There are books out there so mean they give you paper cuts just from turning the pages. They’re filled with bastards and broken women; their pages faded brown and yellow and they smell as if they’ve been passed through the hands of one hundred men and left in the toilet stall of some dive in a part of town you wouldn’t step foot into unless you’re looking to get you knuckles bloody.
They are books that put hair on your chest. In no bloody order:
THE HUNTER – Richard Stark (1962)
This book is as cool as cool can be. Parker, a professional thief and cold hearted prick is screwed over on a job and then rips apart the city to retrieve his forty-five grand (lots of money back then).
KILLING FLOOR – Lee Child (1997)
Jack Reacher makes Jason Bourne look like ‘chick lit’. This former MP roams across America, with no ID and literally no baggage, getting into adventures. He falls in love with the girl, kills everyone and leaves town.
RED HARVEST – Dashiell Hammett (1929)
Hammett’s Continental Op is assigned to Poisonville to solve a murder but ends up punching, shooting and killing his way through a web of corruption in a world where everybody has gone ‘blood simple.’
FIGHT CLUB – Chuck Palahniuk (1996)
This dirty little book of rebellion follows a man suffering from insomnia, through support groups, underground boxing matches and revolutionary advances in the cosmetics industry in search of therapy.
IN A LONELY PLACE – Dorothy B Parker (1947)
Not only does In a Lonely Place have the best name for its hero, Dix Steele, it’s also one of the best portrayals of a psychological serial killer ever put on the page. The writing is subtle, and the characters superb in their post WWII California setting.
SIN CITY: THE HARD GOODBYE – Frank Miller (1991)
Everything Frank Miller writes has balls. The Hard Goodbye is the first in the Sin City series in which, brick shit house, Marv, is framed for the murder of the only woman who ever showed him a little bit of tenderness.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME – Jim Thompson (1952)
Jim Thompson, makes you read him. He’s uncompromising in his tale of local deputy sheriff/sociopath Lou Ford who has blackmail and murder on his mind. The Killer Inside Me has an amazing 1st person perspective, at one stage in the novel, Ford even apologies for the son of a bitch that he is.
L.A CONFIDENTIAL – James Ellory (1990)
3 cops, 3 cases and some of the fastest and most epic storytelling in the history of the genre. Ellory is brutal, his characters flawed and if you’re looking for a nostalgic look back at L.A in the 50s, fuck off.
THE GODFATHER – Mario Puzo (1969)
The ultimate decent into hell as we follow the young, idealist Michael Corleone as he destroys everything he holds dear while trying to save it.
Not only is it a great tale, but it is also full of lessons.
Three things we learn from The Godfather:
1) Always put Johnny Fontaine in your movie.
2) Never ask Michael about his affairs.
3) And don’t forget the cannoli.
SAVAGES – Don Winslow (2010)
Savages has the fastest and toughest first chapter in the history of first chapters. It’s the story of a couple of independent marijuana growers fighting off the cartel from taking over their business. It’s a demented underdog story where the words come off the page as if they were trying to uppercut the reader.
The Union Hotel