What makes a great detective novel? I suppose it depends on a person’s tastes, it could be empathy (or likability) for the characters, easy to read, hard to put down, great writing, or a surprise ending. No matter what dictates quality to your preferences, it’s hard to beat a great mystery and detective story. There have been some greats over the years from Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express plus the great Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Since I can’t claim to be well read enough to judge the entire genre I’ve chosen to countdown the top 5 modern mystery and detective authors. Some of the fine authors who just missed the top 5 include Robert B Parker, James Lee Burke, and Robert Crais.
Code 451’s Top Modern Mystery and Detective Authors
#1 Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly’s novels are a unique blend of the dark reality that encompasses homicide investigation with the plot twists that make a great novel. For many fiction enthusiasts Connelly’s Harry Bosch is one of classic modern heroes of crime fiction. One of the factors which sets Michael Connelly apart from the fold is his range as a writer. He is not tied to Bosch’s character as he also writes Mickey Haller (brought to life in the like titled hit The Lincoln Lawyer), Terry McCaleb (made famous by Clint Eastwood in Blood Work), and several standalone’s including Void Moon, Chasing the Dime, and The Poet (later tied into McCaleb and reoccurred with journalist Jack McEvoy).
One of the attributes of Connelly’s characters that I find relatable is that his characters are flawed. Bosch is dark and sullen, McCaleb is obsessive, and Mickey Haller is a shallow drunk. By not making the heroes out to be perfect, Connelly allows the reader a deeper understanding of the character’s motivations and demons. If you’ve never read Michael Connelly, but you enjoy any of our other top mystery and detective authors I would highly recommend you read The Black Echo, it is Connelly’s debut novel featuring Harry Bosch, although The Lincoln Lawyer is a wonderful read and you can start with Haller, but I caution that the two series sync up in The Brass Verdict in a shocking manner. My advice, read Michael Connelly from the very beginning and you will not regret a moment of your time.
Michael Connelly’s Books
The Black Echo*
The Black Ice*
The Concrete Blonde*
The Last Coyote*
A Darkness More Than Night*
City of Bones*
Chasing the Dime
The Lincoln Lawyer+
The Brass Verdict*+
The Fifth Witness+
The Black Box*
The Gods of Guilt+ (November 2013)
^Jack McEvoy (also features Rachel Walling)
About Michael Connelly (bio from MichaelConnelly.com)
“Michael Connelly was born in Philadelphia, PA on July 21, 1956. He moved to Florida with his family when he was 12-years-old. Michael decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.”
“After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.”
All of Connelly’s journalism experience led to his brilliant career as a novelist culminating in The Black Echo, Connelly’s first novel which featured Harry Bosch. Michael Connelly has won numerous awards including the Edgar Award and was the President of The Mystery Writers of America organization in 2003 and 2004.
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