100 books like Red Harvest

By Dashiell Hammett,

Here are 100 books that Red Harvest fans have personally recommended if you like Red Harvest. 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 The Great Gatsby

David Nicholson Author Of The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration

From my list on race in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Though I was born in the U.S., I didn’t wind up living here full-time till I was almost 10. The result? I have always been curious about what it means to be an American. In one way or another, the books on my list explore that question. More than that, all (well, nearly all) insist that black history is inextricably intertwined with American history and that American culture is a mulatto culture, a fusion of black and white. After years of making my living as a journalist, editor, and book reviewer, I left newspapers to write fiction and non-fiction, exploring these and other questions.

David's book list on race in America

David Nicholson Why did David love this book?

Was the hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic African-American?

A couple of academics have advanced that theory. I’m not sure I buy it. The notion (and supporting “evidence”) seems little more than a literary parlor game, not to mention the fact that nothing in Fitzgerald’s work or his letters shows a particular engagement with, or sympathy for, black Americans.

Still, it’s an interesting metaphor and the reason this seminal American novel appears in a list of what’s otherwise non-fiction. Gatsby’s yearning for his lost love could be an African-American yearning for a beloved country that does not always love them in return.

I first read this book in high school. It wasn’t until my second, third, and fourth re-reading that I began to appreciate Fitzgerald’s gift for story-telling and his evocative, poignant language. And to identify with Gatsby, the outsider craving to become an insider.

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Great Gatsby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the summer unfolds, Nick is drawn into Gatsby's world of luxury cars, speedboats and extravagant parties. But the more he hears about Gatsby - even from what Gatsby himself tells him - the less he seems to believe. Did he really go to Oxford University? Was Gatsby a hero in the war? Did he once kill a man? Nick recalls how he comes to know Gatsby and how he also enters the world of his cousin Daisy and her wealthy husband Tom. Does their money make them any happier? Do the stories all connect? Shall we come to know…


Book cover of The Big Sleep

Charles Ardai Author Of Death Comes Too Late

From my list on hardboiled crime novels that will move you to tears.

Why am I passionate about this?

I created Hard Case Crime 20 years ago to revive the look, feel, and storytelling style of the great paperback crime novels of the 1940s and 50s: slender, high-velocity tales with irresistible premises, crackling dialogue, and powerful emotions, all presented behind gorgeous painted covers in the classic pulp style. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to publish Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, James M. Cain, Erle Stanley Gardner, Mickey Spillane, Brian De Palma, Ed McBain, and many more extraordinary authors.

Charles' book list on hardboiled crime novels that will move you to tears

Charles Ardai Why did Charles love this book?

The first novel about legendary private eye Phillip Marlowe is also the first mystery novel that ever made me cry when I turned the last page.

Marlowe’s poetic narration and bruised outsider’s voice offer a cynical but also strangely hopeful perspective on both the shady underworld types and the corrupt high-society folk who fill the “mean streets” down which Marlowe must walk (in Chandler’s much-quoted phrase).

Why hopeful when death–the big sleep–awaits us all? Because a man of principles like Marlowe can still bring a measure of justice in this unjust world, sometimes just by bearing witness.

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Big Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raymond Chandler's first three novels, published here in one volume, established his reputation as an unsurpassed master of hard-boiled detective fiction.

The Big Sleep, Chandler's first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralysed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail and murder.

In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women.

In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself…


Book cover of The Best American Noir of the Century

G.E. Nordell Author Of Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery

From my list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Among other things, I'm an existentialist. A well-constructed mystery novel is an existential puzzle given to the reader to solve at his/her leisure, and the noir sub-genre has the further subtext that the protagonistand the reader—are doomed in some way even if the solution is nailed. Romance novels are drivel and have no basis in reality, but noir and other types of mystery fiction reflect the way that the world works: you may solve this puzzle problem, but then you are left to a vast world that is rife with puzzles but without a coherent plot. The detective trudges on, achieves a kind of satisfaction, and then is thrust into the next crisis.

G.E.'s book list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories

G.E. Nordell Why did G.E. love this book?

A treasure trove of noir short fiction, an impressive anthology of  American greed, crime, and comeuppance by some of the genre’s greatest authors including Mickey Spillane, Evan Hunter, Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, Cornell Woolrich, and editor Ellroy. The 39 selected stories are a feast of excellence, a wide-ranging buffet of tasty tales from 1923 to 2007makes me drool just thinking about a re-read.

By James Ellroy (editor), Otto Penzler (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best American Noir of the Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A magisterial anthology of American noir writing in the 20th century by the best-selling author of the LA Quartet: The Black Dahlia. The Big Nowhere , LA Confidential and White Jazz. In his intoduction to The Best American Noir of the Century, James Ellroy writes, "noir is the most scrutinised offshoot of the hard-boiled school of fiction. It's the long drop off the short pier and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. It's the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the precise how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad." Offering…


Book cover of The Postman Always Rings Twice

G.E. Nordell Author Of Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery

From my list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Among other things, I'm an existentialist. A well-constructed mystery novel is an existential puzzle given to the reader to solve at his/her leisure, and the noir sub-genre has the further subtext that the protagonistand the reader—are doomed in some way even if the solution is nailed. Romance novels are drivel and have no basis in reality, but noir and other types of mystery fiction reflect the way that the world works: you may solve this puzzle problem, but then you are left to a vast world that is rife with puzzles but without a coherent plot. The detective trudges on, achieves a kind of satisfaction, and then is thrust into the next crisis.

G.E.'s book list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories

G.E. Nordell Why did G.E. love this book?

Watching bad people self-destruct is hard work, but author Cain makes sure that the bad people get what they deserve. A drifter takes a job at a roadside diner that is run by an old man and his beautiful and unhappy wife; the two youngsters begin a dangerous affair and then plot to kill the husband so that the girl inherits the property. But matters do not turn out as they planned. The novel has been adapted for film at least seven times, with the favorite being the 1946 movie starring Lana Turner.

By James M. Cain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Postman Always Rings Twice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Nobody has ever quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemingway, and not even Raymond Chandler' Tom Wolfe

'It is no accident that movies based on three [of Cain's novels] helped to define the genre known as film noir' NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

'The most starkly elemental thing that has been written for years' EVENING STANDARD

The torrid story of Frank Chambers, the amoral drifter, Cora, the sullen and brooding wife, and Nick Papadakis, the amiable but inconvenient husband, has become a classic of its kind, and established Cain as a major novelist with a spare and…


Book cover of The Best of Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective

G.E. Nordell Author Of Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery

From my list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Among other things, I'm an existentialist. A well-constructed mystery novel is an existential puzzle given to the reader to solve at his/her leisure, and the noir sub-genre has the further subtext that the protagonistand the reader—are doomed in some way even if the solution is nailed. Romance novels are drivel and have no basis in reality, but noir and other types of mystery fiction reflect the way that the world works: you may solve this puzzle problem, but then you are left to a vast world that is rife with puzzles but without a coherent plot. The detective trudges on, achieves a kind of satisfaction, and then is thrust into the next crisis.

G.E.'s book list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories

G.E. Nordell Why did G.E. love this book?

Detective Turner is serious, author Bellem is not. Eleven short stories in 8-page comic format from the monthly pulp magazine Hollywood Detective; humorist S.J. Perelman describes Dan Turner as "the apotheosis of all private detectives"; the Dan Turner stories are the flip side of Chandler and Hammett, with delightful use of real and imagined slang: guns are 'roscoes,' a woman is a 'doll,' 'cutie, 'frail,' or ‘dame.'

By Jerry L. Schneider,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best of Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Included in most issues of "Hollywood Detective" pulp magazine was an eight-page Dan Turner comic. Eleven of those comics are reprinted in this "Best of" trade paperback (comic book sized pages).


Book cover of Main Street

Steven Mayfield Author Of The Penny Mansions

From my list on funny and not-so-funny truths about small towns.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small, Midwestern town where people sinned Monday through Saturday, then went to church on Sunday to stock up on absolution for the coming week. It was also a place where people wanted to be well-thought of, if thought of at all, and could be at their best when things were at their worst. I wanted to escape as soon as possible, yet now as old memories become more accessible than recent ones, I realize that I never escaped at all. I write about small towns, perhaps to avenge, perhaps as homage; perhaps because it is still, after all these years, what I best know.

Steven's book list on funny and not-so-funny truths about small towns

Steven Mayfield Why did Steven love this book?

With biting satire and elegiac prose, Main Street is the paragon of stories set in small towns.

Author Sinclair Lewis was obviously not enamored of small towns, and like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, is perhaps exorcising some demons from his own upbringing. Nevertheless, perhaps unable to help himself, he instills his protagonist, Carol Milford (Kennicott) with a “Never give up” small town value. At the end she is undaunted. Even though she’s been stifled at nearly every turn, in her own words she has “kept the faith.”

I love the work of Sinclair Lewis. I based the character of July Huffaker in Delphic Oracle, U.S.A. on Elmer Gantry, and when I taught in medical schools, kept copies of Arrowsmith in my office that I gave to students and residents interested in a career in academic medicine. “Read this,” I told them. “If you still want in, come talk to…

By Sinclair Lewis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Main Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

In this classic satire of small-town America, beautiful young Carol Kennicott comes to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, with dreams of transforming the provincial old town into a place of beauty and culture. But she runs into a wall of bigotry, hypocrisy and complacency. The first popular bestseller to attack conventional ideas about marriage, gender roles, and small town life, Main Street established Lewis as a major American novelist.


Book cover of Babbitt

David Kruh Author Of Inseparable: An Alcatraz Escape Adventure

From my list on the 1920s with healthy skepticism of American values.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied history in college and, after a few misspent years in broadcasting, worked in marketing and public relations for several companies. In my free time I wrote articles and books on historical events and people. A dozen years ago, on a trip to San Francisco and Alcatraz, I conceived of an idea for a novel. True to my background, it was based on a real historical event – the 1962 escape of three men in a raft from the prison. It wasn't until my mid-sixties when I felt ready to step out of my non-fiction comfort zone and write my first novel. Can't wait to start the next one.

David's book list on the 1920s with healthy skepticism of American values

David Kruh Why did David love this book?

I could easily have all five of my picks be novels by Sinclair Lewis. I'll stop at two.

In George Babbitt, Lewis's titular lead, we have a character whose very name became synonymous with conformity. What I absolutely love about this book has a lot to do with the bold plot choices Lewis takes with Babbitt. I write this knowing that many critics did not like the book because, they complained, there really wasn't a plot! (Cripes, what book were they reading?)

These plot turns include his dalliances with socialism (which runs counter to his position as the city of Zenith's most successful realtor) and a socialist woman.

By Sinclair Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Babbitt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Prosperous and socially prominent, George Babbitt appears to have everything a man could wish: good health, a fine family, and a profitable business in a booming Midwestern city. But the middle-aged real estate agent is shaken from his self-satisfaction by a growing restlessness with the limitations of his life. When a personal crisis forces a reexamination of his values, Babbitt mounts a rebellion against social expectations — jeopardizing his reputation and business standing as well as his marriage.
Widely considered Sinclair Lewis's greatest novel, this satire of the American social landscape created a sensation upon its 1922 publication. Babbitt's name…


Book cover of Selected Stories

David Kruh Author Of Inseparable: An Alcatraz Escape Adventure

From my list on the 1920s with healthy skepticism of American values.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied history in college and, after a few misspent years in broadcasting, worked in marketing and public relations for several companies. In my free time I wrote articles and books on historical events and people. A dozen years ago, on a trip to San Francisco and Alcatraz, I conceived of an idea for a novel. True to my background, it was based on a real historical event – the 1962 escape of three men in a raft from the prison. It wasn't until my mid-sixties when I felt ready to step out of my non-fiction comfort zone and write my first novel. Can't wait to start the next one.

David's book list on the 1920s with healthy skepticism of American values

David Kruh Why did David love this book?

This is not a novel, but a collection of Lardner's newspapers columns and short stories, many of which revolve around a bush league pitcher named Jack Keefe who tells stories to his friend.

I love baseball and am fascinated by the early days of the game, and Lardner's Jack makes me feel as if I am experiencing life in baseball's “bushes” back in the 1920s. Oh, yea, that's the other draw of this book for me a view, from his columns and other stories, of the daily grind of American life in an era that was much more than flappers and bathtub gin. (Although there is a bit of both therein). 

By Ring Lardner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection brings together twenty-one of Lardner's best pieces, including the six Jack Keefe stories that comprise You Know Me, Al, as well as such familiar favorites as "Alibi Ike," "Some Like Them Cold," and "Guillible's Travels."

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date…


Book cover of Prussian Blue

Eric Van Lustbader Author Of The Quantum Solution

From my list on perfect examples of great thriller writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been writing since I learned how to write, first poems, then short stories. I spent a decade in the rock music business, writing about and becoming friends with Elton John, John Lennon, Bryan Ferry, among others. But I grew up reading thrillers and wanting to write novels but seemed hesitant to start. One day, I ran into an old high school friend who was writing westerns for Avon Books. I thought if he can, so can I. So I did. I majored in Sociology in college, so the intricacies of individuals within society always fascinated me. After reading The Outsider, I realized I really wanted to write about the people outside of society.

Eric's book list on perfect examples of great thriller writing

Eric Van Lustbader Why did Eric love this book?

I came upon the novels of Philip Kerr later in life.

They were unique in as much as his main character, Bernie Gunther, was a German before, during, and after the Nazi party came to power. The tightrope Gunther had to tread between being a good German cop and having to deal with Nazi higher-ups without himself ever becoming a Nazi is what makes the series thrum with tension.

I had the great good fortune to meet Philip at the L.A. Times Book Fair to which we were both invited some years ago. Spending time with him was for me to meeting a rock star. I was privileged to make his acquaintance.

The time I subsequently spent reading his new novels gave me the distinct sense of standing beside Gunther wherever Philip chose to send him.

When, several years later, I learned that Kerr had died suddenly I was devastated.…

By Philip Kerr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The twelfth book in the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling series, perfect for fans of John le Carre and Robert Harris. 'One of the greatest anti-heroes ever written' Lee Child

France, 1956. Bernie Gunther is on the run. If there's one thing he's learned, it's never to refuse a job from a high-ranking secret policeman. But this is exactly what he's just done. Now he's a marked man, with the East German Stasi on his tail.

Fleeing across Europe, he remembers the last time he worked with his pursuer: in 1939, to solve a murder at the Berghof,…


Book cover of A Beautiful Blue Death

Grace Burrowes Author Of A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times

From my list on mysteries with gorgeous prose and delightful sleuths.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has always interested me, in part because it helps explain how we got where we are. I have a bachelor of music in music history, which is where I first became aware of how small things—the invention of the quill pen—can ripple into huge consequences. Tack onto that an inclination toward political science and law, plus a family full of bench scientists, and it’s easy to see how stories set in the past that focus on whodunit, how, and why fascinate me. Both reading and writing against that tapestry educates me, entertains me, and gives me a glimpse of our capacity to transcend all difficulties for the sake of truth and justice.

Grace's book list on mysteries with gorgeous prose and delightful sleuths

Grace Burrowes Why did Grace love this book?

A Beautiful Blue Death begins the publication order of this marvelous Victorian series, though some later-written prequels bring the list of titles to fifteen.

Lenox is remarkable for his affable nature—no enormous childhood trauma, addictions, or unresolved grief defining him; he’s not oppressed by his society. He stands in contrast to the complicated, dynamic, and politically fraught world he investigates.

Finch’s prose is both plummy and punchy, his voice well crafted for the period, and his plots delightfully rife with Victorian arcana and eccentricities. Comfort reading never had quite this much style, elegance, and verve!

By Charles Finch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Beautiful Blue Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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