Connelly, Michael. The Late Show.

NY: Little, Brown, 2017.

Okay, so LAPD Detective Harry Bosch has been in retirement for the last several volumes of this long-running series (though it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down much), and Harry’s half-brother, Mickey Haller (the “Lincoln lawyer”), never really bloomed as a character the way the author presumably hoped he would. So Connelly decided to come up with a new cop, one young enough to last awhile but senior enough to have interesting cases. Enter Renée Ballard of Hollywood Division (the same place Harry started), now in her mid-30s and a pretty good detective.

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Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep.

NY: Knopf, 1939.

There are people who will tell you that Philip Marlowe is THE fictional detective in American literature and it’s hard to argue with them. This was his first appearance and Chandler’s prose is as smooth and ironically elegant as it was more than three-quarters of a century ago. It’s not a long book, less than 180 pages, but the author doesn’t waste a single word anywhere. It really does set the standard for every private eye story that came after.

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Baker, Mishell. Borderline.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

I’ve been a heavy reader of all sorts of science fiction all my life but I’m much pickier about fantasy. Tolkien, for instance, doesn’t do a thing for me. I do like a lot of “urban fantasy” though, and Baker, whose first novel this is, is a welcome new addition to that sub-genre. Here she tells the story of Millicent Roper, who is barely getting along a year after a badly failed attempt at suicide when she was a film student at UCLA. Millie went off a seven-story building and survived (unintentionally) by crashing through a tree, but the fall cost her all of one leg and half the other one, and now she has to deal with prosthetics and a cane and a wheelchair. On top of the that, she has Borderline Personality Disorder, and some days she can barely hang on. And she’s in a private therapeutic facility but the money’s running out.

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Connelly, Michael. The Wrong Side of Goodbye.

NY: Little, Brown, 2016.

Even though he must be pushing seventy now, ex-homicide cop Harry Bosch has spent the last half-dozen episodes in this long-running series fighting hard against retirement. Solving murders and getting justice for the dead is what he does. More, it’s what he is. He spent several years doing cold cases with a gang of other no-longer-active cops, and that taught him a lot — it’s made him “proficient in time travel” — and now he has his private investigator’s ticket, though he doesn’t work at it very hard.

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Crais, Robert. Stalking the Angel.

NY: Bantam Books, 1989.

The Elvis Cole/Joe Pike private eye novels have been called “smart guy noir” and that’s certainly the case in this second installment in the series. Elvis is definitely an oddball, with an office that sports a Mickey Mouse phone, a Pinocchio wall clock (the eyes move; “You go to the Pinkertons, they don’t have a clock like that”), a figurine of Jiminy Cricket, and a Spiderman coffee mug.

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Crais, Robert. The Monkey’s Raincoat.

NY: Bantam Books, 1987.

This is the first of the long-running Elvis Cole/Joe Pike detective stories and it’s a good starting place, too. Cole is a thirty-five-year-old Vietnam vet with a strong background in martial arts, a quirky personality, a taste for kitsch, and a sometimes peculiar sense of humor. He’s been a PI for eight years in partnership with Joe Pike, a highly laconic and extremely dangerous mercenary soldier.

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Russell, Alan. Guardians of the Night.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2014.

This is the second novel about Detective Michael Gideon, ex-K9 cop with the LAPD and now a “special cases” investigator, and his four-legged partner, Sirius. As with the previous volume, Gideon has two cases to deal with, the first involving the supposed murder of an “angel” as reported by a homeless man in Venice Beach.

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Ellis, Robert. City of Echoes.

Seattle: Thomas Mercer, 2015.

This author is new to me, though he appears to have done half a dozen previous novels. Matt Jones is an LAPD detective newly assigned to Robbery/Homicide — the gold ring for Los Angeles cops — and he’s supposed to be meeting his best friend and mentor on the force for a celebratory supper when he’s called to a murder scene down the block from the restaurant — which turns out to be his friend, dead in a hail of large-caliber lead, apparently a victim of a robber the media calls the Three-Piece Bandit.

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Crais, Robert. Chasing Darkness.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Crais is one of the more reliable writers of crime fiction around, both in his handful of independent novels and in the sixteen books featuring Los Angeles private investigator Elvis Cole and his friend and partner, Joe Pike. Cole is a professional, mostly doing work for attorneys, much of it very routine, but that’s what pays the bills.

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Russell, Alan. Burning Man.

Las Vegas: Thomas & Mercer, 2012.0

Russell is the author of a large number of thrillers of one sort or another but I confess he’s new to me. Michael Gideon is a Los Angeles K9 cop who, with his German shepherd partner, Sirius, tracks a serial killer through a canyon firestorm and captures him, but is badly burned in the process. And that’s just the prologue.

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