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My crime classics by Gary Phillips

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He’s written for TV, he’s written graphic novels, he’s a top-drawer crime author and he has also edited short story anthologies. But today we’ve given LA crime author Gary Phillips a new assignment – we asked him to pick out his favourite classic crime fiction novels. What he’s come back with is a list that, like his books, contains a surprise or two.

While we’re on the topic, keep an eye out for Gary’s latest. The rip-roaring crime adventure Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem is out today and can grab a copy here.

Anyhow, over to Gary for his classics…

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

What can you say; the tough patter, the femme fatale, the oddball characters, the twists and turns, the blueprint for the modern private eye novel. But what of Gutman’s daughter?
Buy now on Amazon

Blind Man with a Pistol by Chester Himes

Blind Man With a Pistol by Chester Himes front cover

About halfway through the novel, Himes abandons the twin plots, his plainclothesmen trying to find out who’s causing seemingly random violence, and in particular who slit a white man’s throat, laid out in his skivies. Then he really cranks it up as Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones try to decipher race relations in a post-Vietnam War America.
Buy now on Amazon

The Way Some People Die by Ross Macdonald

The Way Some People Die by Ross Macdonald front cover

Private eye and former Long Beach (as in near Los Angeles) cop Lew Archer investigates the human condition. Though he assiduously avoids revealing too much about himself, even given the stories are told in first person: “I think I’ve heard the name. Are you a detective?” I admitted that I was. “You should shave more often; it puts people off. What has this Mrs Tarantine been up to?”
Buy now on Amazon

Blanche on the Lam by Barbra Neely

Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely front cover

Blanche is the ultimate outsider, a black woman of a certain body type who because of that and being a domestic, is not only underestimated but near invisible to the well-off white folks she works for. All the better when she has to solve a murder where she’s suspect number one.
Buy now on Amazon

Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers

Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers

I read the Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter books in my early 20s. In those days I was an activist involved in police accountability organising where I grew up in South Central. I guess it was something about the intricate plots and the contrast to my reality of this shell-shocked English upperclassman who solved mysteries for kicks that tickled me.


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