When I was in graduate school at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, I (on a whim) took a course entitled EH 592: Noir Fiction and Film. There, I read my first ever private detective novel, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Philip Marlowe was everything I wanted to be. Tough. Resourceful. Fair-minded. Quick-witted. Too, Marlowe (like almost all great detective characters) is an iconoclast. He has an overwhelming desire to investigate crimes and right wrongs, but he doesn’t need the police force or the government or any other organized body to tell him what is right and what is wrong. He has his own moral compass. Even better, he has a real problem with authority (as do I).
Below are some of my all-time favorite PI novels. Each of these novels has memorable characters and an engaging plot, all elements I strive for in my writing.
Don’t Ever Get Old, Daniel Friedman
Purgatory Chasm, Steve Ulfelder
Trigger City, Sean Chercover
The Last Good Kiss, James Crumley
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
The Drowning Pool, Ross MacDonald
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
The Monkey’s Raincoat, Robert Crais