Pelecanos, Chandler, Hiaasen, Spillane and Argento

Posted: December 8, 2011 in Books, Special guest stars, Writers

Just reading this LIST will make you approximately 32 percent cooler than you are now. Reading the BOOKS on the list? Shit. You’ll be able to walk into the outlaw biker bar of your choice and say “Hey you! Steroid boy! Yeah, with the facial tattoos. I’m talkin to you. You’re in my seat, bitch.” (NOTE: My name is Herman J. Rochermann, Tom Joyce’s attorney. I must emphasize that this blog is for entertainment purposes only. Thus, Tom cannot be held legally liable for any injuries that readers might sustain as a result of taking the preceding assertions literally.)

Mike Argento’s novel, “Don’t Be Cruel” is the most entertaining addition to the “bad people doing bad things badly” subgenre of crime fiction I’ve read in a long time. And I’ve read a lot. Since Mike is clearly an expert in the field, I asked him to suggest some other titles fitting that description. Here’s what he gave me:

My pal Tom asked me to compile a list of the top 5 novels about bad people doing bad things, badly.
I started and then realized that I’d rather list writers who consistently write about bad people doing bad things, badly, as it is a recurring theme in a lot of their books. Sure, I have my favorites among Carl Hiaasen’s catalog, but chopping it down to one entry would be difficult. OK, “Double Whammy.” Happy?
I’m not.
So here’s a list of 10 writers you should be reading if you enjoy reading about bad people doing bad things, badly.

10. George Pelecanos — His gritty crime novels often have heroes, but even his heroes are flawed. Start with “The Night Gardener,” a terrific read.

9. Mickey Spillane — What can you say about the Mick? The guy had a heart of steel. His P.I., Mike Hammer, was a badass. My favorite is “I, The Jury.”

8. Raymond Chandler — And what can you say about Chandler? Read “Farewell, My Lovely,” or “The Long Goodbye,” and realize that without Chandler, we’d all be reading crap like “Twilight” or “Hunger Games.” He was the Godfather.

7. Dashiell  Hammett — Speaking of “The Godfather.” “The Thin Man” was all about bad people doing bad things badly, with funny dialogue between Nick and Nora. “The Glass Key” is a masterpeice, as was “The Maltese Falcon.”

6. George V. Higgins — “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” Need I say more.

5. Tim Dorsey — Never has a serial killer been so much fun. Serge A. Storms and his wasted sidekick Coleman mete out justice in ways that others may find objectionable. Or felonious.

4. Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark — Everybody cites Westlake’s Dortmunder books as comic crime classics. But for bad people, check out the Stark books with the amoral thief Parker. The first was “The Hunter” and the last was “Dirty Money.”

3. Jim Thompson — Wade into Thompson at your own risk. Nasty, nasty people doing nasty, nasty things. And he has a sense of humor, a twisted one, but one nonetheless. The “Dimestore Dostoevsky.” Check out “Pop. 1280,” “After Dark, My Sweet” and “The Killer Inside Me.”

2. Carl Hiaasen — When he’s on, one of the funniest writers out there. And when he’s off, he still pretty damn funny. His character Skink is one of of the greatest in the crime novel canon.

1. Elmore Leonard — The man. Simply put. Writes with the grace of a sledgehammer. And I mean that in a good way. Check out “Maximum Bob” and “Out of Sight.”

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