Books I've read in 2021

As in 2020, reading books has saved me going round the bend. Yes, I published two thrillers this year – Double Identity and Double Pursuit – and I’m writing a Roma Nova story at present, but in this post I’m writing as a reader.

This is not a beauty contest or a selection. The list below contains just books I’ve read this year and enjoyed. Some made me catch my breath, others made me weep with joy or sorrow and others appalled me. But they all enthralled me.

I’m not mentioning those I read or part-read and didn’t enjoy – that’s not fair to the authors concerned as I’m probably not their ideal reader.

I’m a fussy reader. I use Amazon’s ‘Send a free sample’ service mercilessly, especially if it’s an author new to me. But I have discovered some real gems that way.

Oh, and I’ve read a few non-fiction for research and ‘professional development’ (or whatever they call it now 😉) and one for regression to childhood.

Some books I read in 2021

Fiction in (very) roughly chronological order backwards:

True Colours, JJ Marsh
The Book of Life, Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night, Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness
Sistersong, Lucy Holland
The Last Time She Died, Zoë Sharp
The Kingdoms, Natasha Pulley
The English Girl, Daniel Silva
Need to Know, Karen Cleveland
Black River, JJ Marsh
Box 88, Charles Cumming
Nemesis, Rory Clements
The Castilian Pomegranate, Anna Belfrage
The Fort, Adrian Goldsworthy
The Monastery Murders, EM Powell
The King’s Justice, EM Powell
Lost Lady, Michael Reidy
A Murder Mystery, Helen Hollick
Mrs Morris Changes Lanes, Debbie Young
Our Woman in Moscow, Beatriz Williams
The Dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams
The Key to Rebecca, Ken Follet (Re-read)
The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus, Ayşe Osmanoğlu
Circe, Madeline Miller
The Governor’s Man, Jacquie Rogers
Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch
White Heron, JJ Marsh
A Murder in Paris, Blake Pierce
Dorothy Dunnett Society and Historical Writers’ Association Short Story Competition 2020, Historical Writers’ Association Dorothy Dunnett Society
Two Women in Rome, Elizabeth Buchan
A Sister’s Song, Molly Green
Barbarian Princess, Damion Hunter
Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Whirlpools of Time, Anna Belfrage
The Raider Bride, Johanna Wittenberg
Murder Lost and Found, Debbie Young
The Order, Daniel Silva
Portrait of a Spy, Daniel Silva
A Sister’s War, Molly Green
Britannia World’s End, Derek Birks
Double Agent, Tom Bradby
Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder, TA Willberg
The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner
Midnight at Malabar House, Vaseem Khan
Slough House, Mick Herron
The Heist, Daniel Silva
The Girls from Alexandria, Carol Cooper
The Legions of the Mist, Damion Hunter
A Comfortable Alliance, Catherine Kullmann
On a Falling Tide, Georgia Hill
The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger, Suzanne Fortin
Stasi Wolf, David Young
Stasi Child, David Young
The Defector, Daniel Silva
Discovery, Barbara Greig
A Mirror Murder, Helen Hollick
No Stone Unturned, Pam Lecky
Westwind, Ian Rankin
The Wall at the Edge of the World, Damion Hunter
E-ON, Dave Mason
Berlin Noir 2 (digital box set), Philip Kerr
Twilight Empress, Faith L Justice
The Irish Princess, Elizabeth Chadwick
To the Lions, Holly Watt
The Comedy of Terrors, Lindsey Davis
The Messenger, Daniel Silva
The Secret of the Hôtel du Lac, Kathryn Gauci
Whispers of the Runes, Christina Courtenay
Sons of Rome, Simon Turney and Gordon Doherty


Travel in the Ancient World (2nd ed), Lionel Casson
Spycraft: Essentials, Bayard and Holmes
From Spare Oom to War Drobe: Travels in Narnia with my nine-year-old self, Katherine Langrish
Wide for the Win, Mark Leslie Lefebvre
The Successful Author’s Mindset, Joanna Penn
The Gendered Brain, Gina Rippon


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

4 comments to Books I’ve read and enjoyed in 2021

  • I’m impressed you’ve enjoyed so many books, Alison. I’ve been struggling to find books that grip me recently, and I see at least one on that list I couldn’t get into at all. I think i’m going to have to use that free sample offer more mercilessly.

    • Alison Morton

      These are books that have evoked a range of feelings in me. Most were intriguing, some not brilliantly written but with a fascinating story, some wondrously well written with a light story and the odd one with both elements. I’m a bit of a book tart when it comes to genres, but my main drivers are character and interesting plots.
      Yes, there are countless samples on my ereader; I must have a discard session. However, they’ve saved me a lot of fruitless hours.

  • Hi Alison,
    I was delighted to find my debut novel The Governor’s Man halfway down your list. Thank you – I really hope you enjoyed it.
    Jacquie (Rogers)

    • Alison Morton

      I always like to read Roman fiction by others. We know so much about some things and zero about others. The gaps are frustrating. Yet Rome left so much ‘stuff’ behind that there is a great deal of fascination for it still and bags of scope for writers.

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