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Crime/mystery novels/novelists

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by WaylonJennings, May 15, 2008.

  1. I've always been a bit of a literary snob, but lately have tried to start occasionally reading some more commercial fiction - Jonathan Kelleman, Elmore Leonard, etc.

    It started out as an exercise is studying their storytelling - they allegedly know how to build suspense, write cinematically, etc. - all things that we can apply to narrative storytelling in journalism. I knew that a lot of these books had been made into great movies.

    Books like these were really tainted for me by my English professors in college, and it's been nearly a decade for me to finally be able to recognize their merit and pick some up. That being said, I still feel a little weird reading them, like Dr. Stuffy is looking over my shoulder tsk tsking. It's funny to me how a movie like "We Own the Night" or "The Departed" can get great reviews from guys like Roger Ebert, but if the same movies had been books instead, his literary equivalent would have rolled his eyes at such trash.

    Couple questions:

    1. Who would you recommend in the suspense/crime genre?
    2. I'm not really wasting my time, right? Am I less of an intellectual for finding a Jonathan Kellerman novel engaging on some level?
  2. Huggy

    Huggy Well-Known Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    I might be the first to throw this name out but I doubt I'll be the last: Michael Connolly.
  3. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    Raymond Chandler.

    End. Of. Thread.
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    Connolly is excellent. As is Dennis Lehane. George Pelacanos. Earl Emerson, at least his Thomas Black series. His recent ones have sucked. Carl Hiaasen is funny as hell. Lawrence Block has a variety of series out. Eight Million Ways to Die is one of the best books ever.
    I could go on and on and on and on and on and ***
  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    Hammett, Christie and Cain would all like a word with you. As would Mr. Poe. James Ellroy is waiting for you in the alley with a length of pipe.
  6. Huggy

    Huggy Well-Known Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    If you're looking at historical crime fiction, it's tough to go wrong with The Alienist and its sequel, The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr.

    I'll second Moddy's nod to Carl Hiaasen. Tim Dorsey's books read like rewrites of Hiaasen's stuff to me, but thery're damn entertaining all the same.

    Someone on the books thread led me to The Dark End Of Ther Street by Ace Adkins. Good stuff.
  7. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    Follow Moddy's reading list and you can't go wrong.

    I'll add: John Brady, an Irish-Canadian mystery novelist who has a pretty strong (but small) international following.

    Oh, and in the oldie but goldie department I'd recommend the husband-wife Swedish team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahlöö who created the detective Martin Beck.
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    Jim Thompson was pretty intense. "The Killer Inside Me" would be the place to start.

    Donald E. Westlake is funny. I'd start with "The Axe."

    I'm partial to Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder series. "A Dance At The Slaughterhouse" won an Edgar Award, and I think it's his best. "When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" is a favorite, and you can't go wrong with "Eight Million Ways to Die," although when they made a movie of it, they moved it from NYC to L.A.
  9. Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    I am so glad to hear other writers enjoy these.

    I was ruined for years by my English degree, I think.

    I forgot how enjoyable sheer storytelling could be.
  10. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    Complete agreement here. Pelacanos and Hiaasen are as good as it gets (though Hiaasen's last one, "Nature Girl", was pretty awful).

    A few others who haven't been mentioned:

    Robert Crais: Writes a series involving an LA PI named Elvis Cole, and also writes standalone novels. Both are very good.

    Robert Price: Just finished his new one, "Lush Life," which was excellent. "Clockers" was also tremendous.

    And one must-read book: "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" by George V. Higgins. Just a fantastically well-written book, and his ear for dialogue is fantastic. Having said that, I haven't enjoyed any of his books nearly as much as "Eddie Coyle."
  11. CatchMeUp

    CatchMeUp Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    Ian Rankin. His hero is a guy named Rebus, a policeman in Scotland who is this dark, kind of drunken, really conflicted guy. It's great writing, too.
  12. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Re: Crime/mystey novels/novelists

    They'll all get old, waiting. Hammett couldn't carry Chandler's jock. Christie (the English school) and Cain (the hardest of the hard-boiled) need to be considered, separately, and Poe is eras removed. Will readily acknowledge that Ellroy is the legitimate LA line-inheritor to what Chandler established.
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