Stealthy Protagonists That Go Under The Radar
There’s something thrilling about detective stories that feature undercover agents, secret spy rings, and investigators who’ll take on any disguise in order to solve a case. These eight mystery books are full of characters who’ll do anything to get to the truth—and detectives that may not be the most well known but are just as deserving of praise. Whether you’re looking for a classic PI novel, a lighthearted murder mystery, or a thoughtful character study, these books will satisfy that craving for books about life in the shadows.
by James Patterson
by Tucker Axum
Mystery suspense master James Patterson pulls out all the stops with Cajun Justice. After a scandal costs him his dream job protecting the president, ex-Secret Service agent Cain Lemaire is looking for a fresh start. He decides to take a post working security for a successful and influential SEO in Tokyo. It seems like a straightforward gig until Cain finds himself smack in the middle of a twisted web of corruption and greed. Without the power of the Secret Service behind him, he has to draw on all his Cajun grit in order to get out alive.
Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD's finest investigators, until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he is framed for assault by his enemies within the NYPD, a charge which lands him in solitary at Rikers Island.
by Carol Higgins Clark
Stylish detective Regan Reilly is in Miami for a wedding when she encounters murder in the least likely place imaginable: a panty-hose convention. After she's approached by Uncle Richie, a relative of the bride who's convinced someone is out to get him, Regan finds herself surrounded by suspects. Richie is the inventor of a new form of run-less panty-house, and somebody seems determined to see him dead. It's up to Regan to find out who. Snagged is a funny and entertaining romp through a glitzy—and deadly—Miami convention.
Unique among PI stories, Case Histories weaves together three different crimes from three different decades. Private investigator Jackson Brody, a divorced former police detective with a young daughter, gets caught up in three cold cases: a little girl who disappeared from her own backyard, a woman who was murdered in her office, and an axe-murder's sister looking for her niece. As Jackson navigates these cases, the stories slowly begin to come together—in ways that no one, especially not Jackson, could have predicted.
IQ is about an LA local who uses his incredible intelligence to solve crimes the LAPD won't touch. Isaiah, a high school dropout known only as IQ around the neighborhood, takes it upon himself to solve the cases the LAPD ignores. He only charges his clients what they can pay, which means he sometimes has to take on a rich client in order to pay the bills. His latest client is a famous rapper whose life is in danger. The deeper Isaiah wades into the case, the more complex, and life-threatening, it becomes.
Walter Mosley's most famous detective, Easy Rawlins, returns in Blood Grove, a heart-pounding mystery set against the political upheaval of 1960s Los Angels. When a Vietnam vet asks Rawlins to take on a thorny case, Rawlins knows he should say no. The white vet claims to have gotten into a fight while protecting a white woman from a Black man. Against his better judgment, Rawlins agrees to look into it. His investigation takes him all over LA, from hippie hangouts to the homes of the famously wealthy. A book about survival at all costs, this novel will appeal to Easy Rawlins fans and newcomers alike.
Frank Marr knows crime in DC like the back of his hand. A retired police detective, he now works as a private investigator for a defense attorney. But Frank also has a secret of his own: he works hard to hide his drug addiction from the world. When he accidentally discovers a teenage girl in the home of a drug gang, he's reluctantly drawn back into the spotlight. He can't say no to investigating a possibly related disappearance, but his inability to turn down a case might cost him. As he begins to put the pieces together, his own reputation—and his life, are on the line.
Martin Sivok is in trouble. Tied to a chair, plastic strips biting his wrists, inside a deserted warehouse . . . There are only so many ways this scenario can end, most of them badly. For now his best hope is figuring out who put him here—and staying conscious long enough to confront them.
To stay awake he reviews the past year of his life: evading the law in the Czech Republic by running to Glasgow, settling into a borderline respectable relationship with his landlady, and getting back into the life at the very bottom of the criminal ladder, alongside Usman Kassar, a cocky, goofy kid anxious to prove himself.
The job should be simple: Smash heads, grab cash, run. The trouble with being two outsiders is, you don’t always know whose heads are too dangerous to crack, or whose cash is too hot to handle…
What to Read Next