If You Love 'Law & Order,' You Need These 9 Crime Procedural Novels

In the book world, legal dramas are considered procedurals, and they are the perfect books for Law & Order fans who have run out of episodes to (re) watch. These are some of those stories.

One of my favorite traditions growing up was my mother and my Sunday morning Law & Order marathons. For hours, we would lounge around in our pajamas watching episode after episode of the original series starring Big — er, I mean Chris North — Special Victims Unit, and, when there was no other choice, Criminal Intent. In fact, few sounds remind me of my youth more than the show's iconic "dun, dun." Even now, as a grown adult with plenty of new television choices available for my watching pleasure, I still rely on the satisfying, formulaic narratives of Dick Wolf's beloved legal drama to get me through my most stressful times. There is just something about the show's reliability that makes whatever I'm dealing with — a fight with a friend, a problem at work, a bad breakup, or a hangover — feel a little less horrible, at least for an hour.

The only problem? I have seen every episode, and I do mean every episode. Don't get me wrong, I will watch and rewatch Law & Order until I am old and gray, or until every spin-off is cancelled, whichever happens first. But every once in a while, I like to try something new, and as a devoted reader, that usually means something in book form.

If you, like me, love this iconic legal drama, but are looking for a new outlet for your obsession, try one of these nine crime procedurals. Trust me when I say that, if Law & Order is your favorite show, these books will become favorites, too.

'Sweet Little Lies' by Caz Frear

Cat Kinsella has worked hard to overcome her troubled childhood and become a Detective Constable with the Metropolitan Police Force, but she has never been able to shake the suspicion that her estranged father had something to do with the disappearance of a teenage girl many years ago. When a young housewife with a connection to that same girl turns up strangled not far from the pub her father runs, Cat is forced to confront the dark secrets buried in her family's past. A gripping mystery starring a fascinating female detective, Sweet Little Lies is an exciting debut procedural that will leave readers wanting more from Cat Frear.

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'Pieces of Her' by Karin Slaughter

Andrea thinks she knows everything there is to know about her mother Laura, an honest woman living a quiet life in a small beach town where she is seen as a pillar of the community. That is, until a trip to the mall ends in violence and Andrea learns that her mom has been hiding something for three decades: her true identity. Now, the police are demanding answers, but Laura refuses to talk, so it is up to Andrea to put the pieces of her mother's past together. A taut and suspenseful mystery that is sure to satisfy fans of traditional procedurals and thrillers alike, Pieces of Her will keep readers guessing until the very end.

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'Splinter in the Blood' by Ashley Dyer

Detective Greg Carver was hot on the trail of a brutal murderer the press has dubbed the Thorn Killer when he was shot in his own home. The only witness, his trusted partner Ruth Lake, knows the truth, but instead of talking, she rearranges the crime scene and wipes the room clean of prints. When she becomes the lead investigator on the case while Carver, who has no memory of his attempted murder, recovers, Ruth is willing to risk everything — her job, her colleagues, and even her life — in order to keep a deadly secret. A compulsively readable procedural with plenty of twists and turns along the way, Splinter in the Blood will have readers on the edge of their seats.

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'Day of the Dead' by Nicci French

The final novel in the electrifying series from author Nicci French, Day of the Dead follows psychologist Frieda Klein as she searches for Dean Reeve, the dangerously skilled serial killer who has eluded her in the past. Determined not to let him get away again, Frieda enters into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that will only end when either Reeve is caught, or Frieda is dead. A smart and mesmerizing thriller, this is an exceptional conclusion to a truly incredible series.

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'A Killer's Mind' by Mike Omer

When the Chicago police investigation turns up zilch, forensic psychologist Zoe Bentley is called to help the FBI get to the bottom of the murder of three women who were found strangled, embalmed, and posed to look as though they were still alive. A complicated case is only made more difficult by Zoe's new partner Tatum Gray, a smug Special Agent with has little regard to rules and procedure, and a newly discovered connection to a set of murders from Zoe's childhood. If they have any hope of catching the serial killer before he strikes again, Zoe and Tatum have to learn to work together, or risk becoming the next victims.

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'A Gathering of Secrets' by Linda Castillo

In the new Kate Burkholder novel, the fierce Chief of Police is called to investigate what first appears to be the accidental burning of a historical barn ―that is, until they discover the body of eighteen-year-old Amish man Daniel Gingerich inside. To get to the bottom of the crime, Kate must break back into a community she once belonged to, an extremely private and often silent one that doesn't take kindly to outsiders digging up their secrets. An atmospheric thriller about fear, revenge, and the dark side of Amish life, A Gathering of Secrets is the latest reminder that Linda Castillo is a true master of suspenseful police procedurals.

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'The Shadow Killer' by Arnaldur Indridason

From award-winning Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason comes the second book in a new series about the unforgettable investigating duo Flóvent and Thorson. When a body is found in an apartment in Reykjavík with a pistol shot to the head, it is up to this crime solving pair to find out whether the murder was committed by one of the foreign soldiers that have taken over the city's streets in 1941, or if someone else is to blame for the brutal crime. An intriguing historical murder mystery, The Shadow Killer is the perfect novel for fans of Nordic crime fiction and procedurals alike.

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'Last Girl Gone' by J.G. Hetherton

With her career in up in flames, investigative journalist Laura Chambers has no choice but to return to her hometown of Hillsborough, North Carolina, to take a position with the local paper. But after a girl from the community turns up dead, what starts as a boring job Laura thought she would hate becomes a thrilling opportunity to get to the bottom of a years-old mystery that involves missing children, murder, and an entire town terrorized by an unknown evil. An exciting series debut, Last Girl Gone is a promising start to what could be your new favorite procedural novels.

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'Walking Shadows' by Faye Kellerman

In the new Decker/Lazarus novel, the iconic husband and wife crime solving duo risk their lives to solve a pair of gruesome murders that could be connected to a crime from more than two decades ago. After the son of a convicted criminal turns up dead just before his friend is found brutally murdered in his own home, it will take Decker's detective skills and Rina's behind the scene investigative expertise to piece together this deadly puzzle before someone else gets hurt. A layered mystery that is as much about the past as it is the present, Walking Shadows is just the latest page-turner in this addictive series fans of procedurals will love.

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