The best crime thrillers that offer more than just thrills

Michael Prescott Author Of Tears for the Dead
By Michael Prescott

Who am I?

Ever since taking a college course in film noir, I've been in love with the cigarette-smoking, fedora-wearing, wisecracking tough guys (and gals) who inhabit the darkest corners of the modern world’s back alleys. The protagonist of Tears for the Dead, Bonnie Parker – named for the distaff half of Bonnie and Clyde – is my modest way of paying homage to this tradition, and incidentally having a lot of fun in the process.


I wrote...

Tears for the Dead

By Michael Prescott,

Book cover of Tears for the Dead

What is my book about?

It takes a killer… to stop a killer. That’s how crime lord Armin Petrossian sees it when he summons Bonnie Parker to his palatial home on Christmas Eve. Petrossian has personal reasons to take care of the serial killer known as the Man in the Moon. And Bonnie—a private investigator on the Jersey Shore who moonlights as a freelance assassin—seems like the perfect choice for the job. 

But the Man in the Moon has secret accomplices who are playing their own deadly game. And they don’t intend to let anyone spoil their holiday plans....

The books I picked & why

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The Last Coyote

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of The Last Coyote

Why this book?

Michael Connelly says he wrote the Harry Bosch series in the hope that, over time, readers would come to know Harry like a brother. The early entries expertly balance Bosch’s work as an LAPD homicide detective with his complex personal story. None of them does this better than The Last Coyote, which gives us new insight into Harry’s broken childhood. And on a personal note, the title never fails to remind me of my years in Los Angeles, when I would drive into the Hollywood Hills at night and sometimes come across a lone coyote, its eyes gleaming in my headlights.  

The Last Coyote

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LAPD detective Harry Bosch is down on his luck - his house is condemned in the aftermath of the earthquake, his girlfriend has left him and he has been suspended for attacking his superior officer.

To occupy time, he examines the old case files covering a murder which took place on October 28, 1961. The victim was Marjorie Phillips Lowe - his mother . . .

The case forces Bosch to confront the demons of the past, and as he digs deeper into the case, he discovers a trail of cover-ups that lead to the high-ups in the Hollywood Hills…


Dirty White Boys

By Stephen Hunter,

Book cover of Dirty White Boys

Why this book?

From its shocking first paragraph to its explosive conclusion, Dirty White Boys is a daring, almost insanely ambitious tour de force. Loosely inspired by the saga of Bonnie and Clyde, the book follows a ragtag band of escaped convicts on a wild multi-state crime spree. In his later books, Hunter may become a bit too caught up in the minutiae of firearms, but here he’s focused on characters and human drama. This book showed me that I had to up my game and aim higher. 

Dirty White Boys

By Stephen Hunter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dirty White Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three convicts on the run with an arsenal of weaponry and only one rogue cop can stop them. Lamar Pye has escaped from Oklahoma State Penitentiary, accompanied by his idiot cousin and a vicious, but cowardly artist. To have stayed in prison was certain death, but his chances on the outside are not much greater: his excesses know no bounds - one killing follows another. But one murder brings his nemesis upon him: Bud Pewtie of the Highway of the Highway Patrol loses his partner in a blood-soaked shoot-out with Lamar, and from that moment on, nothing will stop him…


Vanishing Act

By Thomas Perry,

Book cover of Vanishing Act

Why this book?

The first entry in Thomas Perry’s Jane Whitefield series is also the best, as the endlessly resourceful Jane overcomes a dazzling array of obstacles to save a client on the run. Vanishing Act offers insights into Native American culture and a portrait of an indomitable heroine with a strong moral code, while serving as a virtual textbook on how to disappear when the bad guys are after you. Sadly, the series declined pretty quickly after the first sequel. This taught me not to mess with a winning formula; Jane as an independent woman is great, but as a housewife married to a boring stiff, she’s a lot less interesting. 

Vanishing Act

By Thomas Perry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A challenging and satisfying thriller . . . [with] many surprising twists.”—The New York Times

Jane Whitefield is a Native American guide who leads people out of the wilderness—not the tree-filled variety but the kind created by enemies who want you dead. She is in the one-woman business of helping the desperate disappear. Thanks to her membership in the Wolf Clan of the Seneca tribe, she can fool any pursuer, cover any trail, and then provide her clients with new identities, complete with authentic paperwork. Jane knows all the tricks, ancient and modern; in fact, she has invented several of…


A Maiden's Grave

By Jeffery Deaver,

Book cover of A Maiden's Grave

Why this book?

I might have picked A Maiden’s Grave for the title alone, though you’ll have to read it to learn the subtle double meaning packed into those three words. But of course there’s a lot more to this fast-paced story of a school for the deaf caught in the crossfire of a police standoff. Jeffery Deaver deftly intertwines full-bodied characters, crackling tension, and emotionally affecting backstories. Reading it, I realized that it could have been a pretty ordinary police procedural and that only the author’s determination to add layers of depth and detail lifted it to a new level. 

A Maiden's Grave

By Jeffery Deaver,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Maiden's Grave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

DEAVER. DANGEROUSLY GOOD.

When a trio of desperate convicts hijack a bus carrying a group of deaf and mute schoolgirls, everyone is braced for a terrible tragedy.

FBI agent Arthur Potter is flown in to negotiate. But he has competition: local police, state troopers, politicians and the media are swarming. Not everyone has the same agenda.

And the killers will murder one innocent child an hour, on the hour, until their demands are met...

'A real chiller, seething with violence and heart-stopping tension' Sunday Telegraph


Earth Angels

By Gerald Petievich,

Book cover of Earth Angels

Why this book?

Gerald Petievich must have used a crystal ball when writing Earth Angels in 1989, because only nine years later, all the basic elements of the story would hit the headlines, as rogue elements within the LAPD were exposed in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy known as the Rampart scandal. The book’s eerie prescience is only one reason it’s a modern classic. Its depiction of police procedure is almost unmatched in accuracy and detail, and it perfectly captures the dark, gritty side of Los Angeles, far away from the bright lights of movie premieres. If I ever need to remind myself why I left L.A. after twelve years, I only need to revisit Petievich’s open-eyed exposé of official corruption, casual lawlessness, and random violence. 

Earth Angels

By Gerald Petievich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Detective Sergeant Jose Stepanovich and his elite tactical team were the toughest cops in the Los Angeles police force, handed the toughest jobs, like going up against the city's most vicious criminal element - the street gangs of East L.A. But somewhere along the lines the cops broke a few rules, turning a job into a personal vendetta, and suddenly it wasn't only the gangs they were fighting. It was the community, the media, and their own brass, who decided they were expendable. Hard-boiled Detective Stepanovich - returning to the barrio where he grew up to battle the criminals he…


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