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Literary crime fiction
January 8, 2014 3:59 AM   Subscribe

What are some decent, non-idiotic, contemporary crime/mystery novels?

I am looking for novels/series of books from the last decade (this one's important) which are genuinely good, not corny and/or unrealistic, and have additional value to them. I do not mind "disturbing" reads -- the opposite, I appreciate this kind. Also, I enjoy psychological thrillers, so there's that elemant, too.

Thanks!
posted by denika to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 83 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked "The Information Officer", which is kind of a fusion of mystery and historical espionage fiction.
posted by thelonius at 4:13 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
posted by Flood at 4:15 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Sara Gran's Claire deWitt books are excellent and fit your criteria precisely.
posted by amelioration at 4:41 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Chelsea Cain's series, beginning with Heartsick. Warning, similar to Dragon Tattoo, there is some psychosexual imagery which may be difficult for some to read.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:52 AM on January 8


Tana French is great. "The Likeness" requires some suspension of disbelief, but it's still a good read.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:53 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


The Last Policeman and Countdown City are pretty great.

Out by Natsuo Kirino

Denise Mina has several novels which are worth reading.
Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series is good.
posted by brookeb at 5:00 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


I like both Jonathan Kellerman and Faye Kellerman. They've even written some things together.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:02 AM on January 8


Shutter Island
Night Film
posted by jbickers at 5:08 AM on January 8


The Maisie Dobbs series deals alot with the psychological fallout of WWI.
posted by lharmon at 5:10 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Oh boy , Maisie Dobbs is amazing. They are very well researched and I actually learned stuff about WWI from them. (like the whole white feather thing. just wow.)

Alan Furst writes some good novels. He has a bunch from the 90s. Wikipedia describes them as "historical spy novels".

I also really enjoy the Inspector O series by James Church. They are about a North Korean detective who is afforded considerable leeway in his detecting and general behavior because he is the grandson of a revolutionay war hero. The author is a former CIA officer and that is a pseudonym.
posted by sio42 at 5:14 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (a pen name for JK Rowling) is really very good. Some of the names are a bit too Hogwartsian for my taste (Cormoran Strike, Lula Landry, etc.) but it is a smart, plausible, well-written mystery.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:20 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Anything by Ian Rankin.
posted by cooker girl at 5:27 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Seconding Kate Atkinson. Her work absolutely transcends genre fiction.
posted by shallowcenter at 5:30 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


I asked a pretty similar question not too long ago and got some great replies. Some of them are probably more literature/less crime than what you want, but it might be good to poke around. I really enjoyed Martin Amis's Night Train and Katherine Neville's The Eight so far.
posted by mlle valentine at 5:37 AM on January 8


I enjoyed Rosamund Lupton's "Sister: A Novel." Wasn't expecting a mystery but I got one. The mystery is a bit lacking but other aspects are quite gripping.
posted by Infinity_8 at 5:52 AM on January 8


Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" is a unique and interesting crime novel.
posted by Thistledown at 5:57 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Anything by James Sallis.
posted by dortmunder at 6:08 AM on January 8


I'm particularly fond of Richard Price's Lush Life. And if you want a good paranoid read, give James Ellroy's American Tabloid a try and then stick around for the rest of the Underworld USA series. Also, I don't know how literary you want your literary, but I loved Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice.
posted by thivaia at 6:10 AM on January 8


Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhymes books. I especially enjoyed "A Maiden's Grave" which is older but he has several newer ones.
posted by ms_rasclark at 6:27 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano mystery series is fantastic. Set in Sicily, it's funny and evocative.
posted by feste at 6:34 AM on January 8


I am a fan of James Lee Burke, who has published many novels in the last decade.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:42 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Here's another previous question with stuff you might like!
posted by phunniemee at 6:54 AM on January 8


Saw "literary crime fiction," thought of the Thursday Next series.

Start with The Eyre Affair.
posted by squorch at 7:02 AM on January 8


Cornelia Read's Madeline Dare series.

Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura series (although the earlier books were written in the late 90s).

Laura Lippman's mysteries (ditto for the dating).

Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series.

Seconding Tana French.
posted by Kriesa at 7:10 AM on January 8


David Liss writes great detective novels - the first of his series 'A Conspiracy of Papers' is both a solid detective novel and the best novel about the South Sea Bubble that I've ever read.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:15 AM on January 8


My favourites are Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, which read as very authentic contemporary Edinburgh to me; and the much less widely read but perhaps even better Kate Shugak series from Dana Stabenow, in which Kate is a deeply fleshed out, super-smart Alaskan Native solving crimes in the wonderfully vivid national park in which she lives. (Bonus: if you have an e-reader, the first book in the series is free.)

Both series have 20 novels and neither author is dead, so they also have that going for them!

Dear Dana: WRITE FASTER. Thanks!
posted by DarlingBri at 7:24 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I like Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus books. He's also transitioned into a series with another detective. The series started more than a decade ago but I've read several of the contemporary ones. Plotwise they're more crime fiction / thriller than mystery.

When The Devil Holds the Candle by Karin Fossum was also great.
posted by Hypatia at 7:27 AM on January 8


Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss and Available Dark tick your psychological thriller/disturbing boxes. Call them crime novels, maybe, but I don't think they qualify as mystery.
posted by xenization at 7:28 AM on January 8


I once asked MeFi about literary true crime and got lots of good responses.
posted by Beardman at 7:44 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Ditto on the Jeffrey Deaver works. I also enjoyed the "The Cat Who.." mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. I'm not really a cat person, but they're fun reads.
posted by Lillypad331 at 8:31 AM on January 8


I really like Repairman Jack - supernatural mysteries.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:35 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


One of my coworkers recently introduced me to Japanese detective novels. Unfortunately, her two favorite authors are almost impossible to find in English but I did really enjoy The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino.
posted by carolr at 8:50 AM on January 8


Check out George Pelecanos
posted by Clustercuss at 8:54 AM on January 8


How about a crime thriller set in Bangkok?
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:29 AM on January 8


I think Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole series is great, definitely my favorite of the Scandinavian crime writers. Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series is good, too.
posted by scody at 10:43 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Absolute Friends, by John le Carré. Espionage is a crime, right?
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:42 PM on January 8


Gone Girl? It requires some suspension of disbelief, but I actually really enjoyed it and I am definitely not usually a thriller person. I think it's one of the best contemporary mysteries out there.
posted by bookgirl18 at 4:32 PM on January 8


I liked Bad Debts, by Peter Temple, which is the first of his Jack Irish novels. I also liked what I was able to read of the second, Black Tide, before I had to return the book.
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:49 PM on January 8


Charlie Huston.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:56 PM on January 8


Came in to recommend Suspect X, but carolr beat me to it. Another I enjoyed reading last year was Tonight I Said Goodbye, by Michael Koryta.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:10 PM on January 8


Many of these have been mentioned already, but for emphasis (and because I love them all):

Series: Ian Rankin's Rebus, Michael Connelly's Hieronymus Bosch, James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux, Tana French, Charlie Huston, Karin Slaughter, Nicola Griffith, Greg Iles. They're mostly all hard-bitten, well-written, and excellently plotted. Scandinavians: Can't go wrong with Nesbo or Mankell (although the first Nesbo isn't as good as the others; just recently translated to English).

One-offs: The Lock Artist, Steve Hamilton. Night Film, Marisha Pessel. The Last Kind Words, Tom Piccarilli. Black and White, Lewis Shiner. 40 Words for Sorrow, Giles Blunt. Warren Ellis has written two quirky novels that would fit. And Generation Loss, Elizabeth Hand.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:24 PM on January 8


If you like disturbing reads, Derek Raymond's Factory novels.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:50 PM on January 8


More literary than crime, but Keith Ridgway's Hawthorn and Child is challenging, compelling, and really good. It's hard to describe as there's not much plot and certainly no resolution, so perhaps not the best recommendation if you like the formal aspects of the genre. Crimes occur and strands of story begin, but it's more about what happens and doesn't happen in the spaces around the plot of a crime novel.
posted by tavegyl at 3:07 AM on January 9


I have enjoyed Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire mysteries.
posted by Pyrattorney at 8:30 AM on January 9


I loved The Old School by PM Newton. Newton was a detective in Australia before giving it up and doing other stuff. Disclaimer: we met 17 years ago in India when the pre-book was being written. That book is to be the sequel which is being released nextish month.

I heartily recommend the book for its authenticity and stereotype smashing.

(an Amazon link, if it works from my iPad. )
posted by taff at 2:56 AM on January 10


A little late to the game, but Robert Crais is very, very good. His Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels are great reads.
Also, Harlan Cohen is an excellent writer. The Myron Bolitar books are my favorite mystery series.
Thirdly - Greg Isles is a "hell yes".
posted by the_royal_we at 11:59 PM on July 28


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