The best noir crime novels from old to new

Who am I?

I’ve read a lot of noir since I was fourteen; it has influenced everything I’ve written. The imperfect flawed characters, the atmosphere, the similes, and the wrong choices made for the right reasons—my heroes, male or female, always have something to hide and a broken part of them that makes their triumph that much sweeter.

I wrote...

Bangkok Burn

By Simon Royle,

Book cover of Bangkok Burn

What is my book about?

Bangkok Burn: Gritty, hard-boiled, noir, crime fiction about a Bangkok mafia family.

A war is taking place on the streets of Bangkok as political cliques fire bullets and rockets at each other. Mysterious 'Men in Black' snipe combatants from both sides. It is a good time to settle old scores. Take a walk on the dark side with Chance. An enigma: family-orientated, loyal and loving... and a cold-blooded killer....This chilling, high-octane thriller takes you to parts of Bangkok no tourist should ever go, a world where life is cheap and morality non-existent.

The books I picked & why

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Farewell, My Lovely

By Raymond Chandler,

Book cover of Farewell, My Lovely

Why this book?

Of the two, “fathers of noir”, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, it was Chandler who I first read, and got a taste, perhaps an addiction, for noir. I cannot remember what led me there, but I do remember at age fourteen I checked out Farewell, My Lovely from the public library.

I swiftly followed with all his remaining novels; Chandler died in 1959 four years before my birth. The characters, the settings, and the turn of phrase still work today—the similes especially, Marlowe’s cynical observations often bring a wry smile or an outright chuckle.

I still read Chandler, I’ve read all his novels, and his essays on writing; but am still looking for his short stories, a lot of which the novels were based on. Chandler focused more on being as real as he could get with his characters and dialogue without worrying too much about the plot, which were inevitably highly complicated.

The Last Good Kiss

By James Crumley,

Book cover of The Last Good Kiss

Why this book?

Crumley, is vastly underrated as a writer, perhaps because he can tend to ramble a bit, actually a lot, and for people looking for plots and events, sometimes they’re nowhere to be found, just a whole lot of ramblingbut that’s what I love about Crumley. He’s not in a hurry and the rambling has gems in plain sight lying there just ready to be picked up. So, don’t try to hurry, just ramble along with it and before you know it, you’ll have been for a hell of a ride.

Blacktop Wasteland

By S.A. Cosby,

Book cover of Blacktop Wasteland

Why this book?

A novel from a guy who is still writing for a change up. I’ve always enjoyed stories where ordinary flawed people get placed in extraordinary circumstances. It may be that those are the consequences of choices they’ve made, but often it’s just stuff that happens in life.

Weird stuff can happenI know this to be true; how you deal with stuff is what makes you, you.


By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of Swag

Why this book?

I love Elmore Leonard for the switches and the dialog. By switches I mean, you think it’s going one way, but it goes the other. Swag is great because it seems so plausible. From the meeting of the two protagonists to their bonding and then the events that follow—it all seems natural while you’re in it—but step back, take a birds-eye view, and you see instantly how wacky it is.

Devil in a Blue Dress

By Walter Mosley,

Book cover of Devil in a Blue Dress

Why this book?

I love heroes you can root for who are not perfect people. Easy Rawlings the primary character in the novel is such a guy. Far from perfect, solidly flawed even, we still want him to win. Again the writing is superb. Mosley is like Crumley, and maybe, just maybe, S. A. Cosby has taken some of his inspiration from here, but who knows; dive in and find out for yourself.

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