These are all licensed private eyes in the good old USA. No amateurs here, for these sleuths solving crime is their bread and butter.
Robert Crais – If you are looking for the return of the ‘hard-boiled’ detective, Elvis Cole, in Hollywood, is your man. He first appears in The Monkey’s Raincoat, which won three of the four major mystery awards it was nominated for.
Walter Mosley – Easy Rawlings is a black detective in 1940’s Los Angeles. The first book is Devil in a Blue Dress. Check out the movie, too.
Sharon Duncan – While the Scotia Mackinnon series is on the “cozy” side, Ms Duncan writes a very enjoyable mystery with skill and convincing detail. Start with Death on a Casual Friday. The series takes place on San Juan Island in Washington.
Stuart Kaminsky – Kaminsky was the originator of Jim Rockford of the TV’s Rockford Files, but his really fun series is with Toby Peters. Peters is a Hollywood private eye in the hey-day of the big movie studios and big name stars appear in the books beginning with Bullet for a Star.
Peter Spiegelman – John March is a Manhattan PI that you should get to know. Educated, erudite and insightful, he is also street-smart and tough. The first in this short series is Black Maps.
Bill Pronzini – This Grand Master of Mystery Writers began his Nameless Detective series when he was just 27 years old with The Snatch. The Nameless Detective has appeared in 37 novels so far with the latest being released just last month. Read them from the beginning. They take place in San Francisco.
Dick Lochte – Here’s a fun series featuring Leo Bloodworthy, a 50 year old private eye in LA. who gets an unusual sidekick in the form of 15 year old Serendipity. There are only two of these books but they are very enjoyable reads. The first is Sleeping Dog, followed by Laughing Dog.
Stephen Greenleaf – Here’s another ‘hard-boiled’ detective for you. John Marshall Tanner, in San Francisco, is too familiar with the gritty crime of the city. He’s a loner and a get-down-to-business kind of guy. No long passages on the nature of life here! Let the reader beware though, swearing and violence are aplenty, so if this isn’t your cup of tea pick up a cozy instead. If it is your cup of tea – start with Grave Error.
Sue Grafton – Kinsey Malone’s successful appearance in the private eye world was the beginning of the resurgence of popular lady detectives and female mystery writers. The books are easy to read in order as they are alphabetical. The first is A is for Alibi, but I have to tell you that I think B is for Burglar was my favorite.
Stephen Dobyns – Two writers are “must reads” for mystery lovers around here – Archer Mayor and Stephen Dobyns. Dobyns’ private eye is Charlie Bradsaw, with his friend Vic, they are just across the state line in Saratoga Springs. If you want to start at the beginning read Saratoga Longshot, but Saratoga Fleshpot is maybe the best of the bunch.