Here are my recommendations for crime writers that you should read, if you haven’t already. I’ve put them in alphabetical order rather than listing them in descending order. Most of my recommendations tend toward the hardboiled and noir sub-genres, but I include a couple PI writers and even one police procedural. (Note that this list may change at any time, for any reason, and with no notice.)
- Lawrence Block – The Matt Scudder series. Scudder lives and works in NYC as an off-the-books PI. As a recovering alcoholic, the AA-lifestyle plays an important role in these books.
- James M. Cain – Wrote noir novels and screenplays in the 1940s, including “Double Indemnity”* and “The Postman Always Rings Twice.”
- Sue Grafton – The only woman on my list. Writes the Kinsey Milhone alphabet series. These are light, fun books. Milhone is an ex-cop PI, like Scudder, but she’s much more legit and has few flaws.
- Dennis Lahane – Try the Kenzie-Gennaro books of the 1990s, as well as the better known “Mystic River” and “Shutter Island.”
- John D. MacDonald – Wrote the Travis McGee series in the 1960s and 1970s. McGee lived a Playboy-ish lifestyle on a houseboat in Florida. His sidekick had a PhD in economics. MacDonald got an MBA from Harvard.
- Walter Mosley – Most people know his Easy Rawlins series, but you might want to try the Socrates Fortlow and Leonid McGill books. Mosley has even written a few sci-fi books, which I may take a look at.
- Derek Raymond – British hard-boiled writer. He wrote his Factory series in the 1980s. These are the only police procedurals on the list. These are NOT cozy mysteries; borderline horror and macabre.
- Cornell Woolrich / William Irish – Another noir writer of the 1940s. Wrote “Rear Window,” “The Bride Wore Black,” and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.” Mostly out-of-print due to “estate issues.” Try your library.
* Bonus: I hope you’ve seen the classic noir movie “Double Indemnity” starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G Robinson. Directed by Billy Wilder. Script by Raymond Chandler.