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Five great books set in Liverpool

8th June 2019

Liverpool is the latest destination in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Liverpool.

‘That crew of Liverpool hard cases had in them the right stuff. It’s my experience they always have. It is the sea that gives it–the vastness, the loneliness surrounding their dark stolid souls’ – Joseph Conrad

Here are five books that will transport you to this unique city in England’s north-west, whether you’re travelling to Liverpool physically, or from your favourite comfy chair at home.

Five great books set in Liverpool1. Day of the Dead by Mark Roberts

A serial killer. A hero to some. A wanted criminal to others.

The man who calls himself Vindici broke out of prison last year. Now he’s filmed himself torturing and killing paedophiles in Liverpool’s affluent suburbs.

Half the city are celebrating: the streets are now safer for their children. But for DCI Eve Clay and her team at the Merseyside Police, it’s a nightmare. Their job is to solve crimes and lock up the killer – hard enough without being despised by the public they are trying to protect.

And now, just when they think they’ve cracked the case, they receive a photo of Vindici at a Day of The Dead parade in Mexico. If Vindici is 5,000 miles away, who are they hunting in Liverpool? DCI Eve Clay must draw on all her cunning to unmask a killer who is somehow always one step ahead.

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2. The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge

Wartime Liverpool is a place of ration books and jobs in munitions factories. Rita, living with her two aunts Nellie and Margo, is emotionally naïve and withdrawn. When she meets Ira, a GI, at a neighbour’s party she falls in love as much with the idea of life as a GI bride as with the man himself. But Nellie and Margo are not so blind…

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3. Ruby Flynn by Nadine Dorries

The darkest sin casts the longest shadow… RUBY FLYNN, set in Ireland and Liverpool, is the enthralling story of a family haunted by ancient wrongs.

The FitzDeanes are wealthy. They have Ballyford Castle in Ireland and a growing shipping business in Liverpool. But Lady FitzDeane is unable to provide an heir. All of her five boys have died in infancy. There are whispers that the family is cursed – punished for a terrible mistake long buried in the past.

When young Ruby Flynn, an orphan reared and educated by nuns, arrives at Ballyford to work as a nursery maid, she cannot shake the feeling that she has been there before. But when?

Soon rumours and strong emotions are swirling around the beautiful girl with red hair, green eyes – and a mysterious past. Who is she really? And what will her arrival mean for this powerful family, riven by tragedy?

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4a. Twopence to Cross the Mersey by Helen Forrester

Twopence To Cross The Mersey is the first volume of Helen Forrester’s autobiography. It describes how she and her family (her bankrupted father, her difficult mother and her six siblings) arrive in depression-ridden, pre-World-War-Two Liverpool, in the hope of a better life, only to be plunged into abject poverty. Helen has to stay at home to keep house for the family of nine, yet she is desperate to find a way of finishing her education. But every attempt is thwarted by her shiftless parents and brothers and sisters.

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4b. Liverpool Miss by Helen Forrester

The second volume of Helen Forrester’s powerful, painful and ultimately uplifting four-volume autobiography of her poverty-stricken childhood in Liverpool during the Depression.

The Forrester family are slowly winning their fight for survival. But fourteen-year-old Helen’s personal battle is to persuade her parents to allow her to earn her own living, to lead her own life after the years of neglect and inadequate schooling while she cared for her six younger brothers and sisters. Her untiring struggles against illness caused by severe malnutrition and dirt (she has her first bath in four years) and, above all, the selfish demands of her parents, make this a story of amazing courage and perseverance.

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5. A tapping At My Door by David Jackson

A deadly game of cat and mouse – and the police aren’t the ones doing the hunting. A gripping new serial killer thriller from the bestselling author of Cry Baby

When police are called to a murder scene in the Liverpool suburbs, even the most jaded officers are disturbed by what they find.

DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes.

And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

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Andrew for the TripFiction Team

Which titles would you add to the list? Remember there are others to choose from in the Liverpool listings on TripFiction…! Each will transport you to some excellent fiction, travelogues or memoirs set in this fascinating city. Or you may have your own favourites you would like to add. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below.

Other UK and Ireland city posts in our ‘Five/ten great books set in…’ series include:

Five great books set in Edinburgh

Five great books set in Glasgow

Five great books set in Dublin

Ten great books set in London

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  1. User: Craig

    Posted on: 15/09/2022 at 2:19 pm

    Excellent List – check out The Texaco Kid on Kindle books by C. K. SMITH. Modern Liverpool thriller.


  2. User: ALYSON READ

    Posted on: 08/06/2019 at 6:14 pm

    You missed Reprobation by Catherine Fearns


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 09/06/2019 at 2:44 am

      Thanks for suggesting ‘Reprobation’ should have made our ‘5 great books set in Liverpool’, Alyson.

      This one is in the TF database and sounds like an intriguing read too – ‘science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery’.

      We’ll make sure it makes the cut in our ‘5 more great books set in Liverpool’ list!


  3. User: Emma Moyle

    Posted on: 08/06/2019 at 12:34 pm

    Fab list – I’d add Disappearing Home by Deborah Morgan too 🙂


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 09/06/2019 at 2:39 am

      Thanks, Emma. Good shout – ‘Disappearing Home’ by Deborah Morgan is on the TripFiction database and so nearly made it on to this ‘top 5’ list.