Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top Five Crime Novels

Was looking through my old blog the other day and came across this post from 2007. I'm sure the list has changed since then (ok, it actually hasn't too much. Just might add a book or two), but it's an interesting list to check out, so I thought I'd share. What are some of you faves?

t's the summer. What better time for a list? I've been thinking about this lately because I'm thinking about the authors whose quality I strive for. So here you go.

In no particular order.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane: The ending of this book is what did it for me. Yeah, the twist you can see coming for at least a hundred pages, but the chapter after that is HAUNTING. It's stuck with me for over 4 years. I remember reading it on my couch in my parents' basement, finishing it and just sitting there creeped out. What a book.

Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman: This book is a book that I was just enthralled by. I read this book while I was student teaching in Paterson, and just going out to my car on my lunch break. I would sit there--barely eating--and just fly through this book for 40 minutes a day. I couldn't put this book down. Some of the best characters I've ever read.

Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski: The fact that this book was pushed back until the summer of '08 is very disappointing. I read the book in manuscript form and was just taken with it. I remember waking up in the morning and not being able to wait to get to my computer to continue it. An action packed, horror filled, funny book, it's simply amazing. Once this book is released it should be at the top of your TBR list.

Mortal Stakes by Robert B. Parker: One of the best PI novels I've ever read. Before Hawk, before the Susan Silverman relationship really bubbled over, Spenser takes on a case of blackmail involving the Boston Red Sox. Again, the ending, showing Spenser ability to be brutal when he's left with no other options.

L. A. Requiem by Robert Crais: He's written better (and worse) books since, but this was the novel that showed me what could be done in a PI novel today. It didn't have to be the PI just talking to random odd characters and then solving the case. It could be a fast paced thriller and at the same time get into the hearts of it's characters and finally tear them apart. A brilliant, risky novel.

HONORABLE MENTION: The Drowning Pool by Ross MacDonald: The first Lew Archer book I'd ever read (I'd seen Harper) gave me a hint of what the PI novel was really all about. The creepy child and hint of incest. The few actions scenes... including the memorable scene where the book gets it's literal title (there's a metaphorical one too)... I raced through this one and immediately went out and read most of the rest of MacDonald's books.

Your favorites?


Dana King said...

That's a good list. I've read three of the five and have no argument with any of them.

It's hard to come up with a definitive list off the top of my head, but here goes:

Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
Declan Hughes, All the Dead Voices
Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty (though several others could qualify)
Raymond Chandler, The Long Good-Bye (Or Farewll, My Lovely. Depends on what day you ask me.)
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
Timothy Hallinan, The Queen of Patpong

(Okay, that's six, and some are favorites more than "the best ever." This is what you get when you ask just anyone for their opinion.)

John McFetridge said...

Those early Spenser novels are terrific.

Anonymous said...

So hard to choose! With series, in particular, I seldom even recall which plot occurred in which book; it's the characters I love. Nevertheless, here goes:

A Tan and Sandy Silence, John D. Macdonald. This is one of my favorite Travis McGee books because it features a truly awful, yet oddly believable, bad guy.

Hard Candy, Andrew Vachss. Electrifying, horrid, brutal.

The Switch, Elmore Leonard. This early Elmore features the best crime-novel ending ever.

This is a cheat, but how about the "Deaf Man" series-within-a-series (the series in question being Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books)? You could tell McBain got a huge kick writing this antagonist.