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Topic: Seek "Tough Guy" series

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Subject: Seek "Tough Guy" series
Date Posted: 2/21/2013 6:16 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 10
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Really enjoy reading mystery/thrillers in a series and have nearly reached the end of my current favorites--John Sandford, Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Parker, Jonathan Kellerman, Michael Connelly. Now looking for recommendations.

I love flawed "tough guy/gal" central characters, blood and guts, colorful language, and complicated modern plots that aren't easily unraveled. Sexual encounters/language are fine and I appreciate solid location descriptions..

Writing must be professional.

Don't care for cozies, British mysteries, historical fiction, animals solving crimes, etc. I've already been through Reichs. Deaver, Cornwell, etc.

Any suggestions for new authors to pursue?

I recently discovered Crais and Sandford after seeing them mentioned somewhere on PBS, so I'm hoping for some hot leads on new authors to follow.


M Bubb

Date Posted: 2/21/2013 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2006
Posts: 6,597
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For hard-boiled female detectives, see http://www.laurenhenderson.net/tartcity/hardboiledwomen.html


Date Posted: 2/22/2013 1:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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You made this tough--by naming most of my favorite authors already!  Hard for me to come up with some others-LOL.

But I did think of a few--

Lisa Gardner--both her Quincy/Rainie series and her D.D. Warren series

Linda Castillo--Kate Burkholder series

Alex Kava--Maggie O'Dell series

Jefferson Bass--Body Farm series

Tess Gerritsen--Rizolli and Isles

Tami Hoag--any of her mystery/thriller books

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 318
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A few more ideas:

  • Lee Child - Jack Reacher series
  • Daniel Silva - Gabriel Allon series
  • Lawrence Block - Matthew Scudder series
  • John Burdett - Bangkok series, set in thailand
  • Clive Cussler - Dirk Pitt series
  • Michael Dibdin - Aurelio Zen series, set in Italy
  • Martin Limon - George Sueno & Ernie Bascom series, set in Korea during the 1970s, borderline historical
  • Jeff Lindsay - Dexter series
  • Taylor Stevens - Vanessa Munroe series
  • Robert Wilson - Bruce Medway series


Subject: Thanks for leads
Date Posted: 2/22/2013 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 10
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Anna, Laura and Tess,

Thanks for all your suggestions...I'll check them out.

Please keep them coming...


Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 2/22/2013 7:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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You need to go Scandinavian. Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell are good places to start.

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2006
Posts: 6,597
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Have you heard about Tim Hallinan's Junior Bender series? Currently there are two entries--Crashed and Little Elvises--with a third book set to be released in June. Junior is a "full-time Los Angeles burglar and part-time private-eye-style fixer for the city's criminal element." Reviews also mention the books' "biting humor." Unfortunately, I haven't been able to read them yet; I'm on the waiting list at the local library.

I agree with Barb--Nordic noir is hot! I like Karin Fossum, Anne Holt, Karin Alvtegen, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Arnaldur Indridason, Kristina Ohlsson and Camilla Lackberg, among others.

Wait, I just thought of several other must-reads: Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series (has won MANY awards), Bryan Gruley's Gus Carpenter series (more awards) and Bruce DeSilva's Liam Mulligan series (ditto the awards).


Last Edited on: 2/22/13 7:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 2/22/2013 10:49 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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I like all those too Anna but I was thinking flawed mains, Harry Hole and Kurt Wallander are both pretty messed up. Fossum - Black Seconds - superb book.

Tana French is British but her books are really good. Her lead is male and he has a heck of a childhood trauma that he can't remember messing him up as an adult. I've only read the first so far, there's 3 in the series starting with Into The Woods (she's pretty new) but after the first one the trauma isn't completely revealed yet, I think it's gonna play out really good.

Date Posted: 2/23/2013 6:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2006
Posts: 6,597
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Erlendur Sveinsson from Arnaldur Indridason's books is fairly "messed up."  When Erlendur was young, he lost his brother in a snow storm, and years later, he remains wracked with guilt. As the weather permits, he goes back to the family farm and looks around for his brother. Erlendur also abandoned his son and daughter when they were quite young. His son is now an alcoholic; his daughter is a drug addict. Erlendur's ex-wife hates him. Yet, despite his psychological problems, Erlendur is meticulous when it comes to solving crimes. At the end of 2009's Hypothermia, Erlendur sets off on yet another search for his sibling. He vanishes into the hills and does not even appear in the next book, Outrage (2011).

Date Posted: 2/25/2013 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
Posts: 2,920
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My entries are Lori Armstrong for her Mercy Gunderson series (Mercy is a retired Army sniper and is a very complicated character now that she doesn't shoot for Uncle Sam anymore. (her love interest is the local sheriff, if she doesn't kill him first or vice versa) So far only 3 books in the series. Also her PI Julie Collins series is also very, very good. She is a hard drinking blond with a huge chip on her shoulder and a smart mouth she finds hard to control. Her love interest is the president of the local motorcycle gang. Julie lost her half-Native American brother to murder two years ago and she can't let it go until she finds out who did it. Only 4 books in the series so far, but well worth the read.

Last Edited on: 2/25/13 12:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Great suggestions--thanks
Date Posted: 2/28/2013 2:58 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
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Wow, what a great bunch of suggestions. I've received the first titles in the Body Farm series and Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series. Eager to start them and to explore the other suggestions.

Thanks so much, everybody. I appreciate your advice.


Date Posted: 3/3/2013 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/25/2007
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Have you tried Harlan Coben or John Lescroart? I've enjoyed them.

Date Posted: 3/5/2013 2:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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Good suggestions Judy!  Both Coben and Lescroart are another two of my favorite authors.

Date Posted: 3/6/2013 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2007
Posts: 167
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Barry Eisler's "Rain" Series - Japanese/American contract killer

Faye Kellerman - Decker/Lazarun series - police detective in LA

John Sanford also has an older 4 book series - Kidd and LuEllen - that is very good

Lee Child - Reacher series

Lawrence Block - Keller series - contract killer who collects stamps


Date Posted: 3/9/2013 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 10
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Just finished the first Mercy Gunderson book...I'm hooked for sure. Thanks for a great referral.

IMHO, Mercy and Joe Pike (a Robert Crais tough guy) really ought to get together. Fireworks for sure (and cannon blasts, sniper fire, incendiary devices, etc.)

Also really enjoyed the referral for Tess Monaghan books by Laura Lippman. Not quite as gripping for me as "Mercy" but I am definitely looking forward to reading more of this solid, intriguing series.

Thanks again.

Date Posted: 3/9/2013 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 11/4/2006
Posts: 1,548
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You might want to give these try

Cody McFadyen- Smoky Barret

Chelsea Cain- Archie and Gretchen

Karin Slaughter- Grant County

Brian Freeman- Johathan Stride  and the two stand alone's

Nelson DeMille- John Corey

Ken Bruen- Jack Taylor

Stephen J Cannell- Shane Scully

Happy Reading


Last Edited on: 3/14/13 10:15 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/22/2013 5:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 80
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If you don't mind older books, the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald is good reading.  I didn't notice anyone mention the Spenser books by Robert Parker -- he's one of my favorite writers.  You just have to ignore all the soul searching and angst involving his girlfriend Susan.

Date Posted: 3/25/2013 2:28 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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James Lee Burke, for the alcoholic ex-cop Dave Robicheaux in cajun country---who still is a cop, sometimes....at least 15 books in series, maybe more, and they are great because the author is such a fabulous writer---not just a good story-teller, as with most in this genre.,

David Stone, whose character named "Micah Dalton" is a cleaner for the CIA, there were 3-4 books in that series.


There are quite a few others with tough-guy heoes, but not very "flawed,"....James Rollins and Steve Berry come to mind. .I like these books, too, and hate cozies.

Last Edited on: 3/25/13 2:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/27/2013 3:59 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
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Have pretty much devoured everything by James Lee Burke--he is indeed a fabulous writer and his setting descriptions are fantastic. I loved everything set in the bayous, not so much in other places. However, I haven't checked recent books and will do so. Thanks so much for the reminder.

David Stone sounds interesting--will check it out,

Thanks again.


zeke68 -
Date Posted: 4/15/2013 9:24 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
Posts: 2,810
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Cannot believe no one mentioned Andrew Vachss' Burke series.  Starts with Flood.

Flawed hero, blood and guts, complicated plots, the best "family" ever

Not for the faint of heart, the subject matter is touchy at times, but easily my favorite series ever.

Date Posted: 5/28/2013 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2013
Posts: 729
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Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, who grew up on the mean streets of Chicago's South Side, is pretty darn tough in all her books. She started as a police officer but became a PI because she doesn't like to play by the rules. Her investigations often lead into political corruption where the stakes are high. Probably her toughest is Hard Time, where she goes undercover inside a women's prison.

Val McDermid is British, but her character Tony Hill delves is a profiler delving into the psyches of some really vicious, twisted serial killers, assisting Carol Jordan of the police.

I've read the first 2 Stieg Larsson books, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Girl Who Played with Fire. I have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest on my shelf and wll start reading it later this week. The first book has a long set-up that was difficult for me to get into, but the rest was very good, and the second book was even better than the first. Lisbeth Salander is flawed and REALLY tough. It's too bad Larsson was killed before he could finish what was to have been a 10-book series. I didn't see the movie, but someone mentioned that it encapsulated all 3 books. Hard for me to imagine given the length of each volume.

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith is on my shelf to be read sometime in June. I remember seeing the movie many years ago with William Hurt and Brian Dennehy, and I'm assuming that the book will be even better. It's part of a series with Arkady Renko a flawed Moscow police officer.

Sharon C. (Mamu) - ,
Date Posted: 5/30/2013 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 1,154
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Chris Mooney is a very under-rated writer!  I haven't read any of his that I didn't absolutely love!  Giles Blunt is great.  SJ Bolton and Susan Hill are both British but SO good.  And PJ Tracey's computer team series is mind-blowing with a flawed hero and heroine.  Agreeing to most of above and all of the ones mentioned by Tammy (yak)


Date Posted: 5/30/2013 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2008
Posts: 1,520
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Also, James Lee Burke's Billy Bob Holland series.  MC is ex-military, an attorney and sometimes takes the law into his own hands.  Rather dark character, flawed.  Maybe more violence than I normally like, but he is good writer.  Don't know if you like Brit police procedurals, but Stuart McBride's series is teriffic.  Flawed characters, rather dark, not for the faint of heart!  It is set in Scotland.