Noir fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction that’s darker and often a whole lot more cynical than other types of crime fiction books. In noir fiction, the difference between right and wrong isn’t always so clearly defined. And while plenty of crime fiction has no trouble cracking the case by the end of the book, in noir fiction it’s not always so simple to close the case.
All of this is a major part of the appeal of noir fiction, though. People love gritty noir fiction because it feels closer to the harsh realities of crime and justice in the real world. There aren’t always clear “bad guys” versus “good guys,” and sometimes bad people get away with doing bad things. If you’re looking for some excellent examples of contemporary gritty noir fiction, check out these titles.
In A Man Named Doll, we follow the story of Happy Doll, an idiosyncratic detective who veteran of both the Navy and the LAPD. Now Doll works as a private investigator and supplements his income by working at night at a local Thai spa. Everything is going just fine for the ex-cop until an old friend from his days in the police force shows up on his doorstep. His friend has been shot, he’s running out of time, and he needs Doll’s help.
Hardcase is the first novel in Dan Simmons’s Joe Kurtz series. Joe Kurtz used to be hellbent on revenge, and that’s how he ended up spending eleven years in Attica prison. Now that he’s out, he’s in desperate need of a job, so he signs on with Byron Farino, the Don of a mob family whose son was in prison with Kurtz. Farino has a special job for Kurtz: the family’s accountant is missing, and Kurtz must track him down before certain family secrets get out. But this job won’t be easy. There’s someone out there who wants to be certain the accountant won’t be found, and there are enemies within the family eager to take Farino’s place.
Joette Harper's life brings new meaning to the phrase "paycheck to paycheck." Struggling to afford her mother's sky-high medical bills
and also keep the lights on in her trailer home, Joette needs a break.
So, when she spies a bag full of money amongst the wreckage of a fiery car accident, she knows she can't just let it be. Inside is a bounty better than she could have dreamed—just shy of $300,000 in neatly stacked hundreds and fifties. Enough to pay off her debts, give her mother the care she deserves, and maybe even help out a few of her friends.
But, of course, the missing briefcase didn't go unnoticed by its original owner, Travis Clay—a ruthless dealer who'll stop at nothing to get back what's his.
Joette is way out of her depth, but can't seem to stop herself from participating in this cat-and-mouse chase. But can she beat Travis at his own game?
Daniel Woodrell is probably most famous for being the author of Winter’s Bone. Like that novel, Give Us A Kiss is also set in and around the Missouri Ozarks. But this book is even grittier. The narrator of this novel is Doyle, a crime fiction writer who was living in California but has come back to Missouri to search the Ozarks for his brother Smoke. Smoke is on the run from the law, and there’s a felony warrant out for his arrest. But Smoke has no interest in turning himself in. He has
Nick’s Trip is a crime novel about private investigator Nick Stefanos. Nick has been tending bar at The Spot to make ends meet, since the PI business has been a little slow lately. But when his former road trip buddy Billy barges into the Spot with a job for Nick, things get interesting quickly. Billy’s wife is missing, and so is $200,000. So begins Nick’s quest to track down Billy’s missing wife. Along the way, the private detective will meet a whole cast of strange characters with questionable morals. And as should be expected from a good noir crime novel, nothing turns out the way you think it will.
An activist attorney is killed in a cute little L.A. trolley called Angels Flight, far from Harry Bosch’s Hollywood turf. But the case is so explosive—and the dead man’s enemies inside the L.A.P.D. are so numerous—that it falls to Harry to solve it. Now the streets are superheating. Harry’s year-old Vegas marriage is unraveling. And the hunt for a killer is leading Harry to another high-profile L.A. murder case, one where every cop had a motive. The question is, did any have the guts?
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