Wednesday, November 10, 2010

20 Essential Works of Noir Fiction

I find it interesting that's blog often has posts about crime fiction. I've posted their lists before, and I must say I agree with their list of 20 Essential Works of Noir Fiction. It's not definitive, but then by the nature of choosing 20 it wouldn't be.

I always welcome comments on the books and titles you'd add.  Be sure and go directly to their Blog to see the comments as to why these books are on the list.   If you haven't read much in the world of noir crime fiction, you'll want to read the books on this list!

Noir is its own thing. It isn't just about crime and punishment, or love and revenge, though all those are a part of the best noir stories. Real noir is a dark blend of murder and despair, of characters trying briefly to do good before giving into the easier and seedier way of life. Great noir fiction has a way of telling relatable stories through over-the-top means, and though they don't often land on the required reading lists for college lit classes, that doesn't make them less entertaining or worthwhile. Consider this list a primer for the world of noir. Some authors are repeated because, well, they're just that good.

1. The Killer Inside Me, Jim Thompson
2. Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Cornell Woolrich
3. The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
4. The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain:
5. Double Indemnity, James M. Cain
6. Dirty Snow, Georges Simenon.
7. Shoot the Piano Player, David Goodis
8. Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
9. The Friends of Eddie Coyle, George V. Higgins
10. Night and the City, Gerald Kersh:
11. L.A. Confidential, James Ellroy
12. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Michael Ledwidge
13. Matchstick Men, Eric Garcia
14. Payback, Russell James
15. Shoedog, George Pelecanos
16. He Died With His Eyes Open, Derek Raymond
17. The Glass Key, Dashiell Hammett
18. The Bride Wore Black, Cornell Woolrich
19. The Getaway, Jim Thompson
20. The Hunter, Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)

Read comments about each of these books, here.

What titles would you add?


Jill said...

Galveston by Nick Pizzolatto is the best recent noir I have read.

Unknown said...

What a great list. I'm going to save them for when I'm on


mMike L. said...

What is OnlineUniversity? They sent me the same article to post on Noir Journal. Was surprised when I clicked on their site. Don't quite get it. Especially that they are having a number of sites post their article.
Anyhow--great site, your blog, I mean. Will link to it on Noir Journal.
Mike L.

Janet Rudolph said...

Not sure, but they send these posts every once in awhile, and they're great!

Thanks for the comments about Mystery's a bit eclectic

Love your blog, too!

Kerrie said...

I think this is a sadly lacking list. it seems to me to ignore more recent novels, and anything that is a translated novel

Janet Rudolph said...

Kerrie, I should do a new Top 20 Noir list

Priscilla said...

Fascinating list. Several I have not read and will check on. But where is Ken Bruen? As for Ellroy, I have never been able to get beyond a page or two...and I think Woolrich is fun. I admit that I prefer noir where the author has an understanding of noir psychology and is not just writing out of the depths of his/her own twisted self. That's my problem with Ellroy.

Clark Lohr said...

This for posting the twenty best noirs.

Anonymous said...

How in the world did you leave out 'The Last Good Kiss' by James Crumley?? It's one of the best Noir novels ever.

Anonymous said...

Consider "When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" by Lawrence Block

Javier Minaya said...

No order, no repeats writers
My favourite:
-The Sins of the Fathers - Lawrence Block
-The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
-Tough guys dont dance - Norman Mailer
-Eye of the beholder - Marc Behm
-The Glass Key - Dashiell Hammett
-The deadly Percheron - John Franklin Bardin
-The Blue Hammer - Ross McDonald
-Pop. 1280 - Jim Thompson
-Double Indemnity - James M. Cain
-LaBrava - Elmore Leonard
-Two Much - Donald E. Westlake
-The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster
-Blind Man with a Pistol - Chester Himes
-They Shoot Horses, Don't They? - Horace McCoy
-Devil in a Blue Dress - Walter Mosley
-The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester
-I, the Jury
-No Orchids For Miss Blandish - James Hadley Chase
-The Murders in the Rue Morgue Edgar Allan Poe
-Night Has a Thousand Eyes - Cornell Woolrich