Thrillers or crime novels with characters that come alive
August 19, 2017 11:54 AM   Subscribe

I like novels written in first-person point of view, think Raymond Chandler's Marlowe, but less chauvinist and dated. Good characterization and an eye for detail is paramount - unfortunately, that excludes lots of contemporary thrillers and crime novels. Authors I like: Jonathan Kellerman, Ben Aaronovitch, Jonathan Gash, John Burdett, Tyler Dilts. Please help: What else might I like?

Some more info:
- Although I included Aaronovitch in the list, I usually prefer realism to any kind of fantasy elements.
- If you know Tyler Dilts' books: I didn't like his last one as much as the others because there was rather too much introspection and self-pity on the protagonist's side, which almost made him seem like some kind of Mary Sue.
- The above list is exclusively male, unfortunately. I'd be happy to add some female authors! Kathy Reichs almost belongs there, but I found some of her characters to be rather stereotypical.
- It's a bonus if their books are available on Kindle.
posted by mononoaware to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
You would probably like Tana French's books, set in Ireland. They're all first person from the view of different characters and very well-written crime novels.
posted by incountrysleep at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Also came in here to recommend Tana French. Laura Lippmann is very much in this vein as well.

You might also like T. Jefferson Parker, who is in the Southern California PI tradition. The Fallen and Silent Joe are probably the most character driven (The Fallen does have a slight fantasy element although it doesn't impact the plot).
posted by Ideal Impulse at 12:29 PM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like Marcia Clark's novels a lot.
posted by ferret branca at 1:40 PM on August 19, 2017

If realism is important but era is not - Lindsey Davis, perhaps? Her Ancient Roman investigator Marcus Didius Falco narrates his adventures in a voice I think you'd enjoy.

Have you tried Sue Grafton? The Kinsey Millhone ("Alphabet") series, starting with A is for Alibi, is nearing completion, or at least nearing Z; they were contemporary when they started, in the early 1980s, but the books take much longer to write than the events they describe take to unfold, so Kinsey's California won't reach 1990 till Z is for Zero.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:47 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you like Raymond Chandler, have you also read Robert B Parker?
posted by the twistinside at 2:06 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

In this vein, I'm personally a fan of James Lee Burke and his Dave Robicheaux series.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:49 PM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

None of these is first person, but otherwise might fit the bill: Kate Martinelli mysteries by Laurie King, Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. JK Rowling), and the Jackson Brodie novels by Kate Atkinson.
posted by Owl of Athena at 12:04 PM on August 20, 2017

Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawski books are wonderful. Set in Chicago, Vic is a PI and fantastic protagonist, and in the books she ages in more-or-less real time. The first one is not one of the best, but from Deadlock onwards they are great IMHO.
posted by Heloise9 at 2:48 PM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

PJ Tracy is a mother daughter duo. The cis women characters are good and the series started in 2004 and unfortunately has some transphobic themes in the first book and brief transphobic stuff in others. But it has good characters and setting.
posted by azalea_chant at 4:36 PM on August 20, 2017

Excellent! So many good ideas, they will keep me entertained for a while. :)
I completely forgot to mention Tana French, she is indeed on my favourites list. Robert B Parker was a bit too much on the macho side for me. But I will look up all the others! Thanks again, and if anyone else has more suggestions, please go ahead and add them here!
posted by mononoaware at 12:13 AM on August 21, 2017

You might enjoy the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:19 PM on August 21, 2017

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