Summer reads – Jason Starr’s top five crime novels

Jude Law, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999).

Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999).

Jason Starr’s top 5 crime novels

We asked crime fiction writer Jason Starr (The Pack, Panic Attack, The Follower) for his top five crime novels. Some very interesting choices – Highsmith and Leonard are of here, of course, but also prolific lawyer-turned-writer George V. Higgins, Charles Willeford (perhaps best known for his character Hoke Moseley) and Ken Bruen (Irish writer and sometime Starr collaborator).

Here’s the list (comments in parentheses also Jason’s):

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins (for the dialogue)

Robert Mitchum in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973).

Robert Mitchum in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973).

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (for the dark psychology)

The Shark-Infested Custard by Charles Willeford (for the twistedness)

Book cover The Shark-Infested Custard

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard (for the humor)

John Travolta and Rene Russo in Get Shorty (1995).

John Travolta and Rene Russo in Get Shorty (1995).

The Guards by Ken Bruen (for the character)

The Guards book cover

5 responses to “Summer reads – Jason Starr’s top five crime novels

  1. 6 years ago  

    No Hammett? SHAME!

  2. 6 years ago  

    Hammett, Schmammett. (not really, of course, but if you’re asking about Hammett, you don’t need to be told to read him.) This is a great list. Haven’t read Bruen, but will vouch for the rest. And will add Bruen to my ever-growing list of things to read.
    I would add:
    Richard Price’s Clockers, whose first 30 pages says everything The Wire said in Season One.
    Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s Hector Belascoaran Shayne novels, which bring the Hammett tradition to contemporary Mexico City; though my favourite Taibo novel–Leonardo’s Bicycle–doesn’t feature Belascoaran.
    Carl Hiaasen’s Sick Puppy, Willeford’s heir to the warped Miami crime novel throne, softer edges but more direct criticism
    Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo’s Martin Beck series, disappointed these seminal works of Swedish Crime haven’t enjoyed much revival in the wake of the Stieg Larsson juggernaut
    Walter Mosley’s Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. Mosley’s great no matter what he’s writing, but this is my favourite.
    I could go on all day. So I’ll stop here.

  3. 6 years ago  

    Thanks Emmet. Love Price, really liked the Taibo I read (Some Clouds, I think) and I’m familiar with Hiaasen and Mosley. But Sjowall and Wahloo are new to me, I’ll have to check them out!

  4. 6 years ago  

    A great little list. And short, so you might have a chance of fitting these into your over-booked schedule. I’ve not read the Williford, my own favorite of his being Miami Blues — maybe because of the movie version in which Jennifer Jason Lee plays the dumbest hooker ever, name of Pepper. It’s a romp, as it the book. And let’s not forget my favorite Jason Starr: Twisted City. Or maybe The Pack, just out!

  5. 6 years ago  

    Haven’t read the Willeford, but all the others are excellent choices. Hammett and Chandler are fun, but more period pieces like Doyle at this distance in time. The Ripley series is very good.

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