Featured Mystery Author

Book Cover Image. Title: The Last Good Kiss (C.W. Sughrue Series #1), Author: James Crumley

The Last Good Kiss (C.W. Sughrue Series #1)

James Crumley

The Rosetta Stone of modern American crime fiction. Took its primary influences--The Long Goodbye and On the Road--and improved on them. Fashioned an unrivaled and luminous masterpiece out of road trips, drinking, the loss of '60s idealism, male myopia in regards to women, and the never ending search for home.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet #1), Author: James Ellroy

The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet #1)

James Ellroy

Along with the Black Dahlia I have to list the rest of the L. A. Quartet: The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz. I know it's four books, but to me it's just one big brilliant mess of an epic. The first three are fiery, unparalleled fever dreams of obsession and corruption during a post-war noir scape. The fourth leaves a bit to be desired. But taken as a whole, they are a balls-to-the-wall gutter symphony. James Ellroy showed us that when gargantuan ambition meets gargantuan talent, the very idea of "genre" is exposed as a ridiculously limited word.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Maltese Falcon, Author: Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon

Dashiell Hammett

Prose as hard as the falcon itself. Effortless cool on every page. Characters so vivid and original you can't imagine them existing before Dashiell Hammett conjured them up. And at the center of it, the "blonde Satan" himself, Sam Spade, a smart, slick, heartless son of a bitch with a code navigating his way through a world of smart, slick heartless sons of bitches without one.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3), Author: James L. Burke

Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3)

James L. Burke

Twenty-something years after I read this, I can still quote prose from it. I've never read a crime novel with such gorgeous muscular writing. But it's the characters and the sense of hope trying to break through against so much loss and doom that stick with you even more. James Lee Burke's gone on to write arguably the finest male detective series in crime fiction, but this--the third of the lot--was the first I read and it sucked the breath right out of me.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Talented Mr. Ripley, Author: Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Patricia Highsmith

Icy, sinister, heartless-and that's the book, not just the psychopath, Tom Ripley, at the center of it. And yet...what a poignant and sometimes heartbreaking examination of exile-from emotion, from love, from the opportunities that seem available only to the upper class and shut to the rest of us. Tom's fatal attraction to Dickie doesn't just represent a man who wants to make love to another man; it represents a man who wants to make love as that other man. Tom's sad and horrific quest is to become Dickie. All the carnage that ensues stems from this impossible goal.
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Book Cover Image. Title: The Death of Sweet Mister:  A Novel, Author: Daniel Woodrell

The Death of Sweet Mister

Daniel WoodrellDennis Lehane

Daniel Woodrell is one of the best novelists alive. This, his heartbreaking ode to shattered innocence amongst white trash criminals in the Ozarks, is as fine an evocation of ruptured childhood as any ever written, and that includes Lord of the Flies.
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Book Cover Image. Title: King Suckerman (D.C. Quartet Series #2), Author: George Pelecanos

King Suckerman (D.C. Quartet Series #2)

George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos gave us this revved up ode to muscle cars, 8-tracks, drive-in movies, and the swelter of DC in the summer of '76. This was pulp fiction for my generation, those of us who'd been little kids when Vietnam ended, Nixon bailed, Blaxploitation flowered and fell, Jaws took over the multiplex, and disco came spinning in to wipe out just about anything interesting. Pelecanos's two heroes run afoul of some really bad, bad ex-cons and the blistering action drives headlong toward an armed Bicentennial showdown as apocryphal as the gunfight at the OK Corral.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Unknown Man #89, Author: Elmore Leonard

Unknown Man #89

Elmore Leonard

It's hard to pick one Elmore Leonard novel because nobody I can think of changed the genre in the last 50 years as completely as he did. He wrote in the American idiom with an ear so tuned to the lower class it sang street poetry from start to finish. This is the one, however, that made me realize a crime novel could be more than just a crime novel as Leonard slid in some low-key but profound passages about alcoholism and the way one's life can get broken before a person realizes its too late to go back and heal it.
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