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View Full Version : Obscure/semi-obscure crime or thriller series you like


Soul Brother Number Two
01-28-2014, 06:00 PM
Huge crime novel/thriller fan here. The recent thread(s) about Travis McGee got me thinking. There is the pantheon, the very popular detectives or other characters--your Trav McGees, Spencers, Lew Archers, Sam Spades. Then there are the Kinsey Millhone/V.I. Warshawski/Elvis Coles of the world, still very popular, maybe not as well-regarded as the very top. But there are a metric shit ton of crime/detective/thriller series out there. What are some of your favorites that we fans might have missed? Here's three of mine.

Bony, AKA Napoleon Bonaparte-- a half-caste police detective in 30's Australia. Arthur Upfield wrote close to twenty Bony books, the last were written in the 60's. They are in my top 5 all-time favorites. Period detail is fascinating, a lot of wonderful facts about aboriginal life, and Bony himself is a delight.

The Tromp Kruger books by James McClure. Set in 60's/70's South Africa, these books explore apartheid in a brutal but nuanced fashion. Tromp has a Bantu assistant whom he trusts and likes much more than his white counterparts, and this relationship casts a critical and again fascinating light on that place and time. There are eight of these.

And the LaLa Land books by Robert Campbell. Four of them, I think. Riveting, ugly, gruesome, with wistful, damaged PI Whistler sitting in a diner watching the parade of Hollyword grotesques march by.

How 'bout you, crime-novel loving Dopers?

Snowboarder Bo
01-28-2014, 06:17 PM
Obscure? Heh, I know obscure.

How about Stephen R. Donaldson's The Man Who novels? I loved them; good, hard-boiled PI books.

I also love Frank Rich's Jake Strait novels: sort of a PI in a Phil Dick-like world. Great fun.

But the best (hell yeah I saved the best for last, natch!) are Peter Tasker's Mori novels, Buddha Kiss and the fantastic Samurai Boogie. Seriously, who can resist a book called Samurai Boogie??

silenus
01-28-2014, 07:03 PM
Obscure to the mainstream but loved by fantasy geeks are Glen Cook's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garrett_P.I.) Garret, PI series. Start with Sweet Silver Blues.

Cheesesteak
01-28-2014, 07:14 PM
I stumbled upon the Rabbi Small (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_Rabbi_Slept_Late) series in the Library a few years back. I thought they were fun.

RealityChuck
01-28-2014, 09:34 PM
Bony, AKA Napoleon Bonaparte-- a half-caste police detective in 30's Australia. Arthur Upfield wrote close to twenty Bony books, the last were written in the 60's. They are in my top 5 all-time favorites. Period detail is fascinating, a lot of wonderful facts about aboriginal life, and Bony himself is a delight. A friend of mine was a big fan of Upfield. Big enough to have reprinted one of his out-of-print books, The Beach of Atonement (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-beach-of-atonement-arthur-w-upfield/1105699149?ean=9781257196746). I designed the cover, from his photo of the actual beach mentioned in the book. I haven't read much of his work, but have liked what I read.

Exapno Mapcase
01-28-2014, 10:06 PM
The Yellowthread Street (http://www.goodreads.com/series/90381-yellowthread-street) police procedurals by William Marshall are as obscure as it gets. Set in Hong Kong before the Chinese took it over, the books are black comedies about the interplay between the British-dominated police force and the almost alien otherness of the daily life of the millions of Chinese they interact with.

Marshall writes in a style like nobody else in the world, so they aren't for everyone. Doesn't matter. He's a major talent. His set-ups are the best in the business. Head First is my favorite. To greatly paraphrase:

Police Inspector: You mean to tell me that somebody cut off his head and then sewed it on again?

Coroner: Not at all. I'll telling you that somebody cut off his head and then sewed somebody else's head on.
His endings are equally wild. As Mickey Spillane once said, "My first chapter gets them to buy the book. My last chapter gets them to buy the next book." That's Marshall to a T.

MsJinx
01-28-2014, 10:20 PM
Reginald Hill's Dalziel & Pascoe series (the books, not the BBC shows). The earlier ones were simple detective stories, but the ensemble of characters develop deeply over time, and the last six or so are so complex. Additionally, your vocabulary will increase immensely. I could not read these without notebook, pen and dictionary close by, for both new words and clever turns of phrase. Reginald Hill died last year, so sadly there will be no more.

The Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George (again, the books rather than the BBC tv shows) is also intelligent, well written, and with many good characters. They occur in various parts of England, and I enjoyed reading about the areas as well as some of the historical events referred to.

The Lake District mysteries by Martin Edwards is also good. Interesting plots, good character development.

Qwisp
01-28-2014, 10:52 PM
I love the Pendergast novels by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston. I'm not sure if they are or are not obscure. All I know is that the bookworms I have introduced to the series never heard of them,and they've loved them after reading.

CalMeacham
01-29-2014, 07:24 AM
Do these count as obscure? They were big in their day, but you don't see them on bookshelves now (if you can find a bookstore):


Judge Dee -- Robert Hans van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat serving in China who wrote novels about a (real) T'ang dynasty administrator in English. He started out translating an 18th century historical novel/detective story as Dee Goong An/The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, then, because people were interested, he wrote a series of five novels using details from other judges' cases (all of them titled "The Chinese ______ Murders" -- with the blank being filled in with "Gold", "Lake", "Maze", "Nail"). Then he wrote quite a few more, filling out his fictionalized life of Dzien Djieh Dee. There was an overall story arc and details that ran through the whole series so they all of them (except the Dee Goong An) fit together to make a cohesive whole, with foreshadowing and everything. Great stuff. The books inspired a six-part BBC series in the 1960s and an American TV movie that was supposed to be the pilot for a series that never happened. In the past twenty years several people have written their own Judge Dee novels, which aren't always faithful to van Gulik's interpretation. There's been a Chinese Judge Dee martial arts film, which doesn't fit with these at all. Read the original books, and see the TV movie (produced by Nicholas Meyer, of Seven Per Cent Solution and Star Trek II and IV fame)

Ed and Am Hunter -- Fredric Brown was the Master of the Short Story, whether in science fiction, fantasy, or mystery. He is, sadly, out of print, although it seemed that until about 20 years ago there'd be at least one of his books out on the bookshelves. Now you can't even find him in used book shops (I haven't checked e-books). His very first mystery novel was The Fabulous Clipjoint, a mystery set in Chicago (the titular clipjoint), when teenaged Ed Hunter tries to solve the murder of his father, eventually helped by his carny uncle Ambrose. It's a heckuva first novel, deriding many of the popular mystery conventions and with very interesting characters. Brown went on to use the pair in other novels and short stories. At first they were with the carnival (a favorite setting for Brown), but later set up a detective agency. Brown ran the series from 1948 to the 1960s, so at the end this post-war bunch is dealing with Greenwich Village hipsters and hippies.

kayaker
01-29-2014, 07:30 AM
Christopher G Moore writes detective novels featuring Vinnie Calvino, a private eye from the US who relocated to Thailand. I read one of his novels accidentally while searching for new work published by the other Christopher Moore and have gone on to be a real fan of his work.

aruvqan
01-29-2014, 11:01 AM
Judge Dee -- Robert Hans van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat serving in China who wrote novels about a (real) T'ang dynasty administrator in English.
I love these - my Grandmother had 3 or 4 books of Judge Dee, and I remember seeing the TV movie Judge Dee and the Monastary Murders back in the 70s - I would love a copy of it on DVD/electronic file. The Judge Dee movie they came out with a couple years ago suffers by only being subtitled, I would love a dubbed version. [though I do watch subtitled stuff, there is a fair amount of decent stuff on streaming Netflix, I just watched a really neat Jackie Chan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Big_Soldier) flick a couple days ago.]

Hells bells, there is another Chinese detective series, but all I am pulling up is Judge Dee stuff. It is a different medieval judge, with a couple of assistants one of whom I seem to remember was a petty criminal of some sort. I will ask mrAru if he remembers the books and if not it will have to wait until I can get back to the sub base library to have the librarian check my ancient backlist.

The Lillian Jackson Braun Quilleran 'The Cat Who' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cat_Who...) series. Really light hammock reading.

One of my absolute favorites, Lindsey Davis "Falco" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Didius_Falco) series - a private informer working in Imperial Rome of Vespasian. She actually does a fair amount of research and manages to make a very easy to read ride. The original Falco series is wrapped up, but his adopted daughter is apparently the focus of a new series but I haven't managed to get any of them yet.

The Aloysius Pendergast series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Aloysius_Pendergast), started with Relic and Reliquary, Relic got made into a film. I think the series [at least the first 2 books] was supposed to be horror, but it got changed into a detective/mystery/whatever series.

Diane Mott Davidson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Mott_Davidson) has a series about Goldie Schulz, a caterer that also throws in a bunch of interesting recipes. Light and enjoyable.

Why yes we do tend to read a lot here, and on a wide range of book types :p

AuntiePam
01-29-2014, 11:55 AM
He's kind of an ass but I like Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir (http://www.amazon.com/March-Violets-Bernie-Gunther-Novel/dp/0142004146/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_z) novels.

ETA: Bernie Gunther is an ex-cop working in Germany in the 30's.

AuntiePam
01-29-2014, 12:05 PM
Not crime/thriller so much as cool detective, Boris Akunin's novels featuring Erast Fandorin (http://www.amazon.com/Boris-Akunin/e/B001JOFLX2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1).

Dendarii Dame
01-29-2014, 12:06 PM
I enjoy the Professor Peter Shandy mysteries by Charlotte MacLeod, and the 87th Precinct mysteries by Ed McBain. The former is a series of cozies, the latter, very hard-boiled.

Soul Brother Number Two
01-29-2014, 12:33 PM
These are all great. I've read a few, most not. Keep em comin! I will note that I am a fan of hard-boiled, seamy. violent, perverse. The lighter stuff doesn't often interest me. Except when it does of course.

CalMeacham
01-29-2014, 12:39 PM
I love these - my Grandmother had 3 or 4 books of Judge Dee, and I remember seeing the TV movie Judge Dee and the Monastary Murders back in the 70s - I would love a copy of it on DVD/electronic file. The Judge Dee movie they came out with a couple years ago suffers by only being subtitled, I would love a dubbed version. [though I do watch subtitled stuff, there is a fair amount of decent stuff on streaming Netflix, I just watched a really neat Jackie Chan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Big_Soldier) flick a couple days ago.]

Hells bells, there is another Chinese detective series, but all I am pulling up is Judge Dee stuff. It is a different medieval judge, with a couple of assistants one of whom I seem to remember was a petty criminal of some sort.

Tao Gan, one of Dee's assistants, was a petty criminal. He's played by Mako in the TV movie. Dee had two other "lieutenants", as well as old Sergeant Hoong. All of these are mentioned in the 18th century Dee Goong An (which isn't historical, and was written wayyyy after the real Dee's death), and Gulik simply took them over whole and re-used them himself.

I can't think of anyone else quite like Dee, though.

AuntiePam
01-29-2014, 12:42 PM
These are all great. I've read a few, most not. Keep em comin! I will note that I am a fan of hard-boiled, seamy. violent, perverse. The lighter stuff doesn't often interest me. Except when it does of course.

All righty then. Try Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt novels (http://www.amazon.com/Already-Dead-Joe-Pitt-Novel/dp/034547824X). Joe is an Undead PI. Huston's other novels are also quite good.

Soul Brother Number Two
01-29-2014, 01:00 PM
Those other Huston novels were outrageous AuntiePam. Shook me to my core.

No umlaut for U
01-29-2014, 03:41 PM
Some of the old John Creasey series still stand up after all these years, especially his Gideon series under the pseudonym J.J. Marric.

My current cozy favorite series are Elizabeth Buzzelli's Emily Kincaid mysteries, set in northern Michigan, and M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth books.

Exapno Mapcase
01-29-2014, 04:05 PM
Some of the old John Creasey series still stand up after all these years, especially his Gideon series under the pseudonym J.J. Marric.

Those were by far his best. The only other series I remember as being at all readable was The Toff, written under his real name. They were of course imitations of Leslie Charteris' The Saint, and I'd definitely recommend starting with the Saint. There were approximately one billion Saint stories and novels over 35 years, so there's enough there to last close to forever.

Soul Brother Number Two
01-29-2014, 04:17 PM
I really liked the early Saint stuff and it became subpar relatively quickly IMO. There is a 60s Saint take-off involving a character called Modesty Blaise, who is actually like a cross between the Saint and James Bond, with a soupcon of Matt Helm for spice. I only read a few, really hard to get a hold of, but really enjoyed the ones I found.

No umlaut for U
01-29-2014, 04:22 PM
Seemed to me like the Saint books were very repetitive. Another author my parents loved, but just didn't do it for me, was Georges Simenon.

astorian
01-29-2014, 04:25 PM
I don't know if they're obscure, but I liked all the Francis Xavier Flynn books by Gregory McDonald, who's MUCH better known for creating reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher.

Especially Flynn's Inn and The Buck Passes Flynn.

SCAdian
01-29-2014, 06:57 PM
My favourite mystery series is the Asey May books (24 books, 1931-1951) by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/t/phoebe-atwood-taylor/). (The two books listed here as "omnibus editions" are actually novella collections.)

catnoe
01-29-2014, 07:24 PM
Mario Acevdo's series with Felix Gomez, A war vet now private detective who was bitten by a vampire in Iraq.

Charles Stross - The Laundry Files.

Exapno Mapcase
01-29-2014, 07:28 PM
I really liked the early Saint stuff and it became subpar relatively quickly IMO.
Oh, sure. That's a disease for almost all long series, but some are far worse than others. When I worked at a library in high school, they had, for some bizarre reason, a whole shelf of Perry Mason paperbacks. I read 40 of them in a row and then never opened another for 50 years.


There is a 60s Saint take-off involving a character called Modesty Blaise, who is actually like a cross between the Saint and James Bond, with a soupcon of Matt Helm for spice. I only read a few, really hard to get a hold of, but really enjoyed the ones I found.
My wife is a huge Modesty Blaise fan. She was a comic strip creation of Peter O'Donnell that became a sensation in Europe, and he added on a series of novels that are well regarded.

My favourite mystery series is the Asey May books (24 books, 1931-1951) by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/t/phoebe-atwood-taylor/). (The two books listed here as "omnibus editions" are actually novella collections.)
Nitpick: Asey Mayo. Same advice I would give for most of these series, including The Saint. Don't read the earliest books first. Start five years or so in when the character became mature and then only go back if you're a completist. Heck, Charteris tried to pretend that the first Saint book never existed.

Taylor had a secondary series about Leonidus Witherall. (Originally under the name Alice Tilton by all republished as by Taylor.) Wonderful farce. She was as good with set-ups in that series as William Marshall, and that's high praise.

don't ask
01-29-2014, 07:37 PM
Edgar award winning author Stuart Kaminsky taught film at North Western. Sara Paretsky's first novel is dedicated to Kaminsky who was her tutor. He wrote over 70 books including several on film. He had three vastly entertaining series the Toby Peters series set mostly in old Hollywood. Each book featured famous figures from the period. His Inspector Rostnikov series is about a Moscow detective hated by the KGB because his wife is Jewish. The Abe Lieberman series is about a Jewish Chicago detective with a Catholic partner. All are excellent but no-one I know has ever heard of him until I recommend his books..

the_diego
01-29-2014, 07:55 PM
More like pulp series: The Executioner, The Penetrator, and The Death Merchant.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
01-29-2014, 07:55 PM
I don't read a lot of "seamy, violent, perverse", but there are a few writers I like - such as Charlie Huston, who writes such fantastic dialog. I like hard-boiled tempered with a little humor, even if it's dark humor.

John Burdett's crime/mystery series starting with Bangkok 8 (www.amazon.com/Bangkok-Royal-Thai-Detective-Novel/dp/1400032903/), set in largely in the red light district of Bangkok.

Christopher Brookmyre's "tartan noir" crime novels are darkly funny. They're very, very Scottish. I started with Quite Ugly One Morning (www.amazon.com/Quite-Ugly-Morning-Christopher-Brookmyre/dp/0802138616/).

jasg
01-29-2014, 08:17 PM
Perhaps it is of local interest only, but I enjoy the Earle Emerson (http://www.earlemerson.com/) Thomas Black and Mac Fontana series. Black is a Seattle based ex-policeman and PI and Mac Fontana is an ex-firefighter and arson investigator.

Emerson is a retired Seattle firefighter. All his stories are set in the NW.

No umlaut for U
01-29-2014, 08:27 PM
Edgar award winning author Stuart Kaminsky taught film at North Western. Sara Paretsky's first novel is dedicated to Kaminsky who was her tutor. He wrote over 70 books including several on film. He had three vastly entertaining series the Toby Peters series set mostly in old Hollywood. Each book featured famous figures from the period. His Inspector Rostnikov series is about a Moscow detective hated by the KGB because his wife is Jewish. The Abe Lieberman series is about a Jewish Chicago detective with a Catholic partner. All are excellent but no-one I know has ever heard of him until I recommend his books..

His Toby Peters books are also among my favorites: the others, not as much.

Rick Kitchen
01-29-2014, 08:51 PM
Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko series, set in Russia.

Saintly Loser
01-29-2014, 09:33 PM
Not all that obscure, but I loved the Harlem Detective series by Chester Himes.

There were maybe eight or nine novels set in the Harlem of the 1950s and 60s. The books feature two NYPD detectives, Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones.

They're as good as anything by Thompson or Chandler. Well worth a read. I think they're still in print.

AuntiePam
01-29-2014, 09:36 PM
Christopher Brookmyre's "tartan noir" crime novels are darkly funny. They're very, very Scottish. I started with Quite Ugly One Morning (www.amazon.com/Quite-Ugly-Morning-Christopher-Brookmyre/dp/0802138616/).

So you're the one who recommended that! It started with a turd on a mantel. I don't recall if Chekhov's rule applied or not. (I really liked that book but haven't read any of the others yet.)

Soul Brother Number Two, if you think you'd like a hard-boiled woman, read some of Denise Mina's books.

Siam Sam
01-29-2014, 10:05 PM
Christopher G Moore writes detective novels featuring Vinnie Calvino, a private eye from the US who relocated to Thailand. I read one of his novels accidentally while searching for new work published by the other Christopher Moore and have gone on to be a real fan of his work.

He just released his newest this month, The Marriage Tree (http://www.cgmoore.com/books/The%20Marriage%20Tree.htm).

Possibly even better is John Burdett (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Burdett) and his Bangkok 8 series (as mentioned above by Eleanor of Aquitane), although the first in the series is still the best of the bunch. Although I would correct Eleanor by saying they're set in the red-light districts, plural. We have quite a few dotted around, not just one.

Voyager
01-30-2014, 01:36 AM
The Yellowthread Street (http://www.goodreads.com/series/90381-yellowthread-street) police procedurals by William Marshall are as obscure as it gets. Set in Hong Kong before the Chinese took it over, the books are black comedies about the interplay between the British-dominated police force and the almost alien otherness of the daily life of the millions of Chinese they interact with.


I, who read few mysteries, have actually read one of those, set in a science fiction convention of all things.

Ron Goulart had a series with Groucho Marx as a detective.
I think the Richard Castle books, supposedly written by the guy in the series by perhaps written by Tom Straw (http://jeannieruesch.com/wordpress/?p=3213) are dumb fun, just like what you'd think he'd write. Seeing the connection between events in the book and the show is fun also.

And while I don't read many mysteries, I've read all the Brunetti books set in Venice and the Inspector Otani books set in Japan.

kayaker
01-30-2014, 06:30 AM
He just released his newest this month, The Marriage Tree (http://www.cgmoore.com/books/The%20Marriage%20Tree.htm).

Possibly even better is John Burdett (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Burdett) and his Bangkok 8 series (as mentioned above by Eleanor of Aquitane), although the first in the series is still the best of the bunch. Although I would correct Eleanor by saying they're set in the red-light districts, plural. We have quite a few dotted around, not just one.

Yep, The Marriage Tree is on my to-read list. I've read Bangkok 8, I'll have to find more by Burdett.

Any Donald E Westlake fans? He wrote a ton of pulp fiction crime novels under a number of pseudonyms. As Richard Stark he wrote the Parker series, probably my favorite.

detop
01-30-2014, 08:04 AM
Tanya Huff's Vicky Nelson novels (a Toronto PI partnered with a vampire).

Eleanor of Aquitaine
01-30-2014, 08:47 AM
So you're the one who recommended that! It started with a turd on a mantel. I don't recall if Chekhov's rule applied or not. (I really liked that book but haven't read any of the others yet.)Hmm, I thought I got the recommendation from you. That first book is his first novel, and they do get better. There are five that feature that same character, journalist Jack Parlabane, and there's some benefit to reading them in order.

The biggest problem with Brookmyre is that he rants. If you happen to wholeheartedly agree with the rant then it can be entertaining, but if you disagree, or if you don't know what the hell he's talking about (e.g. Scottish politics) then it can get annoying. But the books are worth putting up with it.

I haven't yet read his newest couple of books yet, but supposedly they are more serious creepy crime novels without the humor.

CalMeacham
01-30-2014, 09:02 AM
I have to mention Toni L. P. Kelner's series about Laura Fleming, a transplanted Southerner who solves crimes in Boston (not unlike her Southern Transplant author, who lives a couple of towns over from me north of Boston). She published eight of these before moving on to other series.


Then she went on to the Tilda Harper "Where Are They Now" mysteries, following a writer who looks up former stars and hits. She published three of these:

http://www.tonilpkelner.com/novelsanthologies.php

BrotherCadfael
01-30-2014, 09:27 AM
Ellis Peters (Elizabeth Partridger) wrote some twenty-odd books about a 12th-century monk who suffered from Jessica Fletcher's disease -- that is, people seem to drop dead at his feet, and generally he has to clear the name of the obvious suspect.

His name is Brother Cadfael.

Siam Sam
01-30-2014, 10:31 AM
Yep, The Marriage Tree is on my to-read list.

Looks like the Rohingya figure in that one, an ethic minority in Burma. That's pronounced Ro-hin-ja, as the "gy-" configuration in Burmese is pronounced like a J at the start of syllables. They're in the news a lot right now, because the Thai Navy keeps getting caught drowning Rohingya refugees at sea. Really.

Exapno Mapcase
01-30-2014, 11:23 AM
I, who read few mysteries, have actually read one of those, set in a science fiction convention of all things.
So is Sharon McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Star. A sequel, Zombies of the Gene Pool, is worse.

There's an interesting little subgenre of mysteries set at conventions. (http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2009/10/mysteries-set-at-conventions.html)

Ron Goulart had a series with Groucho Marx as a detective.
Yeah, but they're magnificently bad.

The best series with movie stars as detectives is George Baxt's. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Baxt)calls them the Celebrity Murder series, but they're often referred to as the Hollywood Murder Series.

We're gotten away from "obscure", haven't we? Donald Westlake? Ellis Peters? Tayna Huff? These are some of the biggest names in the field.

Voyager
01-30-2014, 01:11 PM
So is Sharon McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Star. A sequel, Zombies of the Gene Pool, is worse.

I've read the first one. I'm not going to bother to look for the second.

There's an interesting little subgenre of mysteries set at conventions. (http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2009/10/mysteries-set-at-conventions.html)

Then there is Rocket to the Morgue (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_to_the_Morgue) set around LASFS - not a convention, which I have.

Yeah, but they're magnificently bad.
Can't argue with that.
The best series with movie stars as detectives is George Baxt's. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Baxt)calls them the Celebrity Murder series, but they're often referred to as the Hollywood Murder Series.

I can't remember the name, but Groucho is also a character in a mystery set in the '30s - in Chicago. All I remember is that the detective had a cold the entire book and was always raiding toilets for paper. Which goes to show how good it was.

We're gotten away from "obscure", haven't we? Donald Westlake? Ellis Peters? Tayna Huff? These are some of the biggest names in the field.

Diane Mott Davidson and the Cat who series infests the shelves of every bookstore I've ever been! Perhaps the definition of obscure in this thread is not having a movie made from it.

Annie-Xmas
01-30-2014, 02:59 PM
I love Andrew Vachss's Burke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burke_(series)) series, though they are very roman noir

Truman Burbank
01-30-2014, 03:03 PM
The Joshua Croft series (5 books) by Walter Satterthwait are among my favorites, and pretty obscure, I think.
http://mysteriouspress.com/authors/walter-satterthwait/default.asp
Set in Sante Fe, as I recall. Frequently goes against convention, as in one book, where Our Hero, who is a pretty tough hombre, gets his ass kicked in a bar fight.

SCAdian
01-30-2014, 03:55 PM
Nitpick: Asey Mayo.

Yeah, sure - point out to everybody that I forgot to proofread before posting....


Somebody mentioned Matt Helm - I like him far better than Bond (especially the first dozen or so books). Another old spy series that's really good is Johnny Fedora, by Desmond Cory (http://www.desmondcory.com/Fedora_novels.htm) (16 books, 1951-71).

Thomas Perry wrote some good thrillers - Metzger's Dog is one that I reread every three or four years.

Truman Burbank
01-30-2014, 05:45 PM
Perry also wrote the Jane Whitefield books, the first one was especially excellent (I think the first was Vanishing Act).
Might as well also mention Ross Thomas's Artie Wu/Quincy Durant books, which are most excellent and not as frequently mentioned as they deserve. There are only 3 or 4, the first being Chinaman's Chance. He is especially good at dialogue.

Siam Sam
01-30-2014, 09:22 PM
As for Matt Helm, there was a series of movies in the 1960s starring Dean Martin. Sort of a poor man's James Bond.

Barking Dog
01-30-2014, 09:53 PM
I don't know how obscure/mainstream it is, I'm more of an SF guy, but I thought I'd mention the Dan Starkey novels by Colin Bateman. Starts with Divorcing Jack.

delphica
01-30-2014, 10:13 PM
Well, I don't think these are very obscure to people who read a lot of crime series, but I'll throw them out in case anyone hasn't happened upon them:

The Grijpstra and de Gier novels by Dutch author Janwillem van de Wetering, which are hugely popular in, well, Holland, I guess, but don't think as well known in the US. They're police detectives, the crimes are very gritty, somewhat psychologically dark ... but the books still have some humor. And some unintentional humor is that because the series began in the 1970s, there are some Austin Powers-type situations, written completely straight.

Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series I think of as more traditional mystery, not so much thriller, but I enjoyed it lot. January is a free person of color, living in New Orleans, and he gets involved with investigating various crimes that happen in the intersection of the slave, free person, and white societies. I would say the first four or so are really engrossing, then the scenarios start to get a little crazy.

salinqmind
01-30-2014, 10:34 PM
A lot of the names thrown out here are hardly obscure or semi-obscure! Elizabeth George? Ed McBain? Seriously?

I will offer up The Nameless Detective series by Bill Pronzini (who I think is married to Sara Paretsky?) - there are quite a few, and I've searched out and read every single one of them. (He's nameless because...well, his name is never mentioned in any of the books!)

CalMeacham
01-31-2014, 06:21 AM
Here's one that isn't well known -- Robert Irvine's Moroni Traveler series. Moroni is a Mormon detective in Salt Lake City. The books are written by someone familiar with LDS culture and with Salt Lake geography.

That last point is significant. Ever since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set half of the first Sherlock Holmes novel (A Study in Scarlet) in Utah and depicted Brigham Young and the Mormons travelling to the site of Salt Lake City by going through the Great Salt Desert (which is actually on the west of SLC, on side Young wouldn't be going through), mystery writers have been royally screwing up Salt Lake City geography.

Thomas Cook kept up the tradition in Tabernacle, and so did some (non-fictional) accounts of the Mark Hoffman Document Forgery and Bombing affair.

But Irvine is evidently from Utah, and gets his geography and the feel of the place down pat. Out of town writers, especially those who had never been there, fail to have their characters deal with the city's unusual features and culture.



Baptism for the Dead is the first in the series. I haven't read all of them, and, away from SLC, they weren't easy to come by.

kayaker
01-31-2014, 06:26 AM
We're gotten away from "obscure", haven't we? Donald Westlake? Ellis Peters? Tayna Huff? These are some of the biggest names in the field.

IME, while Westlake is well known, plenty of his readers do not know Richard Stark, Allan Marshall, Allan Marsh, Andrew Shaw, and the ten or so others...

Eutychus
01-31-2014, 07:07 AM
I thought sure that these would be mentioned by now, but my favorites (although I'm not sure how obscure they are) are:

The Favlia de Luce stories by Alan Bradley featuring a 12 year old schoolgirl as the detective.

... and ...

Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May mysteries as members of the Peculiar Crimes unit in London.

kayT
01-31-2014, 07:19 AM
I enjoy Sara Wood's series about Barrister Anthony Maitland. They were written from the 60s through the 80s. I see she wrote under some other names but I have never read them. The Maitland series is an interesting look at the British legal system but not being British I don't know how accurate it is. I like that Maitland's wife is involved in nearly every case. Not always common in the time period.

No umlaut for U
01-31-2014, 08:09 PM
Well, I don't think these are very obscure to people who read a lot of crime series, but I'll throw them out in case anyone hasn't happened upon them:

The Grijpstra and de Gier novels by Dutch author Janwillem van de Wetering, which are hugely popular in, well, Holland, I guess, but don't think as well known in the US. They're police detectives, the crimes are very gritty, somewhat psychologically dark ... but the books still have some humor. And some unintentional humor is that because the series began in the 1970s, there are some Austin Powers-type situations, written completely straight.

Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series I think of as more traditional mystery, not so much thriller, but I enjoyed it lot. January is a free person of color, living in New Orleans, and he gets involved with investigating various crimes that happen in the intersection of the slave, free person, and white societies. I would say the first four or so are really engrossing, then the scenarios start to get a little crazy.

As you mentioned Austin Powers-ish situations, may I add Aaron Marc Stein? I believe the protagonist was Matt Erridge, a globe trotting civil engineer.

catnoe
01-31-2014, 08:58 PM
Well, I don't think these are very obscure to people who read a lot of crime series, but I'll throw them out in case anyone hasn't happened upon them:

The Grijpstra and de Gier novels by Dutch author Janwillem van de Wetering, which are hugely popular in, well, Holland, I guess, but don't think as well known in the US. They're police detectives, the crimes are very gritty, somewhat psychologically dark ... but the books still have some humor. And some unintentional humor is that because the series began in the 1970s, there are some Austin Powers-type situations, written completely straight.

......

Thought of that series after I went to bed.... Read them years ago, loved them. They were sort of my introduction to the Netherlands. So much so that when I finally got to Amsterdam I had to try Jenever. Once was enough.

Also should have remember the John Burdett Bangkok series. Awesome.

j666
01-31-2014, 09:36 PM
I enjoyed both the series.

Are the Ballad series by Sharyn McCrumb too popular to count?

Well, I don't think these are very obscure to people who read a lot of crime series, but I'll throw them out in case anyone hasn't happened upon them:

The Grijpstra and de Gier novels by Dutch author Janwillem van de Wetering, which are hugely popular in, well, Holland, I guess, but don't think as well known in the US. They're police detectives, the crimes are very gritty, somewhat psychologically dark ... but the books still have some humor. And some unintentional humor is that because the series began in the 1970s, there are some Austin Powers-type situations, written completely straight.

Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series I think of as more traditional mystery, not so much thriller, but I enjoyed it lot. January is a free person of color, living in New Orleans, and he gets involved with investigating various crimes that happen in the intersection of the slave, free person, and white societies. I would say the first four or so are really engrossing, then the scenarios start to get a little crazy.

septimus
02-01-2014, 12:09 AM
I like many of the old crime/thriller writers, e.g. Eric Ambler. (Or is he too great to be "obscure"?) Recently I bought and enjoyed a "noir" novel by David Goodis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Goodis) at an obscure book store.

A more modern, but somewhat obscure thriller writer is Adam Hall, a pen-name of Elleston Trevor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elleston_Trevor). I love Hall's Quiller novels so much I still check the H section of book stores, even though I've long since concluded that I've read them all. (Many used book stores have zero Adam Hall novels, leading me to conclude he is obscure or under-appreciated.)

No umlaut for U
02-01-2014, 09:11 AM
I'd call the Ballad series too popular to count as obscure.

Although Max Allan Collins isn't obscure, his early Mallory series is. Set in eastern Iowa, which he knew well, these are nothing like the later, gimmicky (IMO) works.

PastTense
02-01-2014, 08:59 PM
Bill Pronzini's wife is Marcia Muller.

I like the Owen Keane series by Terence Faherty about a failed seminarian turned metaphysical detective:
http://www.terencefaherty.com/keane.html
www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&keywords=owen+keane

Exapno Mapcase
02-01-2014, 10:06 PM
IME, while Westlake is well known, plenty of his readers do not know Richard Stark, Allan Marshall, Allan Marsh, Andrew Shaw, and the ten or so others...
Nobody needs to know any of the others except Richard Stark. (Most of them were never used for mysteries in the first place. The mystery pseudonyms that are even slightly important are Tucker Coe and Samuel Holt.) Most of the Stark books have been reprinted as by Westlake, though. (As have most of the non-softcore others.)

And looking through IMDb, I see that nine movies have been made from the Stark books and nine movies made from Westlake books. The Stark movies are by far better and more famous, too.

No umlaut for U
02-02-2014, 11:48 AM
There's something to be said for Westlake's God Save the Mark, however.

Slade
02-02-2014, 01:56 PM
I'm very partial to James Lee Burke's stylishly-written Dave Robicheaux novels.

They're quite dark crime stories, set in Louisiana, with a very strong sense of place and local history. Burke has two lead characters - Robicheaux himself and his former partner Clete Purcell - who I always enjoy spending time with. Especially the rather ... colourful Clete.

The books' weakness is that they're kind of formulaic, essentially providing variations on a theme rather than any real surprises from one novel to the next, but as long as you don't read more than one a year that's not a huge problem. The audio book versions are excellent too.

j666
02-02-2014, 08:01 PM
I'm very partial to James Lee Burke's stylishly-written Dave Robicheaux novels. I would have thought those too popular to qualify.

I met his cousin outside of Blazing Salad's in downtown Boston years - decades, actually - ago. She was so please to see me enjoying her cousin's book, I didn't have the heart to tell her I bought it on the remainders table. But finds like Burke is why I loved remainders.

Slade
02-03-2014, 06:30 AM
You may be right, j666. My persective from here in the UK is that JLB gets less publicity (and less respect) than many other contemporary American crime writers. If he's got a higher profile in the US than I'd realised, then I'm delighted to hear it.

Your Burke encounter reminded me of something that happened to me in Baltimore back in October 2007. I was visiting the city because I was a massive fan of The Wire and curious to see the place for myself. Needless to say, I stuck mostly to safe tourist enclaves like the Inner Harbour, where my book of choice for the week's stay was David Simon's Homicide. That's his journalistic record of a year spent with one of Balitimore's real murder squads, and it's the book which inspired NBC's Homicide: Life On the Street.

I was reading Simon's book in a Fells Point bar called John Stevens Ltd one Sunday evening while waiting for my food to arrive. The young black waitress saw the cover and said, "My sister's in that book". When I asked her to tell me more, she directed me back to page 190 and the tale of Denise, an Amity Street girl who'd stashed a gun for her drug-dealer boyfriend. That guy had other girlfriends besides Denise, one of whom he was later convicted of shooting to death.

By the time I'd read through Denise's story again, the waitress has disappeared so I never got a chance to question her further.

spifflog
02-03-2014, 07:06 AM
I loved the Harry Stoner detective novels byut Jonathan Valin in the 80s and early 90s. Out of print perhaps, but wotht the read if you can find them.

Boyo Jim
02-03-2014, 09:16 AM
No mentions of some of my favorites, and I can't tell if they're unknown, or too well known to be mentioned ...

Joan Hess write two of my favorite series. The Maggody series is set in an Arkansas town with a population of under a thousand, and features police chief Arly Hanks. The Claire Malloy series is set in Farberville, Arkansas. Both are very witty with plenty of crazy yokel characters.

John Sandford writes three very good series: the Lucas Davenport Prey series, the Virgil Flowers novels, both set in Minnesota, and the Kidd series. The first two are cops and Kidd is an artist/hacker/criminal, but still basically a good guy.

Johnathan Grant wrote the Lovejoy series -- eventually produced as a very enjoyable TV series starring Ian McShane.

Adam Hall wrote the great Quiller spy thriller series.

James Ellroy writes the darkest books I've ever read, the best known of which was made into the movie LA Confidential.

No umlaut for U
02-05-2014, 10:53 AM
I'd consider Boyo Jim's authors to be fairly well known--but I'm impressed that he knows Jonathan Gash's real name.

Savannah
10-12-2014, 01:05 PM
Bumping an older thread--I just found the John Cardinal series by Canadian author Giles Blunt. So far there are six, and I binge-read all of them, one after another, most greedily. I really, really enjoyed them, and now I'm anxious for another one. I have to wait, and I don't wanna! I found them very satisfying reads, and I liked seeing the progression in the characters' lives. Also, some Canadian content, which is what I was looking for when I found them. Highly recommended.

Kropotkin
01-05-2015, 09:20 PM
Stephen Greenleaf's John Marshall Tanner novels, published from about 1979 to 2000, were pretty good, tough, angst-ridden, with some politics. Ditto former wrestler and smart researcher Tom Bethany in 6 or so novels by Jerome Doolittle, written in the 1990s I think Ross Thomas blurbed them enthusiastically. Finally, the Jake Lassiter series, called Travis McGee with a briefcase, by Paul Levine. I think there are a couple of new books in the series, which started in 1990.

Exapno Mapcase
01-05-2015, 09:40 PM
There's an interesting little subgenre of mysteries set at conventions. (http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2009/10/mysteries-set-at-conventions.html)

I read one of the books off that list, Mr. Monk in Outer Space. Monk solves the murder of Gene Roddenberry. Or at least the guy who created a science fiction TV series an exact analogue for Star Trek. There is some satire about the attendees at the convention at which he's shot.

Awful doesn't begin to describe it. Monk is the worst human being on Earth. I only saw a couple of episodes of the TV series but Tony Shalhoub is a different species from this creep. Lee Goldberg was writing several of these every year and fifty other series simultaneously; it shows.

vontsira
01-06-2015, 04:21 AM
A couple of British female thriller authors active currently / recently, whose books as below, I like -- find them absorbing, and well-written, leavened with humour. Both are toward the "cozy" end of the spectrum, but IMO not cloyingly so.

Carola Dunn (British, now USA resident): the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries. Set in England the early 1920s: the eponymous heroine is a splendidly un-stuffy aristocratic young woman who becomes acquainted -- through meeting him in the course of a murder investigation in the first of the series -- with a middle-class detective inspector; becomes his unofficial assistant and ultimately his wife. I feel that the period and milieu are captured excellently -- not least, by the reader's being made aware of the ever-present shadow of the recent World War I and its aftermath. Could be described as a kind of "Dorothy L. Sayers lite", without Sayers's IMO occasional pomposity and intellectual narcissism.

Kate Ellis, author of a mystery series set in a particular, thinly-disguised, part of South Devon (well known and much loved by the author), starring the detective division of the British police in the area. In each novel, a present-day murder is interwoven with a "counterpart" episode in the area, in some previous historical epoch. The central present-day characters are mostly likeable; however, the author is at pains not to gloss over the presence of a lot of (sometimes nasty) crime and general low-life, in a highly picturesque and idyllic-seeming favourite tourist-trap part of England.

lissener
01-06-2015, 04:38 AM
Here (http://drunksunshine.com/top_of_the_lake/)'s a brief blog post I wrote about Top of the Lake.

chiroptera
01-06-2015, 04:41 AM
Speaking of British thriller writers - Mo Hayder (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/74876.Mo_Hayder). She's probably not obscure in the UK, but I rarely find her books in stores here. Very dark and creepy, not the slightest bit cozy. A few of her books are stand-alone but most feature detective Jack Caffery and several other complex characters.

Garry Disher (http://garrydisher.com/List-of-Publications.php) writes a very good series of gritty, cerebral murder mysteries set in Australia.

vontsira
01-06-2015, 04:47 AM
Will admit that I'm hard to please -- maybe absurdly so -- as regards fiction in general: ready to concede that often, the fault is most likely in me, rather than the "product". Some random coments, "pro" and "con", follow.


Bony, AKA Napoleon Bonaparte-- a half-caste police detective in 30's Australia. Arthur Upfield wrote close to twenty Bony books, the last were written in the 60's. They are in my top 5 all-time favorites. Period detail is fascinating, a lot of wonderful facts about aboriginal life, and Bony himself is a delight.

I read a number of these, long ago -- loved them. Well written, fascinating and unusual milieu and cast.

The Tromp Kruger books by James McClure. Set in 60's/70's South Africa, these books explore apartheid in a brutal but nuanced fashion. Tromp has a Bantu assistant whom he trusts and likes much more than his white counterparts, and this relationship casts a critical and again fascinating light on that place and time. There are eight of these.


Never heard of these before. They sound potentially fascinating -- to be sought out.

Reginald Hill's Dalziel & Pascoe series (the books, not the BBC shows). The earlier ones were simple detective stories, but the ensemble of characters develop deeply over time, and the last six or so are so complex.

Was put off these, and never got into them, owing to a quirk of long-standing English regional partiality / animosity / prejudice. I'm from the more southerly parts of England, and like many such as myself, am repelled by the phenomenon which seems often to surface, of the "professional Yorkshireman" (no-nonsense unsentimental, chauvinistic, great self-esteem, short fuse, forthright often to the point of habitual offensive rudeness). A lot of this is central to Dalziel & Pascoe. I've enjoyed a few non-D & P novels by Reginald Hill.


One of my absolute favorites, Lindsey Davis "Falco" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Didius_Falco) series - a private informer working in Imperial Rome of Vespasian. She actually does a fair amount of research and manages to make a very easy to read ride. The original Falco series is wrapped up, but his adopted daughter is apparently the focus of a new series but I haven't managed to get any of them yet.

I've heard good things from a number of sources, about these novels: recently tried a couple; but, I'm afraid, totally "not my bag" -- couldn't get far into them. Overall, I find the ancient Romans mostly a turn-off: nasty bunch IMO.

I'm very partial to James Lee Burke's stylishly-written Dave Robicheaux novels.

They're quite dark crime stories, set in Louisiana, with a very strong sense of place and local history. Burke has two lead characters - Robicheaux himself and his former partner Clete Purcell - who I always enjoy spending time with. Especially the rather ... colourful Clete.

The books' weakness is that they're kind of formulaic, essentially providing variations on a theme rather than any real surprises from one novel to the next, but as long as you don't read more than one a year that's not a huge problem. The audio book versions are excellent too.

Read a few of these, and honestly found them, a lot of the time, incomprehensible: just could not make out what Burke was on about. Also, Burke seems from the books, to have a big thing about masturbation, and how utterly wicked and despicable it is. Entitled to his opinion, and all that; but I'd rather he kept this stuff out of his murder mysteries.

Kropotkin
01-27-2015, 07:42 PM
:confused:I've read all the Burke books, most of them more than once, and have listened to 4 of them on audio books in the last 3 months and don't recall a single reference to masturbation. Are you thinking of someone else?

MsKaren
01-27-2015, 10:14 PM
Unmentioned but then she may be too famous is Sarah Smith's Alexander Reisden and Perdita Hall series. There are only 3 so far.

Anne Perry I am pretty sure is too famous. I read both the Pitt and Monk (not that Monk) series as they come out. There are tons of those. They have the extra fillip that whenever you think "oh, nobody would get that worked up and.." then you realize "never mind, she knows what people might do!" :eek:

The very famous Peter Straub has a mystery trilogy: Koko, Mystery and Throat that is not as well read as his horror. They are three of my favorite mystery books.

I chime in on recommending the Ballad novels, the Pendergast series and John Sandford's books. I love the very dark Mo Hayder. In that same vein Karin Slaughter is wonderful. Start with Blindsighted.

No umlaut for U
01-28-2015, 02:40 PM
Recently discovered the Aunty Lee series, set in Singapore, written by Ovidia Lee. The first book was great, the second so far, not quite as good. But still good.

Sage Rat
01-28-2015, 06:05 PM
I'll also recommend Andrew Vachss' Burke series, though I'm not sure how obscure it is.

For something obscure, but less literary, there's PN Elrod's "The Vampire Files" series. The main character is a slightly Kent Clark-ish former newspaper reporter, turned vampire, and his best friend a British stage actor, with a good eye for deduction. They're fun.

salinqmind
01-28-2015, 06:26 PM
:confused:I've read all the Burke books, most of them more than once, and have listened to 4 of them on audio books in the last 3 months and don't recall a single reference to masturbation. Are you thinking of someone else?

(Yeah, what's that all about??? The hero is a proper gentleman but never made a single comment about anyone else's sexual behavior. And his boss is a lesbian, and he greatly admires her.)

Dalziel and Pascoe series by Reginald Hill is often excrutiatingly funny, I'm sorry there will be no more. (they have been around for a long time, Pascoe's wife was originally written as a raging wimmens libber. I wonder if she still was, toward the end of the series.)

Not at all obscure in the least, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine has recently suffered a stroke. :( Her work, her mystery series alone, is in a class all by itself, at the very top of the heap.

Siam Sam
01-29-2015, 08:51 PM
Recently discovered the Aunty Lee series, set in Singapore, written by Ovidia Lee. The first book was great, the second so far, not quite as good. But still good.

Speaking of Singapore, Bangkok-based American writer Jake Needham has started a decent series set in Singapore featuring Inspector Samuel Tay.

Needham also has some other mysteries that could conceivably be counted as a series, although they're mostly two-offs or just happen to contain a couple of characters from other books.

MsKaren
01-29-2015, 09:59 PM
I was going to mention the New Orleans homicide detective La Stanza by O'Neil de Noux. I liked them so well I still own the battered paperbacks of the first three from the '80's. Since they were released new in paperback, and in the 'support local authors' bookstore section, and only my New Orleans ever heard of them I thought they were obscure. So I googled the author and he's way famous. :o New books! New series! What a fool I was to lose track of him. But on the other hand, NEW BOOKS! Whoo hoo!

Ukulele Ike
01-29-2015, 10:18 PM
Damn, you guys are bringing tears to my eyes. Back when I was in mystery publishing (roughly 1985-2002), I edited a lot of these guys -- Marshall, Westlake, Ellroy, McBain, Kaminsky -- and knew most of the rest of 'em. Bill Marshall is a terribly amusing drunk, by the way.

Ever read Jonathan Latimer? His hardboiled PI novels featuring Bill Crane are excellent. And SOLOMON'S VINEYARD is legendary. He also wrote the screenplay for THE BIG CLOCK (1948), with Ray Milland & Charles Laughton, which every noir/thriller movie fan should have on their to-watch list.

toast pakora
01-30-2015, 05:36 AM
Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine has recently suffered a stroke.

Ah hell. This is too soon after PD James' death. I started out reading just her Wexford mysteries because I didn't like the psychological suspense ones and then a few years ago, it was like switching on a lightbulb and now I can't read them fast enough.

Peter Dickinson wrote quite a few literate mysteries in the 70s and 80s. I don't think he's very well known in the US. I see he's 87 now. Maybe I should write him a fan letter soon.

vontsira
01-30-2015, 06:09 AM
Burke seems from the books, to have a big thing about masturbation, and how utterly wicked and despicable it is. Entitled to his opinion, and all that; but I'd rather he kept this stuff out of his murder mysteries.

:confused:I've read all the Burke books, most of them more than once, and have listened to 4 of them on audio books in the last 3 months and don't recall a single reference to masturbation. Are you thinking of someone else?

(Yeah, what's that all about??? The hero is a proper gentleman but never made a single comment about anyone else's sexual behavior. And his boss is a lesbian, and he greatly admires her.)


I could be exaggerating about this issue (it's a long time since I last read anything by Burke). Possibly, indeed, it was only one reference in one novel (no idea now, which one) -- but I honestly don't think I dreamed it. And maybe just a trait given by the author to Robicheaux, rather than Burke's own opinion; but I recall Robicheaux suddenly expressing himself very strongly against that particular practice (interior monologue IIRC, and not about any particular character). My thoughts were, "Wow -- where did that come from; and what makes him so extremely vehement about it?" From what I recall, it's not that he believes that you'll be sent to hell for doing this thing -- he just finds it infinitely contemptible.

I'd forgotten all about the lesbian boss. If he'd been on her case about that, most likely I'd have remembered: further evidence, I'd reckon, that Robicheaux's sentiments are not from conservative religious belief -- otherwise he'd probably have had a problem with the boss's lesbian-ness, even if respecting her professional competence.

No umlaut for U
01-30-2015, 02:10 PM
Yes, I burned out on Burke at least ten years ago. Same with J.A. Jance. I just don't enjoy detectives "in recovery."

candide
01-30-2015, 10:40 PM
I liked much of the Blind Justice series by Bruce Alexander (RIP). It was well-conceived, being both historical fiction and mystery and featuring Sir John Fielding who really was a blind magistrate in 18th Century London who really was the brother of the writer of Tom Jones, Henry Fielding.

The later books become pretty formulaic. I think Bruce Alexander who created the series was getting a little long in the tooth but still being told to crank out fiction. Mystery fans are so voracious and fickle that if they don't have a new episode every year they are on to the next hot thing. And when the prose suffers because it has been milled unevenly, we blame the writer and move on to the next hot thing.

A viscous circle.

Old Goat
01-31-2015, 08:39 PM
Peter Corris - Cliff Hardy series set in Australia
Peter Temple - Jack Irish series set in Australia.
Jussi Adler-Olsen - Carl Morck department Q series set in Denmark
Karen Fossum - Inspector Sejer series set in Norway
Peter Robinson - DI Banks series set in Yorkshire
Arnaldur Indridason - Inspector Erlander series set in Iceland

Try one and if you like it, rest assured the rest of the series are equally good.

Banksiaman
01-31-2015, 09:01 PM
Dan Kavanagh wrote four books centred on Duffy, a shortish London ex-cop. Duffy was a hypochondriac, not very good at running a business and bisexual at the start of the emergence of HIV.

The books are a delight. They have just been reissued over the past year, after circulating like hot Picassos in the underworld. I give them three chefs hats.

Also, since you started with an Australian setting, I'd second recommending Peter Temple's books. Set in contemporary Australia, there are two loose series - one based on Jack Irish and the other on a network of detectives in The Broken Shore and Truth.

Gary Disher produced a series based around the adventures of Wyatt, an old style crim, which are outstanding and has a new series set on the Mornington Peninsula focussed around several police stations. Again, really good stuff, perhaps not as edgy as Temple in subject matter or character, but both very evocative of the setting.

Banksiaman
01-31-2015, 09:09 PM
I could be exaggerating about this issue (it's a long time since I last read anything by Burke). Possibly, indeed, it was only one reference in one novel (no idea now, which one) -- but I honestly don't think I dreamed it.
....

Maybe he really was choking a python. Not everything has to be a metaphor.

Tapiotar
02-01-2015, 06:17 PM
Barabara Nadel's Inspector Ikmen series, set in modern Istanbul. First one Belshazzar's Daughter
Kate Ross' Julian Kestrel series. Only four in the series, alas, because Kate Ross died. A Broken Vessel is the first one.
Sara Gran's Claire Dewitt series. Do only two books make a series? These are present day, fringe of hipsterdom noir, replete with Jungian references and Buddhist philosophy and lots of drugs and booze. Suffering, cruelty, redemption. All much more intelligent and original and better than I'm making it sound. Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is the first one, and the follow up is Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway.
Is Lisa Lutz's Spellman Files series too well known to mention? They made me laugh out loud. A lot.

movingfinger
02-02-2015, 01:45 AM
I really enjoyed the Grift Sense series by James Swain, featuring Tony Valentine, a retired cop who sets up a business as a consultant to casinos as his specialty is exposing cheats.

salinqmind
02-02-2015, 02:11 AM
Was 'The Nameless Detective' by Bill Pronzini mentioned? Because there are quite a few entries in this old fashioned series set in San Francisco.

Aspidistra
02-02-2015, 03:12 AM
Kate Ross' Julian Kestrel series. Only four in the series, alas, because Kate Ross died. A Broken Vessel is the first one.

I was coming in to mention Kate Ross, whose books are just lovely, and such a shame.

But ... nitpick ... Cut To The Quick is first, though A Broken Vessel is a perfectly acceptable starting point and, IMO, a better book.

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