100 books like The Big Clock

By Kenneth Fearing,

Here are 100 books that The Big Clock fans have personally recommended if you like The Big Clock. 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 Black Wings Has My Angel

Andrew Diamond Author Of To Hell with Johnny Manic

From my list on the golden age of American crime and noir.

Who am I?

In college, I studied Literature with a capital L: those timeless classics the professors worship and revere. Then a woman in a used book store in Seattle handed me a copy of Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280 and said, "Read this." I was hooked. The pulp fiction of the 1950s is visceral and raw. Like Greek tragedy, it examines the darker drives of human nature--greed, lust, loneliness, anger--and their consequences. Pulp writers were paid by the word to crank out lurid thrills. But like Shakespeare writing for the groundlings, some of them just couldn't help going above and beyond. Their work remains in print because it hits on universal truths that still resonate today.

Andrew's book list on the golden age of American crime and noir

Andrew Diamond Why did Andrew love this book?

In a tough prostitute named Virginia, escaped convict Timothy Sunblade finds the perfect partner to help execute the perfect crime. The extraordinary relationship between these two makes the book memorable. Sunblade is clear-eyed, thoughtful, disillusioned, sensitive, brutish, self-assured at times, and wavering at others. Virginia is wise, world-weary, sure of herself and what she wants, sometimes crazed like a caged animal, but always strong.

Chaze's atmospheric detail adds depth and presence to the story. The characters' arc is one of darkening fate and inevitable tragedy. Watching their slow descent is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The characters continue to deepen throughout the story, all the way to the final page, and they stay with you long after you've put the book down.

By Elliott Chaze,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Black Wings Has My Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Flawless ... beyond perfection." — New York Magazine
"An astonishingly well-written literary novel that just happened to be about (or roundabout) a crime." — Barry Gifford
"Black Wings Has My Angel is an indisputable noir classic … Elliott Chaze was a fine prose stylist, witty, insightful, nostalgic, and irreverent, and a first-class storyteller." — Bill Pronzini
An escaped convict encounters an enterprising prostitute at the start of this hard-boiled masterpiece. When Timothy Sunblade opens the door of his blue Packard to Virginia, their fates are forever intertwined. "Maybe if you saw her you'd understand," he reminisces. "Face by Michelangelo, clothes…


Book cover of In a Lonely Place

Ward Howarth Author Of River City Blues

From my list on WWII era reads no crime fiction fan should miss.

Who am I?

I’m an author, reader, and cinephile with a real appetite for all things crime. If it’s a mystery, if it’s a detective story, if there are questionable morals at play in a story with no easy answers and no clear way out, then count me in. I’m also fascinated by the WWII era and was spellbound by the stories my maternal grandfather told me about his time as an infantry soldier in Italy during the war. These passions moved me to write my own novels and continue to inspire me in my embrace of art. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I do!

Ward's book list on WWII era reads no crime fiction fan should miss

Ward Howarth Why did Ward love this book?

Dorothy B. Hughes’ In A Lonely Place is arguably the best crime novel ever written.

Published in 1947, the story centers on Dix Steele, an ex-airman in postwar Los Angeles who, when he’s not passing himself off as a writer, is stalking and strangling women around the city.

Full of self-hatred and misogyny, the suggestively named Dix is perhaps the most unlikeable protagonist you’ll ever come across, but the novel is so hard-boiled, and such a masterclass in plot and character, you won’t be able to put it down.

Side note: while the 1950 film made from Hughes’ novel differs from the source material in several ways, it’s a hallmark of both studio and noir filmmaking and should not be missed.

By Dorothy B. Hughes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In a Lonely Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Puts Chandler to shame ... Hughes is the master we keep turning to'Sara Paretsky

After the war, cynical veteran Dix Steele has moved to L.A., a city terrified by a strangler preying on young women. Bumping into an old friend, now a detective working on the case, Dix is thrilled by closely following the progress of the police. And meeting his new neighbour, sultry and beautiful actress Laurel Gray, brings even more excitement into his life. But the strangler is still prowling the streets - and Laurel may be in more danger than she realises...

In a Lonely Place was…


Book cover of The Hot Spot

Timothy J. Lockhart Author Of Evil Intentions Come

From my list on American noir fiction taking you to the end of a one-way street.

Who am I?

I have loved crime fiction since encountering it in college. After seeing the Bogart-Bacall version of The Big Sleep, I read the underlying Raymond Chandler novel and was hooked. I devoured Chandler’s other works and moved on to James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, John D. MacDonald, and others. Later I discovered the crime novels of Charles Williams, Day Keene, Gil Brewer, and other “pulp masters.” Loving those novels led me to try my hand at writing crime fiction, and Stark House Press has now published five of my novels with another on the way. My crime-writing career is an unusual path for someone whose M.A. thesis is on Jane Austen!

Timothy's book list on American noir fiction taking you to the end of a one-way street

Timothy J. Lockhart Why did Timothy love this book?

I think The Hot Spot is perhaps the best of several noir novels by Charles Williams, a writer who deserves to be better known. 

Originally published as Hell Hath No Fury, The Hot Spot, well filmed under that title in 1990, chillingly illustrates the claimed truth of the proverb about a woman scorned. As readers, we cannot help but like Harry Madox, a clever but semi-sleazy used-car salesman who robs a bank in a small Texas town and sleeps with his boss’s boozy wife before falling in love with a younger, more innocent woman.

Then Harry learns to his dismay that the boss’s wife is determined to keep him from having the things he now realizes he really wants. Re-reading this novel, I always root for Harry to escape from the deep pit he has dug for himself, and I keep turning the pages, hoping he will.

By Charles Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A dark, brooding masterpiece of guilt, greed, and lust in a town ripe for felony.

Madox wasn't all bad.  He was just half-bad.  But trap a man like Madox in a dead-end job in a stultifying small town, introduce him to a femme fatale like the Harshaw woman, and give him a shot at a fast fifteen thousand dollars--in a bank just begging to be knocked over--and his better nature doesn't stand a chance.

Merciless in its suspense, flawless in its grasp of the ways in which ordinary people hurtle over the edge, The Hot Spot is a superb example…


Book cover of Pop. 1280

Lynn A. Higgins Author Of Bertrand Tavernier

From my list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations.

Who am I?

I'm a recently retired Professor of French literature and cinema studies at Dartmouth College. Because I love both books and movies, I developed a course on adaptation, which I taught with pleasure for many years. I wanted to give students the opportunity to learn how to analyze literary texts and films, separately and in juxtaposition, and they especially enjoyed discovering how the “same” story works quite differently in different media. In addition to the two volumes on Tavernier, my published books include New Novel, New Wave, New Politics: Fiction and the Representation of History in Postwar France; Parables of Theory: Jean Ricardou’s Metafiction; and Rape and Representation (co-edited with Brenda Silver).

Lynn's book list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations

Lynn A. Higgins Why did Lynn love this book?

I was introduced to this book through Tavernier’s brilliant adaptation, Clean Slate (Coup de Torchon, 1981). Set in Texas, Thompson’s novel was published in 1964, during the Civil Rights Movement, and it offers a portrait of petty-minded racism in the continuing aftermath of slavery. Tavernier’s adaptation transposes the story to 1930s French colonial West Africa. I remain haunted by the ways the two settings illuminate each other. Tavernier’s blending of a deadly serious historical crisis with touches of comedy—slapstick even—brings both eras and the novel itself to life in enjoyable and instructive ways.

By Jim Thompson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Pop. 1280 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic crime novel from 'the best suspense writer going, bar none' New York Times

Nick Corey likes being the high sheriff of Potts County. But Nick has a few problems that he needs to deal with: like his loveless marriage, the pimps who torment him, the honest man who is running against him in the upcoming elections and the women who adore him.

And it turns out that Nick isn't anything like as amiable, easy-going or as slow as he seems. He's as sly, brutal and corrupt as they come.


Book cover of The Glimpse

Laura Davis Author Of The Burning Light of Two Stars: A Mother-Daughter Story

From my list on the mother-daughter relationship.

Who am I?

We all have obsessions in life and one of mine has been my mother and the great love and enmity that ricocheted between us for fifty-seven years. Throughout the decades, my mother went from protector to controller to betrayer to ogre to human to an elderly woman in my care. The love and hate, distance and intimacy, estrangement, and reconciliation that we experienced made me a lifelong student of the mother-daughter bond. I‘ve written about my mother for more than 30 years, and love reading mother-daughter stories, not saccharine sweet ones, but complex multi-layered dramas where there’s no villain and no hero—just two humans struggling to love and understand each other.

Laura's book list on the mother-daughter relationship

Laura Davis Why did Laura love this book?

I loved diving into this novel about mother-daughter artists and the devotion, love, and competition that binds them together. Personally, I have no skill or passion for painting or photography—the gifts granted the characters in this book—but as I immersed myself in Bensley’s world, I began seeing the world as visual artists do. That was an unexpected bonus to an already compelling intergenerational story. As I hungrily turned pages, eager to discover what would happen to the characters next, I loved learning about art, the sexism of the art world, and the compelling need to create regardless of external validation.

By Lis Bensley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Liza Baker, a rising star in the burgeoning Abstract Expressionist era, finds herself sidelined when she gets pregnant, and decides to have the child. Yet, against conventional wisdom, she's convinced she can have a successful career and be a good mother to her daughter, Rouge.
She takes a job teaching at a college and comes up against the harsh realities of the male-dominated art world. Unable to build a successful career, she watches as her former lover, whose work resembles hers, skyrocket to fame. Liza develops a drinking problem and often brings home artist lovers she's met in the city.…


Book cover of When Men Murder Women

Martin Daly Author Of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide

From my list on why people sometimes kill one another.

Who am I?

When my late wife Margo Wilson suggested, over 40 years ago, that we should study homicides for what they might reveal about human motives and emotions, her idea seemed zany. But when we plunged into police investigative files and homicide databases, we quickly realized that we had struck gold, and homicide research became our passion. Our innovation was to approach the topic like epidemiologists, asking who is likely to kill whom and identifying the risk factors that are peculiar to particular victim-killer relationships. What do people really care about? Surveys and interviews elicit cheap talk; killing someone is drastic action.  

Martin's book list on why people sometimes kill one another

Martin Daly Why did Martin love this book?

Rebecca and Russell Dobash had studied men's violence against their female partners for decades and were already heroes of the women's movement when they began interviewing incarcerated killers in Britain. Two fine books have resulted, one focused on men who killed women, the other on men who killed men. It is the former, especially the section on intimate partner homicide, that I find most captivating. The Dobashes skilfully blend national statistics with the self-serving testimony of their interviewees, who minimize their lethal acts as things that "happened" rather than things that they did, and apparently believe themselves to be the victims. These insights are essential.    

By R. Emerson Dobash, Russell P. Dobash,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Men Murder Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the United States and Great Britain, 20-30% of all homicides involve the killing of a woman by a man, and it is far rarer when a woman is killed by another woman. Unfortunately, this is not a very well understood phenomenon. Most books on the topic discuss serial killings, but those only make up 2% of sexual murder-a sensationalist subset of a subset. There has never before been a comprehensive book that has covered the entire scope of homicide cases in which men
murder women.

Dobash and Dobash, two seasoned researchers and longtime collaborators in the study of violence…


Book cover of Girls in White Dresses

Lauren Edmondson Author Of Wedding of the Season

From my list on wild family weddings.

Who am I?

Weddings are stressful for even the most functional of families. I should know—it took me nearly two years to plan my own! The process of manufacturing the big day, and attending to all the trappings of the wedding industrial complex, really brings out our best and our worst. In my most recent novel, I found that a big, splashy wedding provided such a fun and fascinating way to explore the tensions and enduring love within families, friends, and couples. If done right, plots involving weddings can smash tired “bridezilla” and “monster-in-law” tropes. As we enter the summer wedding season, I hope this list of books keeps you laughing and loving! 

Lauren's book list on wild family weddings

Lauren Edmondson Why did Lauren love this book?

I read this novel while I was in my twenties—during a time I called The Age of Everyone Getting Married.

It absolutely captures that whirlwind of bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and wedding registries, but also the love, jealousy, and heartbreak of being young and just figuring life out in New York City. Close writes beautifully about real women doing the best they can with their bad choices. 

By Jennifer Close,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Girls in White Dresses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever feel like everyone but you has their life under control?

Isabella, Mary and Lauren feel like everyone they know has a plan, a good job, and a nice boyfriend.

Isabella, on the other hand, thinks she might hate her own boyfriend, Mary is working so hard she's hoping to get hit by a car just so she can have some time off work and Lauren is dating a man who can't spell her first name.

All three of them have been friends since college, and now - more than ever - they need each other, as they struggle through…


Book cover of Animal

Vanessa Cuti Author Of The Tip Line

From my list on a divisive/polarizing main character.

Who am I?

I’m a sucker for unlikeable. A charged word that’s sometimes used about protagonists but mostly only about female protagonists. When they don’t fit a template. When they are imperfect. When they push back. When they are too emotional or too distant or too interior or too driven or too obsessed or too mean or too nice or too smart or not smart enough. The protagonists in these novels are flawed—period. But flawed is complex and perfect is simple and simple is boring and no one wants to read a boring novel.

Vanessa's book list on a divisive/polarizing main character

Vanessa Cuti Why did Vanessa love this book?

Joan abandons her life and moves across the country on a quest to find a stranger from her past, convinced it will help her find peace.

In a savagely honest style, Animal recounts Joan’s affairs, family history, a traumatic incident from her youth, and a gaping emptiness within herself that she’s desperate to understand. “If someone asked me to describe myself in a single word, depraved is the one I would use.”

Depraved, sure. Maybe. But it’s impossible to be angry at her because she’s so candid about what she’s doing and why. The prose itself is fresh and stark and haunting.

By Lisa Taddeo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Lisa Taddeo, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon Three Women, comes an “intoxicating” (Entertainment Weekly), “fearless” (Los Angeles Times), and “explosive” (People) novel about “what happens when women are pushed beyond the brink, and what comes after the reckoning” (Esquire).

Joan has spent a lifetime enduring the cruelties of men. But when one of them commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, she flees New York City in search of Alice, the only person alive who can help her make sense of her past. In the sweltering hills above Los Angeles,…


Book cover of Speedboat

John Howard Matthews Author Of This Is Where It Gets Interesting

From my list on characters who encounter the extraordinary.

Who am I?

I’m a fiction and humor writer whose imagination was initially sparked by superheroes and comic books. The idea of an otherwise average person who could turn themselves into a superbeing was transformative and powerful. As a teenager, these early heroes faded, and I became fascinated by The Twilight Zone’s compact and poignant storytelling that contained moral messages. This eventually led me to the fiction of Stephen King where the idea of average people encountering the supernatural and overcoming obstacles was a recurring theme. In my own work, I have tried to carry forward the idea that our everyday lives are more absurd, complex, and magical than they appear.

John's book list on characters who encounter the extraordinary

John Howard Matthews Why did John love this book?

Adler’s book depicts a woman’s life through a series of moments, incidents, bits of speech that come at the journalist narrator. The short passages perfectly capture the neurotic energy, humor, and horror of New York City. When I first read it, I was blown away. It showed there is great latitude in ways to approach writing. The short, choppy format is the closest a book has come to mirror my experience as a writer who seeks to find meaning and/or humor in everyday life. It’s a jagged mosaic of a book when put together is a delightful treasure.

By Renata Adler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Speedboat burst on the scene in the late ’70s it was like nothing readers had encountered before. It seemed to disregard the rules of the novel, but it wore its unconventionality with ease. Reading it was a pleasure of a new, unexpected kind. Above all, there was its voice, ambivalent, curious, wry, the voice of Jen Fain, a journalist negotiating the fraught landscape of contemporary urban America. Party guests, taxi drivers, brownstone dwellers, professors, journalists, presidents, and debutantes fill these dispatches from the world as Jen finds it.
       
A touchstone over the years for writers as different as David…


Book cover of The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage

Leslie Morgan Steiner Author Of The Naked Truth: A Memoir

From my list on to make you love being a woman.

Who am I?

There is no place that I find more truth from women than in the books we write, especially memoirs. Starting with my mother, and continuing through my education at Harvard and Wharton, and workplaces including Johnson & Johnson and The Washington Post, women have always fascinated me. Women’s roles are changing rapidly, but not rapidly enough in many ways. From discovering our beauty and sexuality as adolescents to becoming mothers, to navigating the corporate or entrepreneurial climb, to aging while female…it’s all much richer and far more manageable when we tell the truth to each other rather than hiding behind a mask of perfectionism, false chumminess, or cattiness. 

Leslie's book list on to make you love being a woman

Leslie Morgan Steiner Why did Leslie love this book?

Cathi Hanauer and I were editors together at Seventeen Magazine in New York City in our 20s. She tried, unsuccessfully, to convince me not to leave the magazine to marry an abusive man. I obviously regretted not listening to her – but I did get great material to write my memoir. I read The Bitch in the House one snowy Christmas Day lying in front of the fireplace as my three young children played with their presents around me. I recognized myself in the essays about the experience of being female in America, and the book inspired me to corral 26 moms in my own essay collection. I’m forever grateful to Cathi for assembling a group of badass truthtellers with great stories to tell.

By Cathi Hanauer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bitch in the House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Virginia Woolf introduced us to the “Angel in the House”, now prepare to meet... The Bitch In the House.

This e-book includes an exclusive excerpt from The Bitch is Back: Older, Wiser, and Getting Happier, a second collection of essays from nine of the contributors featured in The Bitch in the House and from sixteen captivating new voices.

Women today have more choices than at any time in history, yet many smart, ambitious, contemporary women are finding themselves angry, dissatisfied, stressed out. Why are they dissatisfied? And what do they really want? These questions form the premise of this passionate,…


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