Feature

Meg Gardiner's 6 favorite crime fiction books

The award-winning thriller writer recommends works by S.A. Cosby, Don Winslow, and more

Meg Gardiner, an Edgar Award-winning thriller writer, has collaborated with Michael Mann to co-author Heat 2, a novel that builds on Mann's classic 1995 crime film. Below, Gardiner recommends six other books about crooks and their hunters.

Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan (2019)

This stunning true-crime book delivers both a riveting account of a wild Southern California bank robbery and an astonishing courtroom story. The robbery's haunting effect on victims, witnesses, and police officers is movingly portrayed. But it here.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby (2020)

"Drive it like you stole it." Beauregard "Bug" Montage is a street racer, mechanic, family man, and the once and future king of getaway drivers. This novel is a gritty, dazzling take on a classic crime tale: a man lured back into the Life. It's full of breathtaking action and Bug's desperate ingenuity, vividly written. Buy it here.

City on Fire by Don Winslow (2022)

This novel about a war between rival New England crime families is savage, heartbreaking — and exhilarating. Protagonist Danny Ryan, an insider who will forever be an outsider, is tied by love and loyalty to the Murphy family and their spiraling violence. A stark, street-level epic. Buy it here.

Shell Game by Sara Paretsky (2018)

I can't ever mention Chicago without paying tribute to the boss of Chicago crime fiction. Nobody writes about Chicago like Sara Paretsky, and there's no P.I. like her sardonic, pugnacious V.I. Warshawski. Shell Game has V.I. tussling, as always, with the snakes who inhabit her beloved city, running and gunning at the top of her game. Buy it here.

These Women by Ivy Pochoda (2020)

In this chilling, immersive Los Angeles murder mystery, a killer targets victims who seem to have little to lose. The suspense builds relentlessly. Ivy Pochoda's portrayal of the tenacity of women who live on the edges is beautiful and stiletto-sharp. Buy it here.

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton (2017)

I love a cat-and-mouse duel, and this one is jaw-dropping. Ross Ulbricht was an Eagle Scout who dreamed of the "ultimate" free market — and created a global online criminal marketplace. This nonfiction best-seller, subtitled "The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road," is a rocket-sled ride through Ulbricht's underground adventure and eventual capture by the FBI. Buy it here. 

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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