The best books about sergeants

2 authors have picked their favorite books about sergeants and why they recommend each book.

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The Dark Winter

By David Mark,

Book cover of The Dark Winter: A Detective Sergeant McAvoy Novel

It’s always strange when another writer tackles the same city you’re mapping, but it’s also a reminder that we see places in fundamentally different ways. I write about Hull as an insider looking out with David taking the opposite approach, arriving in the city as a journalist. In the debut outing for DI Aector McAvoy, it may be his writing background that allows him to look the place in the eye and draw a fantastically vivid city dealing with multiple social issues, but also one in which he finds its heart packed with spirit and hope.

Who am I?

The North of England is home. I was born here, I work here and it’s where I will see out my days. It’s a place with its own character, a place largely forged on hard industrial work and one trying to find a new purpose after decades of financial neglect. My home city of Hull captures this in miniature as we’ve shared a journey over the last decade via my novels from 'UK Crap Town of the Year’ to ‘UK City of Culture.’ Tied in with my background in studying Social Policy and Criminology, I’ll continue to map the city and the region’s trials and tribulations.

I wrote...

Sound of the Sinners

By Nick Quantrill,

Book cover of Sound of the Sinners

What is my book about?

When his former business partner and mentor, Don Ridley, is found dead shortly after asking for his help, Private Investigator Joe Geraghty knows he has to return to Hull and a city he thought was in his past. Weighed down with guilt, Don’s death points to his days with the police and an off-the-books investigation into the unsolved ‘Car Boot Murder’ decades previously. With dangerous secrets and a conspiracy of silence, the city might have had a makeover during Joe’s absence, but some things don’t change in the northern sea port. With his own life on the line, Joe is unable to stop, a debt to be repaid, but powerful people with vested interests will always seek to ensure some stories stay covered in darkness.

Soldier in the Rain

By William Goldman,

Book cover of Soldier in the Rain

I’ve known plenty of GIs like Master Sergeant Maxwell Slaughter. Non-commissioned Officers who hustle and make deals and wrap military bureaucracy around their little fingers. Slaughter’s supply room had air conditioning, plenty of pristine underwear, socks, and long johns to bargain with, and his own vending machine to satisfy his addiction to cold bottles of soda. He also had a protégé, in this case, the young Eustis Clay, who tried to out-hustle his mentor but never quite made it. He did, however, introduce Master Sergeant Slaughter to the even younger Bobby Jo Pepperdine, but instead of kindling a romance, the two lost souls started a father/daughter affection that the teenage girl had never before experienced.

Ultimately tragic, Goldman shows his dramatic flair with the simple line of farewell uttered by Slaughter:  “Until that time, Eustis. Until that time.”

Who am I?

I spent 20 years in the US Army with 10 of those years in Korea. Everybody thought I was crazy. Why would you like being stationed in such an odd country as Korea? Whenever I tried to explain, their noses would crinkle and they’d stare at me as if I were mad. I started collecting books that explained better than I did. To supplement it I purchased a manual Smith Corona typewriter at the PX and to assuage my angst began writing mystery stories about two 8th Army investigators in Seoul, Korea. Fifteen novels and over 50 short stories later I’m still attempting to explain the odd beauty of GI life through the eyes of a GI.

I wrote...

War Women

By Martin Limón,

Book cover of War Women

What is my book about?

Sergeant George Sueño and his partner, Ernie Bascom, are stationed in Korea with the US 8th Army in the 1970s. They investigate crimes in which US Army personnel might have been involved. Meanwhile, George finds Korea and its culture fascinating, and does what he can to soften the bad opinion of Americans in Korea.

When a senior NCO goes missing with a top-secret document that even a glance at could get a soldier court-martialed, Sergeants Sueño and Bascom take it upon themselves to find him. Meanwhile, they are tasked with getting reporter Katie Byrd Worthington out of a Korean jail cell—and preventing the publication of a story about the mistreatment of women in the military that could incriminate important officials. But what they learn will make it hard for them to stay silent.

Pictures of Perfection

By Reginald Hill,

Book cover of Pictures of Perfection

I very much doubt that Reginald Hill intended Pictures of Perfection to appear on a Best M/M list! It’s a quintessentially English tale with a backdrop of class-based snobbery and the threat to rural life from development. It’s also the sole book in Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe mystery series wherein Hill’s gay detective sergeant, Edgar Wield, takes centre stage. Wield finds more than a missing policeman when he’s sent to the village of Enscombe! Nothing to worry even the most sex-repulsed asexual here although, with hindsight, these stories can seem problematic in other ways: Dalziel is so non-woke. However, it was being a fan of Wield and Hill’s books that got me writing my own gay mysteries, so I’m ever grateful.

Who am I?

I chose the ‘Best’ title with trepidation: there are many sorts of aces and reading tastes will differ. I’m a cis-gender female, sex averse, verging on sex-repulsed. So, why M/M? Firstly, because reading about other females is too much like being involved myself. Secondly, because I’m het-romantic so I like my MCs to be male. And sex? I can take sex on the page as long as it isn’t gratuitous; it must be meaningful. I’ve chosen five very different books, but they all have gay protagonists and they meet my ace-based needs. In case it’s an issue, I’ve commented on the flame count.   

I wrote...

A Right To Know (County Durham Quad)

By Jude Tresswell,

Book cover of A Right To Know (County Durham Quad)

What is my book about?

A story that draws on my experience of parental suicide, ancestry testing, and ace/non-ace relationships. 

The County Durham Quad are Mike, Ross, Raith, and Phil, four gay, polyamorous men who live in North East England. They solve crimes, aided by their friend, Nick, who is asexual and an ex-detective. In this tale, Phil is dismayed to learn that he has an eighteen-year-old son, Lewis, conceived through sperm donation. The man that Lewis has always called ‘Dad’ has died. Was his death suicide or was he murdered? Lewis wants Phil to find out. The investigation uncovers armed robbery, industrial espionage, and the truth, but success is costly. Feelings of jealousy, anger, regret, and fears of abandonment must all be faced up to and dealt with.

Far from the Tree

By Rob Parker,

Book cover of Far from the Tree

The first book in Rob Parker’s excellent Thirty Miles Trilogy sees twenty-seven bodies discovered, vacuum-packed, and buried in a woodland trench. DI Brendan Foley and his newly established police force are the ones tasked with cracking the case but is it a coincidence that these bodies have been buried in Foley’s hometown? Set in the historic town of Warrington, located midway between Manchester and Liverpool, the book explores the murky underworlds of the two cities and the consequences of a war between two drug-dealing gangs as it spills out into the surrounding area.

Who am I?

There’s a saying in England: It’s grim up north! Largely used pejoratively (by the south), it’s true to say it is generally colder and wetter, the landscape more unforgiving, the people – friendlier in my opinion – are more outspoken and candid. The cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, with their declining industries and rising unemployment, provide fertile ground for crime writers. So when I started my own series following the investigations of DS Adam Tyler and his cold case team it didn’t take long to settle on my adopted home of Sheffield as the setting. Be warned: we’re a long way from the sleepy villages of Agatha Christie here.

I wrote...


By Russ Thomas,

Book cover of Nighthawking

What is my book about?

No secret can stay buried forever. Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens is an oasis of peace – until one morning the body of a young woman is found there, buried in a quiet corner. Police determine that she’s been there for months and would have gone undiscovered for years – except someone returned in the dead of night to dig her up. DS Adam Tyler and his team have many questions to answer – who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? And who dug her up?

Tyler’s investigation draws him into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable...and willing to kill to keep what they find.

Between Ghosts

By Garrett Leigh,

Book cover of Between Ghosts

I stumbled over this book and soon found myself hooked. It’s a romance, yes, but the research into conflict and its effects put it up there on my list of thrillers. It’s not strictly speaking a thriller, it’s more of a military action story and romance, but the characters are wonderful. The way they react to the war zone conflict, the effect it has on the unit and the reporter embedded with them, it has a wonderful ring of truth. And that’s what I’m always looking for in a good romance, the ring of truth. You have to really feel the RPGs coming in, and Garrett does an amazing job of making you really feel it.

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.

I wrote...

Fortune's Soldier: Shadow Ops Alpha

By Sarah Luddington,

Book cover of Fortune's Soldier: Shadow Ops Alpha

What is my book about?

Luke Sinclair, a Special Forces Operative, is finished with his career in an elite British black ops department. As tough as it had been, Luke loved his job and his partner, Sam Locke, who had once been a US Navy SEAL. Then their world fell apart.

Until their old commanding officer, Elizabeth Brant, recalls them to London. Forced together again to transport the one person able to finish breaking them. A terrorist who destroyed their lives and their love. From the deserts of Syria, the men chase a nuclear bomb and a weaponised virus through Armenia and into Russia, finding so much more than revenge on the way.


By Jason Anspach, Nick Cole,

Book cover of Legionnaire

This book is the first entry in the Galaxy's Edge series, and is quintessential military science fiction. Anspach and Cole are a dynamic duo that delivers the craziest series I've read in decades. For me, Galaxy's Edge redefined what storytellers are capable of, and I consider it the pinnacle of the genre. From the gritty realism of the daily life of a space grunt all the way to a mystical element that is an homage to Star Wars—but better—the twists and turns keep coming. Packed with action, mystery, intrigue, and constantly breaking the "rules of writing" in unique and compelling ways, this series is an absolute must for fans of SF, Mil SF, and great stories in general. Just wait till you get to the character of Tom. It's wild!

Who am I?

I've been writing since I was 7 years old. Star Wars had a big influence on me, but as I got older I gravitated toward Halo: Combat Evolved and Starship Troopers. Modern stories by the likes of Jason Anspach and Nick Cole, JN Chaney, and Rick Partlow...these are the stories that keep me up at night, my mind reeling with the insanity of what I've just read, pondering how close we are as a society to achieving the outlandish adventures contained in these books. I was in the Air Force for 14 years as an F-16 mechanic. I found my voice by combining my experiences and my passion for Science Fiction.

I wrote...


By Tyler E. C. Burnworth,

Book cover of Redshift

What is my book about?

Humanity's manifest destiny to control the galaxy was thwarted by a devastating event known as The Collision—an attack that left millions of humans dead and a young boy named Abraham burning with a lust for revenge. The veneer of an ecumenical interstellar society begins to crack as the revenge campaign against the Riskar, perpetrators of the Collision, leads to the discovery of an ancient war between two factions of humanity vying for control of the galaxy's most powerful military—with Abraham mysteriously at the center of it all. Abraham's future, and the future of the galaxy itself, depends on uncovering the origins of his mysterious heritage.

Valor's Choice

By Tanya Huff,

Book cover of Valor's Choice

One of my writing mentors says, “history is the trade secret of science fiction.” They’re not wrong—my own work is based on Irish history—and Tanya Huff’s A Confederation of Valor series, beginning with Valor’s Choice, is another in that vein. The series centers on marine sergeant Torin Kerr. In these books, humans and two other races were brought into the peaceful Confederation to fight a war. What I love about this book is the way the various new races work together—each has their own idiosyncrasies, and Torin, whose job it is to keep her people alive in the middle of this war, is an expert at dealing with the varying needs of her soldiers, whether they’re human, Krai, or Taykan. This is a series about living with others in peace, even in the middle of a war. 

Who am I?

I’ve loved stories of space, and especially space operas, since I was a child watching Star Trek reruns with my dad. I love the ways very different cultures can work together toward a common goal, but also the many ways those cultures can butt into each other and cause friction. While you can certainly tell stories about that kind of thing on Earth, science fiction lets you tell it writ large, without smacking any particular human group over the head with their differences. I love the way you can tell a story about humans today by focusing on struggles between alien cultures that aren’t a part of our everyday experience. 

I wrote...

The Widening Gyre

By Michael R. Johnston,

Book cover of The Widening Gyre

What is my book about?

Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting on the fringes of their space. The Zhen gave the humans a place to live. But it hasn’t been easy. For hundreds of years, human languages and history were outlawed subjects, as the Zhen tried to mold humans into their image. Earth and its cultures are mostly forgotten, little more than legends.

Tajen Hunt, former human soldier, is now a freelance starship pilot. When his estranged brother is murdered, Tajen discovers that Imperial agents killed him. Betrayed by the Empire he used to serve, Tajen gathers a crew and sets out to finish his brother’s quest—to find the long-lost human homeworld, Earth. What he finds there will change everything.

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