The Deep Blue Good-By


John D. MacDonald - 1964
    He's also a knight errant who's wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out and his rule is simple: he'll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.

The Sins of the Fathers


Lawrence Block - 1976
    Her alleged murderer—a minister's son—hanged himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl's father has come to Matthew Scudder for answers, sending the unlicensed private investigator in search of terrible truths about a life that was lived and lost in a sordid world of perversion and pleasures.

Indemnity Only


Sara Paretsky - 1982
    But trouble is Chicago private eye V.I. Warshawski's specialty. Her client says he's the prominent banker, John Thayer. Turns out he's not. He says his son's girlfriend, Anita Hill, is missing. Turns out that's not her real name. V.I.'s search turns up someone soon enough -- the real John Thayer's son, and he's dead. Who's V.I.'s client? Why has she been set up and sent out on a wild-goose chase? By the time she's got it figured, things are hotter -- and deadlier -- than Chicago in July. V.I.'s in a desperate race against time. At stake: a young woman's life.

The Death and Life of Bobby Z


Don Winslow - 1997
    When Tim Kearney, a small-time criminal, slits the throat of a Hell's Angel and draws a life sentence in a prison full of gang members, he knows he’s pretty much a dead man. That’s until the DEA makes Kearney an offer: impersonate the late, legendary dope smuggler Bobby Z so that the agency can trade him for one of their own, who was captured by a Mexican drug kingpin. Knowing his chances of survival are a little better than in prison, Kearney accepts, and he winds up in the middle of a desert at the notorious drug lord’s lavish compound. To his surprise he meets Bobby Z's old flame, Elizabeth, and her son. At first, it’s a short vacation by the pool, but when things turn bloody, the three of them begin the most desperate flight of their lives, with drug lords, bikers, Indians, and cops furiously chasing after them. Whether he pulls it off, whether he can keep the kid and the girl and his life, makes this compelling novel a hilarious, fast-paced thriller about a con caught in a devil’s bargain.

A Drink Before the War


Dennis Lehane - 1994
    Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential state documents. Finding Jenna, however, is easy compared to staying alive once they've got her. The investigation escalates, implicating members of Jenna's family and rival gang leaders while uncovering extortion, assassination, and child prostitution extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of government. A Drink Before the War , the first in Lehane's acclaimed series with Boston detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, is a remarkable debut that is at once a pulsating crime thriller and a mirror of our world, one in which the worst human horrors are found closest to home, and the most vicious obscenities are committed in the name of love.

Fury


G.M. Ford - 2001
    M. Ford, author of the critically acclaimed Leo Waterman mystery novels, returns with a stunning tale of serial lies, corruption, and murder -- and throws an unforgettable new pair of investigators into the mad cosmopolitan mix of present-day Seattle.Frank Corso is a difficult man. A defrocked journalist vilified for allegedly making up "facts" on a major crime story while working for the sacrosanct New York Times, he now lives in virtual seclusion on a boat moored on the opposite end of the country -- surviving on the substantial royalties from a bestselling book and on his pay for the occasional column in a local tabloid, the Seattle Sun. Yet it's Corso whom the slow and sheltered Leanne Samples asks for when she walks into the Sun offices and announces that her courtroom testimony, which put Walter Leroy Himes on Death Row, was a lie.Several years earlier, eight Seattle women were slain over the course of eighty days, their bodies carefully displayed in Dumpsters throughout the city by a maniac whom the press dubbed "the Trashman." Leanne Samples would have been victim number nine, she claimed at the time, had she not barely escaped from the clutches of Walter Himes, a large, unwashed, prime sociopathic example of wasted humanity Now Himes is only six days away from execution and everyone wants him dead: the victims' families, the police, the general populace ... even the mayor himself. And Himes will die, unless Frank Corso can quickly change a public opinion that the public does not want changed.But this death train may be impossible for Corso to derail, even with the able assistance of photographer Meg Dougherty. Despite Leanne's shocking confession, the authorities seem unusually keen on having Himes disposed of permanently. And highly situated members of the Seattle PD refuse to consider requesting a stay of execution -- even in the face of the most startling evidence of all: a brutal new murder that bears the Trashman's unmistakable signature.With the clock relentlessly ticking down to Lethal Injection Day, Corso and Dougherty have suddenly made powerful, perhaps deadly, new enemies by getting themselves deeply into something that goes far beyond right, wrong, truth, and justice. And the key to a case that again threatens to devastate a city now ties in a hastily scrawled "tag" on an alley wall: the first three spray-painted letters of one angry word ... Fury.

The Chicago Way


Michael Harvey - 2007
    When Gibbons turns up dead on Navy Pier, Kelly enlists a team of his savviest colleagues to connect the dots between the recent murder and the cold case it revived: Diane Lindsay, a television reporter whose relationship with Kelly is not strictly professional; his best friend from childhood, Nicole Andrews, a forensic DNA expert; Nicole’s boyfriend, Vince Rodriguez, a detective with a special interest in rape cases; and Bennett Davis from the DA’s office, a friend since Kelly’s days on the force. To close the case, Kelly will have to face the mob, a serial killer, his own double-crossing friends, and the mean streets of the city he loves.Ferociously plotted and crackling with wit, The Chicago Way is first-rate suspense steeped in the glorious, gritty atmosphere of a great city: a marvelous debut.

The Snatch


Bill Pronzini - 1971
    Financier Louis Martinetti doesn't trust the police to deal with the man who snatched his 9-year-old son from his military prep school, nor is it clear that he trusts the members of his own household. On the appointed evening, NAMELESS takes a briefcase that contains $300,000 in cash to a secluded location chosen by the kidnapper. Then all hell breaks loose.

L.A. Outlaws


T. Jefferson Parker - 2008
    Nobody ever gets hurt - until a job ends with ten gangsters lying dead and a half-million dollars worth of glittering diamonds missing.Rookie Deputy Charlie Hood discovers the bodies, and he prevents an eyewitness - a schoolteacher named Suzanne Jones - from leaving the scene in her Corvette. Drawn to a mysterious charisma that has him off-balance from the beginning, Hood begins an intense affair with Suzanne. As the media frenzy surrounding Allison’s exploits swells to a fever pitch and the Southland’s most notorious killer sets out after her, a glimmer of recognition blooms in Hood, forcing him to choose between a deeply held sense of honor and a passion that threatens to consume him completely. With a stone-cold killer locked in relentless pursuit, Suzanne and Hood continue their desperate dance around the secrets that brought them together, unsure whether each new dawn may signal the day their lies catch up with them.

Dead Street


Mickey Spillane - 2007
    But what if she weren't actually dead? What if she somehow secretly survived - but lost her sight, and her memory, and everything else she had - except her enemies? Jack has a second chance to save her.

The Butcher's Boy


Thomas Perry - 1982
    Back in print by popular demand, this spectacular debut, from a writer of “infernal ingenuity” (The New York Times Book Review), includes a new Introduction by bestselling author Michael Connelly.Murder has always been easy for the Butcher’s Boy—it’s what he was raised to do. But when he kills the senior senator from Colorado and arrives in Las Vegas to pick up his fee, he learns that he has become a liability to his shadowy employers. His actions attract the attention of police specialists who watch the world of organized crime, but though everyone knows that something big is going on, only Elizabeth Waring, a bright young analyst in the Justice Department, works her way closer to the truth, and to the frightening man behind it.

The Cutie


Donald E. Westlake - 1960
    Paul had been a rich man’s mistress. Now she was a corpse. And every cop in New York City was hunting for the two-bit punk accused of putting a knife in her.But the punk was innocent. He’d been set up to take the fall by some cutie who was too clever by half. My job? Find that cutie—before the cutie found me.

The Monkey's Raincoat


Robert Crais - 1987
    A quiet and seemingly submissive wife, Ellen can't even write a check without him. All she wants is to get him and her son back—no questions asked. The search for Ellen's errant husband leads Elvis into the seamier side of Hollywood. He soon learns that Mort Lang is a down-on-his-luck talent agent who associates with a schlocky movie producer, and the last place he was spotted was at a party thrown by a famous and very well-connected ex-Matador. But no one has seen him since—including his B-movie girlfriend.At the same time the police find Mort in his parked car with four gunshots in his chest —and no kid in sight—Ellen disappears. Now nothing is what it seems, and the heat is on. It's up to Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike to find the connection between sleazy Hollywood players and an ex-Matador.

A Firing Offense


George Pelecanos - 1992
    Blow-out sales and shady deals are his life. When a stockroom boy hooked on speed metal and the fast life disappears, Nick has to help find him.

The Driver


Hart Hanson - 2017
    He’s spent the past twenty-eight hours ferrying around Bismarck Avila, a celebrity skateboard mogul who isn’t going home any time soon. Suddenly the wind begins to speak to Skellig in the guttural accent of the Chechen torturer he shot through the eye in Yemen a decade ago: Troubletroubletrouble. Skellig has heard these warnings before—he’s an Army Special Forces sergeant whose limo company is staffed by a ragtag band of wounded veterans, including his Afghan interpreter—and he knows to listen carefully.Skellig runs inside just in time to save Avila from two gunmen but too late for one of Avila’s bodyguards—and wakes up hours later in the hospital, the only person of interest in custody for the murder. Complicating matters further is the appearance of Detective Delilah Groopman of the LAPD, gorgeous and brash, for whom Skellig has always held a candle. As for Avila? He’s willing to help clear Skellig’s name under one peculiar condition: that Skellig become Avila’s personal chauffeur. A cushy gig for any driver, except for the fact that someone is clearly trying to kill Avila, and Skellig is literally the only person sitting between Avila and a bullet to the head.