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David Baldacci's 6 favorite books with an element of mystery

The crime novelist recommends works by Stephen King, John Irving, and more

Crime novelist David Baldacci is the author of over three dozen books, which have sold a total of more than 130 million copies worldwide. His newest novel, The Fallen, is his latest featuring Amos Decker, a detective gifted with perfect recall.

11/22/63 by Stephen King (Gallery, $20)

Delighting history buffs and fans of thrillers, King brings his unmatched storytelling skills to the tale of a teacher who goes back in time to try to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy — perhaps the greatest "unsolved" mystery in American history. The research, the pacing, the character development, and the plethora of twists and turns make this 800-plus-page book read like a short story.

The Cider House Rules by John Irving (Ballantine, $18)

Perhaps my favorite of Irving's novels, and that is a high bar indeed. Irving takes on abortion and a long list of other substantive issues from the perspective of a New England doctor who slips in and out of consciousness. This is a classic that deserves to be read and reread.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, $17)

This is a tale of two lives, really, those of a German boy and a blind French girl whose paths converge during World War II. The prose is so lush you could love Doerr's Pulitzer Prize–winning 2014 novel for its language alone. But the story is also remarkable — heartfelt and heartbreaking.

Plum Island by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central, $16)

And because reading should also be fun, we have the guilty pleasure of beer-swilling homicide detective John Corey smack in the middle of DeMille's wild thriller ride, which skids off the coast of Long Island. The one-liners are worth the price of admission.

The Shetland Island Mysteries by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur, $17 to $18 each)

Cleeves' tales, set on islands off the northern coast of Scotland, star local police detective Jimmy Perez. If you crave atmosphere in your mystery novels, especially craggy, gloomy, windswept, and solitary, you have come to the right series.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Picador, $17)

A mysterious bookstore and its reluctant night clerk are the focus of one of the most original storytelling rides I've taken. I learned much I didn't know, and didn't even know existed. Told with humor, warmth, and pace. You will think about this one for a while.

Recommended

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