45 books like Miami Blues

By Charles Willeford,

Here are 45 books that Miami Blues fans have personally recommended if you like Miami Blues. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Dog Soldiers

Max Ludington Author Of Thorn Tree

From my list on 1960s counterculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with the sixties and its counterculture ever since I was about eleven or twelve, and I found out that the summer I was born, 1967, was called the Summer of Love. Because of this fascination, I started reading writers like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson at an early age. Then, I became a lover of the Grateful Dead and went on tour with them as a fan for a couple of years in my late teens. It was the best way remaining in this country, in the 1980s, to be a hippie in some real way. I still love the music and literature of that time.

Max's book list on 1960s counterculture

Max Ludington Why did Max love this book?

This book lays bare the furious tensions in American society during the Vietnam era. I have read it three times, and each time, it reveals new treasures and nuances.

It’s a dark story about a war correspondent who decides to get rich by smuggling heroin home from Vietnam. So, while it opens in Saigon, most of the book is set in a California riven by culture clashes and soured idealism. Stone is one of America’s best late-twentieth-century novelists.

By Robert Stone,

Why should I read it?

5 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.…


Book cover of Lonesome Dove

Lee Goldberg Author Of Calico

From my list on humor that makes us human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime stories since I was a child. They entertained me and helped me cope with a lot of family strife. My first novel was published in college and sold to the movies, which got me into screenwriting, leading to writing hundreds of hours of TV and fifty novels to date. The one thing all of my stories share is humor because I believe it’s an essential part of life–and of memorable story-telling. Humor makes characters come alive, revealing shades of personality and depths of emotion you wouldn’t otherwise see. Here are five books that taught me that it’s true and that continue to influence me as a writer. 

Lee's book list on humor that makes us human

Lee Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

This is my favorite book of all time, by far. It’s a sprawling, epic Western for people who don’t like Westerns. But that’s just one of the many things it does brilliantly.

McMurtry was the master at finding humor in every character, no matter how loathsome or pitiful, and in every situation, no matter how heart-breaking or violent, without sacrificing or undercutting anything for a laugh. He makes the humor seem as natural as breathing, crying, or bleeding, which is a vital coping mechanism for dealing with life…it certainly is in my own.

But McMurtry taught me how to incorporate that into my storytelling and how important humor is in humanizing characters. It’s how he got me to emotionally invest in his characters and almost believe they are real. Perhaps that’s why this novel is the only one I have re-read multiple times in my life that I still wish…

By Larry McMurtry,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Lonesome Dove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a powerful, triumphant portrayal of the American West as it really was. From Texas to Montana, it follows cowboys on a grueling cattle drive through the wilderness.

It begins in the office of The Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande.
It ends as a journey into the heart of every adventurer who ever lived . . .

More than a love story, more than an adventure, Lonesome Dove is an epic: a monumental novel which embraces the spirit of the last defiant wilderness of America.

Legend and fact, heroes and outlaws,…


Book cover of The World According to Garp

Lee Goldberg Author Of Calico

From my list on humor that makes us human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime stories since I was a child. They entertained me and helped me cope with a lot of family strife. My first novel was published in college and sold to the movies, which got me into screenwriting, leading to writing hundreds of hours of TV and fifty novels to date. The one thing all of my stories share is humor because I believe it’s an essential part of life–and of memorable story-telling. Humor makes characters come alive, revealing shades of personality and depths of emotion you wouldn’t otherwise see. Here are five books that taught me that it’s true and that continue to influence me as a writer. 

Lee's book list on humor that makes us human

Lee Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

If you have a lot of things you want to say about war, sexism, rape, homosexuality, feminism, bears, hookers, literature, marriage, Vienna, politics and wrestling…or anything else in your fiction, you’d better do it with humor.

Irving had a LOT he wanted to say, but he made it entertaining and unforgettable with his shrewd humor. I was so busy laughing and crying that I didn’t realize how much I was absorbing thematically and politically from the wonderful, epic story…or how memorable it would be for me, even decades after I read it.

This was brilliant alchemy I could use myself…if I could figure out out how it worked. Irving taught me that if I wanted to communicate ideas and get someone to sit through a book that weighs ten pounds, then humor is the way to do it because the message gets through even deeper, perhaps even insidiously.

By John Irving,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The World According to Garp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A masterpiece from one of the great contemporary American writers.

'A wonderful novel, full of energy and art, at once funny and heartbreaking...terrific' WASHINGTON POST

Anniversary edition with a new afterword from the author.

A worldwide bestseller since its publication, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, struggling writer and illegitimate son of Jenny Fields - an unlikely feminist heroine ahead of her time.

Beautifully written, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP is a powerfully compelling and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers…


Book cover of American Tabloid

Anthony Schneider Author Of Lowdown: A Mafia Romance Thriller

From my list on character-driven gangsters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up on a diet of The Godfather, The Sopranos, thrillers, and gangster novels, and living in New York City with eye-opening trips to Sicily, I became slightly obsessed with the Mafia. I came to see the American Mafia as a quintessentially American fabric, woven of family, power, immigrants, money, history, loyalty, legacy, and, yes, crime.  

Anthony's book list on character-driven gangsters

Anthony Schneider Why did Anthony love this book?

A history of the early 1960s in America, leading up to the assassination of JFK, seen through the eyes of the mobsters and criminals, crooked cops, spies, and sleazos who power the machines of history.

A comprehensive romp through the underbelly of American crime and politics (and you might, after reading this book, wonder what’s the difference), it’s a novel about characters you don’t like—but they’re vivid and fascinating.

Much more than a gritty gangster novel, it’s a tale about the people in history’s shadows, and, ultimately, history and the “never innocent” America itself. 

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first novel in Ellroy's extraordinary Underworld USA Trilogy as featured on BBC Radio 4's A Good Read.

1958. America is about to emerge into a bright new age - an age that will last until the 1000 days of John F Kennedy's presidency.

Three men move beneath the glossy surface of power, men allied to the makers and shakers of the era. Pete Bondurant - Howard Hughes's right-hand man, Jimmy Hoffa's hitman. Kemper Boyd - employed by J Edgar Hoover to infiltrate the Kennedy clan. Ward Littell - a man seeking redemption in Bobby Kennedy's drive against organised crime.…


Book cover of Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From my list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Marshall Jon Fisher Why did Marshall love this book?

In the 1990s, I was captivated by Peter Matthiessens three Mr. Watson” novels, which explored the lawless world of Floridas fin de siècle Ten Thousand Islands region.

Last year, I finally reread them in their final form, fused into the magnum opus Shadow Country. In telling the story of the murder of real-life Florida pioneer and renegade Edgar Watson from many different points of view, Matthiessen creates a richly textured landscape.

Outlaws, escapees, and adventurous settlers work, intermarry, and squabble, making a hardscrabble life among the swamps, the rivers, the mosquitos, and the gators.

By Peter Matthiessen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself to his own violent end at the hands of his neighbours. Following the story of his son Lucius as he tries to learn the truth about his father, the story tells of devastating events and traverses wild landscapes inhabited by Americans of every provenance and colour. In this new rendering of the Watson trilogy, Matthiessen has consolidated his fictional masterwork into a poetic, compelling…


Book cover of Slow Horses

Lee Goldberg Author Of Calico

From my list on humor that makes us human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime stories since I was a child. They entertained me and helped me cope with a lot of family strife. My first novel was published in college and sold to the movies, which got me into screenwriting, leading to writing hundreds of hours of TV and fifty novels to date. The one thing all of my stories share is humor because I believe it’s an essential part of life–and of memorable story-telling. Humor makes characters come alive, revealing shades of personality and depths of emotion you wouldn’t otherwise see. Here are five books that taught me that it’s true and that continue to influence me as a writer. 

Lee's book list on humor that makes us human

Lee Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

Spy novels, especially the British ones, are densely plotted, densely written, densely serious stories full of politics and betrayals…without a smile to be had by the characters or the reader. The only funny ones are satires. But this book is different.

I could enjoy all the pleasures of a spy novel, with all the betrayals and plot twists, and find myself laughing even as I was caught up in the suspense and surprises. If anything, the laughs made the twists more twisty and the tragedies more tragic.

This book revitalized an entire genre for me…by knowing where to find the humor in what was always portrayed as a humorless job in a humorless world. 

By Mick Herron,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Slow Horses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Now a major TV series starring Gary Oldman*

'To have been lucky enough to play Smiley in one's career; and now go and play Jackson Lamb in Mick Herron's novels - the heir, in a way, to le Carre - is a terrific thing' Gary Oldman

Slough House is the outpost where disgraced spies are banished to see out the rest of their derailed careers. Known as the 'slow horses' these misfits have committed crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal while on duty.

In this drab and mildewed office these highly trained spies don't run…


Book cover of Devil in a Blue Dress

Ashley Clifton Author Of Twice The Trouble

From my list on literary novels masquerading as crime novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

Flannery O’Connor once said that all fiction is ultimately about the “mystery of personality.” I agree. In fact, I have always suspected that all good novels, genre-based or otherwise, are secretly mystery novels, if only in the psychological sense. Conversely, many so-called genre novels have just as much depth, insight, and realism as any literary work. I have read a lot of genre and literary fiction in my time, and I have long been fascinated by works that blur the line between the two. My favorite kind of book is one that feels like a genre novel (that is, it has a great plot) but also has the depth and vividness of a literary novel.

Ashley's book list on literary novels masquerading as crime novels

Ashley Clifton Why did Ashley love this book?

What I really love about this novel is the voice of the main character, Ezekial “Easy” Rollins. Easy is not your typical P.I. A recently fired machinist in post-war Los Angeles, he’s just a guy trying to pay his bills. But he’s also a black man from the South trying to survive in a white, west-coast world. When a white gangster hires him to find a missing girl, Easy senses that he’s in extreme danger, but he has no choice but to take the job.

Told in the first-person, this book captures all of Easy’s doubt, dread, and defiance as he unravels the mystery.

By Walter Mosley,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Devil in a Blue Dress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Devil in a Blue Dress honors the tradition of the classic American detective novel by bestowing on it a vivid social canvas and the freshest new voice in crime writing in years, mixing the hard-boiled poetry of Raymond Chandler with the racial realism of Richard Wright to explosive effect.


Book cover of The Moving Target

Ashley Clifton Author Of Twice The Trouble

From my list on literary novels masquerading as crime novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

Flannery O’Connor once said that all fiction is ultimately about the “mystery of personality.” I agree. In fact, I have always suspected that all good novels, genre-based or otherwise, are secretly mystery novels, if only in the psychological sense. Conversely, many so-called genre novels have just as much depth, insight, and realism as any literary work. I have read a lot of genre and literary fiction in my time, and I have long been fascinated by works that blur the line between the two. My favorite kind of book is one that feels like a genre novel (that is, it has a great plot) but also has the depth and vividness of a literary novel.

Ashley's book list on literary novels masquerading as crime novels

Ashley Clifton Why did Ashley love this book?

If there is one central defining quality of noir crime fiction, it is the main character’s struggle to preserve his moral center in a fundamentally corrupt and evil world. The best P.I. novels are able to render this kind of character in brushstrokes that are both beautiful and subtle.

One of my favorites is Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer, first introduced in this novel. When Archer is hired to find a missing rich guy in a tony, Southern California beach town, he finds himself knee-deep in violence, greed, and deceit, uncertain of who is guilty, who he can trust, and even who is worth saving. A moving target, indeed.

By Ross Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in Ross Macdonald's acclaimed Lew Archer series introduces the detective who redefined the role of the American private eye and gave the crime novel a psychological depth and moral complexity only hinted at before.

Like many Southern California millionaires, Ralph Sampson keeps odd company. There's the sun-worshipping holy man whom Sampson once gave his very own mountain; the fading actress with sidelines in astrology and S&M. Now one of Sampson's friends may have arranged his kidnapping.

As Lew Archer follows the clues from the canyon sanctuaries of the megarich to jazz joints where you get beaten up…


Book cover of The Corpse Had a Familiar Face

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From my list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Marshall Jon Fisher Why did Marshall love this book?

Edna Buchanan moved from New Jersey to Miami on a whim in 1965 and found her calling in the journalistic life.

Calvin Trillin would later write, In Miami, a few figures are regularly discussed by first name among people they have never actually met. One of them is Fidel. Another is Edna.

She had a nose for the bizarre and the macabre—as well as for a good lead: A man wandering along a Miami Beach street in his undershorts and carrying a blood-stained knife Sunday morning led police to the scene of a murder.

In this memoir she recalls zipping around South Florida from Hollywood to Homestead in her yellow Triumph Spitfire to produce her almost-daily cataloguing of gruesome crime. The “polite” killer who abducted couples on dates, raped the woman, and then allowed her to dress before shooting both.

The hand grenade thrown…

By Edna Buchanan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Corpse Had a Familiar Face as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Now in trade paperback, Pulitzer Prize winner Edna Buchanan’s classic nonfiction masterpiece detailing events from her eighteen years writing for The Miami Herald.

Nobody covered love and lunacy, life and death on Miami’s mean streets better than legendary Miami Herald police reporter Edna Buchanan. Winner of a 1986 Pulitzer Prize, Edna has seen it all, including more than 5,000 corpses. Many of them had familiar faces.

Edna Buchanan doesn’t write about cops—she writes about people: the father who murdered his comatose toddler in her hospital crib; fifteen-year-old Charles Cobb—a lethal killer; Gary Robinson, who "died hungry"; the Haitian who was…


Book cover of The Burnt Orange Heresy

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From my list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Marshall Jon Fisher Why did Marshall love this book?

This noir pastiche is one long joke, a satire on art, art criticism, and art collecting.

James Figueras, a cad bachelor freelance art critic in 1960s Palm Beach, is tasked with stealing a painting by the (fictional) French artist Jacques Deberiue.

Deberiue was the founder of the Nihilistic Surrealism movement who retired after the creation of one work, No. One: an empty frame mounted around a crack in a wall. The trail leads to the dusty outskirts of Miami and a bloody murder in the Everglades, but the real mystery surrounds the artist and his art.

And the fun is in the comedy: "The fact that he used the English No. One instead of Nombre une may or may not've influenced Samuel Beckett to write in French instead of English, as the literary critic Leon Mindlin has claimed."

By Charles Willeford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic neo-noir novel acclaimed as Willeford s best, soon to be a major film

Fast-talking, backstabbing, womanizing, and fiercely ambitious art critic James Figueras will do anything blackmail, burglary, and beyond to make a name for himself. When an unscrupulous collector offers Figueras a career-making chance to interview Jacques Debierue, the greatest living and most reclusive artist, the critic must decide how far he will go to become the art-world celebrity he hungers to be. Will Figueras stop at the opportunity to skim some cream for himself or push beyond morality s limits to a bigger payoff?

Crossing the…


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