78 books like The Moving Target

By Ross Macdonald,

Here are 78 books that The Moving Target fans have personally recommended if you like The Moving Target. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ 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 The Maltese Falcon

James Irving Author Of Friends Like These

From my list on quest for justice in an unjust world.

Why am I passionate about this?

James V. Irving was born and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, majoring in English. He holds a law degree from the College of William and Mary. After completing his undergraduate studies at UVA, Mr. Irving spent two years employed as a private detective in Northern Virginia, where he pursued wayward spouses, located skips, investigated insurance claims, and handled criminal investigations. In his early years as a lawyer, he practiced criminal law, which, along with his investigative experience and trial work, informs this fictional account of Joth Proctor. Mr. Irving and his wife, Cindy, live in Vienna, Virginia.

James' book list on quest for justice in an unjust world

James Irving Why did James love this book?

This novel immediately plunged me into a world of lies and deception, and it retains its air of non-stop tension no matter how many times I re-read it.

I love the cast of colorful characters that populate a grim world of greed and self-interest, where trust is extended at great risk, and the private agent must look out for himself. Sam Spade lives by his wits and his fists. 

His simple code is tested by the pull of personal and professional temptation presented by a rare, valuable, and dubious relic. Who doesn’t love that formula? 

By Dashiell Hammett,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Maltese Falcon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the greatest crime novels of the 20th century.

'His name remains one of the most important and recognisable in the crime fiction genre. Hammett set the standard for much of the work that would follow' Independent

Sam Spade is hired by the fragrant Miss Wonderley to track down her sister, who has eloped with a louse called Floyd Thursby. But Miss Wonderley is in fact the beautiful and treacherous Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and when Spade's partner Miles Archer is shot while on Thursby's trail, Spade finds himself both hunter and hunted: can he track down the jewel-encrusted bird, a…


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 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 Act of Fear: A Dan Fortune Mystery

Ken Kuhlken Author Of The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles

From my list on 20th century PIs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I admit to, and beg pardon for, bias on behalf of hardboiled male private detectives. Also for leaning west coast. That’s where I grew up and still live, on a hill overlooking Mexico. I consider myself something of an expert on 20th-century crime novels, having written and published a dozen of them, most featuring PI Tom Hickey, and having read hundreds of all sorts, western, eastern, hardboiled, noir, legal, male, female, and even a few cozies. My current challenge is trying to learn calculus since my youngest daughter is a math whiz and I want to understand why.

Ken's book list on 20th century PIs

Ken Kuhlken Why did Ken love this book?

Book One of the Dan Fortune series. In my opinion, Michael Collins never received the popularity he deserved, most likely because he was determined to write the truth about social and political issues and publishers are a timid gang. I think of Dennis Lynds (aka Michael Collins) as an old-fashioned liberal who leaned socialist whenever socialism was called for. I suspect he would’ve favored Bernie Sanders. And beyond all that, he was a masterful storyteller. What’s more, who can fail to love a one-armed PI?

By Michael Collins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since fate forced him to go straight, he has become the resident private eye of this run-down part of Manhattan, chiseling out a career of divorce work and subpoena delivery. But a big case is coming his way. A beat cop is mugged in broad daylight and the only possible witness disappears the next morning. Unsure if he's looking for a witness or a perp, Fortune hunts for the kid, unearthing ugly secrets in a neighborhood he thought he knew well.


Book cover of Miami Blues

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?

Creative writing instructors (and later TV showrunners and network executives) taught me that the protagonist in a crime story can be flawed, but he has to be likable, someone you want to spend time with and who you will root for.

They were all wrong. The detective hero of this book borders on repulsive, and the world he lives in is dark, violent, and a touch grotesque…but also very, very funny. The humor not only makes it all palatable but somehow even more vivid and powerful. And entertaining, oh, how entertaining.

There may not be a single likable character in the whole book, and I don’t care. I love every word. 

By Charles Willeford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After a brutal day investigating a quadruple homicide, Detective Hoke Moseley settles into his room at the un-illustrious El Dorado Hotel and nurses a glass of brandy. With his guard down, he doesn’t think twice when he hears a knock on the door. The next day, he finds himself in the hospital, badly bruised and with his jaw wired shut. He thinks back over ten years of cases wondering who would want to beat him into unconsciousness, steal his gun and badge, and most importantly, make off with his prized dentures. But the pieces never quite add up to revenge,…


Book cover of What Meets The Eye

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?

One thing I really like about this mystery novel is the way it is told from multiple points of view, which is a very unusual technique in mystery fiction. That’s one reason that it felt, to me, so much like a literary novel.

The first character is a brilliant, tortured artist named Margot, who is already dead at the start of the novel. The second character is Kate, an ex-cop turned P.I. who is hired to find Margot’s killer. 

Both women are compelling, interesting characters, but I especially liked the way Kenna renders the hero, Kate. She’s a single mom in recovery from a drug addiction. Her ex is a creep, and most of her old (male) cop colleagues are, too. Her struggle in solving the case felt completely real and human to me. And that’s the signature quality of literary fiction.

By Alex Kenna,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From debut author Alex Kenna comes a pulse-pounding tapestry of secrets, retribution, and greed for fans of Jeffrey Archer.

Kate Myles was a promising Los Angeles police detective, until an accident and opioid addiction blew up her family and destroyed her career. Struggling to rebuild her life, Kate decides to try her hand at private detective work—but she gets much more than she bargained for when she takes on the case of a celebrated painter found dead in a downtown loft.

When Margot Starling’s body was found, the cause of death was assumed to be suicide. Despite her beauty, talent,…


Book cover of Sleeping Beauty

Geoff Loftus Author Of Murderous Spirit

From my list on thrillers to read on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a thriller writer, I have a simple goal: I want to entertain. I'm not the kind of writer whose name is coupled with the Pulitzer Prize or the National Book Award. I write the kind of stories people read to divert themselves on a rainy afternoon or on the beach or on airplanes. My hope is that I can divert and delight my readers. Help them forget the real world for a while. Give them an enjoyable reading break. If people have fun while reading my thrillers, I've done my job.

Geoff's book list on thrillers to read on a rainy Saturday afternoon

Geoff Loftus Why did Geoff love this book?

Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer books were my introduction to the American private-detective novel. Macdonald’s work is psychologically and morally complex, with the sins of previous generations cascading through time to horrific, homicidal effects on Archer’s clients.

In Sleeping Beauty, Archer tries to help a wealthy family with more trouble than any single family should have to deal with—including a missing girl, an oil spill, a ransom demand, and a corpse floating off a private beach. As Archer works his case, he untangles long-lost memories, the results of arrogant decisions, and the pained, twisted relations between parents and children. Sleeping Beauty is gritty and taut. Terrific detective fiction.

By Ross Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Sleeping Beauty, Lew Archer finds himself the confidant of a
wealthy, violent family with a load of trouble on their hands--including an oil spill, a missing girl, a lethal dose of Nembutal, a six-figure ransom, and a stranger afloat, face down, off a private beach. Here is Ross Macdonald's masterful tale of buried memories, the consequences of arrogance, and the anguished relations between parents and their children. Riveting, gritty, tautly written, Sleeping Beauty is crime fiction at its best.

If any writer can be said to have inherited the mantle of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, it is Ross…


Book cover of The Instant Enemy

Burt Weissbourd Author Of Rough Justice

From my list on character-driven thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write character-driven thrillers, including my latest novel: Rough Justice. How did I come to write psychological character-driven thrillers? It began years ago when I went to Hollywood in 1977. This was the New Hollywood (1967 -1980), and I worked with writers whose work grabbed viewers viscerally, not with explosions but with multi-dimensional characters that would draw you into a deeply moving story. I spent countless hours working out the stories and shaping the people in them. Working closely with these great screenwriters was a rare opportunity to learn how to create complicated characters and to see how these complex people enriched storytelling.

Burt's book list on character-driven thrillers

Burt Weissbourd Why did Burt love this book?

I not only loved this book (and all of Ross Macdonald’s writing) but he wrote his only screenplay for me as a producer in Hollywood, based on this book, The Instant Enemy. Working with him closely on this book taught me a great deal about writing complicated character-driven thrillers. He was a master at that, and it was an extraordinary education for me.

By Ross Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Generations of murder, greed and deception come home to roost in time for the most shocking conclusion ever in a Lew Archer novel. At first glance, it's an open-and-shut missing persons case: a headstrong daughter has run off to be with her hothead juvenile delinquent boyfriend. That is until this bush-league Bonnie & Clyde kidnap Stephen Hackett, a local millionaire industrialist. Now, Archer is offered a cool 100 Gs for his safe return by his coquettish heiress mother who has her own mysterious ties to this disturbed duo. But the deeper Archer digs, the more he realizes that nothing is…


Book cover of The Underground Man

Stephen Holgate Author Of To Live and Die in the Floating World

From my list on neglected mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

From Poe to Conan Doyle and Christie to the hard-boiled school of Hammett and Chandler and modern practitioners such as Louise Penny and Walter Mosely, I can gobble up mysteries like candy. Their appeal lies not only in compelling storylines but in their promise to restore order to our chaotic world, assure us that justice will triumph and evil geniuses will lose to intrepid paladins. As with wines, art, and sex, tastes vary. While reading various lists of great mysteries to jog my memory to make this list, I realized that few of my favorites were even listed, much less among the top ranks. Like a good detective, I’m determined that justice prevails.

Stephen's book list on neglected mysteries

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

To my mind, Macdonald is the greatest of American mystery writers, yet he appears to be all but forgotten. Writing in the tradition of Chandler and Hammett—and sharing their California setting—he surpasses them both as a writer and a student of human nature. I find his detective, Lew Archer, a believable and appealing character. A decent and compassionate man, he’s as tough as needs be, but no tougher. The Underground Man is Macdonald’s best, a complex and haunting story in which a routine search for a missing person leads Archer into a twisted family heritage of death and betrayal that has festered, hidden, for decades, and has now burst forth in deadly fashion. 

By Ross Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a mysterious fire rages through the hills above a privileged town in Southern California, Archer tracks a missing child who may be the pawn in a marital struggle or the victim of a bizarre kidnapping.  What he uncovers amid the ashes is murder—and a trail of motives as combustible as gasoline.  The Underground Man is a detective novel of merciless suspense and tragic depth, with an unfaltering insight into the moral ambiguities at the heart of California's version of the American dream.

If any writer can be said to have inherited the mantle of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler,…


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