The best crime novels with a cinematic sensibility

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by the sociopathic mind. I sometimes feel that sociopaths are, in many ways, freer than the rest of us. They are divorced from the crippling feelings of guilt and remorse. Throughout my writing career, I have interacted with both cops and career criminals and I have become convinced that they share similar mindsets. They may not be full-blown sociopaths (though some are), but they have what I would call “a touch” of the sociopathic mind. They are essentially the same people. This is a theme that I find my writing continually dwells on—the freedom of having an anti-social personality and its consequences for both society and the individual.


I wrote...

The Padre

By Alex Davidson,

Book cover of The Padre

What is my book about?

Cal is a hitman on the run from his powerful old boss. He has found sanctuary among the invisible poor in the barrio outside of Mexico City. He lives in and fixes up an old, dilapidated Catholic church, which is how he earned his nickname among the locals as "El Padre." The Father. The Priest. 

After a young Mexican woman he befriends is trafficked to a crime organization in Los Angeles headed by his old boss, Cal must come out of hiding to rescue her and, at the same time, face his dark past.

The books I picked & why

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The Power of the Dog

By Don Winslow,

Book cover of The Power of the Dog

Why this book?

NPR put it best when they said of Don Winslow’s border trilogy, “This is all basically Shakespeare. Not Shakespearean, mind you. But Shakespeare. As in, 300 years from now, when our children’s children’s children want to understand the defining conflict of the late 20th and early 21st century—when they want it presented with full lights and fireworks, costumed in gold chains and polo shirts, writ hugely in the way that only fiction can be—there’s a fair chance that this is what they will read.”

The Power of the Dog is the first novel in Don Winslow’s border trilogy and in my opinion, one of his best novels. (The Force and The Winter of Frankie Machine are close runners-up). The novel begins in 1975 and spans approximately thirty years of America’s War on Drugs, alluding to actual historical events through the heightened lens of fiction. The writing is gritty and lean, yet the story is epic. It’s also just a kickass Cartel story in the vein of Sicario or Netflix’s Narcos.

The Power of the Dog

By Don Winslow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Breathtaking' JEREMY CLARKSON
'Winslow's masterpiece (so far) ... should have a place on every crime freak's bookshelf. Superb' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
_______________________
A brilliant page-turning thriller of power and revenge on the front lines of the drug war.

Drug lord Miguel Angel Barrera is head of the Mexican drug federacion, responsible for millions of dollars worth of cocaine traffic into the US and the torture and murder of those who stand in its way. His nephew, Adan Barrera, is his worthy successor.

Art Keller is a US government operative, so determined to obtain revenge for a murdered colleague that his…


Blacktop Wasteland

By S.A. Cosby,

Book cover of Blacktop Wasteland

Why this book?

Blacktop Wasteland is kind of like The Fast and the Furious only, you know, good. I felt transported to the criminal underbelly of rural Virginia. I loved the novel’s noir sensibility and I was fascinated by its exploration of moral ambiguity and identity. As a novelist and screenwriter, I often write about father-son relationships and much of Blacktop Wasteland is about our hero, Beauregard, trying (and failing) to escape his father’s criminal identity. But what’s truly great about Blacktop Wasteland is how it transcends the familiar “one last heist gone awry” paradigm. Daniel Nieh of The New York Times put it best when he wrote, “Beauregard can’t badass his way out of the traps of racism, poverty and absentee parenting. Such an escape would require different skills. It might even require a different America.”

Blacktop Wasteland

By S.A. Cosby,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Blacktop Wasteland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLERS OF 2020*
*LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER 2020*

'BLACKTOP WASTELAND may be the book of the year.' MICHAEL CONNELLY
'Sensationally good' LEE CHILD
'I loved BLACKTOP WASTELAND' STEPHEN KING
'Stunning. Can't remember the last time I read such a powerful crime novel' MARK BILLINGHAM

"Bug" Montage: honest mechanic, loving family man. He's no longer the criminal he was - the sharpest wheelman east of the Mississippi.

But when his respectable life crumbles, a shady associate comes calling with a one-time job promising a huge payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver's seat - and haunted by…


Tell No One

By Harlan Coben,

Book cover of Tell No One

Why this book?

I love a good page-turner. I love to write them and I love to read them. I strive to write novels that the reader will binge. Novels as addictive as a drug. I want each chapter I write to be like another hit—a re-up that floods the reader’s brain with dopamine. Tell No One by Harlan Coben is a novel that I binged. It keeps you guessing until the end. And while some of the payoffs may seem a little over-the-top, I am able to overlook it because this novel (like much of Coben’s work) is just so damn addictive!

Tell No One

By Harlan Coben,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tell No One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every year, the Doctor David Beck and his young wife, Elizabeth, meet at the same deserted lake to rediscover their love for each other, and inscribe one more year into 'their' tree. But that year was the last. Elizabeth was kidnapped and Beck knocked unconscious. By the time he woke up, his wife had been discovered dead, and horribly mutilated. For eight years he grieves. Then one afternoon, he receives an anonymous e-mail telling him to log on to a certain web-site at a certain time, using a code that only the two of them knew. The screen opens onto…


Term Limits

By Vince Flynn,

Book cover of Term Limits

Why this book?

This ballsy, initially self-published debut novel from the late, great Vince Flynn asks: What if unknown, highly-skilled assassins began killing off politicians until Washington agrees to set aside partisan politics and restore power to the people? It’s basically draining the swamp with a rifle barrel. It’s a controversial premise, but a hell of an entertaining read and even though the novel was written in 1997, it feels timely as ever. Personally, I love when novels explore social issues in entertaining ways. This is something I strive to accomplish in each of my novels. Term Limits pulls it off with flying colors.

Term Limits

By Vince Flynn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On an overcast night in Washington D.C. a group of highly trained killers embark on a mission of shattering brutality. A shocked country awakens to the devastating news that three of their most powerful and unscrupulous politicians have been brutally murdered. In the political firestorm and media frenzy that follow, the assassins release their demands: either the country's leaders set aside their petty, partisan politics and restore power to the people, or be held to deadly account. Only Michael O'Rourke, a junior congressman, holds a clue to the violence: a haunting incident in his own past with explosive implications for…


Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Book cover of Gone Girl

Why this book?

Gone Girl is another addictive page-turner, but what truly sets it apart is its structure. I love it when novels surprise you and Gone Girl uses point-of-view to do just that. As a screenwriter, I value structure and I employ the principles of three-act structure in each of my novels. If you haven’t read the novel (or seen the film), the less you know going in, the better. That said, Gone Girl is a crime thriller that explores the dynamics of marriage in a very unique and entertaining way.

Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in assassins, doctors, and the illegal drug trade?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about assassins, doctors, and the illegal drug trade.

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The Illegal Drug Trade Explore 22 books about the illegal drug trade

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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