The best LA detectives with complex emotional lives

Christopher Church Author Of The Mythical Blond
By Christopher Church

Who am I?

As a longtime Angeleno, I’ve read a lot about the dark underbelly of our dysfunctional metropolis, both in the news and in fiction. I try to incorporate the City of Angels as a strong presence in my writing, and when I read other writers who have put Los Angeles at the center, it gives me a sense of things the way they really are, a glimpse at a deeper reality. I see the detectives in LA noir and crime fiction as inextricably intertwined with the city, their weaknesses, and their emotional quandaries emerging from this place.


I wrote...

The Mythical Blond

By Christopher Church,

Book cover of The Mythical Blond

What is my book about?

Strange things happen in the desert Southwest. Hired to work a contract job at a remote military base in Nevada, psychic investigator Mason soon finds the Navy’s real motivation for luring him there involves an old friend and her ratty jalopy. Driving back to LA across the empty desert, Mason is soon shanghaied into a week of safecracking, a séance, and a time-travel excursion.

The books I picked & why

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Project Chartreuse

By George Bixley,

Book cover of Project Chartreuse

Why this book?

I’d be afraid to meet this detective, Slater, in a dark alley, as he’s unpredictable and has a quick temper. At the same time I have to admit he’s the kind of guy I’d want to date. Smart and competent in his investigative work, Slater is a mass of contradictions, a textbook sex addict and in complete denial about it, plus he drinks too much. His pugilistic approach to the world evolves through the series, and in this book his slightly warped moral compass has him working to outsmart the cops to track down a violent conspiracy theorist.

Project Chartreuse

By George Bixley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don’t mess with the hothead—or he might just mess with you. Slater Ibáñez is only interested in two kinds of guys: the ones he wants to punch, and the ones he sleeps with. Things get interesting when they start to overlap. A freelance investigator, Slater trolls the dark side of Los Angeles, rooting out insurance fraud, not afraid to use whatever means necessary to get things done, and not about to hold back with his fists. A queer antihero for a new age, Slater walks the line between ordinary life and the frayed fringes of society, keeping his balance with…


Chiseler with a Glass Jaw

By Chester Henry,

Book cover of Chiseler with a Glass Jaw

Why this book?

I found this mystery unusual because there are two protagonists, the fledgling detective Truman and his reluctant friend Celeste. I grew up with a canny mother and sisters, and seeing Celeste tacitly guide Truman in his new career, using her broader understanding of the world, feels familiar. The pair confront a blackmailing bully and try to shut down his operation. Their hedonistic approach to life, even in the most intense moments, is lighthearted and fun, and any woman who’s had a gay best friend or vice versa will recognize the humor in the pair of them chasing the same guys.

Chiseler with a Glass Jaw

By Chester Henry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chiseler with a Glass Jaw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Never one to let a bully get away with harassing someone, Celeste intervenes with a knockout punch, and in the melee Truman winds up in possession of the bully’s cell phone. Through Truman’s inventive online stalking and Celeste tracking down the victim, they uncover a seedy nest of grifters bent on profiting from human misery. Truman gets involved with Isaac, a closeted lawyer with a quick temper, but how does he fit into the scam? Running down leads at hotel bars, hip boutiques, and a grimy body shop, Truman and Celeste go all in, posing undercover at a night club…


Farewell, My Lovely

By Raymond Chandler,

Book cover of Farewell, My Lovely

Why this book?

Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is so well known that most people already have a sense that he’s a tough guy whose emotional qualms are readily subdued by booze. But in this novel, I noticed that Marlowe tunes in to things that a typical hard head wouldn’t: he muses on how a building’s lobby is decorated, and he assesses the foliage growing out front. The brutal racism of the era permeates the story, and for me that aspect makes it the opposite of escapist reading—it’s a tangential history lesson about the culture of LA, and it makes me grateful that things are better today.

Farewell, My Lovely

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Farewell, My Lovely as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The renowned novel from crime fiction master Raymond Chandler, with the "quintessential urban private eye" (Los Angeles Times), Philip Marlowe • Featuring the iconic character that inspired the forthcoming film Marlowe, starring Liam Neeson

Philip Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.


City of Bones

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of City of Bones

Why this book?

I don’t think Connelly’s intention was to write horror, but his visceral description of the corpses and the minutia of murder in this novel made my stomach churn. An unpleasant experience, yes, but it’s vivid and effective writing. Harry Bosch is a detective with weakness for a specific type of woman, and of course he gets mixed up with Julia, a hot tomato who’s new to the force, and of course she messes up his investigation into the bones. You might want to kick Bosch in the caboose for not thinking more lucidly, but eventually he manages to outsmart his villains.

City of Bones

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The outstanding eighth Harry Bosch thriller from the award-winning No. 1 bestselling author of The Lincoln Lawyer. City of Bones is featured in Amazon Prime's BOSCH TV series.

When the bones of a boy are found scattered in the Hollywood Hills, Harry Bosch is drawn into a case that brings up dark memories from his past.

Unearthing hidden stories, he finds the child's identity and reconstructs his fractured life, determined that he won't be forgotten. At the same time, a new love affair with a female cop begins to blossom - until a stunningly blown mission leaves him in more…


Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill

By Nathan Marsak,

Book cover of Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill

Why this book?

As a nonfiction book this doesn’t involve a specific detective, but it covers an array of dark crimes that happened on Bunker Hill, a dense residential neighborhood of downtown LA that was razed in the 1950s. I’m always amazed when true crime stories read as more far-fetched than the cases worked by fictional detectives: bodies in trunks, drunken rampages, shootings, stabbings, dismemberments. So much mayhem happened in those twenty blocks in the few decades the neighborhood existed. If you ever get the wrongheaded idea that the past was more idyllic and innocent than our messed-up era, thumb through Bunker Noir—you’ll see how shockingly violent our predecessors really were.

Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill

By Nathan Marsak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bunker Noir! True Crime on Los Angeles's Bunker Hill! Bunker Hill, that mysterious suburb of downtown Los Angeles, covered by ramshackle Victorian mansions, populated by an permanent underclass, hated by City Hall. Bunker Hill was immortalized by pulp crime writers (Chandler, Cain) and in film noir pictures (Criss Cross, Kiss Me Deadly) until City Hall had enough, and wiped the whole thing clean like a stain from a countertop. In its great grand noir years of twisted alleyways and long shadows, crime flourished. We here at Bunker Hill Publishing and Fishmongers, Inc. captured that historic crime in a magazine recalling…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Los Angeles, private investigators, and murder?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Los Angeles, private investigators, and murder.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Crime and Punishment, A Clockwork Orange, and Devil in a Blue Dress if you like this list.