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No. 1 Lost Light (Harry Bosch #9) by Michael Connelly (2003)

Now retired from the LAPD, Harry Bosch has swapped his badge for a newly acquired PI license. Written in first-person and with a nod to Chandler, Connelly’s Bosch revisits an unsolved case to stand up for the dead. 


THE HOUND'S TOP TEN American Private Eye Novels of the 21st Century


Are private eye novels losing their popularity? Is there anything out there living up to the great shamus books of old? For this Top Ten, The Hound, a big fan of Marlowe, Spade and Archer, takes a look at the best of the contemporary US offerings and discovers that the genre is in good hands.


The following novels are all predominantly set in the USA, feature American PIs, and were first published this century.

Five More Recommendations ...


No. 2 Little Scarlet (Easy Rawlins #9) by Walter Mosley (2004)

Unlicensed PI Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins is asked by the LAPD to help solve a mystery set amid the flames of LA’s Watts Riots of 1965. A powerful social commentary in which Rawlins’ investigation has him crossing the racial divide.  


No. 3 Right as Rain (Derek Strange and Terry Quinn #1) by George Pelecanos (2001)

In Washington DC, Derek Strange, a black ex-cop turned PI, is hired to investigate the death of an off-duty black policeman. Together with his white partner, Strange must confront cold killers and the force’s institutionalised racism. 


No. 4 Taken (Elvis Cole #13) by Robert Crais (2012)

PI Elvis Cole is hired by a businesswoman whose daughter is missing. In attempting to find her, Cole is taken, leaving his partner Joe Pike to continue the investigation pitting him against a ruthless human trafficking operation.  


No. 5 Trigger City (Ray Dudgeon #2) by Sean Chercover (2008)

A retired army colonel asks Chicago PI Ray Dudgeon to look into his daughter's murder in this stylish thriller. Chercover, described by the Chicago Tribune as “the Ross Macdonald of his time”, is a former PI. 


No. 6 All the Flowers Are Dying (Matthew Scudder #16) by Lawrence Block (2005)

Matt Scudder agrees to take one last case. His client, Louise, asks him to investigate her suspicious online lover. Before Scudder can make headway a horrific murder is committed - and the only evidence links the killer to Scudder’s wife. 


No. 7 S is for Silence (Kinsey Millhone #19) by Sue Grafton (2005)

A woman vanishes, leaving her seven year old daughter Daisy. 34 years later Daisy hires PI Kinsey Millhone to discover her mother's true fate. Reluctantly, Millhone takes on a case that some are desperate to keep hidden.  


No. 8 A Smile on the Face of the Tiger (Amos Walker #14) by Loren D Estleman (2000)

Amos Walker, Detroit’s answer to Philip Marlowe, is asked to locate Eugene Booth, an ageing pulp fiction writer and author of a novel about a fifty-year old race riot. When Booth is found dead Amos investigates the murder. 


No. 9 The Last Place (Tess Monaghan #7) by Laura Lippman (2002)

After accepting an assignment to investigative blunders surrounding five unsolved Baltimore homicides, PI Tess Monaghan notices that each brutal death was the result of domestic violence. A serial killer soon has Monaghan in his sights. 


No. 10 Winter And Night (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith #8) by S J Rozan (2002)

PI Bill Smith receives a chilling late night telephone call from the NYPD, who are holding his fifteen-year-old nephew Gary. But before he can find out what's going on, Gary escapes Bill's custody and disappears.


Hardball (V I Warshawski #13) by Sara Paretsky (2009)

V I Warshawski is asked to find a man who's been missing for four decades. Old skeletons from Chicago’s racially charged history, as well as haunting family secrets, rise up leaving Warshawski afraid by what she might discover. 


The Black-Eyed Blonde (Philip Marlowe #10) by Benjamin Black (2014)

Chandler’s PI Philip Marlowe is brought back by the Booker Prize winning John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black. Marlowe’s new client is a seductive young heiress and, in searching for her former lover, he clashes with one of Bay City’s richest families.


Chicago Confidential (Nathan Heller #14) by Max Allan Collins (2002)

An organized crime investigation leads to mob war and Chicago PI Nate Heller decides, after his partner is among the victims, that it’s time for some rough justice. The series cleverly blends history, in this case 1950, with fiction.


Vanishing Point (Sharon McCone #23) by Marcia Muller (2006)

Sharon McCone is hired to investigate the cold case of Laurel Greenwood, a housewife and artist, who vanished, leaving her young daughter alone. Then McCone’s client, Greenwood’s now grown up daughter, disappears.  


Schemers (Nameless Detective #33) by Bill Pronzini (2009)

Two parallel stories - one a challenging locked-room puzzle - occupy Jake Runyon and Nameless. Alternating viewpoints take us on a mystery ride that goes from stolen books to stolen lives and the hunt for a phantom stalker.  

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