Want an apolitical Crime/Detective writer
November 27, 2019 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a writer of crime fiction who is modern, nonleftist (or even obviously conservative), and good? I've already read John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Connelly, Westlake/Stark, Rob't Parker, and am now reading John Sandford but he's becoming too liberal for me. I'd like to go with someone well-known but need to know whom to avoid. I also like horror, but Stephen King's "Under the Dome" I had to drop. Have also already done the Dan Simmons trilogy... Thanks.
posted by noelpratt2nd to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Try Lee Child's Reacher series. Its about a ex-military MP. Not really any political statements hidden in there.
posted by I_count_crows at 6:54 AM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Back again, also Robert Crais. Cole and Pike are great characters with no real leanings.
posted by I_count_crows at 6:59 AM on November 27, 2019

The right wing people I follow on Twitter really love Brad Thor.
posted by something something at 7:07 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Try Stephen Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger and other novels. They are well-written and plotted; and the guns are described in more loving detail than the human characters.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:07 AM on November 27, 2019

Try Ian Rankin -- his books are not particularly political in any direction that I've noticed.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:21 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

James Patterson? The only evidence of his personal politics I've seen is his support of public libraries. Also, if you want to go back a bit, Dick Francis was a Brit who wrote really engaging detective novels that often revolved around horse racing.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:01 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dick Francis is conservative in the sense that power clearly rests with rich people and it should stay that way, but if you're looking for socially conservative in the American sense, he's had (heaven forfend!) gay people going about their lives in the background literally since before homosexuality was legal in Britain.

Police procedural is by its nature a conservative genre. I haven't read Sandford (and don't actually know if he's police procedural), but Connelly is generally as progressive as the genre gets in my experience, at least for American writers. In addition to Rankin, I've enjoyed Anne Cleeve's Shetland books recently. Peter Robinson is another British author who writes police procedurals. (Again, it's an inherently conservative genre, but the British authors tend to be less overtly right wing and most aren't obviously political.)
posted by hoyland at 9:36 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

You mention Westlake/Stark but he had 17 other pseudonyms. You'll find them listed here, with a few words about what he wrote as each of them. Be warned that three of them were for soft-core porn. Of the others, I particularly liked Tucker Coe and Timothy Culver. An added bonus: Westlake also used some of these names for characters in the novels he wrote as Westlake and Stark, often as an in-joke.
posted by ubiquity at 10:00 AM on November 27, 2019

Oh good, the Tucker Coe sounds good. And Crais,...
posted by noelpratt2nd at 10:12 AM on November 27, 2019

I like a lot of the authors you mention. I also like Ace Atkins (both as himself and as Robert Parker), C.J. Box, Paul Doiron, Loren Estleman, Joe Ide, Craig Johnson, and William Kent Krueger.

You might also like Lawrence Block (I like the Hit Man books, but the others I've tried didn't do much for me).
posted by box at 12:26 PM on November 27, 2019

Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series might fit the bill, and has the advantage of being very funny as well. There are a lot of them and I haven't read them all, having only properly discovered them this year, but they do not seem very political. There is a main character who wisecracks to conservative people in positions of power, but he wisecracks to everyone, that's just part of his charm.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:32 PM on November 27, 2019

you're not asking this at all but Murder She Wrote is AMAZING

i mean it tangentially is about writing so... :-D
posted by emirenic at 12:38 PM on November 27, 2019

but he's becoming too liberal for me.

Can you clarify what "too liberal" means? I know you've asked a similar question before and clearly read some of the authors suggested then - and while Sandford is the only author you cite I'm not familiar with, from various descriptions of his work online I would think he's noticably less liberal than both MacDonalds or Connelly or Westlake or Parker.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

As far as actively non-political, seconding Child's Reacher series - although those do get quite violent, which is a thing I think you're trying to maybe avoid.

And for Crais' work, the Joe Pike novels or his two stand-alones (Hostage and The Two Minute Rule) are more "non-political" than the Elvis Cole novels, IMO. (Pike operates by a highly personal code that I would describe as "morally utilitarian".)
posted by soundguy99 at 1:53 PM on November 27, 2019

To soundguy99-- Just trying to save some time. The second Sanford "Prey" book may get better, but it seemed the setup was yet again another case of minorities done wrong, therefore he'd be getting bogged down in liberal stuff. I felt the Harry Bosch novels were going that way around 10 books in. Maybe it's fine. It's good to ask a question full of holes, that way you do get many resources people are happy to share. I know I've yet again been "burned" by attempting to seek my old experiences w/ Stephen King but realizing he's giving readers only more of *him* the past umpteen years instead of more realistically drawn characters, IMO. I liked "Revival" for its dark ending, but broke off with "The Outsider" and now with "Under the Dome." He can really ruin a good mystery, like in the former. I may take a break from crime anyway. I read alllll of the Stark's Parker novels, then like 12 Connellys, back to some Lawrence Block (Scudder's gone liberal), and for some reason can't bring myself to re-read Travis McGee. I don't recall any politics or worldviews in MacDonald disturbing me but that's been a while. Yeh, maybe it's just my own changes...
posted by noelpratt2nd at 2:06 PM on November 27, 2019

I'm confused because Dan Brown is definitely not a conservative. Do you mean you prefer novels that don't delve into social issues?

I've read all the Sandford books and while I think the characters reflect the micro cultures of the area where the book are set quite accurately, I dont see anything overtly political in them at all. He bases most of them on real criminals and was a reporter for many years so the books do reflect that. He is a humanist and a keen observer of social systems but I like his books specifically because they do not devolve into an miserable slog of Good vs Random Evil, like so many do (Patricia Cornwall, I'm looking at you).

If you're looking for less grounded stories maybe try Cornwall or Patterson or Kellerman. If you're looking for booms with no sympathy towards minority characters I'm not sure I can help you.

As an aside, he is also a vastly superior writer to most mentioned in this thread so if people like detective novels and have not read his, pick one up!
posted by fshgrl at 3:21 PM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm good, and thanks to all! Dan Brown? I know I didn't mention him...
posted by noelpratt2nd at 3:27 PM on November 27, 2019

Sorry, I meant to type Connolly. If he's a conservative in the modern sense of the word it doesnt show in his writing that I've ever seen.
posted by fshgrl at 4:22 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you read Michael Crichton? They aren't exactly crime novels, but they are suspenseful page-turners, and they are definitely conservative and, well, non-feminist (annoyingly so to this liberal reader, so probably closer to what you're looking for.) Try State of Fear, also Rising Sun is now quite dated but still a solid work.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:31 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

How about Stuart Kaminsky's Inspector Rostnikov books? They are apolitical from the standpoint of Western politics since they're set in the Soviet Union (and later books in Russia). I think they are well written, though some of the characters are less complex than others.

I am currently reading some of the Peter Diamond books by Peter Lovesy and the early ones are set in the 1980s (I think), so fairly modern. I have not noticed him grinding much of an ax of any kind.

I will support whoever recommended the Nero Wolfe books, even though the first one was written in the 1930's. They have a fairly modern sensibility, though some of the older ones have some slightly jarring language. I have read each novel and short story at least a dozen times.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:54 PM on November 27, 2019

Henning Mankell's Wallander series may suit you.
posted by Altomentis at 8:04 PM on November 27, 2019

After hearing Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series described as crossover between CSI and Harry Potter, I picked it up and have enjoyed the ride so far. It's a police procedural series in a slightly parallel universe where there's been magic, and it just might be coming back. There's a villain who spans multiple books, several whodunnits, and lot of English history and geography. The politics, from a U.S. perspective, seem to be neutral to very, very slightly left leaning. A Londoner might have an entirely different take.
posted by dws at 9:26 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Jonathan Kellerman maybe? I disliked him because he was so anti-liberal, specifically around I/P (a basic sign of a character's villiany was if they supported Palestine, for example).

Agree with Rankin. He writes Rebus deliberately politically neutral: he's stated to have voted only three times, for three different parties; he was raised Protestant but isn't highly religious and his closest schoolfriend was Catholic, and he's not a Mason, despite being a Protestant policeman.
posted by Pink Frost at 8:38 PM on November 29, 2019

I may take a break from crime anyway.

Well, I'm still not at all clear on what you're finding objectionable about what you've been reading, but maybe try things more along the lines of "international thrillers" - authors like David Morrell, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Alistair MacLean (for pre-1990 stuff), maybe even Tom Clancy.

Some of these authors are definitely conservative to one degree or another, and besides that, even though those kind of novels are overtly "political", it's in the sense that the protagonists and antagonists are usually current or former government agents or military personnel, not so much delving into social/cultural inequities.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:15 AM on November 30, 2019

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