California Mysteries: 20 Out of 100 Isn’t Bad

A promotional email from Amazon landed in my in-box. Apparently, the giant bookseller has selected the top 100 Mysteries and Thrillers to read in a lifetime. Mysteries and Thrillers aren’t my genre, so I was surprised to discover that I’d actually read twenty of the books on the list.

I shouldn’t have been. California is, one could argue, the birthplace of modern noir mysteries, thanks to Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, and James M. Cain. Realizing that, I was inspired to come up with a list of the ten California mysteries and thrillers that should be on everyone’s list so as to introduce them to the quintessential pioneers of the genre.

They are, in alphabetical order:

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Death and Taxes by David Dodge

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosely

The Drowning Pool by Ross Macdonald

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

L.A.Confidential by James Ellroy

The Long Goodbyef by Raymond Chandler

The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh

The Maltese Falconby Dashiell Hammett

The Postman Always Rings Twiceby James M. Cain

If you are a fan of the genrel, let me suggest checking out the California Mysteries page at Cozy Mystery.  Danna does a fantastic job of pulling together a comprehensive list of the authors who based their stories in California, many of whom are direct heirs to the legacies handed down by the ten authors above.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

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