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Peter James's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Peter James recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Peter James's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, new DNA evidence means convicted killer Jason Jessup has been granted another trial. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.

Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway...

Recommended by Peter James, and 1 others.

Peter JamesHe researches things, has rich characters and a real sense of pace. He is a former court reporter. You can pick up any of his books and feel you are in the hands of somebody who knows their subject, who knows the police and the law and the world in which he has set his books. (Source)

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

We owe The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) to Arthur Conan Doyle's good friend Fletcher "Bobbles" Robinson, who took him to visit some scary English moors and prehistoric ruins, and told him marvelous local legends about escaped prisoners and a 17th-century aristocrat who fell afoul of the family dog. Doyle transmogrified the legend: generations ago, a hound of hell tore out the throat of devilish Hugo Baskerville on the moonlit moor. Poor, accursed Baskerville Hall now has another mysterious death: that of Sir Charles Baskerville. Could the culprit somehow be mixed up with secretive... more
Recommended by Michael Dirda, Peter James, and 2 others.

Michael DirdaHolmes turns to Mortimer and says, A man’s or a woman’s? and Mortimer delivers the greatest reply in 20th century literature, Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound! I shivered with pleasure and realised that life didn’t get much better than that. (Source)

Peter JamesIt actually scared me the first time I read it as a kid. And I have always liked it. It is my favourite of all his books and it has a very clever ending. (Source)

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When a young woman’s body is fished out of the 87th Precinct’s river, a street-wise detective is on the clock to find the con man who killed her before he strikes again.

“McBain forces us to think twice about every character we meet…even those we thought we already knew.” —New York Times Book Review

“Imagine your favorite Law & Order cast solving fresh mysteries into infinity, with no re-runs, and you have some sense of McBain’s grand, ongoing accomplishment.” —Entertainment Weekly
Recommended by Peter James, and 1 others.

Peter JamesI was steeped in the traditional, often slightly dull, crime novel culture. Then I picked up Con Man and I was just blown away. It is set in the 87th precinct of New York and was very different to the English tradition of the time of having a murder in the first chapter and then working back to find out who had done it. This book was a breath of fresh air. (Source)

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Brighton Rock

In this classic novel of murder and menace, Graham Greene lays bare the soul of a boy of seventeen who stalks Brighton's tawdry boardwalk with apathy on his face and murder in his heart. Pinkie, the boy with death at his fingertips, is not just bad, he worships in the temple of evil, just as his parents worshipped in the house of God. Crime, in his dark mind, is a release so deep and satisfying that he has no need for drink or women or the love of his fellows. He is an astounding character, sinister and fascinating—"a chilling specimen of the Adolf Hitler type," in the words of J. M.... more
Recommended by Peter James, and 1 others.

Peter JamesThis is the book that made me want to be a crime writer. I grew up in Brighton in the 1950s and 60s and it was a thoroughly unpleasant place then — seedy and violent. It has changed dramatically in the last 25 years. The book has two really key things about it that were such a big influence on me. The first is that it has one of the most grabbing opening sentences ever written: Hale knew, before... (Source)

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Hannibal Lecter. The ultimate villain of modern fiction. Read the five-million-copy bestseller that scared the world silent. The Silence of the Lambs. A young FBI trainee. An evil genius locked away for unspeakable crimes. A plunge into the darkest chambers of a psychopath's mind--in the deadly search for a serial killer. - back cover less
Recommended by James Twining, Peter James, and 2 others.

James TwiningHarris breaks a story in that he popularised or exposed the workings of the FBI’s criminal profiling unit. He put them on the map. (Source)

Peter JamesIf you want to be a crime writer it is one of the books that you absolutely have to read. It has been one of the most successful, if not the most successful, crime novel of the 20th century. (Source)

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