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.
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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. 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. 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.
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.