Some Modern Crime Novels & Writers

I attempted to write this the other day, and failed--well, the computer failed me and I failed me by not saving more often. Oh, well. Here we go again:

Here are some modern crime novels & writers I've enjoyed reading and learning from. Modern, as defined by me is anything from 1970 to the present. Why 1970? I was born that year and therefore that is modern. You're welcome to your definition of course, but that's mine!

Two things made me think of writing this post, the first being the recent release of Iron Angels, the urban fantasy detective novel I co-wrote with Eric Flint. To me, Iron Angels is more police procedural, more specifically FBI procedural than fantasy, science fiction, or horror (there are elements of these genres in Iron Angels). Why do I think this? Well, the novel is an FBI investigation which leads them into the fantastic elements with real science blended in as well as some horror. Thinking about that led me to think about the novels I've read over the years that influenced me, the writers as well and what I could learn from them.

The other reason for this post are conversations I've had with James Ellroy--for the uninitiated, that's the Ellroy who wrote L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia, among other classic crime fiction! He hosts a monthly showing of a noir film at the Alamo Drafthouse and later, hangs out in the bar and chit-chats with people. The conversation usually comes around to influences and some of the great crime writers of the past.

These are in no particular order for me, but are all modern writers and novels that influenced me in the crime/mystery genre:

James Ellroy - you might as well begin with L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia. His writing is sparse at times, stark and bitter and engaging! His characters are real. You'd think these stories really took place--there's no one like Ellroy.

James Lee Burke - fully realized characters populate lush settings. His prose is beautiful, but the stories are all about crime. You could try The Neon Rain, the first Dave Robicheaux book.


Kris Nelscott - also known as Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Kris writes in nearly all the genres, but her Smokey Dalton series is outstanding historical crime fiction. I've attended multiple writing workshops taught be her, and she's the one who got me back into crime fiction.


Elmore Leonard - if you want crazy characters in crazy situations spouting off crazy dialogue give  Elmore Leonard a try. I believe one of Leonard's writing tips was: leave out the boring parts--and he certainly followed his own advice. No boring parts at all!


Lawrence Block - he's written so many cool series, like the Keller and Scudder series, but for fun capers try the Bernie Rhodenbarr series where something always goes awry with his burglaries. 


Michael Connelly - I enjoy the Harry Bosch series, and if you want some procedure and detective read those books (there are a lot of them!), but his stand-alone novels, such as Void Moon are pretty good, too.


Stuart Neville - dark, conflicted characters some who seek redemption and some who do not. Start with Ghosts of Belfast, and you'll want to read all of his work.


Those are some crime novels and novelists that I enjoy--there are so many more, but I want to post lists of books and writers from other genres that have informed my writing and influenced me.