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  1. #1

    Default Private eye mystery recommendations, please

    Now, I know you saw this and you came here wanting to tell me about Raymond Chandler, sure that I'd never heard of him, but don't bother. I've read all of Chandler and all of Hammett and all of Ross MacDonald. Please recommend some excellent private eye mysteries not written by the big three. I would like something grim and gritty.

    Please, no Rex Stout. I've had it with him. I keep giving him one last try over and over again. He just bores me to tears.
    If society is content to do monstrous things, it must not be surprised upon creating a monster.

  2. #2
    Say WHAT?!?!?!? FanboyStranger's Avatar
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    Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor series. It starts with The Guards. It's as grim and gritty as it gets, plus frequently hilarious.

  3. #3
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    Have you tried John D. MacDonald's Travis Mcgee series? Ran from the 60s through the 80s. Should be read in order, from The Deep Blue Goodbye (how many titles have riffed off Chandler over the years, I wonder).

    More recently, I like Andrew Vacchs's "Burke" series. Again, start with the first one, Flood, which appeared in the mid or late 80s. The series just ended a few years ago and I've been putting off reading the final installment ever since.


    I'm curious about Bruen myself. Must get to that one of these days, maybe after I finish with Vacchs.
    Last edited by berk; 03-25-2012 at 09:37 PM.

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    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    If you're looking for grim and gritty you need to go with Mickey Spillane. Mike Hammer is violent, misogynistic and fueled by a barely contained rage. The Dirty Harry of the P.I. set.

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    John D MacDonald's Travis McGee is a must read series.I reread the entire series every couple of years.

    Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer is a fantastic read.The series was considered a riskey read in the 1950's - 1960's.

    Stuart Kaminsky's Toby Peters Hollywood P.I. helping the Hollywood elite is classic gumshoe.

    Maxx Allan Collins's Nate Heller P.I. always involves himself in a mystery with someone famous.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Vidocq's Avatar
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    I wouldn't call them gritty but the Ellery Queen mysteries are great, particulary for their fairplay whodunnit nature.
    ...And does Mr. Goddanm Batman says so much as ''Thanks''? OF COURSE not. That'd hardly be GRIM AND GRITTY, would it?

    The jerk...

    -DKU's Jim Gordon.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I used to listen to recorded Travis McGee novels on airplane rides, and I have read a few. I do have difficulty with a private eye ( if McGee can be considered a private eye ) who gets laid a great deal. I find it hard to root for a guy I envy that much.
    I have read "Flood." I enjoyed it, but I would put it more in the thriller category, because there was no real detective work involved. A private detective needs to be a detective, a seeker after the truth, not just someone to help someone else get revenge.
    By no stretch of the imagination can Ellery Queen be considered a private eye.
    I just don't think I can read Mucky Spleen. I can't stomach his politics. Sorry.
    If society is content to do monstrous things, it must not be surprised upon creating a monster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElectraAlan View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. I used to listen to recorded Travis McGee novels on airplane rides, and I have read a few. I do have difficulty with a private eye ( if McGee can be considered a private eye ) who gets laid a great deal. I find it hard to root for a guy I envy that much.
    I have read "Flood." I enjoyed it, but I would put it more in the thriller category, because there was no real detective work involved. A private detective needs to be a detective, a seeker after the truth, not just someone to help someone else get revenge.
    I can at least partially agree on both counts. McGee can be a bit full of himself at times, even though MacDonald tries to add a little self-deprecation, but I still found the series compulsively readable. And you're right, Burke isn't really a private eye, more of a problem solver for hire.

  9. #9
    Thief and Archer
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    Lawrence Block's Eight Million Ways to Die.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subotai View Post
    Lawrence Block's Eight Million Ways to Die.
    I also enjoy Block's Mathew Scudder series.The series is down and dirty P.I. investigation.

  11. #11
    The Brawling God FistofIron's Avatar
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    I'd recommend John Connolly's Charlie Parker series and Harry Hunsicker's Lee Henry Oswald.

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    Elder Member Libaax's Avatar
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    The best PI stories not written by Hammett is imho Matt Scudder books by Lawrence Block. Modern classics in the field.

    Great PI mysteries and they deal with more issues that isnt about crime plots.


    James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss is also important.
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    Lowe/Piece/Understatement Artycool8or's Avatar
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    When I was a boy, thanks to my Fathers collection I read a full basket of Edgar Wallace Pulp Fictions of which many would fall under crime and mystery genre.

    Although, I haven't read all 32 volumes of the French crime fiction Fantomas written by Allain and Souvestre (with Allain writting another 11 volumes after Souvestre's death) I can't recommend this book enough.

    I would have also recommended to your reading Lun-The King of The Midnight series written by Frederick Ashton, but I believe it was never translated into English.

    That's all the knowledge as far as my reading extends into this subject.

  14. #14
    Senior Member FirestormTheNuclearMan's Avatar
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    Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais.
    Free Fall, The Monkey's RainCoat, Lullaby Town, The Forgotten Man, etc.

  15. #15
    Clint Renner Ottmeister X's Avatar
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    I've enjoyed Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels and his new character series Malcolm Fox (The Complaints and The Impossible Dead) are supposed to be very good. I suppose there is some grim & gritty to the Rebus novels but nothing I find extreme. Rebus isn't a P.I. either, just an inspector on the cop force who isn't always well-liked.

    Does John Sanford count or is that too mainstream? My wife likes his books but I have never read them. I suppose Lucas Davenport isn't a P.I. either and I'm probably missing the boat on recommendations.

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