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Best Hardboiled Crime Novels

Hardboiled crime novels are realistic and usually feature a tough private eye. The stories are generally set in the United States and the protagonists are usually solitary, with a strong moral code. This list includes some of the most significant hardboiled novels from the twentieth century.
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3

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4.11 avg rating — 36,595 ratings
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4

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4.19 avg rating — 38,911 ratings
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5

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3.96 avg rating — 26,056 ratings
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6

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3.79 avg rating — 37,670 ratings
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7

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3.92 avg rating — 2,053 ratings
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7

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3.95 avg rating — 6,759 ratings
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9

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3.93 avg rating — 11,155 ratings
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10

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3.88 avg rating — 24,327 ratings
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11

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3.77 avg rating — 87,380 ratings
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12

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4.06 avg rating — 24,704 ratings
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13

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3.93 avg rating — 6,337 ratings
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14

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3.98 avg rating — 15,669 ratings
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15

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3.93 avg rating — 32,742 ratings
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15

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3.91 avg rating — 4,231 ratings
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17

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3.81 avg rating — 1,867 ratings
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18

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3.75 avg rating — 26,387 ratings
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19

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3.66 avg rating — 402 ratings
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20

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3.85 avg rating — 17,662 ratings
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20

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3.85 avg rating — 84 ratings
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22

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4.16 avg rating — 9,356 ratings
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23

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3.63 avg rating — 150 ratings
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24

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3.93 avg rating — 9,041 ratings
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25

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4.06 avg rating — 8,018 ratings
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26

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3.54 avg rating — 209 ratings
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27

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3.81 avg rating — 431 ratings
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28

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3.87 avg rating — 435 ratings
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28

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3.91 avg rating — 5,513 ratings
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30

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4.12 avg rating — 1,359 ratings
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31

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3.81 avg rating — 661 ratings
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32

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3.85 avg rating — 1,411 ratings
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33

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3.44 avg rating — 27 ratings
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34

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3.96 avg rating — 39,405 ratings
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35

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3.64 avg rating — 78 ratings
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36

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3.47 avg rating — 121 ratings
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37

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3.79 avg rating — 75 ratings
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37

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4.11 avg rating — 5,399 ratings
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39

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3.83 avg rating — 30 ratings
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40

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 27 ratings
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41

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4.08 avg rating — 3,769 ratings
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42

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3.69 avg rating — 206 ratings
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43

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3.12 avg rating — 8 ratings
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44

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3.74 avg rating — 1,291 ratings
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45

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3.72 avg rating — 1,465 ratings
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46

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3.71 avg rating — 21 ratings
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46

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3.94 avg rating — 11,762 ratings
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48

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 10 ratings
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49

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3.83 avg rating — 2,238 ratings
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50

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3.79 avg rating — 2,422 ratings
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51

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3.76 avg rating — 29 ratings
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52

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3.56 avg rating — 9 ratings
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52

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3.78 avg rating — 182 ratings
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54

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3.50 avg rating — 106 ratings
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54

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3.91 avg rating — 4,476 ratings
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56

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3.39 avg rating — 51 ratings
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56

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3.86 avg rating — 574 ratings
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58

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4.07 avg rating — 1,150 ratings
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59

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4.20 avg rating — 5 ratings
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59

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3.84 avg rating — 630 ratings
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59

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4.08 avg rating — 13 ratings
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59

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4.16 avg rating — 60,324 ratings
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59

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4.21 avg rating — 9,822 ratings
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59

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3.95 avg rating — 825 ratings
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59

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4.44 avg rating — 32 ratings
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66

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4.06 avg rating — 12,940 ratings
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66

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4.15 avg rating — 5,391 ratings
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66

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4.23 avg rating — 25,396 ratings
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69

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3.83 avg rating — 1,502 ratings
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70

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3.99 avg rating — 12,770 ratings
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70

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3.95 avg rating — 5,450 ratings
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70

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3.86 avg rating — 2,630 ratings
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73

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4.02 avg rating — 1,165 ratings
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74

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3.76 avg rating — 915 ratings
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74

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3.20 avg rating — 74 ratings
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76

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4.04 avg rating — 21,298 ratings
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77

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3.71 avg rating — 48 ratings
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77

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3.95 avg rating — 2,038 ratings
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77

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3.93 avg rating — 6,337 ratings
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80

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3.85 avg rating — 60,000 ratings
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80

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4.11 avg rating — 5,399 ratings
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82

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4.17 avg rating — 33,520 ratings
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82

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3.96 avg rating — 1,482 ratings
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82

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3.69 avg rating — 373 ratings
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85

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3.42 avg rating — 406 ratings
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86

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3.79 avg rating — 9,343 ratings
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86

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3.71 avg rating — 319 ratings
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88

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4.05 avg rating — 23,266 ratings
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88

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3.99 avg rating — 3,037 ratings
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90

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3.87 avg rating — 23,473 ratings
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90

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3.77 avg rating — 2,137 ratings
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92

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3.81 avg rating — 780 ratings
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93

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4.06 avg rating — 7,250 ratings
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93

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3.57 avg rating — 14 ratings
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95

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3.81 avg rating — 342 ratings
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95

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3.53 avg rating — 19 ratings
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97

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4.10 avg rating — 49 ratings
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98

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3.82 avg rating — 38 ratings
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99

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3.35 avg rating — 26 ratings
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100

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3.70 avg rating — 10 ratings
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103 books · 69 voters · list created August 17th, 2012 by Otto Penzler (votes) .
32 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Otto 89 books
19 friends
Patrick 1755 books
89 friends
Open Road 1027 books
246 friends
Khenan 802 books
3 friends
Mark 374 books
4949 friends
Robert 3930 books
48 friends
Don 590 books
3 friends
Joanna 1199 books
4 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Matt (new)

Matt Great start. Missing some additional good crime. Vachss. Joe R Lansdale. John Connolly. To scratch a dark surface


message 2: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee It is a great start but there's always something exciting about unearthing a new writer. I LOVE to laugh and rich characters with odd proclivities is my favorite! My new hilariously hardboiled addiction is Thomas de Kooning, the author of The Corsican Dove, The Beijing Duck. I heard about him from a a friend -- I guess the author is a former surgeon. Anyway, I snuck off into my room at night to indulge and laugh at loud at the bumbling detective character Ramone Ramone. I'm loving these dialogue-heavy hardboiled classics. I'm waiting for this 3rd book to come out. The Gallic Chicken. Hope he doesn't leave me hanging!


message 3: by R.t. (new)

R.t. Elkin Lots of confusion on this list as to what constitutes "hardboiled" and just plain "crime" fiction. James M. Cain, Paul Cain, Dashiell Hammett, & Cornell Woolrich are all big names in the field, but are vastly under-represented compared to lots of non-hardboiled work that appears here. Nevertheless, blah blah blah.


message 4: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca What in the world is a Brother Cadfael novel (A Morbid Taste for Bones) doing on this list? I adore Cadfael, and he is a delightful, insightful sleuth, but those books are about as hardboiled as a Twinkie.


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