, with deeply satisfying reveals and reversals, and the author balances the investigation with Blood’s personal challenges.

The mystery itself is imaginative and original and difficult issues are dealt with sensitively and compassionately.

By Jane Bettany,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'I read this in one sitting and loved every minute of it. The detective story reads like an episode of Vera.' 5 stars, NetGalley reviewer

No secret can stay buried forever...

As the Whitworth family begin renovations on their new home, their plans are brought to an abrupt end when they discover a body buried in the back garden.

DI Isabel Blood and her team are called to investigate, but as she approaches Ecclesdale Drive, a feeling of unease settles in her gut.

The property cordoned off is number 23. The house she used to live in as a child...…

Book cover of A Song for the Dark Times

Steve Orme Author Of Storm Deaths

From the list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by crime ever since I was a junior reporter working on a daily newspaper and covered a huge number of court cases. I’ve written all my working life and turned to crime writing after reaching the final of a UK TV channel’s Search for a New Crime Writer competition. I’ve built up contacts within the police force during my career which has enabled me to write Storm Deaths, the first in a series of police procedural crime novels. I’ve seen so many films and TV shows that don’t follow the proper procedure, so I ensure that all my writing is as authentic as possible. 

Steve's book list on crime fiction with characters you won't forget

Why did Steve love this book?

For more than three decades Ian Rankin has been the master of “tartan noir” – police procedural fiction set in Scotland. The curmudgeonly, hard-faced, no-nonsense detective Inspector John Rebus has a tendency to bend the rules as investigations take over his life.

A Song For The Dark Times starts with Rebus’ daughter Samantha calling him to say her husband is missing. Rebus fears the worst and from his experience realises that his daughter will be the prime suspect. You’re always on the edge of your seat wondering whether Rebus will have to prevent the truth from coming out and compromising his position as an upholder of the law.

By Ian Rankin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Song for the Dark Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the iconic Number One bestseller Ian Rankin, comes one of the must-read books of the year: A SONG FOR THE DARK TIMES

'Genius ... Only great novels capture the spirit of the age. This is one of them.'

* * * * *

'He's gone...'

When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it's not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days.

Rebus fears the worst - and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect.

He wasn't the best father -…


By Tracy Kidder,

Book cover of House

Witold Rybczynski Author Of Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City

From the list on architecture for non-architects.

Who am I?

I am professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. Although I’ve written more than twenty books on a variety of subjects, I was trained as an architect and I’ve designed and built houses, researched low cost housing, and taught budding architects for four decades. I was architecture critic for Wigwag and Slate and I’ve written for numerous national magazines and newspapers. Perhaps more important, my wife and I built our own house, mixing concrete, sawing wood, and hammering nails. I wrote a book about that, too.

Witold's book list on architecture for non-architects

Why did Witold love this book?

Architecture is always a collaboration between the architect who conceives the project, the builder who must realize it, and the client who starts it—and pays for it The protracted building process, which is often stressful, is always a complicated pas de trois. No one has written about this better than Tracy Kidder, who describes the complex choreography by following (in real-time and in detail) the construction of a family home in New England.

By Tracy Kidder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the New York Times bestseller House, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tracy Kidder takes readers to the heart of the American Dream: the building of a family's first house with all its day-to-day frustrations, crises, tensions, challenges, and triumphs.

In Kidder's "remarkable piece of craftsmanship in itself" (Chicago Tribune), constructing a staircase or applying a coat of paint becomes a riveting tale of conflicting wills, the strength and strain of relationships, and pride in skills. With drama, sensitivity, and insight, he takes us from blueprints to moving day, shedding light on objects usually taken for granted and creating a vivid cast…

The Vault

By Ruth Rendell,

Book cover of The Vault

Nora Gaskin Author Of The Worst Thing

From the list on noir and psychological suspense by women.

Who am I?

Do you see the pattern in the five books I’ve recommended? In each of them, a woman writer explores the darker side of human nature and lures the law-abiding reader to explore it, too. I do not expect to ever commit a murder or to have to cover one up for the sake of a loved one. But could I? Could the person next to me in the grocery store line? Hmmm, I wonder. Traditional mystery stories and police procedurals reassure the reader that in the end, justice will be served and order restored. The women writers of noir/psychological suspense make us contemplate the world very differently.

Nora's book list on noir and psychological suspense by women

Why did Nora love this book?

The Vault is the sequel to A Sight for Sore Eyes. It is a police procedural with the detective trying to identify several dead bodies found in an abandoned coal cellar. The dead seem to have no connection to each other, so the detective must also puzzle out how each of them came to be there. I recommend it because the reader has some fun: She knows the answers to all those questions from having read the first book. It’s a great twist on mystery-as-riddle whodunits. 

By Ruth Rendell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


In the stunning climax to Rendell’s classic 1998 novel A Sight for Sore Eyes, three bodies—two dead, one living—are entombed in an underground chamber beneath a picturesque London house. Twelve years later, the house’s new owner pulls back a manhole cover, and discovers the vault—and its grisly contents. Only now, the number of bodies is four. How did somebody else end up in the chamber? And who knew of its existence?

With their own detectives at an impasse, London police call on former Kingsmarkham Chief Inspector Wexford, now retired and living…

Standing in the Shadows

By Peter Robinson,

Book cover of Standing in the Shadows

Rosemary McCracken Author Of Uncharted Waters

From Rosemary's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Wordsmith Reader Self-starter Teacher Traveller

Rosemary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Rosemary love this book?

The 28th and final Inspector Alan Banks mystery novel was released in April 2023, six months after the death of its author, Peter Robinson. Reading Standing in the Shadows is a bittersweet farewell to an old and dear friend. We know this will be the last we’ll see of Inspector Banks.

The story is told from two viewpoints. One storyline is narrated in the first person by University of Leeds student Nick Hartley, who learns that his former girlfriend has been murdered. The second storyline kicks in 40 years later when a skeleton is found in Yorkshire. Inspector Banks and his team are called in.

There is so much to like in this mystery, all reminding me of what I’ll be missing: the palpable sense of place in the Northern England settings; the wide range of music Banks listens to, from rock bands to classical music and opera; England’s social…

By Peter Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The best mystery-procedural series on the market. Try one and tell me I'm wrong' STEPHEN KING

Late November, 1980. Student Nick Hartley returns from a lecture to find his house full of police officers. As he discovers that his ex-girlfriend has been found murdered in a nearby park, and her new boyfriend is missing, he realises two things in quick succession: he is undoubtedly a suspect as he has no convincing alibi, and he has own suspicions as to what might have happened . . .

Late November 2019. An dig near Scotch Corner unearths a skeleton that turns out…

The Tale Teller

By Anne Hillerman,

Book cover of The Tale Teller

Larry Sydow Author Of Parallel Missions: The Journey Begins

From the list on capturing the imagination and making you think.

Who am I?

I grew up on a small Nebraska farm where a grove of trees was a vast forest, a cow pasture was an endless desert, and a corn cob pile was the tallest mountain in the world. Our horse barn doubled as a castle and fortress for fighting every evil bad guy—including aliens from outer space. I was mortally wounded dozens of times, conducted my first wedding in a grain bin-cathedral at age eight, and read every book our country school could borrow. In college I majored in sociology, minored in history, and receive a Master of Divinity in seminary. My reading list reflects my love of adventurous variety.

Larry's book list on capturing the imagination and making you think

Why did Larry love this book?

Anne Hillerman follows her father Tony’s tradition of taking me into the world of Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Nation. Her knowledge of the superstitions and practices of the Navajo weaves through the Leaphorn’s, Jim and Manuelito Chee’s criminal investigations. I was fascinated by the twists, turns, and dangers they faced and the obstacles created by tribal and governmental regulations. Their corroboration and determination were an inspiration. I was reminded again of the importance of working together rather than trying to go it alone.

By Anne Hillerman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don't miss the TV series, Dark Winds, based on the Leaphorn, Chee, & Manuelito novels, now on AMC and AMC+!


Legendary Navajo policeman Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn takes center stage in this riveting atmospheric mystery from New York Times bestselling author Anne Hillerman that combines crime, superstition, and tradition and brings the desert Southwest vividly alive.

Joe Leaphorn may have retired from the Tribal Police, but he finds himself knee-deep in a perplexing case involving a priceless artifact-a reminder of a dark time in Navajo history. Joe's been hired to find a missing biil, a traditional dress…

Long Bright River

By Liz Moore,

Book cover of Long Bright River

Natalie Pompilio Author Of Walking Philadelphia: 30 Walking Tours Exploring Art, Architecture, History, and Little-Known Gems

From the list on fiction set in the City of Brotherly Love.

Who am I?

My usual answer, when someone asks me where I live in Philadelphia, is: “Have you seen the Rocky movies, where he’s running through that open fruit/vegetable market? I’m three blocks from there.” I’ve called Philadelphia home for more than 20 years. I’m clearly a big fan, having now written four books about the city. I include a reference to the city’s most famous fictional character in my children’s alphabet book Philadelphia A to Z. In More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell, I got to tell stories about the country’s largest public art program. In This Used To Be Philadelphia, I told the then and now stories of dozens of city locations.

Natalie's book list on fiction set in the City of Brotherly Love

Why did Natalie love this book?

I can’t even tell you how many times in many years working for newspapers that I rushed out after hearing a body had been found in an empty house or neglected alley. In almost every case, I would arrive to have police officers tell me, “No story here. No homicide. Just another overdose.” The newspaper didn’t tally overdose deaths as it did murders, even if many fatalities are linked to heroin that has been mixed with fentanyl without the users’ knowledge. It’s very rare for those who sell the killer substance to face homicide charges. 

The city is basically another character in this book. While the opioid epidemic had touched communities across the country, Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood is widely acknowledged as a disaster zone. A 2018 New York Times article called Kensington is the largest open-air narcotics market on the east coast. 

The plot centers on Philadelphia police officer Mickey…

By Liz Moore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?





"[Moore’s] careful balance of the hard-bitten with the heartfelt is what elevates Long Bright River from entertaining page-turner to a book that makes you want to call someone you love.” – The New York Times Book Review
"This is police procedural and a thriller par excellence, one in which the city of Philadelphia itself is a character (think Boston and Mystic River). But it’s…

The Devil's Detective

By Simon Kurt Unsworth,

Book cover of The Devil's Detective

Philip Palmer Author Of Version 43

From the list on fantasy with a detective hero.

Who am I?

I am a science fiction and fantasy novelist and also a screenwriter and prolific writer of audio dramas for BBC Radio. I began my career many eons ago writing for the crime drama series The Bill and during that period I spent a lot of time mixing with coppers & villains and attending crime scenes. I have a great passion for detective and crime writing as well as all forms of speculative fiction, and I’m a sucker for crime/fantasy mash-ups.

Philip's book list on fantasy with a detective hero

Why did Philip love this book?

I bought this book in Hatchard’s bookshop because I liked the cover, and because I like stories about Hell. A great choice on my part—this wonderful crime/fantasy novel features a detective called Thomas Fool in the most lawless land there can be. Thomas has to investigate a series of grisly murders which threaten the Devil’s domain; and to make his police procedural story work Unsworth has to invent a whole new mythology of Hell in which murder is even possible. The writing is stunningly evocative and the logic of the world building is remarkable even if it is,  ultimately, bonkers. This book and its sequel, The Devil’s Evidence, are the noirest of noirs and are completely unputdownable. 

By Simon Kurt Unsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Solving crimes was the purpose of Hell's Information Men, yet they almost never achieved it, and even when they did, the facts they scraped free were lost, buried again in the labyrinthine mess of the infernal Bureaucracy.

When an unidentified, brutalised body is discovered in Hell, the case is assigned to Thomas Fool. But how do you investigate a murder where death is commonplace and everyone is guilty of something?