The Best Noir Authors

The Best Noir AuthorsMany people know that “noir” is the French word for “black,” but how many know what it means when the word is applied to the mystery genre? Admittedly, noir can encompass a broad range of stories, but its general definition, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings.”

Lovers of noir are very fortunate, because not only are there many classic noir novels, but there are several authors writing fantastic noir tales today. Noir doesn’t just mean detectives in trench coats and fedoras in smoky bars and rainy alleys in the seedy parts of big cities. It can be tales of existential dread in Japan or racially motivated crimes in a tiny Texas town. Justice doesn’t always get served, but ennui always wins.

So buckle up, noir lovers: Today’s forecast calls for hard-boiled and cynical, with a chance of sleazy. Here are 14 of the best authors who have written works of noir, along with an example of their best books.

Related: Crime and Mystery Meet Film Noir


Related: Learn why Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy made bestselling author Michael Connelly’s list of his five favorite crime novels of all time.




Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, a Book of the Month judge, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon. You can see pictures of her cats and book hauls on Twitter @MissLiberty and Instagram @franzencomesalive.