We are in the swing of summer now, and when the sun is hot, it’s the perfect time to stay cool with shady characters. Crime books make for great beach reads, and there’s nothing cooler than noir fiction. If you are unfamiliar with noir, it’s a popular subset of the crime fiction genre. According to the definition by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, noir is “crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings.” Think The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler or Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley. There’s usually a lot of witty dialogue and hard luck characters getting roped into morally gray plots and making questionable decisions. And crime. There’s always crime, which is great because crime fiction books make for fun escapism. That is why we’ve created this list of four great new noir books for crime readers, just in time for the summer. So practice your best Humphrey Bogart impression and get ready to root for the underdog.
Riley Sager is one of the most popular crime fiction authors of the last decade! In his latest novel, it's November of 1991 and college student Charlie Jordan needs to find a ride home to Ohio. Her best friend has become the latest victim of the Campus Killer, and she is grieving deeply. She finds a ride share companion in Josh Baxter, who needs to get back home to care for his ailing father. The trip starts out fine. But as the night goes on, the car companions talk more, and Josh's stories seem full of holes. Charlie begins to wonder if she is speeding down the freeway to her death with a serial killer at the wheel.
Related: Mystery Suspense Meets Dark Academia
In Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest book, she brings readers to Mexico City in the 1970s, where a young woman attempts to solve the disappearance of her neighbor. Maite has always admired her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student. But when Leonora doesn't return home one day, Maite begins to look into her disappearance. What she uncovers leads her deep into Leonora's secret life as a student radical and dissident, and puts her in the sights of a pacifist stranger named Elvis also looking for Leonora, as well as straight into the path of danger.
Jonathan Ames may be best known as the creator of HBO's Bored to Death, the series about a young writer (also named Jonathan Ames) who moonlights as an unlicensed private detective in Brooklyn. Now Ames returns to writing novels with a new private investigator on the West Coast: Happy Doll. Doll is a veteran of both the Navy and LAPD who lives in Hollywood with his beloved dog, George. He works as a detective for hire, as well as security at a spa, protecting the women who work there from the clients. But things take a dark turn when an incident at work goes wrong and an old colleague shows up injured on his doorstep. Is Doll in over his head?
Joette Harper thinks her financial troubles are over when she finds a bag stuffed with cash at the sight of a fatal car wreck. But as anyone who has watched a movie or read a book knows, free money is never free, and the dangerous owner of the $300,000 comes looking for what belongs to him. Joette knows keeping the money is wrong, but it would solve all her problems. So she winds up on the run in a thrilling cat-and-mouse game as she tries to figure out how to keep the cash—and her life.
Hollywood, 1947. Jack Shannon, a former actor whose promising career was interrupted by the war and ended by a facial scar sustained in combat, is now a studio publicist. He jokes that the only thing he knows about publicity is how to suppress it, but that, in fact, is his real job. He's a fixer who babysits the studio's stars and covers up their bad behavior. Everything changes for Jack when Savannah Stevens enters his life.
A sexpot star in the mold of Jean Harlow and the studio's biggest box-office draw, she's a deeply troubled young woman given to emotional breakdowns, unexplained absences from the set, and time-devouring delays occasioned by her paralyzing insecurities and her insistence on dozens of takes. Jack's job is to stay with her 24/7, deliver her to the set on time each day, and make sure she completes her current picture, a picture on which the future of the studio depends. All goes well until Savannah disappears, and Jack is assigned the task of finding her...without revealing to anyone, including the police, that she is missing.
What to Read Next