10 books like Inherent Vice

By Thomas Pynchon,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Inherent Vice. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Dog Soldiers

By Robert Stone,

Book cover of Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers made me want to become a writer. It showed me how to marry plot and character and still write about things that matter. A novel of ideas masquerading as a crime story, it tells of a massive drug deal gone bad, with the Vietnam War and its bitter illusions in the background. If you love complicated characters, this is your kind of book. Stone draws them with good and evil mixed. Your feelings for them shift by the page. The book contains startling images and vivid dialogue, as the characters weigh their decisions against a moral code they no longer trust. If you’re curious about what the 1970s really felt like—or lived through it yourself—Dog Soldiers will take you in and leave you shaking.

Dog Soldiers

By Robert Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Saigon during the last stages of the Vietnam War, a small-time journalist named John Converse thinks he'll find action - and profit - by getting involved in a big-time drug deal. But back in the States, things go horribly wrong. His courier disappears, probably with his wife, and a corrupt Fed wants Converse to find him the drugs, or else.

Dog Soldiers is a frightening, powerful, intense novel that perfectly captures the underground mood of the United States in the 1970s, when amateur drug dealers and hippies encountered the violent world of cops on the make and professional killers.…


In the Woods

By Tana French,

Book cover of In the Woods

I love Tana French’s books. She’s a master of mystery and suspense but her books are normally fairly straightforward, gather-the-clues-and-figure-out-the-secret procedurals. In the Woods has a different feel. It delves more into psychological territory and relies partially on an unsolved mystery from the past–of which one of the detectives Rob was the sole, amnesiac survivor–that affects how the mystery in the present unfolds. As the tension builds, the reader is never sure whether the past events tie into the present mystery, Rob is cracking up under the pressure of the investigation and the bits of memory that return to him, or some unseen force is steering the protagonists away from the solution. 

In the Woods

By Tana French,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling debut, with over a million copies sold, that launched Tana French, author of the forthcoming novel The Searcher and "the most important crime novelist to emerge in the past 10 years" (The Washington Post).

"Required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting." -The New York Times

Now airing as a Starz series.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only…


The Long Goodbye

By Raymond Chandler,

Book cover of The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye is a weird book and I like weird books. Although it’s cloaked as genre fiction, it is clearly influenced by the non-linear, experimental fiction of the modernist period. The book is full of carnivalesque characters who seem to loom out of the shadows, spinning Chandler’s hard-boiled detective Marlowe around and sending him off in new directions, characters that echo each other like multiplied images in a funhouse mirror, and bizarre detours where tangled subplots weave into the narrative, then unravel as Marlowe is sent caroming off again. In the end, I’m always left wondering how much of the hallucinogenic happenings were real, how much Marlowe even understood what happened, and who was really pulling the strings all along.   

The Long Goodbye

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Long Goodbye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ed Bishop stars as Philip Marlowe in a powerful and atmospheric full-cast dramatisation of Raymond Chandler's classic noir novel. The first time Marlowe sets eyes on Terry Lennox, he is lying drunk in the passenger seat of a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. The next time, he's on Skid Row. After they share a few Gimlets, Marlowe thinks he seems like a nice guy, but he's had a hard life - his white hair and scarred face testify to that. Or could it be marriage to Sylvia Lennox that has turned him prematurely grey? Although beautiful and rich, she plays the field…


A Wild Sheep Chase

By Haruki Murakami,

Book cover of A Wild Sheep Chase

Murakami is a master of misdirection and foreboding. He’s clearly influenced by the hard-boiled detective fiction of Hammett and Chandler. His books often echo elements of the genre. The protagonist of A Wild Sheep Chase finds himself caught in an impersonal system of crime and corruption and driven down strange pathways on a quest he does not fully understand. Murakami takes the hazy, dream-like atmosphere of Chandler’s work and develops it into a kind of magical realist form that leaves the reader with a solved mystery but still wondering what exactly happened.

A Wild Sheep Chase

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Wild Sheep Chase as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Features a cast of bizarre characters, including a sheep with a mysterious star on its back, caught up in a Nietzschean quest for power.


The Goldfinch

By Donna Tartt,

Book cover of The Goldfinch

This book is an astounding work of art. Even though it’s not a mystery novel per se, it has a mystery at its heart so I feel like I can cheat it onto my list. Donna Tartt uses a lot of the elements pioneered by Chandler and Hammett–the criminal underworld, the unreliable friend, the lone figure in a confusing landscape trying to figure it all out and never sure he isn’t being run like a rat in a maze by powers beyond his understanding. At the same time, it’s a coming-of-age story with a quest in the middle of the plot–but a quest that keeps shifting and blurring until the reader ends up questioning whether the supposed objective was ever possible to begin with, or whether the objective was always something else entirely. 

The Goldfinch

By Donna Tartt,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Goldfinch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014 Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the…


The Girls

By Emma Cline,

Book cover of The Girls

I love how this book is written. It’s lyrical and deeply felt with a keen eye and luminous prose. Told from her middle-aged perspective, it’s the story of 14-year-old Evie and the summer she dallied, first at the outskirts, and then at dead center of a Charles Manson-like clan. Evie’s a lonely innocent drawn to the sexy and audacious Suzanne who is closest to the leader, Russell. All the women revere Russell, and Evie performs as required: sex, thievery, nighttime home invasions, initially just for fun. The book captures the grunge and the glory of its late-1960s setting, the ragged hope for a better world. Evie longs for connection and would follow Suzanne anywhere, even to murder. I followed along, too, fearing for Evie and wishing her well.

The Girls

By Emma Cline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping and dark fictionalised account of life inside the Manson family from one of the most exciting young voices in fiction.

If you're lost, they'll find you...

Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed.

It's the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.

If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where…


American Pastoral

By Philip Roth,

Book cover of American Pastoral

I’ve always loved how Philip Roth populates his fiction with transgressors. It’s hard not to envy their boldness, bad as they may be. Narrated by Roth’s stand-in, bad boy Nathan Zuckerman, American Pastoral focuses on Zuckerman’s high school idol, ‘Swede’ Levov. Swede’s triumphs on the sporting field and later in business, anoint him for a life marked by pure American success. His inevitable fall from grace feels moving and tragic and infuriating. Swede can’t comprehend how his darling teenage daughter has become an anti-Viet Nam War terror bomber, responsible for bystander death. No happy lessons here. Read American Pastoral if you like books that leave you with as many questions as answers—the way life does.

American Pastoral

By Philip Roth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Philip Roth's fiction has often explored the human need to demolish, to challenge, to oppose, to pull apart. Now, writing with deep understanding, with enormous power and scope and great storytelling energy, he focuses on the counterforce: the longing for an ordinary life. Seymour 'Swede' Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's glove factory - comes of age in thriving, triumphant, postwar America. He has a beautiful wife - Miss New Jersey 1949 - and a lively, precocious daughter, Merry. She is the apple of his eye…


Arcadia

By Lauren Groff,

Book cover of Arcadia

The utopian dreams of the 60s died hard, and this beautiful novel captures the mood of the decade—and the forces that destroyed it. Set mostly in a back-to-the-land hippie community, the book centers on Bit, the first baby born to the settlers. It follows him through childhood and adolescence, and checks in on him on the cusp of middle age, a single father in New York City. Bit’s a sensitive soul, and I felt for him, especially when the story tracked his relationship with his first lover and later runaway wife, the self-destructive Helle. Groff’s expressive use of language, her feel for the natural world, and her deep sensitivity to the psychology of her characters marks this book as a classic not to be missed. 

Arcadia

By Lauren Groff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A staggering portrait of a crumbling utopia, this "timeless and vast" novel filled with the "raw beauty" beautifully depicts an idyllic commune in New York State -- and charts its eventual yet inevitable downfall (Janet Maslin, The New York Times).
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Timeless and vast... The raw beauty of Ms. Groff's prose is one of the best things about Arcadia. But it is by no means this book's only kind of splendor."---Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Even the most incidental details vibrate with life Arcadia wends a harrowing path back to a fragile, lovely place you can…


Brown's Requiem

By James Ellroy,

Book cover of Brown's Requiem

This was James Ellroy’s debut novel and has been all but forgotten compared to the masterpieces he later produced. But there is so much in this book that reveals why Ellroy was destined for greatness: strong plotting, vivid characters, electrifying prose. The plot involves a car repo man who takes on a private eye case for an oddball golf caddy. The plot owes a lot to Raymond Chandler, but it still feels original in Ellroy’s hands. Allow yourself to be swept away by it.

Brown's Requiem

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beneath the slick, glittering surface of L.A., an underworld of depravity and wickedness reins. Fritz Brown is a part-time private eye and full-time repo-man who gets his kicks listening to classical music. But the waters get too deep for Brown when he takes a case from a cash-flashing golf caddy named Freddy “Fat Dog” Baker that puts him on the trail of his client’s sister and the older gentleman she’s run off with. But more suspicious than his sister, a classy cellist, is Fat Dog himself, who has a past more sordid than he lets on. Diving into a cesspool…


This Pen For Hire

By Laura Levine,

Book cover of This Pen For Hire

Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Freelance writer Jaine Austen has penned them all. But no one needs her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter proclaiming his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, a gorgeous aerobics instructor. The fact that he's never actually met the woman gives Jaine pause—yet she soon overcomes her misgivings, and the unlikely Romeo lands a date! But his triumph is short-lived. On Valentine's Day, Howard finds Stacy bludgeoned to death with a Thigh Master—and is quickly named the prime suspect.

Jaine is shocked. Sure, Howard's awkward and eccentric. But a murderer? That's hard to believe. Especially after a little sleuthing reveals a plethora of people who harbored less-than-loving feelings towards the svelte Stacy. Now Jaine had better wrangle her clues quickly, before a crafty killer catches on—and puts a whole new spin on her ghost-writing career....

You’re…

This Pen For Hire

By Laura Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Pen For Hire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I'm crazy about Laura Levine's mystery series. Her books are so outrageously funny." --Joanne Fluke

Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Freelance writer Jaine Austen has penned them all. But no one needs her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter proclaiming his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, a gorgeous aerobics instructor. The fact that he's never actually met the woman gives Jaine pause--yet she soon overcomes her misgivings, and the unlikely Romeo lands a date! But his triumph is short-lived. On Valentine's Day, Howard finds Stacy bludgeoned to death with a…


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