The best crime books with neurodiversity plus one

Who am I?

As a massively dyslexic writer. I have always felt like I was standing outside a party I wasn’t invited to. Reading writers with diverse backgrounds and brain types from me but a common humanity makes me feel less alone. I grew up on the activist hippy side of the 60’s culture wars. I grew up poor. I went to a mostly white hippy grammar school. I went to a mostly Black inner-city high school. My oldest son is intellectually disabled. I have committed petty crimes, done drugs, been a drunk. I am one diverse mother-trucker. But then again, aren’t we all.


I wrote...

Tricky

By Josh Stallings,

Book cover of Tricky

What is my book about?

When my twenty-six-year-old intellectually disabled son had a mental breakdown causing uncontrollable rages, I called 911. A huge mistake. What happened next was the impetus for writing Tricky.

Detective Madsen is investigating the murder of a man with Down syndrome. The obvious suspect is Cisco, an intellectually disabled adult who swears he is innocent. Cisco’s record shows he had been a brutal and brilliant killer. Brain injuries from a beating left him―if he is to be believed―with the intellectual capacity of a child. The search for the truth leads Madsen through the special needs community, East LA gang life, and pits him against the corrupt LA Sheriff’s Department. 

The books I picked & why

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Motherless Brooklyn

By Jonathan Lethem,

Book cover of Motherless Brooklyn

Why this book?

Lionel Essrog is a low-rent detective with Tourette’s syndrome. Under pressure Lionel is guaranteed to blurt out the worst possible thing. This is much more than a literary gimmick, he is a full-rounded character, in way over his head and struggling to do the right thing. Motherless Brooklyn remains one of my favorite detective novels, it delivers the pace and style of Raymond Chandler or Walter Mosley, but adds a neurodiverse protagonist that speaks to my dyslexic soul.

Motherless Brooklyn

By Jonathan Lethem,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • A complusively readable riff on the classic detective novel from America's most inventive novelist.

"A half-satirical cross between a literary novel and a hard-boiled crime story narrated by an amateur detective with Tourette's syndrome.... The dialogue crackles with caustic hilarity.... Unexpectedly moving." —The Boston Globe

Brooklyn's very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, Lionel Essrog is an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent's Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna's limo…


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Book cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Why this book?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a stunning look inside the head of a fifteen-year-old who refers to himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties.” By choosing a neurodiverse narrator, Haddon delivered a completely unique voice. Although the narrator could be seen as “on the spectrum,” or as having “High-functioning autism,” but he is never described this way or labeled in any way, and that is part of the brilliance of the book. We come to see that this story is about an outsider’s view of the world. We can never really see through another's eyes, but we can recognize the validity of their particular vision.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

'Outstanding...a stunningly good read' Observer

'Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement... Wise and bleakly funny' Ian McEwan

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the…


Pretty as a Picture

By Elizabeth Little,

Book cover of Pretty as a Picture

Why this book?

Marissa doesn’t label herself but seems to deal with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In her words, “The best way I can think to describe it is that there’s a beehive in my chest, and most people upset the bees. The nearer they get, the worse it is—and direct contact makes them swarm.” Marissa is more than a diagnosis. She is a film editor struggling to verbalize to producers her inner creative process. I was a film editor for many years and Little’s description of the creative process was spot on. Marissa is trapped on a movie set full of mayhem and murder. How she presents makes it hard for anyone to believe her when she discovers a killer amongst them. The book is a powerful statement on looking beyond how someone presents the truth they are speaking.

Pretty as a Picture

By Elizabeth Little,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pretty as a Picture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, and CrimeReads Best Mystery Book of 2020

"Funny, fast-paced, and a pleasure to read." --The Wall Street Journal

An egomaniacal movie director, an isolated island, and a decades-old murder--the addictive new novel from the bestselling author of Dear Daughter

Marissa Dahl, an up-and-coming film editor with a flair for faux pas, travels to a small island off the coast of Delaware to work with the legendary--and legendarily demanding--director Tony Rees on a feature film with a familiar logline.

Some girl dies.

It's not much to go on, but the specifics don't concern Marissa. Whatever…


Three Graves Full

By Jamie Mason,

Book cover of Three Graves Full

Why this book?

I chose this book because of the author. Mason is brilliant and neurodiverse. She has aphantasia, the inability to see images in her mind’s eye. Forty-nine out of fifty people when asked, “Close your eyes and imagine a red ball.” See that red ball. Jamie doesn’t. This is her superpower. Her voice is surprising and singular, “…the trees and rode the shadows sideways into the tangly back hem of his old backyard.” Hem of a yard, love that. And “Guilt wears track shoes. Sprint, marathon, or cross-country, it doesn’t matter. It runs tireless to catch you, and it carries a sledgehammer.”

Three Graves Full

By Jamie Mason,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Graves Full as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Library Journal Best Book of 2013!
A Booklist Best Crime Novel of 2013!

There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard. But it could always be worse…

More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property—neither of which is the one Jason buried.

Jason races to stay ahead of the consequences of…


Razorblade Tears

By S.A. Cosby,

Book cover of Razorblade Tears

Why this book?

It doesn’t deal with neurodiversity, but it’s diverse on many levels. It transported me to a world I was unfamiliar with—rural Virginia—full of recognizable human characters. Two fathers separated by racial divides who ultimately have more in common than they want to admit. Both are ex-cons trying to stay out of jail. Both dinosaurs of eras gone by. Both are homophobic with gay sons, sons who married each other and then were murdered. These fathers are searching for the killers, and trying to come to grips with how they treated their sons. This book forced me to look at my own biases. When I say all I want for my sons is for them to be happy and find love, do I mean this unconditionally?

Razorblade Tears

By S.A. Cosby,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Razorblade Tears as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER* One of Barack Obama's Recommended Reads for Summer • New York Times Notable Book • NPR’s Best Books of 2021 • Washington Post’s Best Thriller and Mystery Books of the Year • TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2021 • New York Public Library’s Best Books of the Year • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee • Book of the Month’s Book of the Year Finalist
“Provocative, violent — beautiful and moving, too.” —Washington Post
“Superb...Cuts right to the heart of the most important questions of our times.” —Michael Connelly
“A tour de force – poignant, action-packed,…


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