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100 Must-Read Works of Noir

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Annika Barranti Klein

Staff Writer

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

It’s Noirvember, which is typically celebrated by watching film noir (something I enjoy a great deal!), but I thought I’d mix it up a little by making a list of must-read noir. I’ve used a fairly broad definition of noir, including anything with the right atmosphere, whether or not it would typically be shelved in noir; there are books that are more likely to be found in thriller, mystery, crime, horror, and even space opera. If it’s got noir elements, and is otherwise must-read, it might be on here.

Books that are the first in a series are noted with a * and I’ve included only the first title, but I have listed multiple books by some authors (I tried to keep it within reason). I’ve also included a few non-fiction titles, noted with a ^ after the title.

Listed alphabetically by title.

Alias by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos (illustrator)

All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe, Alfred Birnbaum (translator)

Already Dead* by Charlie Huston

Baghdad Central by Elliott Colla

Beast In View by Margaret Millar

The Big Sleep* by Raymond Chandler

The Black Dahlia* by James Ellroy


Black Noir: Mystery, Crime, and Suspense Fiction by African-American Writers, ed. Otto Penzler

Blacksad* by Juan Diaz Canales, Juanjo Guarnido (illustrator), Anthya Flores (translator), Patricia Rivera (translator)

The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith

A Century of Noir: 32 Classic Crime Stories, ed. Mickey Spillane, Max Allan Collins

Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont

City of Refuge by Kenzo Kitakata, Y.T. Horgan (translator)

Cliff Diver* by Carmen Amato

The Concrete Maze by Steven Torres

Crime Partners by Donald Goines writing as Al C. Clark

The Damsel* by Donald E. Westlake writing as Richard Stark

Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma (also released as Fade Out)

Dark Passage by David Goodis

The Dark Tunnel (aka I Die Slowly) by Ross MacDonald writing as Kenneth Millar

Dead Things* by Stephen Blackmore

Dead Time* by Eleanor Taylor Bland


Dead To Me by Mary McCoy

Death of a Red Heroine* by Qiu Xiaolong (裘小龙)

Devil In A Blue Dress* by Walter Mosley

Die A Little by Megan Abbott

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick

Dope by Sara Gran

Double Indemnity by James M Cain

Dragonfish by Vu Tran

Drive* by James Sallis

An Easy Thing by Paco Ignacio Taibo II

The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes

The Fade-Out* by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips (illustrator), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colorist)

Fatale* by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips (illustrator)

Film Noir Reader^ ed. Alain Silver, James Ursini

Fools’ Gold by Dolores Hitchens

Generation Loss* by Elizabeth Hand

Ghost Month* by Ed Lin

The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo* by Stieg Larsson

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino, Rebecca Copeland (translator)


The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura, Allison Markin Powell (translator)

The Hidden Light of Mexico City by Carmen Amato

Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery, ed. Sarah Cortez, Liz Martinez

The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis

The Hunter* by Donald E. Westlake writing as Richard Stark

In A Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

In Praise of Lies by Patricia Melo

In The Heat Of The Night* by John Ball

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

The Kept Girl by Kim Cooper

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Lady Killer* by Joelle Jones, Jamie S. Rich

A Land Without Jasmine by Wajdi Al-Ahdal, William Hutchins (translator)

Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura, Allison Markin Powell (translator)

Laura by Vera Caspary

Los Angeles Noir ed. Denise Hamilton

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett


The Man In My Basement by Walter Mosley

Mexico City Noir, ed. Paco Ignacio Taibo II

Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong

Money Shot by Christa Faust

Moroccan Noir: Police, Crime, and Politics in Popular Culture^ by Jonathan Smolin

The Moving Target* by Ross MacDonald

My Dark Places^ by James Ellroy

New York Noir: Crime Photos from the Daily News Archive^, ed. William Hannigan

Noir: A Novel by Robert Coover

No Good From A Corpse by Leigh Brackett

Out by Natsuo Kirino

Outside the Bones by Lyn di Iorio

Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain


Queenpin by Megan Abbott

Radiance by Catherynne Valente

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter* by Darwyn Cooke

Roachkiller and Other Stories by Richie Narvaez

Sandman Slim* by Richard Kadrey

San Juan Noir ed. Mayra Santos-Febres

Savage Membrane* by Steve Niles, Ashley Wood (artist)

Silent City* by Alex Segura

Sin City* by Frank Miller

Sins of the City: the Real Los Angeles Noir^ ed. Jim Heimann

Southland by Nina Revoyr

Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith

Stray Dogs by John Ridley

Sunset City by Melissa Ginsburg

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? By Horace McCoy


Trouble Follows Me (aka Night Train) by Ross MacDonald writing as Kenneth Millar

Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense ed. Sarah Weinman

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

So, tell me: what is on your must-read noir list?