A thief holds a flashlight in a dark room. A phone displays the book "Six of Crows."

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10 high-stakes heist books that will steal your heart

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Mar 28, 2024

I was knee-deep in a reading slump recently. I picked up my tried-and-true cozy mysteries and found my attention drifting. I moved onto horror and decided I wasn’t in the right mental space for murder and gore. Next, I picked up a swoon-worthy romance recommended by friends for being sweet and steamy — no luck.

I had to admit to myself that I was officially in a rut; feeling like I had a word on the tip of my tongue, a scratch I couldn’t itch, a taste for an enigmatic read I just couldn’t satiate. Annoyed and starved for a good book, I picked up a heist-filled, complicated family-having, funny, smart, and unputdownable caper called Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis. That was it. I was hooked. A book that combines mystery, thriller, romance, and introduces a found family? Sign. Me. Up.

But once I fell headfirst into the world of heists, I found myself devouring everything I picked up and became desperate for more. Luckily, we readers are not lacking in heists, and I’ve compiled a list of my favorites available on the Libby app to get you started.

Read on for a few recommendations, and consider your reading slump vanquished:

Six of CrowsSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Together with a ragtag team consisting of a convict, a sharpshooter, a runaway, a spy, and a Heartrender, master criminal Kaz Brekker sets off on a dangerous heist that could leave him dead or with more wealth than he could ever imagine.

From New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo, this book was the most-recommended heist novel that I ran across in my research, and for good reason! It has almost a million ratings on Goodreads equaling 4.49 stars and has been adapted into a original series, so if you can’t get enough of the books, you can turn to the show and stay in Bardugo’s fantastical world just a tad bit longer.


The Lies of Locke LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

This wildly popular first book in the Gentleman Bastard series blends heists and high fantasy into a fabulous concoction that author Rick Riordan called “vivid, original, and clever.”

Orphan Locke Lamora is the leader of a thieving group called the Gentleman Bastards. Locke’s natural talent flourishes and his reputation quickly grows, as he delves deeper and deeper into the underbelly of his floating city, Camorr, a city reminiscent of our own Venice, Italy. When a villain appears and threatens all that Locke holds most dear, he is left with no choice but to beat his enemy at his own game — or die trying. An addictive debut, Lynch’s timeline-shifting first in a series grows in intensity as the narrative unfolds, and I’m happy to report that there will be a total of seven books in the series — with the first five of the seven out now.


Breaking InBreaking In by Tyler Schwanke

An underrated heist novel from 2023, this is a fun, cinematic young adult standalone that will appeal to fans of Hollywood, strong female characters, and mysteries. Kirkus calls it “A fast-paced homage to the classic heist film.” And readers describe it as “twisty,” “full of action,” and “lots of fun.”

Teen Millie Blomquist is an aspiring filmmaker who has had a script stolen by a big shot Hollywood director, but she’s not going to let him get away with it that easily. In an attempt to bring down the unscrupulous director, Millie and her friends concoct a plan to steal the film ahead of its premiere. Thus begins the heist to end all heists, dreamed up by movie-loving teenagers and executed if not flawlessly, then at least in a highly entertaining way. Breaking In is a fun romp for heist-lovers, a super quick read, and simply delightful.


Blacktop WastelandBlacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby

A former getaway driver, Bug Montage, is now known simply as a husband and father, a decent man who works as a mechanic and loves his family. But when money troubles mount, Bug’s past comes back to tempt him, and he decides to take one final risk in order to make ends meet and keep his and his family’s life afloat.

S. A. Cosby writes a story that is both incredibly fresh and an instant classic. Blacktop Wasteland is bold, emotional, and compulsive — a heist novel with strong writing that will make you reconsider life, race, and identity.


The Art ThiefThe Art Thief by Michael Finkel

For fans of heists who lean toward nonfiction over fiction, boy do I have a recommendation for you!

The Art Thief follows the infamous life of master thief Stéphane Breitwieser who stole works of art from all over the world — confiscating more than 300 objects over almost a decade — before ultimately being caught. However, in a unique twist, Breitwieser didn’t steal the priceless art to make a profit, he kept them in his home where he could enjoy and admire them daily. He and his then-girlfriend were so incredibly talented and calculated that over time, Breitweiser began to believe he was uncatchable and thus, orchestrated his own downfall and the end to an almost-perfect thieving career.

So intent to capture the numerous unbelievable aspects of Stéphane Breitwieser’s thievery, author Michael Finkel spent 11 years painstakingly researching and writing this novel — interviewing Breitwieser himself and visiting many museums with him. This attention to detail isn’t wasted, as this true crime read is entertaining and fast-paced. Absolutely a fascinating and unbelievable story you won’t be able to put down.


The Monsters We DefyThe Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope

Described as a “dazzling historical fantasy that weaves together African American folk magic, history, and romance,” The Monsters We Defy tells a story you won’t soon forget.

Clara Johnson, a young woman able to talk to spirits, is living in Washington D. C. in the 1920s when a dark spirit starts haunting the Black residents of the city. Knowing she has special skills that can help suss out the malevolence, Clara embarks on a paranormal investigation. But when a spirit sends her on a quest to steal a ring from a socialite, she joins up with a former circus freak, Pullman Porter, and vaudeville actor in order to carry out a supernatural heist.

An engaging and multidimensional read that intersperses racial discrimination deftly with a well-developed magical system, creating a world that is not only captivating, but almost comes alive.

The audiobook won the 2023 Audie Award for Fantasy.


The Gilded WolvesThe Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

A beautifully written heist book for fantasy lovers, Roshani Chokshi creates a complex and diverse tale woven from mythology in a mystical Paris.

In a world much like ours, but for the magic that permeates it, a boy named Séverin is given a mission by the secretive, but powerful, Order of Babel. The reward? His inheritance. Along with a group of misfits comprised of an engineer, a historian, a dancer, and a boy who is more brother than friend, Séverin journeys through Paris in search of a future and gains a found family along the way.


A Million to OneA Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

Described as a sapphic novel where Titanic meets Ocean’s 8, Jaigirdar's novel follows a thief, an artist, an acrobat, and an actress as they combine forces to steal a jewel-encrusted book called the Rubaiyat. As though the stakes weren’t high enough, the women must pull all this off while aboard the unsinkable ship, the Titanic.

Jaigirdar combines history, diversity, and a splash of revenge, managing to create a unique and bittersweet young adult story that perfectly fills the heist-shaped hole in your heart.


Don't Go Stealing My HeartDon’t Go Stealing My Heart by Kelly Siskind

Morally gray Clementine plays Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but when she is tasked with stealing a Van Gogh, she finds that thieving is more complicated than she thought. Enter Jack David, the handsome and kind-hearted factory owner who employs half their town — and Clementine’s new mark. She wants to hate him and is supposed to con him, but it turns out it's not so easy to con someone when your chemistry is off the charts. When other art thieves enter the picture, Clementine must decide what it is she really wants.

Entertaining and witty, this is a rom-com that will have you smiling as you read, and, though it’s the second in a series, you can read the entire thing without missing a beat. This book is the perfect union of romance and heist, a must-read for fans of Meg Cabot and Janet Evanovich.


Little ThievesLittle Thieves by Margaret Owen

The first in a series, and a retelling of the Grimm’s classic tale, The Goose Girl, this book follows anti-heroine Vanja Schmidt, a former servant of Princess Gisele’s. Prompted by her godmothers, Death and Fortune, Vanja uses magic to swap places with Princess Gisele, leaving her forgotten and destitute as Vanja grows used to life as a royal. But she’s no princess and is left lonely — a thief who does not belong. An imposter, she steals from the nobility, and when she crosses the wrong person, a god curses her to slowly turn into jewels. With only two weeks to break the curse, Vanja must pull off the biggest heist of her life or succumb to the hex.

A young adult novel with LGBT representation, Little Thieves is a compelling and atmospheric read that includes great friendships, scheming, and twists and turns galore. And, with over 500 pages and two more books in the series so far, readers will be delighted as they fall down rabbit holes and adventure with Vanja through a charming, dark, and fantastical land.


Hungry for more heists? Borrow these on Libby:

*Title availability may vary by library & region.

RELATED READ: Booked for murder: 12 thrilling mysteries for your book club

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About the Author

Marisa Arancibia is a Digital Content Librarian on OverDrive's Global Libraries and Education team. She loves curating collections of favorite reads and discussing nerdy lore and fan theories with her fellow book people. When she's not working, she can be found reading thriller and fantasy novels, traveling, and playing with her goofy rescue dog, Swarley.

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