The best books featuring big city private eyes

Why am I passionate about this?

I write the West Investigations series, a romantic thriller series, centered around the men and women running a private investigations firm. When I began the series I knew I wanted it to be set in an urban city, not just because I’m a city girl at heart, but because of the eclectic nature, diversity, and color that can be found in the big city. Each of the books I’ve recommended below features a big city PI that jumps off the page, grabs you, and doesn’t let go for 200+ pages. 

I wrote...

Book cover of Pursuit of the Truth

What is my book about?

New York City private investigator and security expert Ryan West’s worst fears come to life when the client he’s been crushing on, hotel CEO Nadia Shelton, is pushed in front of a taxi and nearly killed. Someone will do whatever it takes to find the brother Nadia thought was dead, and the only way Ryan can protect her as they uncover the truth is to stay strictly professional. But the sparks igniting between them are nearly impossible to ignore.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Broken Places

K.D. Richards Why did I love this book?

This book takes place in the windy city of Chicago and Clark is adept at making you feel like you are right there in the midst of the fast-paced, gritty city as you read.

The plotting helps by kicking off with a bang – a priest and a gang member found dead in church. Questions abound. But what really kept me turning the pages of this book (or technically swiping since I read it on my Kindle) was Cass Raines, retired cop turned PI.

Her last case on the police force left her reeling and she struggling to deal with the aftermath.

It’s Cass that makes this book stand out amongst other PI novels, you care about what she’s going through, about this new trauma that has been introduced into her life, and that through it all she’s still working to get justice for people that are often overlooked and marginalized in society.

By Tracy Clark,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Broken Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Former cop Cass Raines has found the world of private investigation a less stressful way to eke out a living in the Windy City. But when she stumbles across the dead body of a respected member of the community, it’s up to her to prove a murderer is on the loose . . .
Cops can make mistakes, even when they’re not rookies. If anyone knows that it’s Cass Raines, who took a bullet two years ago after an incompetent colleague screwed up a tense confrontation with an armed suspect. Deeply traumatized by the incident, Cass resigned from the Chicago…

Book cover of The Man Who Came Uptown

K.D. Richards Why did I love this book?

Fair warning: I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area so I’m not impartial here, but I love this book.

Pelecanos really just dropped me into the D.C. of my youth. The plotting here is great as is the characterization. Every character feels like a real person that you might meet in a bar or some seedy back room.

The suspense, the tension, the character’s individual motivations for stepping into the quagmire Pelecanos puts them in, is spot on. And it all leads up to an ending that is both shocking and, in hindsight, inevitable. 

By George Pelecanos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Came Uptown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fought when radio was first introduced, the Press-Radio war was an attempt on the part of print journalists to block the emergence of radio news. For nearly a decade, the newspapers of America fought to keep broadcast journalism off the air, exerting various forms of economic, regulatory, and legal pressure against new competitors. This study traces the stages and forms of institutional self-defense utilized by the press. Far more than mere battles to protect profits, media wars are fights to preserve the institutional power that derives from controlling the channels of communication.

Book cover of The Watchman

K.D. Richards Why did I love this book?

Joe Pike may live in the City of Angels, but he is as far away from angelic as a man can get.

The ex-mercenary turned sometimes PI is tasked with protecting a spoiled Hollywood princess in this gritty, fast-moving novel. Joe has little patience for doing things the conventional way and no compunction about using violence to get what he wants.

Even though his investigatory methods can be destructive, to both him and others, he’s a man you find yourself rooting for…and wondering about. A compelling PI who anyone would want on their team when it really hits the fan. 

By Robert Crais,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Watchman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Packed with whiplash plot twists and taut dialogue...THE WATCHMAN is as good a psychological test case as it is a thriller' ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

A long time ago, Joe Pike asked for help. In return, he would, one day, be called upon to return the favour, no questions asked. That day has come.

Joe Pike is asked to protect the life of Larkin Conner Barkley, a spoiled rich girl who happens to be a federal witness in a major case. But someone is leaking information about their whereabouts, and the killers are getting all too close. So Pike hatches a plan:…

Book cover of The Last Place You Look

K.D. Richards Why did I love this book?

If you’ve read this far, you know that I like my PIs off-beat, maybe even a little bit broken.

And Roxanne Weary, the Columbus, Ohio PI, is the definition of a hot mess. She’s a borderline alcoholic with a tendency toward sleeping with the absolute wrong people. Yet, you can’t help but feel for her. She’s also pretty funny.

It’s hard to find the sweet spot between humor and seriousness in a suspenseful plot but Lepionka manages to thread this needle very nicely. 

By Kristen Lepionka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Place You Look as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Seriously this is a must read. I loved it!' MARTINA COLE

'Utterly superb ... pure reading pleasure.' SOPHIE HANNAH

One of VAL MCDERMID'S New Blood choices for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate 2017

What really happened to Sarah Cook?

A beautiful blonde teenager, Sarah Cook disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton - black and from the wrong side of the tracks - was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. As his execution nears,…

Book cover of Save Me from Dangerous Men

K.D. Richards Why did I love this book?

I was shocked when I realized S.A. Lelchuck was male.

Nikki Griffin, a hardnosed San Francisco detective slash bookstore owner, is such a dynamic, fleshed-out female character I just assumed she’d been penned by a woman. Well, you know what they say about assuming. Nikki is a kick butt, take no prisoner’s PI with an agenda.

Like the PIs in the books above, she veers onto the wrong side of the tracks often. Actually, she jumps over them and runs along the wrong side of the tracks while brandishing brass knuckles and a baton.

Even when she’s breaking the law, you’re kinda okay with it because, well, Lelchuck’s bad guys are really bad. 

By S. A. Lelchuk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Save Me from Dangerous Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you want women to do the rescuing? Are you craving a strong, independent heroine who can save herself? Did you love Killing Eve?
Then this book is for you.
Nikki Griffin is Villanelle - but she's on your side.
Bookseller by day. Bad ass by night.

Nikki Griffin owns a bookshop in California that has a resident cat, Bartleby. She drinks neat Jameson and rides an Aprilia motorcycle. She's a Private Investigator who spends her days talking about books and her nights fighting for women - and she could beat you in a fight, blindfolded.

Nikki is the…

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The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

Book cover of The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

Sammy Stein Author Of Fabulous Female Musicians

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been passionate about music for almost my entire life. Jazz music in particular speaks to me but not just jazz. I love music, full stop. I really discovered jazz when I attended a jazz club workshop in London and there, I had to join in or leave. I chose to join in and since then I have never looked back. I was introduced to more jazz musicians and now write about music for three major columns as well as Readers’ Digest. My Women In Jazz book won several awards. I have been International Editor for the Jazz Journalist Association and had my work commissioned by the Library of Congress. 

Sammy's book list on female musicians

What is my book about?

With input from over 100 musicians, the book discusses what exactly jazz is, and how you know you are listening to it. Do we truly know when and how jazz first originated? Who was the first jazz musician? How does jazz link to other genres? What about women in jazz? And writers and journalists? Do reviews make any difference? 

This book is a deep dive into jazz's history, impact, and future. It discusses jazz's social, cultural, and political influence and reveals areas where jazz has had an impact we may not even realize.Its influences on hip hop, the connection to…

The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

What is this book about?

This book is very different from other, more general jazz books. It is packed with information, advice, well researched and includes experiences from jazz musicians who gleefully add their rich voices to Sammy's in-depth research. All genres, from hard bop to be-bop, vocal jazz, must instrumental, free jazz, and everything between is covered in one way or another and given Sammy's forensic eye. There is social commentary and discussions of careers in jazz music. The musical background of those in the book is rich and diverse.
Critics comment:
"This new book by Sammy Stein is a highly individual take on…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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